Released: 2010, Candlelight Records
There are a few dozen bands scattered across the metal spectrum that are so innovative, so curious and so odd that they will likely never reach truly wide-spread acceptance in the metal community. In my experience these bands are also among the truly unique and interesting bands with the most open-minded and loyal fan-base. On a minor side-note it’s interesting how many of these ‘weird’ bands are on the Cruz Del Sur or Candlelight label. I’m speaking of bands like Hammers Of Misfortune, Slough Feg, and people like Devin Townsend and The Meads Of Asphodel.
The Meads have just released their fourth album and it easily meets and surpasses all expectations. That last sentence sort of sounds like a corporate performance review! Well, if it is a performance review; THE MURDER OF JESUS THE JEW gets top marks (and the band deserve a raise!).
I don’t even know where to begin the meat of this review! Do I approach the review from the perspective that only pre-existing fans are going to read a review of the band or do I tackle the monumental task of explaining such a band to the uninitiated? It’s a difficult task. The Meads of Asphodel are a British Black Metal band but that description doesn’t even come close because they aren’t really Black Metal. They are experimental, avant-garde, funny and deadly all at the same time. Ultimately they fall into the more extreme genres of Metal but there is so much diversity in the songs that throwing in an electro-disco beat, as hard on the cut, ‘The Apocalypse Of Lazarus’. I could write several paragraphs on this song alone! The starts with a very serious (grim and necro!) voice-over, stating all sorts of vile things and then the song at about the 45 second mark slides into the aforementioned disco beat with completely over-the-top, echo-y vocals akin to the back up vocals found on a Spinal Tap album (or more likely a Bad News album, since they are Brits) and then…here come the bongo drums. Dude, I’m totally serious, this song (and album) are so fucked up it will mess with head and leave you begging for more.
As fans know you have to approach the band and the songs as an entity unto itself, they are not written, arranged or performed in any conventional sense… BUT…the music retains an attractive and appealing sense of musicality. It is not weird, ‘just for the sake of weird’. The songs are very listenable with many, familiar musical reference points to adventurous music fans. It may be the opening keyboards swashes at the beginning of the song, ‘Addicted To God’, that reminds you of 80’s Rush. It could be the vocals narration on the cut, ‘Of Tempests’, that reminds you of the chorus of the Andrew Lloyd-Weber musical, Jesus-Christ Super Star. It could be the relentless and crushing Black Metal sprinkled through most of the songs. Its uncanny and musical for such an unconventional style, which brings me to my first point, that many (most?) Metal traditional fans just might not grasp what the band is doing.
Like the rest of the bands catalogue THE MURDER OF JESUS THE JEW, is just loaded, absolutely loaded with brilliant segments, sonic juxtapositions, Sci-Fi sound effects, narrations, soprano female vocals, acoustic guitars, show-tunes, raging metal…it all seems like one giant (blasphemous) Rock Opera From Hell. It’s pretty hard to wrap your head around and even harder to explain it. It’s fun, and worthy of your attention. It is another triumphant hour from The Meads Of Asphodel. I think this is the album Ziltoid listens to when he is getting his morning coffee.