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A Surreal Listen... - 62%

TheKEZ, December 14th, 2011

If this seems like an odd pairing for a split, then it's an even stranger listening experience. British nutters The Meads Of Asphodel have created a kind of concept EP about Islamic fundamentalists culminating in a cover of Hawkwind's 'Hassan I Shaba' that has been renamed 'Assasins Of Allah', which is fellowed by two historic black metal artefacts in the form of Dead-era Mayhem demos...

The Meads' 'Jihad' side of the split is a bold addition to their odd-ball back catalogue of demented black / punk / psychedelic / folk / medieval / whatever metal, but as with a lot of their material, seems to fall slightly short of the mark. On paper, their combination of different styles and genres presented with an almost Pythonesque look at historical conflict sounds like a winner, but all too often the band sounds like a slightly uninspired, mid-tempo not-quite-black-metal act with some obtuse field recordings chucked in. That said, they do have their moments of genius, and even at their most cringe worthy it's still inherently difficult to actively dislike this band. They definately remain interesting to listen to at any rate.

Mayhem's side is much, much shorter, but just bonafide classic material. If you're one of those people who consider Dead to be the archetypal black metal vocalist, I'm sure you'll leap at the chance to hear him shrieking over Freezing Moon. Whilst you all know exactly what to expect here, there's no doubting that this is definately worth the time of everyone with even a passing interest in the genre.

The problem is though, as a split, this feels very disjointed. It's as if two completely seperate EPs (or single, in Mayhem's case) have just been randomly placed together. But this is hardly a reason to complain, as the two sides can always be enjoyed for their own merits, and this weird combination of the two isn't without it's charms either. Certainly worth a listen, especially for Mayhem fans!

Most of the songs are disappointing - 57%

tallhagillani, January 16th, 2008

This review is from a black metal purist's perspective. I love black metal in its entirety and I do not appreciate the sort of stuff that the meads have created, they call it experimental black metal while I don't find anything black about their songs except some average harsh vocals with commercialy sounding atmosphere. I don't understand how they managed to release a split album with these legendary Norwegian musicians.

There're only 2 Mayhem songs which are 1000 times better and blacker than Meads' songs. Freezing Moon is a classic and legendary Mayhem song while Carnage is an average Mayhem song but sounds really good. On the contrary Meads songs are childish, they've mostly taken inspirations from bollywood music and famous main theme from "O Fortuna" etc, here and have added some Arabic lyrics to the songs with some clean passages of mixture of different subjects like politics and religion, their lyrics are their strongest point.

Meads songs are mostly dominated by keyboards, average riffs and uninspiring drumming, but, nevertheless, they have 2 songs in this album that do not sound horrible at all, these are Assassins of Allah and Jihad - The grisly din of killing steel. These 2 Meads songs are catchy and sound pretty much like metal. According to their lyrical content their should have been lots of energy and spirit in these songs but it just isn't here. In a few words I can describe their music like this, extreme pop music (the word extreme is there because of the harsh vocals.

Vikings 3, Saxons 2 - 85%

blackoz, December 13th, 2006

The Freezing Moon / Jihad split with The Meads of Asphodel is one of a few split discs in Mayhem’s official and bootleg discographies. At first sight a seemingly unlikely pairing, the two bands share, to quote The Meads’ website, a “Black Metal spine”, in spite of their very different tastes in casual wear.

There won’t be much argument that the two Mayhem tracks, featuring the “classic” Dead / Euronymous / Necrobutcher / Hellhammer lineup, represent the epitome of Norwegian black metal. The production is minimal and swampy and the music chilling and supremely aggressive. Of all the available studio and live recordings of “Freezing Moon”, that offered here must surely stand as the definitive version. Appropriately Fenriz chose it to represent Mayhem on his excellent anthology of “old school” black metal. Dead’s asphyxiated rasp, drenched in reverb, is both startling and arresting. “Carnage”, while less impressive a composition, is just as ferocious and captures the players at their ripping best.

The other prominent feature of “Freezing Moon” is the guitar solo, one of the very few in Mayhem’s entire catalog. And what a great solo it is! With not a blues lick in sight, this appropriately short highlight demonstrates how much Euronymous had developed as a player from the drunken slush of the band’s earliest efforts to 1990. The tremulous melody snakes its way over sixteen bars, building the icy tension to a spine-tingling climax. It’s a fitting tribute to his predecessor that Blasphemer plays this solo virtually note for note (with the occasional extemporization) in live performance. Just for the record my favourite version of the solo (I have eight Mayhem performances of the song) is Blasphemer’s break featured on “Mediolanum Capta Est”.

What grabs the attention initially with The Meads’ tracks is the liberal use of samples and sound effects. The band describes its music as a “unique myriad of colliding musical styles tethered to a Black Metal spine.” It’s an accurate enough description. But while Mayhem’s two tracks can be seen as pure Norwegian black metal energy, The Meads of Asphodel’s music doesn’t so much attack as lollop along in an almost folky manner, reminiscent of Viking metal. The saturated guitars and death-grind vocals don’t even come close to creating the black metal chill of Mayhem. It’s engaging, entertaining stuff, but all too often borders on the cheesy. You get the feeling that the black metal elements have been deliberately given a back seat to the more theatrical aspects of the production.

And it is quite a production. Spoken word snippets, extracts from country music and Carl Orff, splattering machine gun fire, explosions and rumbling tanks all combine to set the scene of total carnage. The band’s clear intention is to pour scorn on religious extremism – in this case the fundamentalist Islamic jihad – and its mission to kill indiscriminately in the name of God. The message is clearly and cleverly conveyed. Whether the music stands up without all the theatrical trappings, however, is a matter of opinion. In terms of carnage, it has to be said, Mayhem achieves it brilliantly without resorting to a catalog of sound effects.

100% for Mayhem, 70% for The Meads of Asphodel. A total mark of 85%.

The new guys out play the stalwarts - 90%

TheStormIRide, February 11th, 2006

An album with two separate bands, the established Mayhem and the up and coming Meads of Asphdel. This is a very interesting split. The Meads of Asphodel definitely steal the show, a rather tough act considering Mayhem is virtually a black metal monolith. Onto the album...

The Meads of Asphodel take the first portion of the split, their side entitled "Jihad". The intro track definitely sets the mood, along with the beginning of "The Grisly Din of Killing Steel". The intros are very Middle Eastern sounding, with some form of Arabic talking, missiles launching, church organs, and something that sounds like knives sliding off of each other. The music starts off with a killer riff, some awesome drumming, and very rough vocals. There are some reallly eerie keyboard sounds here, with a very melodic keyboard/piano piece over top. A really cool, almost techno drum sound is used towards the middle, with some "O Fortuna" symphonics. From the description of the first 3 minutes of the first music track, one can tell this isn't your typical black metal band. The song then almost sounds like the tape is slowing down, only to kick into another great riff. The style here is a mid-pace black metal, with chunky riffing, raw vocals, and relatively speedy drumming.

The production for the Meads of Asphodel is not the greatest, but come on, this is black metal, and the production rarely is. The guitars, like I mentioned earlier, are very chunky, and all of the riffs seem to have very good placement. The vocals are rather low in the mix, but it works well with his style of singing. His vocals are both raw and rough, but still quite understandable, to the trained ear. The drums are really good the whole way through, with some rather inventive rolls and fills. The keyboards are very eerie, and set a really cool tone (anybody ever play Shivers?). The music definitely has a middle eastern feel to it at parts, especially the sound samples. Merging two distinct styles, black metal and traditional middle eastern sounds is not done easily (Melechesh), but Meads of Asphodel pull it off very well.

Each track is outstanding. Better production would not have hurt this release at all, but it's still awesome. The lyrical concepts are really cool, especially on "Another God, Another Place". The focus is on tolerance of religions, especially the anti-tolerance stance Christian religions take towards other religions. The line "You think God only belongs to you, he doesn't. God is not an Israelite" definitely gets the general theme of Jihad across. Speaking of "Another God, Another Place", there is an amazing section that completely fuses middle eastern sounds with palm muting and heavy drumming. An outstanding section!

The album then goes into an interlude track, that is very realistic and eerie at the same time. It sounds very warlike, almost like CNN's coverage of issues in the middle east, and it ends with an awesome radio clip of "this land was made for you and me." It definitely helps highlight the sarcasm that is throughout much of Jihad's lyrics, as well as other releases from Meads of Asphodel. The last track for Meads of Asphodel is a cover of Hawkwind's "Assassins of Allah". The song is very stripped down, given raw vocals, and a lot of palm muting. Apparently the record label wanted more material for the CD issue of this album, so Meads of Asphodel went through this one fairly well. There's definitely more of the MIddle Eastern feel to it, and it fits very nicely along the other tracks. Overall, an amazing effort from Meads of Asphodel.

Following Jihad is Mayhem's "Freezing Moon". It definitely would be difficult for any band to follow such an outstanding effort, even for Mayhem. These tracks are from the Dead era of Mayhem. The production is not good at all; the drums and bass are too high, the guitars are very hard to hear, and the vocals almost get lost in the mix.

The aggression on these two tracks ("Carnage" and "Freezing Moon") is exceptional, the playing (what I can hear of it) is very well done, and there are some really good high speed solos mixed in. I find it hard to listen to these two tracks, especially right after Jihad. The track "Carnage" is mostly fast riffing, the same drum beat, and a lot of speed, with cool solos. "Freezing Moon" is a little more drawn out, until about the two minute mark. Once again it's very fast drumming, fast riffing, and tortured vocals. There is a really cool slowed down part, with a very thrashy sounding solo over the top, where you can actually hear the guitars fairly well.

Mayhem's side is played very well, but like Meads of Asphodel, better production definitely would not hurt. Overall, Meads of Asphodel steals the show, and leaves Mayhem miles behind. Every track on this album is well written, and played well, but the originallity of the Meads of Asphodel is astonishing, and the mixture of Middle Eastern infuences won me over instantaneously. The high scores I give this album are mostly for the Meads of Asphodel. Mayhem played well, but just not to the level that they are capable of. Well done Meads of Asphodel! Mayhem recieved a decent score, simply because the musicanship and essentiality of this recording to Mayhem fans.

Recommended to black metal fans. All Mayhem fans should own this. Meads of Asphodel are recommnded to fans of Nile, Melechesh, and Orphaned Land, simply for the fusion of Middle Eastern elements. Also anyone looking for black metal that is outside of the box!

Jihad - 98%
Mayhem - 87%
the scores were then averaged out... rounding up.

Most definately interesting. - 85%

Kanwvlf, July 13th, 2004

After a two minute intro, consisting of gunfire, missiles launching, church organ music, and an Arab marketplace we are treated to... the most fucking strange music in the world, and why not! Of course, that's what we've come to expect from Meads, right?

The music is pretty much the typical riffy affair you'd expect from this band, but you also get strange breakdowns of Jihadic (is that a word?) music, religiously extremist chants and speeches, classical music performed as techno, and tribal drums with deep growled vocals. Very strange indeed, and also very fitting.

The music is also generally quite slow, but sometimes speeds up to add effect, as if worshiping Allah. 'Tanks In The Holy Land' is just one long soundclip of military movements, with what sounds like an Arabic chant repeating over and over. While 'Assassins Of Allah' seems to be praising those who suicide bomb in the name of their God. Very thrilling, and contraversial music from this British band.

Stand-out songs are: Jihad and Another God In Another Place

Now, the Mayhem side leaves something to be desired, because the production is awful, and after listening to all of what Meads have done, it puts a huge wall up, and you expect more good quality.

Still, they are Mayhem songs, and they are performed amazingly well, with great solos, riffs (which are really only just listenable), and amazing drumming. The vocals are pretty much typical, being raspy and very evil sounding.

There isn't really a stand-out Mayhem song, seeing as there's only two, and that's a shame, because they could've fit more onto here. But they're both really good.

All in all, this is a good split, with the better side being by the Meads, although it seems that this was released for Meads to break into the big time, and Mayhem helped them on their way. Good stuff.