The Meads of Asphodel
The Murder of Jesus the Jew

Not counting former Meads member Jaldaboath and his recent solo effort, my last experience with England’s The Meads of Asphodel was 2001’s The Excommunication of Christ, an album that I still find very difficult to absorb, but still enjoy in spurts (particularly “Bene He Elohim”). That still appears to be the case with the band’s latest expectedly eclectic release.

With co-founder Metatron still at the helm and despite the exodus of Jaldaboath, The Meads of Asphodel are still as unclassifiable and bizarre as ever, culling from hard rock, black metal, thrash, punk, prog metal, death metal and whatever the fuck they feel like at any given moment. Throw in Mirai Kawashima from Sigh on session keyboards, who adds an even more exotic and eccentric mood to the proceedings, and the end result yet another head scratching album that’s littered with both brilliance and schizophrenic inconsistency.

Mirai’s guest appearance is obvious from the get go. Circus-like intro “Boiled In Hell Broth And Grave Dust” could be from Scenes From Hell and “My Psychotic Sand Deity”, the albums early standout is rife with pompous synths and galloping black-ish metal backbone, but a mid-song tangent into proggy solo work and operatic female vocals―that could be from a Broadway closing act―remind you how un-fucking-predictable this lot are. It’s brilliant and frustrating at the same time.

And its this completely off the wall, off kilter sense of unhinged unpredictability, that makes for a roller coaster of an album―not knowing where the next sudden jerk or free fall drop is lurking within the albums 63-minute run time. You could be listening to almost comedic anti-Christian spewings that morph into peppy, clap filled dance beats  (“Apocalypse Of Lazarus”), or angry, angular metal transitioning to what I can only call a metal Showtune (“Addicted to God”) and back. It simply goes on and on throughout the album. These moments of metal awkwardly collide with Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (i.e. “Man from Kerioth”).

The thing is, TMOA have the ability to often render something special amid the chaos;  “Jew Killer” is a dark and foreboding doomy metal number, centerpiece “Genesis of Death” is a brilliantly varied, sprawling 9-minute epic track, and “From Eagle to Cross” is a stern little metal ditty with just a simply fucking killer folk Skyclad-ish groove smack bang in the middle. But then the last two tracks “Apostle Of The Uncircumcised” and the ridiculously named closer “A Canticle for the Lost Amputees of Aelia Capitolina Who Have Been Trampled Under the Iron Shod Hooves of Salivating Hell Rams and Impaled on the Shimmering Tusks of Salvation Within the Abandoned Tabernacle of a Bronze Age Myth” (take that Bal-Sagoth) are so hot and cold/hit or miss,  it’s actually annoying. For example, the spoken word parts and some of the vocal in “Apostle Of The Uncircumcised” sound like Ray Winstone trying to be evil and the other wise epic “A Canticle for the Lost Amputees of Aelia Capitolina…” is ruined by some strange proggy/electro samples and tangents. That being said, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and many will doubt revel in the albums total eccentricity.

The thing is as I listen to The Murder of Jesus the Jew I’m picturing this sort of twisted but brilliant tongue in cheek, comedic biblical version of The Rocky Horror Picture show, in all its over the top, garish brilliance, and I’m not sure The Meads want in viewed as such. At least with Jaldaboath, you know exactly where they are coming from, and its intentionally humorous, but with this album you’re just never really sure. Maybe one day, critics will look back on The Murder of Jesus the Jew as a esoteric and heretic, cult phenomenon that was a bit under appreciated when it was released. I wonder if Tim Curry would be up for the role of Jesus?

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
January 19th, 2011


  1. Commented by: Jono

    I completely agree with the digestability aspect of Meads music. There are moments of genius within the confusion, it just takes some effort on behalf of the listener.

    However, I recommend checking out Metatron’s Codex on the band’s website, which explain’s the meaning of each song and goes into incredible detail regarding the probable life of the historical Jesus. It is a hard slog but very interesting….and considering so much bloody effort went into it; deserves to be read.

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