Borning in Israel but inhabiting in Holland now, the most famous and remarkable Black Metal Society in the middle east (even though they call themselves Mesopotamian Black Metal.) , the
band Melechesh. We had a short conversation with them.
Hello, Melechesh has a remarkable number of fans in Turkey, and your fans
want to know, what Melechesh is busy with recently? Ashmedi: We did a lot of concerts around the world and now we are putting the
finishing touches for the new album before entering a studio to record.
You had started your carrier 16 years ago in Jarusalem which is accepted as
holy for three big religions and at first local community and religious regions
didn’t give you a good reaction, could you please tell us about those days?
The beginnings of Melechesh back in 1993 were very interesting and fascinating.
Yes we were the first black metal band from jierusalem and the first metal band
in the country who had non israeli members. When we started it was all quiet by
1995 a lot happened due to misleading newspaper article , we got in some trouble
but it was a long time ago it was sorted out later. In east Jerusalem we were
frowned upon and became cast outs for a while.
In the first years of your career, you had been recording raw black metal
songs, what were the factors leading you to this? I started Melechesh because I wanted to create raw music influenced by
Bathory the return album however with middle eastern touches. From day one
though we used middle eastern drum patterns but the musical emphasis was raw, we
then decided to invent a middle eastern style of black metal and we worked on it
for a while first song were release 1995-96.
As far as I understood, there had been a turning point in the band,after
your first spectacular demo is called ''The Siege of Lachish'' had been
published in 3 different labels, how did you establish these
Exactly well the song “Siege of Lachish” represented what we intended to do. The
band name was spreading quickly in the underground around the world and labels
started contacting us. A German label wanted to release a 7” ep with that song
and two American labels released our first album which we intentionally kept on
the heavier more raw side. The person who contacted us was Akhenaten from Judas
Iscariot ( before his band was made). The debut album “As Jerusalem Burns …Al’Intisar
“ was later released by 3 other labels so was our debut 7”. These two releases
were the start of our careers in a more serious way.
You gave a few concerts for a documentary, who was the father of this idea,
of course this was a contribution for introducing the band , can we say that
this was a turning point? We have been in several documenteries back in the “holy land” and later for
other film makers. Now there is a documentary about myself a film maker is
working on it in Holland .
Was the local crisis the base reason why the band members moved abroad, or
did you have bad memories in Israel, why did you move abroad? We left for many reasons. Musical career, needed to leave Jerusalem because
I was tired of being stuck in a middle of a fight which was not mine. Also to
pursue a university education. SO the reasons were many.
How did Proscriptor Mcgovern (ABSU's drummer), got involved with the band? He is a friend of mine for many years, I told him we seek drummers in
Holland he said he would like to play drum for us. We are still collaborating in
different ways. For example I wrote the lyrics for three songs on the newest
“Djinn” brought a remarkable attention, how did the band members met in
Holland, could you please tell us about the times you had deals with Osmose for
this band? Well Djinn’s music was being developed over several years by 99 we met in
Holland because the bass player and I lived there, Moloch lived in North France
and Proscriptor flew from USA, we recorded our album and shopped around for a
label we got several offers we accepted Osmose’s as it was fair. We are still to
this day with good relations with them but we moved forward.
And I can say that the album “Sphynx” made a real explosion, why did you make
the records of this album in Sweden?
Sphynx opened a lot of doors for us, it was a major breakthrough for the band.
We met in Holland rehearsed for a month daily, this was after having made
several pre-production demos. We then flew to Sweden to work with Andy LaRoque
of Kind Diamond. He is a good friend and did a great job, and also he did a
guest solo and riff.
It is said that with the success of this album you are in top ten around the
world, what do you think of what made this album this successful? The album is extreme metal, it is a new way of defining black metal which
frankly was becoming mundane due to the repetitive clone bands and the lack of
credibility or conviction in many albums. We invented our own Black thrash type
of hybrid music that has references to Middle eastern music both drums and
guitars but also the lyrics come from a profound and meaningful source. The rest
was up to the fans and media.
How did it effect the band when Xul switched to the drums?
Musically not much has changed however when Xul joined we were able to do more
shows. Drum wise I write the drum patterns so the music did not change.
Naturally each drummer has an own touch when it comes to drum roles and the
likes. Now because Xul lives in Holland we can practice all the time .
Nonetheless, Proscriptor and I are still very good friends, as I said before. I
was on stage with ABSU a month ago I think.
If we also touch on the album 'Emissaries', what had been your expectations,
what were the results?
We wanted to do our best and create a perfect album ,, we had pressure to top “Sphynx”.
Fortunately “Emissaries” was very well received, many of the world’s metal media
voted it in the top 10 or top 5 of the year’s charts . We got major exposure in
USA and also Europe. Tour offers and festival offers were being constantly given
to us . “Emissaries” broke a lot of boundaries and the album is still
circulating. Our fan base has increased dramatically so I am very happy with it
and grateful as well that it is as such.
With the originality of your band you had moved forward and eventually
similar bands reproduced, do you listen to any of these groups, and do you
support this evolution? I did hear some bands reproducing or being mildly influenced by us it is an
honor to be honest, its very flattering. I do listen to some of the bands if I
get a chance. Even some well established metal bands did some reference to our
music on a part here or there it is very flattering and great.
Except for being Mespotamian, are there any other important reasons for you
to narrate more mystic and Mesopotamian themes instead of classic black metal
themes? Our themes are based on our origins and most mysticism have routs traced to
the middle east, Anatolia, Persia etc… we also have occult themes from various
parts of the middle east. The area is the cradle of civilizations . I find the
themes fascinating and they reveal a lot about the human nature and condition
even our origin, and by that I mean our pre Earth origin .
Why do you have been less eventful since 2006?
I don’t understand as since 2006 till now we have toured Europe and north
America and played countless festivals. We also recently signed a record deal
with Nuclear Blast. SO things has been busier than ever.
I guess, one of your band members, Ashmedi, has a lot of contacts in Turkey,
I heard that he took a stage with Harun Kolēak, who was the owner of the idea of
getting involved in such evolutions? Well yes since July 2009 I spent over 12 weeks in Istanbul. I am actually
now in Ataturk Airport waiting for my plane back to Amsterdam. My girlfriend is
Turkish so I come here as often as I can. As for jamming with Harun , we were in
touch via mail for several years because he is interested in black metal and the
occult, when I came to Istanbul he invited me to join him on stage for an
improvised jam session. We are good friends he is a very interesting and
intelligent fellow and he is very much into metal music.
I have a few questions up to date, sure that we both live in middle east
countries, (though youre not here you might be following up), could you comment
for why these issues are so complicated in these countries?
I don’t think the issue is as complicated as some politicians and sanitized
media portray it. I always say don’t tell the story from half way, star From the
roots of the problem.
Will Middle East reach healthy and comfortable days someday? Some day yes!, someday soon No!
You know, the impingement between Palestine and Israel, chaos in Iraq, Iran's
nuclear rumours, and Turkey's internal disorder, what do you think about these? Human ego lack of flexibility , had the Swedes been there they would
compromise to reach a healthy solution. Us eastern people are quite stubborn and
many have huge Egos, over emphasis o ethinicities ,we are all people and all the
same if you really think about it..
I’ve changed the subjects rapidly but the coming ones are my last questions,Are
you one of those who thinks that metal market is developing with the leading of
the internet or do you think it goes back and it will slowly vanish? The internet is a strong dynamic it does not work one way only it does both
record industry is dying that’s fact, but music is not we have a lot of new fans
due to internet that download us or fans that cannnot find or afford our albums
they then come to gigs and buy merchandise. On the other hand bands and labels
earn less on record sales.
In recent years some groups in Israel made a name in overseas, do you follow
any of these bands? Not really. I know a few bands there though
Finally, is there any bands you like in Turkey? Yes Pentagram, I know Cenk and Murat and they are both excellent people as
well. I also like Mogullar, Zeki Muren , Baris Manco, Undertakers they are all
very good. I saw Kurban open for Faith
No more in Istanbul when I was there good band.I know Ibrahim Tatlises and
Gockun Sabah , I REALLY don’t like them both
Is there anything you would like to say to Extreminal readers? We hope one day to see in Turkey maybe it will happen maybe it will not ,
but we sure would like to though.