Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Meads of Asphodel "Sonderkommando"

One day I want it hear an album by these guys where they finally get the production they deserve. This album if you can believe it is even more ambitious than past efforts bringing it closer to some more along the lines of Sigh than your average black metal band. They courageously employ a wide variety of instruments which the production values showcases in varied levels of effectiveness.

The playing is not slack some of the guitar sections have roughed edges and not in the raw black metal way either where lo if production is their calling card. This album begs to be treated more along the lines of Cormorant as from the opening it delves into seventies prog rock, though more of the grooving sixties variety with winks in a more Deep Purple direction, but not to discourage fans they wind back up into heavier territory by the songs end , however better production would give the guitars more of an edge.

I suppose it's a concept album about the nazi troops who tended the furnaces. I have admired their irreverent lyrical content and attacks on the judeo roots of Christianity. Sure it's an easy target but they go about it in a manner that displays some creativity. The conceptual element sits oddly with some songs like "Wishing Well of Bones" that takes on more of a folk metal feel. The lower guttural vocals haunt the underbelly of the vocal layering and there is on riff in particular that I like but it's buried in the mix. Despite the sound of the kit the drumming is excellent. The double bass is e.q'ed on the thin side.

I begin to wonder how much lyrical fuel for the fire the topic of the Nazi ovens can have during the crackling sound effects before "Aktion T4" it has more of a Rotting Christ feel so even when they go into blast beats it never really sounds like black metal to me, some of the riffing even reminds me a tad of old Megadeth. Lots of guitar soloing on this to the point of where the riffs on this song sound like they were thinking "Now what would be a good riff to solo over".

"Silent Ghosts of Babi Yar" sounds sorta like Gwar to me , but more along the long lines of "Scum Dogs of the Universe" era. There are some very militant accents, but the verses are very straightforward. Midway into it things get more melodic and proggy. The clean vocals could be off a Solefald album, and the bass player reals starts to earn his cut here. The syncopation toward the songs final moments really works to bring it at all home.

There are odd excursions into the polka of a German parade mixed with Liabach on the interlude "Children of the Sun Wheel banner". It makes more sense than the old witch at the beginning of " Lamenting Weaver of Horror". The part to to this song opens with some intresting exploration of sound, almost post-rock guitar with metallic samples before punching into some pretty epic Viking metal. The layers of vocals reinforce comparisons to both Sigh and Rotting Christ. The blasts that come out of nowhere don't seem like they were built up to and the Wizard of Oz vocals are strangely set against it, but this song has so much going on to when the pieces to this puzzle are forced into place it's not glaringly obvious with a casual listen. There are so many component til much like Sigh you find your self liking enough to appease your ears.

"Lamenting Weaver of Horror" is over half an acted narrative of sorts and the final three minutes resemble a song, which is a lot of intro to get through to be met by some overly dramatic Therion style musical number. Tough darker and more experimental than Therion.

"Sins of the Pharaohs" is very straight forward and a return to the more Therion like feel. The clean vocals when they come in aren't as annoying as Therion's can be when they pull out the Andrew Loyd Weber and when things get proggy midway into it there is some relief, because it darkens up . The harsher vocals could stand to have more growl to them, it would help hide the accent.

"Last Train to Eden" takes two minutes to get through sound effects to establish itself as a song. The place is slowed down, but even though there are dirge like tendencies I wouldn't say it emulates what most consider doom, though it does remind me a little of the last My Dying Bride album. The more thrash riff that appears in the final three minutes is an awkward transition and a little stiff. The bass player is obvious influenced by Geezer Butler in the way he works around what's going on and his preformance really stands out on this album.

" the Hourglass of Ash" is more than likely my favorite song on the album. It has a swing to it and a sax coats the back ground to provide another layer of sound. The breaks down into polka flavored jazz in the last two minutes before being wound up into a spiraling riff that coils around the song under the female vocals which take on a dramatic almost Therion like air.

"Mussulmans Wander..." which is how I'm going to leave the title whose name is as humorous as it is long. It's weird, the chanted vocals the harmonica solo coming out of nowhere, this one really has a Sigh feel to it but set against like a Monty Python skit on goth metal. Yeah that crazy, but in a good way, though I also like Mr. Bungle so I have a high tolerance for Zappa like chaos breaking out.

"Send my Love to Maher-Shalal-hash-Baz" is more of just a soundscape jam than a song, with a narrative over it. The album as a whole feels like I took some acid while watching the History channel. This album could have benefitted from better production but midway through I stopped noticing and what they are doing began to stand on its own. I'll give this album an 8.5 out of 10 even though for me personally I'm not sure how much iPod time it will demand as dispite it's heavier leanings some of the more quirky prog diversions I find myself in cases like Solefald and Arcturus to not always be in the mood for such an aural carnival, this often applies even to Sigh who I feel is superior in creating this sort of thing with a more organic feel. I do respect and commend them for what they have crafted and think it needs to be acknowledged and fans of experimental prog metal should like this once they get past the rough shod presentation.

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