The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world




Originally hailing from Jerusalem in Israel, black/thrash metal band Melechesh have come a long way in the two decades that they been creating music and 2015 sees the band release a new album titled "Enki" which is sounding like another great album full of heavy riffs and progressive song structures. We caught up with founding member Ashmedi to chat about the new songs and a little bit about the band's history.

Ashmedi: How are you?


Andrew: Good thanks, how are you?


Ashmedi: I'm doing fine. Having my coffee, early in the morning.


Andrew: Where abouts are you?


Ashmedi: I'm in Germany right now but I'm in the mountains and the reception is so so!


Andrew: Are you guys on tour at the moment or are you on a break?


Ashmedi: No at the moment we are at our rehearsal room here in Germany and we are just preparing to go to Norway in a couple of days for a festival.


Andrew: OK cool. I remember we got this interview opportunity a little while ago and I thought I had to take it because I'm a little intrigued about (the band) because the music is so extreme and heavy and from where you guys are from, it's not exactly the most popular form of music. So I was wondering how did the band first start and was it difficult getting the band off it's feet?


Ashmedi: Well we started in Jerusalem and it's OK, you can do whatever music you want there but there wasn't per say the logistics and infrastructure to do a black metal band in the holy city of Jerusalem! It was kind of an awkward and odd thing and it wasn't a smooth ride but that was a long time ago. We started back in 1993 so eventually we lived in Europe so things are just smoother and I go back to Jerusalem maybe once a year.

Andrew: And how do they take the music now? Is it a bit more welcoming now than it used to?


Ashmedi: In Jerusalem there was always a metal scene and the only issue was when the newspaper put us on the front page and called us a cult instead of a band. And that's when it got out of hand because that was not true and we were like 'Hey what's going on here?' People don't get how Jerusalem is, it's a conservative religious city but also there's the liberal side to it but when our newspaper writes such a thing, they don't know what to do with it haha! They react to it like everybody is fighting, who's more holy than the other and there's this satanic cult there but that wasn't the case obviously so yeah it was kind of strange.


Andrew: Obviously you guys have been around for a while now and you have spread around and travelled the world. How has fans been responding to your music now?


Ashmedi: Melechesh has just solidified itself as a bona fide, credible metal band and not a one trick pony band. And people like the music that we do because at the end it's all about music and people who have a good set of ears end up enjoying what we do and it works. We invented I guess the middle eastern sound in black and thrash metal.


Andrew: Which I actually love and listening to your new album which we were lucky enough to have a preview of, there's some great stuff on there. Obviously there's that strong middle eastern sound but I also hear a lot of that northern European black metal sound. Tell me how this one came together and maybe what you did differently compared to previous efforts.


Ashmedi: I used 12 string guitars on the entire album actually and I used 6 string guitars as well. It's intuitive and when you are composing the music it's kind of of representing where you are at that moment and this is how it is.

I just write the songs and do my best and hopefully they turn out good but like I said, we are not a one trick pony. First and foremost we're a metal band and a metal band with an identity and little touches of our region. Why not? There's a million bands who are doing like folklore from northern Europe and we got folklore from the middle east.

Andrew: And you have some guests on the album like Max Cavalera and Rob Caggiano. How did you get these guys to appear on the album?


Ashmedi: I didn't per say "get them" to appear on the album or like that, we are good friends. When you're touring you know a lot of people and it's not like who you know, it's more what do they have on an artistic level. Max he likes Melechesh a lot and we once talked about collaborating together and this came first before his album so I had a song "Lost Tribes" and I wanted some thrash metal type of singing. And we have a lot of similarities, we both came from a place that was unusual for metal at that time and we both have this tribal feeling coming out. And Rob I knew from the old days and said he liked Melechesh a lot when he was in Anthrax. He's not a show off guitar player but he's a real good guitar player. And Sakis (Tolis) from Rotting Christ he's a really good friend of mine so when I was in Greece he came to the studio and did some vocals because I like his vocal style.


Andrew: Awesome! One of my favorite tracks from the album is "Multiple Truths" which has a great groove. Do you have any particular favorites at the moment?


Ashmedi: No they're all my children haha! But also we're not a streamlined band like in extreme metal a lot of bands kind of have a formula for an album or a song that kinda repeats itself but we took the approach like heavy metal/hard rock where each song is kinda different so it's hard to compare them. I do like "Multiple Truths" a lot, we already played it live and it comes across very well.


Andrew: When you write songs do you ever think about how it will translate live at all or do you just think of it how they are creatively speaking?


Ashmedi: Since the last album and this one, we've done 8 tours to support "The Epigenesis" which was our last album so we've been on the road quite a lot so yeah it does rub off on you. When I play the guitar I'm kind of thinking how it is live because I'm playing it live in the house so that's the way I think.

Andrew: So you consider yourself more of a live band? I mean if you had to choose between creating music and playing live music, do you have a preference between the two?


Ashmedi: I like both, they're both different. One is like cooking a good meal, I enjoy that and eating it too!


Andrew: Haha that's a good analogy!


Ashmedi: I like doing both and like I said, we're a rock rooted and metal rooted band so it's all real. What you hear is what you hear live as well, there's no backing tracks on guitars or backing tracks for this and that.


Andrew: That's good to hear because there is a lot bands especially today with the technology where they kind of rely too much on the technology and not really being in the moment and playing it live and off the floor kind of thing.


Ashmedi: Yeah exactly. I like to keep it a little bit tradditional.


Andrew: Who would you say are your biggest influences? What made you pick up the guitar and start playing?


Ashmedi: Nowadays it's hard to tell because I don't even hear that much metal a lot because a lot of the things are boring me to death. You can tell I like thrash metal a lot and I like heavy metal a lot. Anything from Mercyful Fate to Judas Priest to Megadeth to Bathory and Motorhead. I like that stuff but do we sound like them? Not really but I like that metal stuff like Deep Purple, Rainbow.


Andrew: It's funny you mention Megadeth because one of the songs, and I can't remember which one it was had a riff that was so similar to a Megadeth riff and it was a thrashy song as well.


Ashmedi: Yeah I guess it's the thrash metal influence.


Andrew: Yeah definitely. So if you could be a witness to the recording of any album in history, what would it be?


Ashmedi: Rainbow I guess, the one with Ritchie Blackmore and Ronnie James Dio. I would have loved to have witnessed that or "Ride The Lightning" from Metallica.


Andrew: And for you, what is the meaning of life?


Ashmedi: The meaning of life is there is no one word, it's what you make out of it. We are biological creatures so it's what you make out of it. You gotta make it spicy, you gotta make it good. Something that makes it worth living otherwise you just go adrift.


Andrew: Exactly and it sounds like you have taken your passion and made it into something successful. So congratulations on the new album and it's been great speaking to you!


Ashmedi: Alright man have a good one!



Ashmedi spoke to Andrew Schizodeluxe, February 2015





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