Interviews : Melechesh
Guitarist Moloch lifts off some enigma behind this great black/thrash metal band.
Moloch, the band's infatuation with the middle-eastern theology did not start from the very beginning; Melechesh started out more as an antichristian black metal band. What made you decide to change the imagery behind the band?
Nothing really, we just concentrated more on the Mesopotamian aspect. And the antichristian aspect had a lot to do with the time when we were in Jerusalem, for the first album, it was something we wanted to portray. But then we headed more towards what is really important for us, which is Mesopotamia.
Melechesh is truly an original not only musically but also lyrically and visually. How much time do you and other members of the band spend researching, thinking, and writing about the topics to cover?
The whole band was built on this "originality", all the ideas of Melechesh were built on this Mesopotamian concept, so all our thinking musically, visually, etc. was to made in order to find the best means to bring out this world. It took much time, but ever since "Djinn" I think we have reached our goal, but it just starts there...
Everything from the cover art of Sphynx to the inside booklet and the multimedia section looks phenomenal. How long did it take you to create all the multi-media aspects on the Sphynx?
Actually Ashmedi and our webmaster worked like hell during couple of weeks, we had also to write everything, do some research... I don't remember, but there was a lot of work behind this album, and we're very happy with the result.
You worked with Ron Woodall for the cover of Sphynx. How did that come about?
Our old drummer's brother works at Industrial Light and Magic, so we had this idea of working with them for quite a while. When we wanted a cover for Sphynx, we got in touch with some artists and we sent a general message to some graphic designers in ILM. That's when Ron Woodall answered, and he did the cover, which is really phenomenal.
While the video for Genies, Sorcerers And Mesopotamian Nights is a pleasant surprise, do you feel the other aspects such as "instruments" and "Mesopotamian metal" were necessary? Is it really important for everyone to understand Melechesh, i.e., do you think you're uncovering much of the enigma that shrouded the band since its inception?
We thought of it this way: the more information, the better it would be. I don't know what is necessary, we could have just put a clip and that's it, but since we wanted more, and we did something about the lyrical concept, we thought it would be good to do something about the musical concept. But we're not uncovering anything, there much more behind it all that cannot fit in a CD rom, an interview, or an album.
Speaking of the video for Genies..., while it is rather simple in nature, it is nonetheless quite powerful. Particularly stands out the shot where you hold two eagles on each arm. What does that represent to you? How difficult was that scene to shoot?
You have to do with the budget. We had a studio, a camera, a band and lights. So if you keep it simple, it would look better and more professional, than if you had a million ideas but very little means to create them. But we had this bird thing which gave the clip extra spice; it was a falcon and a vulture, actually. Ashmedi met a guy who works with birds and asked him if he could bring them to the clip. The scene's worked out "well:" the birds were flapping their wings into Ashmedi's face, and they were heavy to carry, and had their claws into Ashmedi's arms. Other than that, things worked out for the best.
The new material is the band's most technical and grooviest to date. Did you have a preconceived notion of how you wanted Sphynx to turn out or do you think it was simply a natural progression of four skilled musicians?
wanted something more groovy and thrashy for sure. That was the vision for the album; of course musical progression has a lot to do with it, composition wise, playing wise, etc.
When listening to Sphynx, I cannot help but to visualize through music. It's as if the band paints the picture. For example, when I began listening to Annunaki's Golden Thrones, I imagined the most evil desert maelstrom that engulfed and devastated everything at its path. And while I was pretty far away from the truth, apparently the song is about the seven judges of hell Annunaki, it still seems to me that Melechesh not only tells the story but also bases its music around that story. How far off am I?
No real story, but visions, ideas, sounds and feeling. It's not as built as you think, but very visual that's true. It has nothing to do with the Judeo-Christian hell, but the underworld according to Mesopotamian mythology. The seven demons, represent seven plagues in a way... But you're not very far, the desert storm was the main vision for this song.
If I am not mistaken, the three of you recorded Djinn and then sent it to Proscriptor to lay drums over. Did you record the new album as a four-piece?
No, you're mistaken, Djinn was recorded as a four piece, Proscriptor came to Holland we did the recording there. The same for the new album in Sweden.
Did it make you a bit worried during Djinn sessions about how the drums would turn out?
Just a bit, because we didn't have enough time together to work on the music, but everything turned out rather well.
What made you decide on Proscriptor as your drummer? Did the similarities between your and ABSU's philosophies play any role in decision-making?
Proscriptor is a perfect member for Melechesh, and there are many similarities between us and ABSU, even if musically we're very different. We knew Proscriptor for a long time, and we need a drummer, so things worked out the way they did.
Proscriptor has such an unorthodox style of drumming, almost like a dirty thrash metal with lots of off-signature beats, and that really fits the chaotic nature of your music perfectly. Do you give him the full democracy as to how the drums will turn out or is there still some guidance as to what the rest of you would like to hear?
Actually Ashmedi writes all the drums for Melechesh on a drum machine, the reason is that our beats are very important for us, they constitute an important part of what Mesopotamian metal is, we conceive them and write them. Then Proscriptor interprets them, we add or changes a couple of things, but we all have to agree. It's hard to work when you're all spread out. We have to limit our opinions or else we will spend all the time in the rehearsal room instead of the studio.
There is a monumental progression in sound from Djinn to Sphynx. The new album sounds thicker and fuller. A natural progression or just a bigger budget or a different vision, or all three combined?
All three combined.
It already looks like Melechesh is taking a more serious approach to touring. Considering that ABSU may not release another album in the future, have you entertained a thought of Proscriptor moving to Netherlands to join you as a full-time band?
I don't know what the plans are for ABSU, Proscriptor has also his life in the states, and Melechesh cannot be an enough important reason to move to a different continent. But we want to tour, it's important for us as a band to see what who our music works out live, and now, things are working for the best.
How does Melechesh come across live?
We haven't played in a while, and only lately we've taken back the stage and till now it's working out great, need to do it more often though.
What made you cover Celtic Frost's Babylon Fell?
It's a fucking great track. Originally it was for the CF tribute album released by Black Lotus, we liked the result so we used it as a bonus.
You've been known to wear Melechesh shirts for everything from photo shoots to playing live. Any specific reason for that?
Don't know, an unconscious ego problem maybe!
This is pretty much it for me. If you'd like to add some parting comments feel free to do so. Otherwise, best of luck to you and Melechesh in the future. I am really hoping to see the band live on the US soil.
Thanks, no further comments other than I hope to see you on US soil too. 'Ia Ashur