Album of the Day: Melechesh – The Epigensis

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Label: Nuclear Blast

Melechesh are surely one of the most distinctive bands in black metal. Their black-thrash sound is full of personality as it is – with the band only really having Absu as an even remotely accurate point of comparison – and the addition of native Middle Eastern folk music adds a whole new dimension to their sound. It’s a complex, unique mix of styles, and it surely can’t be easy to combine the two, but the band don’t have a bad record in their discography, with The Epigenesis being, for me, the pick of the bunch.

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2017 Favourites – Part II

Following on from the first ten of my A-Z 2017 favourites, here is the second part. As the title says, this is my favourites – not necessarily the best records of the year, but the ones I enjoy or connected with the most. Feel free to tell me what I missed, why I’m wrong, or whatever else. There’s only so many hours in the day, and not all of them can be spent listening to records, sadly.

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2017 Favourites – Part I

It doesn’t feel like that long ago since I was writing my list for 2016… and yet, at the same time, it feels like a lifetime has passed. 2017 has been a very busy year, and very trying in parts. As a result, I’ve had less time and energy for The Sound Not That Word than at any time before, which has resulted in less reviews being posted. It’s something I’m still not entirely sure how to balance, and may well see my writing take on different forms in the coming year. We shall see.

Anyway. Enough of that for now. Everywhere else is doing lists, and so am I. Writing this is a good opportunity to go over releases from the year, to remember how good some were, and to give coverage to some I never got to write about. As always, these are my favourites – better records may have been released this year, but these are the ones I enjoyed most. The first twenty will be in alphabetical order, over two posts; with the top five given their own ranking. Enjoy!

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Cradle Of Filth – Hammer Of The Witches

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Label: Nuclear Blast Records

I have quite a soft spot for Cradle Of Filth. They were the band that first introduced me to black metal, as I imagine they were for many people my age. It’s safe to say I’ve traveled much further down the left hand path since then, but even so, I’ll argue with anyone who doesn’t think that their early albums possess a charm and character that makes them very much worthwhile, even if only as historical documents. To deny their influence on black metal is foolish. And whilst their Scandinavian contemporaries were getting mixed up in all sorts of racist, murderous stupidity, Dani Filth and co were standing around in the woods wearing top hats, adding a sense of sexuality and humour to arguably the most serious and grim of metal subgenres.

Even so, it’s been a long, long time since I cared for their releases. Seeing them live several years back was one of the most depressingly boring experiences I have had at a show – a prime example of style over substance. Recent line-up changes had caught my attention though, especially guitarist Ashok (formerly of Czech legends Root) coming on board. With half the band being relative newcomers to the ranks (fellow guitarist Rich Shaw and keyboardist/vocalist Lindsay Schoolcraft also joined in 2014), has there been any great change? Not really. Is Hammer Of The Witches the disaster it could have been? Again, not really. Is it a return to their best? I think you can guess the answer. Whilst there’s more than a few nods to their early records here, with references in lyrics to Queens Of Winter, and a distinct Cruelty-esque storytelling nature to the album, it’s pretty much what you might expect from Cradle Of Filth circa 2015; competent, well-performed extreme symphonic metal, that would score so much higher if it was that bit more memorable. It’s still their best album in quite some time, though.

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