A few random bits about the Meads Of Asphodel, that utterly bizarre (and unmistakably British) metal beast (and blessed, it ought to be stressed, with one of the most pleasant names in years).
Random bit the first (1st):
Their new album, The Murder of Jesus the Jew, is really quite good. I say this not out of surprise, because I’ve been a fairly staunch supporter of the Meads since their debut album. The only truly unforgivable offense thus far has been the abominably ill-conceived cover of Louis Armstrong’s classic tune “What a Wonderful World,” back on 2006’s (? – too lazy to look up at the moment) Damascus Steel. Complete rubbish, friends – avoid at all costs. To the extent that you, fair reader, are able to take any of this music seriously, this new album (building off of the previous major-bummer-fest LP) is a far more serious affair.
More serious, at least, when compared with the band’s first two albums, the acoustic jam session The Mill Hill Sessions, the Christmas song they did for Terrorizer magazine, the punk covers (+ Kinks cover!?) on their side of this year’s split with Old Corpse Road, etc., etc. Anyway, while I do find this new album a delectable platter of strangeness – some sideways-fucked brew of Hawkwind psych rock, Floydian prog, clatterly British crust-punk, and Sigh-meets-Cradle-Of-Filth black metal sheen (Hawkwind and Sigh, at least, are clearly no mistake, if you’ve followed the band’s parade of guest musicians) – I can’t help but feel like a bit of the fun has been drained.
Make no mistake, a Meads Of Asphodel album still packs more grin-inducing moments than most anything else out there. Nevertheless, I kind of miss the carnival/Casio-esque keys of the early demos, the completely unwarranted and random jaunts into strangely trance-y drum ‘n bass. Despite remaining firmly planted in the off-kilter and avant-garde, the Dudes of Asphodel are playing things a little too straight for my taste.
And as a final addendum to this random bit (the first), a message to the band: Metatron, please, for the love of all that is holy and chain mail, quit it with the ridiculous spoken word bits. I know it’s kind of like “your thing,” but the passages you choose to gargle out cleanly on this album are the most cringe-inducing faux-Dante’s-Inferno-punishments and they just bum me out. For real.
Random bit the second (2nd):
The band has posted a 35-minute documentary film at their website, the beguilingly simple www.themeadsofasphodel.com. It comes in three parts, the first of which I will post here:
I post this, however, having only watched the first seven minutes of it, after which I felt compelled to do almost anything else. It’s not that this is bad, necessarily, but that I have an exceedingly low tolerance for this kind of nostalgic “Ah, let’s cast a long gaze over the history of the band and have a bunch of ugly metal blokes wax fondly about things that happened, I don’t know, eight years ago.” The primary argument in favor of this “in-depth” (honest, I’m not trying to be an asshole here, but the whole thing seems a bit stilted, innit?) documentary is that, for years, the Meads were intentionally shrouded in mystery, what with the stage names and the chain mail and the lack of widespread performances. So, I don’t really need to see this. And maybe it’s not for me. Maybe I’m just some jaded asshole on the internet, and maybe this film was made for Me when I was eight years younger. Whatever. Watch it, or don’t. See if I care.
Random bit the third (3rd, and final):
In a horrendously obnoxious heavy metal songwriting trick that is not the exclusive province of the Meads, but which I have noticed most recently on the new album and which never fails to drive me totally fucking bonkers up the wall, is the doubling of a line of lyrics in a sort of call-and-response fashion. Or, rather, what specifically drives me batshit crazy is not a call-and-RESPONSE (indicating a variation), but rather a call-and-REPEAT. It’s. So. Fucking. Stupid.
Anyway, the Meads do it on the new album’s third track, “Apocalypse of Lazarus,” with Metatron calling out poetic gems like “The dragon and beast cast into Hell” or “Death into the valley of Jeheshophat,” which are then echoed by, I dunno, some other dude caterwauling in the background. Drives me fucking nuts. If you’re thinking, “Yeah, that bugs me too, but where I have I heard – and hated – this technique before?” then I submit for your perusal and (presumably) displeasure, the one (and only) true misstep on Megadeth’s nevertheless untouchable masterpiece (fuck you) Rust In Peace:
“Five Magics” is otherwise a fantastic song, but starting around the 4:00 minute mark is where they bust into that dumb-ass call-and-repeat business (“He who lives by the sword…,” etc.). So, the moral is: If you’re out there, writing in a band, and you’re thinking, “Wow, what a boss way to fill out a song,” I just… I just pray for the future of humanity. Don’t do this. Don’t be That Guy.
The Murder Of Jesus The Jew is out now on Candlelight Records, and, I swear, despite my cantankerous ranting, I like it quite a bit.