The Meads Of Asphodel
The Murder Of Jesus The Jew
posted on 1/2011 By:
How fuckin' weird are The Meads of Asphodel? If you're familiar with their prior exploits, you're likely arching an eyebrow whilst mumbling,"Pretty fuckin' weird." But what, exactly, is the value of such oddity? And does The Meads' particular brand of schizophrenia lead them to success?
Success is not easily defined, especially in this realm. The Meads operate outside of most conventional boundaries: They adorn themselves in chain mail for no apparent reason; they have consisent aspirations towards prog in spite of their mediocre (and decidedly stagnant) musicianship; and for an experimental black metal band, their non-metal moments tend to be exponentially more engaging than their straight-ahead raging. (This latter point isn't necessarily unwelcome; it's a bit refreshing to simply tolerate "the metal parts" in anticipation of the gonzo shit, instead of the other way around.) So, they get credit on the merit of quirk, but that only works in small doses. I haven't checked in with The Meads since 2003's Exhuming the Grave of Yeshua, where they tended to overwhelm with their lightly-toasted, bizarro crustprog. They've changed little.
Their latest bloated epic, The Murder of Jesus the Jew, kicks some serious ass at times. Sadly, it also succumbs to the trappings of false grandiosity. It's a typical Meads fuckaround: frustrating and fun in equal doses; a ball of cackling, gleeful madness wrapped in lukewarm production aesthetics and boneheaded decisions.
The album, predictably, begins in auspicious fashion. After a groan-inducing carnival barker intro, the Meads kick it down with "My Psychotic Sand Deity." The song is, quite frankly, fucking awful for its initial two minutes and forty-five seconds; it's rote symphonic black metal with tepid vocals, plastic blasting, and cardboard riffing. But then...it stops. And brilliance happens. I'm not shitting you; when these guys drop the metal act, throw in some heavily-wah'd AOR leads, add some semi-operatic female vocals, build the whole thing to boil, and then unleash a drunken C.C. DeVille solo to cap it off, they're fucking brilliant.
Brilliant, but exhausting. And, quite possibly, mildly retarded.
After a heavy-handed spoken word proclaimation regarding 'the genital warts that adorn the ass of Hades' (a speech that would likely be far more blasphemous and perverse a full two decades ago), "The Apocalypse of Lazarus" bursts out of the gate with an absurd call-and-response shtick, backed by sub-Broadway handclaps and punctuated with glitter-dusted leads. Then, after jerking themselves off for a full two minutes, guitarist James Tait rips off one of the most infectious, infected riffs in ages, and the song ends in a whirlwind of glory.
And lo, The Meads have a serious problem: wild inconsistency. They have the (li)ability to go from stellar to shitty in a matter of seconds. This, undoubtedly, is part of their charm, provided they are taken with a massive grain of salt. There's absolutely no way that The Murder of Jesus The Jew--a flamboyant, meticulous rock opera chronicling the death of Christ--can be taken seriously. The awful slop-punk of "The Man From Keiroth," the showtune interjections of "Addicted to God"...this is a joke, right? Of course it is. It has to be. So have a chuckle, roll with the groin-punches, and shake your ass to some moth-eaten blasphemy.
Unfortunately, there's a catch. This isn't meant to be taken lightly. The Meads think they are serious artists telling a serious story. There's nothing tongue-in-cheek about the earnestness of their failed riffs, the absurdity of Metatron's continously lackluster vocal delivery, or the fact that they pulled in Hoest to do guest vocals on a song called "Jew Killer." Their collective ego is absolutely staggering. The Murder of Jesus the Jew clocks in at well over sixty minutes, and when the first three songs are as scattershot as they are, the entire album becomes a veritable marathon; anyone that can make it from "Boiled in Hell Broth and Grave Dust" to "A Canticle for the Lost Amputees of Aelia Capitolina Who Have Been Trampled Under the Iron Shod Hooves of Salivating Hell Rams and Impaled on the Shimmering Tusks of Salvation Within the Abandoned Tabernacle of a Bronze Age Myth" in a single sitting deserves some type of accolade, preferably presented in person by the band members themselves.
Yes, that is the actual title of the final track. And no, you shouldn't give a shit if that one dude from Hawkwind is or isn't playing on this record, because no one actually listens to Hawkwind. Even the few that do should proceed only with a caution that The Meads of Asphodel seem to wholeheartedly lack.
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