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Whereas the second album leaned more on the progressive / hard rock spectrum, this one comes freshly packed with organic, rich riffs twisted with hard rock flare and black metal character. The band focuses on brute force to end their relentless siege on our senses; Langton leads the charge, but this one’s before the rest of the gang showed up, so you still have Metraton on demand with his monstrous roars and Jaldaboath lending well to the more medieval atmosphere.
The tone of the guitar is very powerful and crisp; probably the greatest punch the band could ever muster. With Langton on the lead, the album is crammed with galloping charges of furious and melodic riffs. Needless to say, his hard rock style with the black metal edge sounds very inspiring, fun, and impressive because you don’t usually hear this kind of style tearing it up. On that matter, the songs are much more straightforward than the experimental drags found on their Exhuming The Grave Of Yeshua. Many of these tracks not only offer strong rhythm escort, but also harmonious keyboard guides that toss the music on a more enlightened level, making a jovial experience all around. Aside from medieval encouragement, the band relies on Middle Eastern sounding tunes, passages, and riffs to truly bring you back to a different place and time.
Metatron lets loose growls most of the time here, as opposed to the scream and growl tradeoff on the latter albums. As their heaviest album, his roars here are quite unmatched. With churning guitars he doesn’t mess around – his growling can be considered Cookie Monster, but they’re much more relaxed than guttural. They’re kind of like exhaled growls, but not weak, sickly or tired. The screams make very rare appearances, and they still sound as weak and drowned as they would on later albums.
Drumming I never really paid too much attention to since the style of the guitars and keys put you in this sort of trance, but I can’t say they disappoint. They’re clear, somewhat weak on the toms and drum bass, and the drummer is capable enough to mix it up when it comes to broodingly slow or ferociously fast. There are far less experimental moments and the flow of this one outweighs the cracked sophomore album, so it his effort sounds much more orthodox.
That isn’t to say these tracks are for the simple minded; please don’t assume it to be that way. Many of the tracks here are like chapters of a journey, told effectively through mystical leadwork, hellish rhythms, culturally pleasing passages, and a split genre charm. Oddly enough, the Hawkwind cover is the best track, and who to lead the stampede than a member of the band!?
The Meads achieved more when working in their comfort zone, proving they could fuse black metal and hard rock while peppering it with old school metal mysticism. All around this proved to be their defining moment, but they’d soon ditch this formula and tried experimenting in other progressive territories much like Sigh and Enslaved. They didn’t exactly screw up, but I still have yet to hear anything by them that top this one.
"No more Eden, no more tree. Worship Satan for eternity."
The Meads Of Asphodel - probably the most daring, openminded, innovative and groundbreaking modern Black metal band. First of all - this isn't your typical BM band at all. They successfully mix elements from various other styles into their experimental, and may I say, even quite progressive blend of Black metal. Yet Black metal it is, even if they draw influences from psychedelic and prog rock, strange Medieval and Eastern type of music and traditional Heavy metal as well. They stretch the boundaries of BM to the point where many fans of that particular style may get frustrated, but I personally find The Meads' music fresh and fascinating.
Metatron, the "leader" of the band, and other members too, I believe, are huge fans of space-rockers Hawkwind. Even up to the point that they have recruited Hawkwind's former guitar player Huw Lloyd Langton to play on this album. Langton's contribution as well as Metatron's affection with Hawkwind is one aspect that dominates this album. Langton does some brilliant soloing and the whole album has this certain spacey feeling. There's also a Hawkwind-cover, Assault and Battery, included. Keyboards are another integral part of the music. As I said there are a lot of exotic keyboard parts and melodies that really give this album an extra vibe and characterize the overall sound.
The music in most parts is midpaced and blastbeats are kept at a minimum. Fast and furious parts are rare and when they appear they have real effect. The riffs are solid and create the core of the music, like a backbone along with the rhythm section for the various keyboard and solo guitar sounds. Vocalist Metatron has a unique voice; it's pretty low for BM and somewhat raspy, yet not at all a Death metal-voice.
The key to this album is openmindedness. Forget your conceptions of what Black metal is and enter the dark realm of The Meads Of Asphodel. Free your mind! Ways to worship death are many; The Meads certainly have their own.
"Forget the past for now is death, and the chill of never ending torment."