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Album is an acquired taste & eclectic in approach - 65%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, January 15th, 2012

Technically the music on this album doesn't really count as black metal as the pace isn't chaotic enough and the sound is too clean with none of that icy "blasted heath" atmosphere to clog up the proceedings and smother the singing. A lot of the music doesn't even count as metal at all: the heavy rock stuff is but a template for soaring spaced-out synth tunes, some punk, proggy-rock melodies, acoustic guitar passages, some Middle Eastern chord flecks and rhythms and, towards the end, a Monty Python narration sequence and some whacked-out dancey cheese-electronica. The music is not consistent and these British space crusaders give the impression that at the time of recording they were still finding their musical feet and appropriate spot in the space / time continuum. The thing that pulls the entire album together is its theme of stripping the mythology surrounding the figure of Jesus Christ to reveal the human beneath and exposing mainstream Christianity as propaganda and social control: that kind of theme would be enough to qualify MoA as black metal of a mild sort.

Among the better tracks, I single out "80 Grains of Sand" which is close to black metal in some of its vocals and features a recording of a rabbi reciting a Jewish death prayer. The track opens up in the middle and for a moment or two we seem to be in a completely different time and world. "Guts for Sale" has a pleasant and memorable bluesy guitar passage with a clean and refreshing air. A cover of the Hawkwind song "Utopia" appears; in the context of this album, the song suggests a sarcastic attitude to what awaits fallen Christian martyr soldiers in the afterlife. "Sons of Arak Rise" is not bad, sliding from something almost like black metal with a rhythm sprayed with Middle Eastern flourishes into symphonic prog metal. The lyrics verge on the cerebral but the band avoids excess in both music and words.

Track 10 features music sprawling across various genres and scenarios of war and mass slaughter. The narration is hilarious if ghoulish: we are continually reassured of God's nearness to us while people scream in pain and anguish, after which when everyone has died and gone upstairs or downstairs, carnival festivities start up and machine guns fire in celebration. The whole thing is meant to be a sarcastic comment on martyrdom and wars fought for religion and ideology. The bonus track "Book of Dreams" pops in and is not at all remarkable even as techno and there's no need to hear it out.

MoA are an acquired taste and their schtick can only last so long before it goes stale and camp. They obviously don't take themselves all that seriously but the music here is serious enough.

An original version of this review appeared in The Sound Projector (issue 13) in 2005.

I Must Confess: This Album is Awesome - 92%

Hawksword192, June 11th, 2010

Exhuming the Grave of Yeshua marked a new era for The Meads of Asphodel. For starters, the mind behind Jaldaboath is gone from the Meads and to replace them is the ever competent James Tait but also with Sigh vocalist/bassist/keyboardist Mirai Kawashima, bassist Deorth and Hawkwind bassist Alan Davey. Secondly, while the first album sports black metal with many different styles, it does so with a strong emphasis on the black metal element in the music. Exhuming the Grave of Yeshua doesn't blend the influences, it embraces them in a way that are in no way superficial but completely integral (as in the songs could not exist without) showing a band that is not afraid to experiment and competent enough to do so. Personally I feel this lead to an extremely well written, fun, and thought provoking album filled with crushing riffs, atmospheric keyboards, acoustic interludes and with enough lyrical prowess to invoke consideration if whether Metatron is a front man for a band or poet.

The first impression of the whole album has to be cohesiveness. The Excommunication of Christ was a strong effort but suffered from the sense that it felt like what it was. It was a re-recording of demos from their earlier days with new production and better vocal performances. While it does not diminish from the individual strengths of the material, ultimately the entire album seems bound together by production. Unlike that effort, Exhuming the Grave of Yeshua has the feel of an album written and performed as an album and not like a collection of songs. The songs flow into each other without feeling repetitive and each song feels like a distinctive idea within the anti-Christian musical mythos they have established. Mirai's keyboard passages and James' acoustic guitar pieces certainly help the flow by giving the impression of a gentle transition between raging circles of hell. Although on an individual basis some of the songs are individually weaker than those on the previous album, the album format compliments their strengths into a juggernaut of a listen.

The highlights of the album are easily the songs God is Rome, Utopia, Sluts of the Netherworld and Book of Dreams (which is a bonus track and re-recording of a previous demo). God is Rome starts off with a combination of strong riffs and blunt Anti-Christian lyrics into a furious mix. Utopia gives a hardy hard rock feel (probably due to the Hawkwind influence and members) combining with black metal and more of Metatron's amazing lyrics. It's here where James Tait shows his abilities as a guitarist by making catchy riffs and a catchy solo without losing any of the anger and mockery expressed through the human defeatist lyrics. Sluts of the Netherworld takes a different tone. While Utopia and God is Rome are songs to headbang to, Sluts of the Netherworld is easily the song on the album a listener is bound to shout out with. Finally but certainly not the least is Book of Dreams, which is essentially more of a poem set to catchy electronica elements and while many black Metal fans might find it anathema to listen to, I found it certainly a fun way to end the entire album.

Special mention is needed for On Graven Images I Glide Beyond the Monstrous Gates of Pandemonium to Face the Baptized Warriors of Yahweh in the Skull Littered Plain of Esdraelon. While it’s not really a song, the chants of God is Fucking With You with varying inflections while screams of the rapture in the background I personally found to be hypnotizing. It summarizes the album really well. A surreal experience in which a listener is not sure if they’re being fucked with or if they’re experiencing mayhem with mercy. Either way, any fan of black metal and experimentation should certainly check this album out.

Onward To The Recycle Bin! (Part XIV) - 68%

OzzyApu, October 28th, 2009

The debut can be seen as an achievement filled with fantastic passages and barbaric riffs to feast on. It wasn’t entirely a proggy black metal album, but the tone necessarily straightforward, either, so it required the listener to absorb every bit of it. Many of the songs on it were rocking black metal tunes, but at heart it could still be considered hard rock. This sophomore effort to me follows in the footsteps of Sigh and Enslaved, showing the band diversifying their bonds. In this respect, we have an album that tries to be something without having to give up its roots. That’s like if Opeth wanted to play indie rock without ditching the death metal aspect – unless you want to overhaul the writing, then its tough shit.

This album doesn’t hold too much value in the riff department, but many of the experimental breaks leave more to the imagination. Kawashima from Sigh handles some keyboard moments, but regardless of who’s playing them they’re some of the most magical and enchanting I’ve ever heard – it puts Lord Of The Rings to shame, really. The first few tracks don’t really offer too much because they sound either rushed or lackluster. An example for the former would be “God Is Rome,” which goes all-out without delivering anything to the listener. In live settings it might be a worthy opener to get everyone in the mood, but listening to it offers nothing in any department of instruments. “Blood Blasted Holy War,” however, puts all excuses aside and knocks you off your feet. The exerting force of Enslaved matches up with Sigh’s expressiveness to deliver a catchy but eerie and numinous track.

Further in you begin to notice how bizarre the disposition becomes, like an uncomfortable dream. You feel like you’re in a different era sometimes, bewildered at your misfortune. The guitar tone isn’t powerful and sports more of a rock tone thanks to the clear but dull production. The riffs themselves begin to sound more and more evil as the longer tracks progress, but over the course of the album its pretty spontaneous (much like the flow)s. Drumming I hardly even noticed until a few tracks in, since they’re very passive and stale. The band fixed the drum bass problem found on the first album and the capabilities of the kit master still hold up in all rhythms, but they’re a bit tedious and don’t really fit with the experimental nature of the album.

Usually I can tell what an album is trying to get out or show the listener, but here its still a tad difficult. The band consists of hard rock members playing black metal – blackened hard rock / heavy metal? Not too inconceivable, since the first album mastered the craft. With this one, it’s kind of a hit or miss deal, especially when most of it is pretty unexciting stuff. A track may have an interesting moment somewhere within, but when its surrounded by music that’s as interesting as a garbage can, then it brings the whole effort to a stalemate.

Davey on bass sounds pretty gruffy, usually heard and contributing with the rhythm as expected. The album no doubt has that warm atmosphere that hopes to keep you relaxed. There’s no hate or diabolical evil to be found here, but more of the “take a hit and chill” variety. Langton and Davey both come straight from Hawkwind, so expecting full on black metal is laughable. In fact, the moments where many of the relaxing guitar moments like that found in “Sons Of Anak Rise” show the band at their very best. If anything, they should drop the black metal and go straight for executing delicious, melodic, intricate passages such as that one. With guys from Hawkwind on their side, you can bet they can get job done.

“Guts For Sale” is also what I’d call false advertising, delivering the finest keyboard backdrop and a blissful acoustic rhythm. I feel like I’m in the clouds, soaring with Maverick from Top Gun and surfing with Dio down a rainbow. Easily my favorite track on the album because it makes you really feel alive, stands out by being completely different, and just has that inspiring tone that makes you wonder how something so beautiful is coming from a blackened hard rock band.

Vocally, I only like Metatron’s scruffy growls; the screams I’ve heard are from a different member, but the point is that I’m not a fan of them. The growls aren’t beastly like on the debut, but lovable, speech-like, and a bit reflexive like the Cookie Monster. The screams are drowned at a much higher pitch, which to me is a little annoying and useless. The growls handle the front very well without the need of an amateur sounding screams that don’t even sound like anything a black metal vocalist would utilize.

While hard rock is the general approach, you’ll run into some electronic moments, which is pretty much what “On Graven Images…” turns out to be… all >10 minutes of it. I find it to be rather useless and mechanical, as well as just plain boring and childish. Don’t worry about “Book Of Dreams,” it’s pretty much the same deal as “On Graven Images…” but shorter and with more sparse moments of ingenuity.

For an album that has a couple of Meads’ best songs, I don’t think I’m going to keep this one around. Youtube can satisfy my appetites if I care to revisit, but the replayability of this sophomore outing (and the band as a whole) isn’t all that high. They know how to write a song when it comes down to it, but they’re a bit stuck with pleasing too many crowds at once and end up alienating many fans in the process. This bars me from enjoying the whole thing, even though this type of music isn’t my typical deal anyway. I’ll stick to the few tracks I like, but if you’re curious then by all means check it out and give it your verdict. You’re bound to like something on here.

B- - 81%

Lyrici17, May 17th, 2009

“Exhuming the Grave of Yeshua” starts off with some ominous drones, and perhaps, a shaker? At 1:14 a powerful angered voice chimes in and explains how you, the listener, are in for some awesome music. He doesn't say those exact words, but that will be the result regardless. The Meads of Asphodel are interesting group. Even if you hate this material, you will probably still think it’s interesting. The Meads of Asphodel are really experimenting here. They draw from lots of different influences. There’s ambient influences all over the place, as well as black metal, folk metal, medieval folk, and probably lots of other stuff that I don't even realize. This material is very progressive. The music is in a constant state of flux. However, they are able to create, for the most part, pretty seamless transitions. This is actually pretty impressive if you consider the many different styles they are mixing together. I want to label this band medieval blackened folk metal, but that’s just too many damn words. Though, I think the label does sum up this band in three words.

The guitars are definitely the draw, for me, with this album. Honestly, there’s not really a bunch of riffs that completely stand out for me (though the riffs at 3:36 and 4:05 in “Blood Blasted Holy War” are both pretty good) (the solo at 2:30 in “Utopia” is also quite good - though not a riff). However, I think, generally, the riffing is a lot of fun. There’s a lot different riffs playing all sorts of different stuff. There’s also a fair portion of acoustic guitars on this album (“Guts for Sale“, for instance, is an almost all-acoustic affair). I think eventually most people will find at least a few riffs that they will end up saying they like, even if they might not remember them later. What they will remember, is that they [generally] liked the riffing.

The bass is hit or missing. That’s not the same as hit or miss, mind you. No, what I mean is that for the most part the bass is pretty good. It plays a lot of different parts, while not necessarily mimicking the guitar (though this does happen from time to time). Yet, there are also times where the bass is simply lost. I like the drumming a lot. It’s not overly technical by any means, but it plays a lot of different kinds of beats. There’s also a lot of additional percussion done - with more folksy drums (I suppose they're more folksy). I found this to be fun, as well as enhancing the overall medieval sound. There's a even a fair share of drum machine (mostly on the more ambient-dominated tracks).

The keyboards are pretty important on this record. Throughout this record, there is almost always some sort of keyboard part being played. Sometimes they're just drones, choirs, or strings, but they're always pretty complementary. There are even a couple tracks that are mostly dominated by the keyboards (“Intro: Exhuming the Grave of Yeshua” and “On Graven Images I Glide Beyond the Monstrous Gates of Pandemonium to Face the Baptized Warriors of Yahweh in the Skull-Littered Plain of Esdraelon” being the two most heavily dominated).

“Exhuming the Grave of Yeshua” is a successful album because The Meads of Asphodel are able to take a bunch of different styles and genres, and mash them all together into a experimental progressive medieval masterpiece. Then this is matched with a medieval aesthetic. Yes, the members wear chain-mail, carry large unforgettable shields, brandish swords and spears, and don helmets on their heads (covering most of their faces in the process). They also hang out in castles, and discuss religion as if they reside in the 5th century (though modern influence does come though at times). If the Anglo-Saxons had minstrel music like this, I think history might have turned out a little different - perhaps not. Regardless, this record is very enjoyable, and worth checking out.

Fuck England. - 10%

Noktorn, September 29th, 2008

The Meads Of Asphodel are a totally vapid and inconsequential band that has managed to convince the metal scene that they are actually composing something of interest. Fooling the metal scene is not difficult to do, but the profound degree that this band has managed to trick even reasonably intelligent listeners is quite frankly amazing. There's nothing of actual value on 'Exhuming The Grave Of Yeshua', just the cloying appearance of purpose and direction amidst all the masturbation. It could be a joke were people not so tragically serious about it.

Beyond the simplest of Pantera worshipers, metalheads are generally a rather insecure lot about their taste in music, and any elements that can help draw attention away from the typical lexicon of metal (blast beats, tremolo riffs, lyrics about things that aren't petty introspection, you know the drill) is seen as a blessing, much in the way that having a few token non-metal artists to listen to is a way to atone for the sins of their main body of taste. The Meads Of Asphodel, for those insecure people, is like a godsend: it's got just enough metal aesthetic to be listenable for black metal fans, but it also has assorted acoustic interludes, electronic effects, programmed trip-hop beats, and other novelty slathered on so thick you can't see the skeleton that the flesh is draped upon. Thus, it's the perfect union, in the eyes of the insecure, of the duality of music, where everything is either metal or non-metal, and so can be brought out not only as a token of one's open-minded tastes, but also as a sort of trump card against all those who might besmirch the name of heavy metal.

"How dare can you say that metal is one-dimensional and unartistic! Have you heard The Meads Of Asphodel? They play heavy metal but also incorporate influences from rock music, electronica, prog, and even hip-hop! That PROVES that metal is open-minded!"

Now anyone with more than a handful of neurons firing will see the whole debate for the sham it is, but there's a high school sucker born every minute who feels the need to justify his taste in music through such half-assed equivocation. Numerous metalheads believe, ironically, that metal in and of itself is inherently brutish and unable to articulate itself in a manner anyone would appreciate. And so this demented guilt-cycle continues to produce bands such as The Meads Of Asphodel, who cater to the audience of metalheads who need something quirky and overwrought to listen to to absolve themselves of the sin of extreme music. It's supremely idiotic, and The Meads Of Asphodel play supremely idiotic music couched in endless varieties of pseudointellectualism and musical inconsistency.

There's really very little that's genuinely metal about this music. Stuff that sounds like black metal occasionally pops up, but it doesn't REALLY sound like black metal; for all the tremolo riffs, screams, and blast beats that they force into these few moments of extremity, the riffing seems rather random and shoddily composed, the vocals unexciting, and overall they give the impression that the band is just filling in space between stretches of ambiance or wafting acoustic guitar. The rest is droning pseudo-prog rock that sounds a lot like if Pink Floyd had listened to a lot of Iron Maiden but had no actual idea of how to express their musical ideas. It's remarkably club-footed music; it always feels slow and awkward when attempting even a pinch of intensity, and only really sounds at ease during the bland parts with funk drums and synths dominating the sound.

The whole package is sickeningly pandering and desperate for approval. Take the opening track, 'God Is Rome'; essentially a punk song (with The Meads Of Asphodel's trademark idiot jazz chord riffing), but god forbid it simply stay a punk song, as the band fortunately decides to inject a totally unrelated and meaningless acoustic break halfway through. Phew, thought I was going to feel some energy for a moment! Glad they stomped that out! 'Guts For Sale' is dominated by acoustic guitar and bass that makes me sound like I should be speeding in a pink convertible somewhere in California while a camera slowly pans away. 'Sluts Of The Netherworld' has a totally awkward metal opening before popping into a trip-hop beat with cheesy electronics. Every track follows this pattern: brief moments of metal immediately tossed away in favor of more dreary 'open-mindedness'.

Not only is this album a complete farce as far as being genuinely artistic, but the music itself can't even be trite yet well composed. The band never falls into anything approximating a flow, opting instead to bore the listener dreadfully through endless repetition of the same few melodic themes that pop up on nearly every track. The music has not even the most remote hint of substance. It's a totally vacant parody of 'progressive' music, and yet people eat it up in droves. Who can honestly listen to this and say they hear something of meaning and musical relevance? It's incompetent from top to bottom and there's no excuse for anyone to willingly listen to this.

Inconceivably worthless.

Up the Meads!!! - 100%

resheph, January 9th, 2008

Exhuming the Grave of Yeshua is yet another outstanding album from the metal geniuses the Meads of Asphodel. This cd is one of my favourites of all time and despite the numerous amounts of times I’ve listened to it; it never ceases to amaze me. It contains the bizarre synths and iconic eastern sound of the Meads.

The lyrics are still as great and creative as ever or if any change have grown better with Metatron clearly outdoing his last effort. Every inch of this album is unconventional to the typical black metal genre with the growl of the vocalist, lyrical mastermind Metatron sounding like a death grunt with a strong and the psychedelic synths and guitar. The musicianship of the artists is exceptional, excellent shredding, some of the most creative drumming I’ve ever heard.

I truly recommend this album for fans of metal with an intellectual open mind. The unfathomable talent of these metal muses is astonishing.

Stand out tracks: God is Rome, Guts for Sale, Healer made God.

Are you brave enough? - 90%

Wilczur, April 3rd, 2005

I use the word ‘funky’ with fear but it is true. A very ‘fun’ and ‘funky’ release for open minded individuals (at least when it comes to music!). The variety contained on this release is beyond a metal measuring stick. It is not pretentious art for the sake of being artsy. – it all flows and is greatly enjoyable but it is definitely out of the norm so be warned.

It is very hard to compare this to any bands but at certain moments I hear the strangeness of Sigh, the aggression of Grand Belials Key – mostly these two bands come to mind for some odd reason.

There are many elements on this release, it is still dark and at certain moments ‘black metal’ but it has many different layers, moods, great acoustic passages, amazing use of synths and other electronics as well as rarity in metal = actually well thought out lyrics. There is not a dull moment on this release but I am sure ‘purists’ will hate it.

It took a few spins to absorb the full genius of this release, this is the only material I have heard by the band so it is very hard to compare to their other release which I will obtain with time.

I often hear people refer to the newer material by Enslaved as ‘psychedelic black metal’ but I can not help to wonder if they have heard The Meads of Asphodel.

The album contains so many well thought out songs and ideas and passages that even people who are not into extreme metal music can enjoy it. It is not simple ‘peasant’ music for the metal masses.

So many different moods and such professionalism are rare. As a whole this album is more of an experience then actual listening to music.

This release also features a lot of guests: Huw Lloyd Langton [guitar] and Alan Davey [Bass] from Hawkwind. Vincent Crowley [Narration] from Acheron. Mirai [keyboards] from Sigh, and Paul Carter [Keyboards] from Thus Defiled.

Stand out tracks: 80 Grains of Sand, Guts for Sale, Utopia, A Healer Made God

Exhuming The Grave - 95%

Apophis, March 20th, 2004

I didn't really know what to expect when I got this record. Either it was the medieval costumes adopted by the band, some people terming them black metal, or something else alltogether.

If I'm honest, this album is definately not as heavy as I first imagined, but the level of heaviness transcends normal definitions.

Much in the same way as Akercocke's 'Choronzon', 'Exhuming The Grave of Yeshua' - aside from the proving the mortality of Christ theme - is much in the same way experimenting with adding different textures and layers to an existing sound or style.
The principal difference between the two albums however would be the fact that whilst Akercocke's album is of mixed pace and varying between slow and fast numbers, The Meads' album is of a more consistent speed with only slightly more subtle changes in speed than some of those on 'Choronzon'

This is very much a progressive album. Not by the strict sense of the genre but in terms of how much, neverminding the medieval imagery and lyrical content, the music strives ahead often going where virtually no-one that wants to be thought of as a "metalhead" wants to take their music.

Definately a band out there leading their own unique field, The Meads Of Asphodel even roped in some of their old friends for this sophomore album. Not only does Mirai Kawashima from Sigh appear on one track, but so does the virtually legendary Hawkwind frontman Huw Loyd Langton. Friends in high places?

Either way, if you don't possess an open-mind, don't bother with this album. It's not for you.

It's for those who appreciate multi-layered talented music trying to make its own path.