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meads mill hill review - 78%

abraxus, March 12th, 2006

Here we have a kind of stopgap release, a between album offering that will appeal to the bands most avid fans. It is not a product to indoctrinate new fans, as the content would reveal a different style of ear battering all together and misguide those who like it. Here we have two live in the studio sessions recorded in late 2003, and mid 2004. What the credibility of such a release can only be answered by they who hear it. As for me, the album gives an insight to a band stripped to the bone, playing as a unit and obviously having a blast. A kind of how the songs started before they were layered with keyboards.
The studio out-put from the Meads is heavily orchestrated, sample affixed and generally honed to a fine tuned head fuck whilst still remaining melodic beyond reason.
Try to imagine Dimmu Borgir [and I am not comparing bands here as the mighty Dimmu are far higher in the pecking order as we all know] playing in the studio without the mass keyboard backing. Would it work?, would the songs hit you just as easily?
To be fair, the first session on this cd, a 6-track jaunt through the bands back catalogue, does have a minimal keyboard backing. Sounds like they dragged a monk off the street to press a few ivories, as it really is sparse and light compared to the bludgeoning bass chords of Hawkwinds Alan Davey and thrashing guitar attack of Tait and Cornel.
Renditions of God is Rome, Grisly Din Of Killing Steel, 80 Grains of Sand, Watchers of Catal Huyuk, and A Healer made God, are fired out of the mix in rapid succession. The sound is raw and stripped of any of the studio tweaking afforded studio outputs, but heavy as fuck and the band seem to know how to play as a unit. There is even a cover of Sepulture’s ‘Refuse/ Resist.
The second session is a mighty 23 minutes long, the quite strange ‘My Beautiful Genocide’. Here we have what seems a batch of tracks all sewn together and bolstered by the gargantuan bass drive [think Lemmy] and snare work. The song was apparently rehearsed by using work in progress arrangements and then recorded. The sleeve notes reveal that Haw guitarist Huw Lloyd Langton appeared on the day and just listened to the song once, then done his contribution to the recording. The song is a mixture of familiar mid-tempo meads mayhem, blues, Spanish guitaring, ugly Norse Black Metal and pure Heavy Metal. All this is cemented, as are the previous tracks with Metatrons unique [if not instantly enthralling] vocals. The set lyrical prose is hilarious in parts with the vocalist ranting on as he does about all things graveolent and warlike, cussing in rhyme and blurting out his bile. There are no keyboards what so ever on this lengthy piece and that makes the warmth of the music all the more surprising. The track actually works as a track in itself [a bizarre one I’ll admit], although still hard and in your face.
So, all in all a reflection of a more natural side to the band [the inlay pictures also reveal the band minus the chain mail, albeit faces hidden by hair and mikes].
I would say the band are walking a tight line of demystifying the image they have created, the glistening mail and weaponry inducing thoughts of dark age terror and honour. I suppose it’s an odd release, a very underground offering so to speak. Definitely not meant for mass consumption.