As Jerusalem Burns...Al'Intisar

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Both historically and aesthetically, Melechesh's debut album, 1996's As Jerusalem Burns...Al'Intisar, never really meshed with the respected Israeli heavy metal band's remaining musical output and overall career vision -- a fusion of extreme heavy metal with the Israel-birthed group's Middle Eastern heritage, which only achieved truly life-changing fruition some five years later with the release of 2001's sophomore effort, Djinn. For now, Melechesh's songs were largely rooted in the European black metal aesthetic (see feverishly blastbeaten offerings like "Hymn to Gibil," "Baphomet's Lust," and "Devil's Night," as well as the more measured, melodic, Rotting Christ-recalling "Planetary Rites"), and even Al'Intisar‘s subject matter (the title itself is Arabic for "the victory") followed suit by choosing religious confrontation over the more thought-provoking cultural and mythological studies still to come. Sure, Melechesh were already peppering exotic drum patterns and riff sequences across any number of songs contained here (including the opening "Sultan of Mischief," the progressively minded title track, and the instrumental "Dance of the Black Genii," with its native percussion instruments and haunting wailing), yet, ironically, these often sounded about as convincingly "Arabian" as the average Western band feigning the most obvious Eastern musical clichés. Regardless of all that, though, As Jerusalem Burns...Al'Intisar was already an impressively well-crafted and mature collection of songs, indicative of Melechesh's future blossoming into one of the extreme metal world's most intriguing and rewarding propositions. [Melechesh's first album has been the beneficiary of not one, not two, but three separate reissues (in 2002, 2004, and 2005), some featuring a few bonus tracks, but all of them printed in such limited quantities that copies are extremely hard to come by even today.]