Interview by Mohsen Fayyazi
I have never been a fan of Black Metal. The music, lyrics and artwork of this genre never could encourage me to be excited about it. But it is different where MELECHESH are concerned, who seriously like to describe themselves as “Sumerian Black Thrashing Metal”, but technically, we can say their music is Oriental Black Metal. Apart from their music, artwork, make up and clothes which makes them seem different from other Black Metal bands, it is the contents and concepts which make this band unique in this genre of music. Everything seems to be about the past and present in the Middle East, with of course some serious messages for their fans.
I recently had a chance to have a chat with the band’s main man, Ashmedi, which you can listen to below.
As the band will see the release of their upcoming album “Enki”, very soon, I started our chat and asked him about this album, and he stated that “It’s one of the hardest albums to make. ” He continues “It’s filled with dualistic expressions – it’s an album of duality, be it musical, be it metaphorical or lyrical. After getting out of the studio I have no clue if it’s good or bad.“
So I moved on and asked him about Enki, why and how. Ashmedi answered me: “I’ve known Enki since I was a kid actually, we used to hang out in the park together” (laughs). I’ve had to refresh my memory about it, but let me explain something – Enki is also a metaphor you know, I’m very fascinated with the origins of mankind – how we develop, how we’re made. Beside the Darwinistic theory which is making full sense to me, I’m talking about the intellectual development, civilization development, so I like the theory of Anunnaki. Enki is the creator of mankind, wasn’t just a simple work in the laboratory, DNA genetic modification, these things I like to explore. Also, since he’s King of the Gods, sorry, the God of the Gods in Mesopotamian mythology, I thought it’ll be a great honour to pay respect for such a deity, or to call the album such a name that is short, concise and very true to the traditions of Melechesh.“
MELECHESH ‘s lyrics and its contents are interesting for almost everyone, so I did not waste time and asked Ashmedi what exactly the band had to say in this album. He seems to be interested to talk about this, and answered me as follows:
“A song like ‘The Palm The Eye And Lapis Lazuli’ is a reference to the Middle East – the evil eye, the palm, the khamsa, which is a tradition to prevent the evil. And the lapis lazuli, you know the stone found in ancient Mesopotamia, Persia, everywhere – it’s a message I wrote to certain types of human beings. ‘This is your warning’ I say, ‘you bite yet you feed’ – it’s double meanings. The bronze hand say of a super advanced creature, or it could just be you’re biting the hand of this Mediterranean guy that helped you out in life – you know, double meanings.
‘Lost Tribes’ is about the ancient peoples of the Near East, but also it’s about what’s happening right now. It’s about history repeating itself and how dumb we are that we don’t learn. When I say ‘heads buried in the sand’ it’s an expression, like an ostrich, they bury their heads in the sand to not know what’s going on, that’s an English saying. We only use small portions of our brain, imagine the cognitive power if we used more.”
I knew even days before this interview that it was going to be a serious one and a little risky for me. But how could I carry on and not ask about the recent horrible issues especially in the Middle East and regarding ISIS. “I want to leave room for interpretation – for example people when they see our photos, we covered our faces. A couple of non-enlightened people thought it’s pro-extremism, not knowing that this is simply the traditional clothing of ancient times.” Ashmedi sounded more serious and he continued “Melechesh transcends politics – I’m not playing the game, I’m talking about common sense and that song is against ISIS.“
Mentioning ISIS was a good excuse for me to move on and ask him about that horrific event which happened to the Jordanian pilot. Now Ashmedi seemed more angry, he commented: “It’s fucked up man, they’re fucked up people out there. This is not about politics, it’s about common sense. They’re obviously doing this I don’t think out of joy, maybe out of strategy, to make fear.
I don’t think they wake up in the morning and think ‘oh wow, it’ll be cool to burn someone’ – if they are, then they’re the most savage things ever. I’d rather live among lions, I’d feel more safe.
So I don’t know, it’s weird shit going on and what I also know is in politics, nothing is straightforward, you never know who plans what. I think every intelligent person would think that way.”
MELECHESH ‘s sixth full-length album, “Enki”, is set to be released on February 27 (EU), March 2 (UK) and March 10 (US), via Nuclear Blast. Also the album will feature iconic guests Max Cavalera (SOULFLY, CAVALERA CONSPIRACY, KILLER BE KILLED), Sakis Tolis (ROTTING CHRIST) and Rob Caggiano (VOLBEAT, ex-ANTHRAX).
The album was recorded in Greece by Giorgos Bokos (ROTTING CHRIST) while Jonas Kjellgren (IMMORTAL, LEGION OF THE DAMNED, OVERKILL, HYPOCRISY) took care of the mix and mastering in his renowned Black Lounge Studios in Sweden. Drums were recorded at Devasoundz Studio with Fotis Benardo (ex-SEPTICFLESH, ex-NIGHTRAGE).