Rise of the Heraldic Beasts

British Heraldic Templar Metal?

Monty Python metal?

Hey Nonny Nonny core?

Whatever you call it, the brain child of The Meads of Asphodel founder James Fogarty is certainly one thing: Fun!

Imagine if you will the “Knights of the Round Table/Camelot” song from Monty Python’s The Holy Grail -movie done to metal (it’s a silly place after all) or Lord Blackadder, Lord Percy and Baldrick―from season one of Blackadder―performing heavy metal. Taking Alestorm’s “Pirate Metal” one step further and adding more humor, Jaldaboath is a mix of heavy metal, thrash, power and folk metal. But in place of Pagan/Viking elements is a ridiculously catchy sense of regal pomp by way of synthesized trumpets and flutes, befitting Renn faire’s, curly shoes and men in tights, moshing minstrels.

On paper it sounds rather dumb, and in practice it really is, but with the whole affair clearly having a tongue in cheek tone (check out the goofy video for opener “Hark the Herald”, including synchronized head banging knights) by way of song titles like “Bash the Bishop” and “Axe Wielding Nuns” the end result is just fun, catchy and doing for folk metal what Lawnmower Deth did for thrash back in the early ’90s.

In truth, the first few tracks of the album are some of the catchiest, foot-tapping metal I’ve heard since Alestorm’s debut. The aforementioned “Hark the Herald” is just infectious as all get out  and might be one of my favorite songs of year ― including a deep spoken word/synth section that might be taking the piss out of Bal-Sagoth. Then “Calling On All Heraldic Beasts” has a wonderfully addictive chorus, while “Bash the Bishop” is pure Blackadder humor put to raucous metal (the little mid section jaunt is awesome). “Axe Wielding Nuns” and “Jaldaboath” (based on the theme for the old British kids show Rentaghost for all you fellow Brits reading) are the albums funniest tracks – just pure Monty Python –esque zaniness.

There are a couple of problems though. The first is more cultural. Much like British humor, I’m not sure how many other foreign folks will “get it”; it’s a very niche band that will garner a small devout group of fans. Second, there seems to be a bit of a divide between the tracks I mentioned above and the other tracks. Starting with parts of the other wise very epic and Sigh like “Seek the Grail”, then continuing with “Bring me the Head of Metatron” (a reference to other The Meads of Asphodel founder) “Jacque De Mornay” (the Templar Knights’ last Grand Master) and the middle eastern “Da Vinci’s Code” the album is far more serious sounding and culls more from The Meads of Asphodels darker black metal roots complete with harsher vocals and just a much less fun vibe. It’s almost like two separate bands or writing sessions. They are not bad songs, they still have the cheesy synths and such, they are just slight buzz kills.

Still, I’ve listened to this album A LOT in the few days I’ve had it and while my affinity for all things flutey and medieval makes me a bit biased, I think Rise of the Heraldic Beasts will still be on my year end list just for the fun factor.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
September 23rd, 2010


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