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Given how long extreme metal has been in existence, you would think that all of the good, original ideas have been taken by now. However, Israel’s MELECHESH continues to carves their own path with their third record, Sphynx. Purveyors of the self-proclaimed, “Mesopotamian Metal,” the band look to the ancient lore of ancient Mesopotamian cultures as well as the traditional music of the Middle/Near Eastern and Mediterranean regions for the source of their music. MELECHESH are undoubtedly a black metal band but one that incorporates many factors unto their extreme metal foundation. The unique sound of the band is largely characterized by the onslaught of twisting, snake-like Middle Eastern riffs. The second major characteristic that sets the band apart is the fusion of traditional metal rhythms and the use of traditional percussive rhythms. Traditional instruments in the form of a daff, riqq, darkbukka, and saz are used as well. With a strong sense of atmosphere and mystique, Sphynx is a captivating soundtrack into another realm. Opening track, “Of Mercury and Mercury,” immediately bursts out with intensity. The fury only takes a break during the album’s seventh track, “The Arrival Ritual.” This hypnotic, meditative track is the perfect way to bring the tone down as well to bring a stronger contrast to the second half of the record. Drum god, Proscriptor (also in ABSU), really shines in his superb performance. His multifaceted skills add a strong dimension to the music just as Igor Cavalera does for SEPULTURA’s trademark percussive sound. In conclusion, Sphynx is a mighty work that stands as one of the best extreme metal albums of the year. No mercy for the unbelievers. (The End Records/Osmose Productions)