The Meads Of Asphodel interview (07/2015)
|Conducted by:||Apothecary (e-mail)|
The Meads Of Asphodel
As anyone who knows my tastes probably knows, it has become pretty much impossible for me to stay unbiased, or even keep my mouth shut at all, when it comes to The Meads Of Asphodel. My favorite band of my favorite bands, after reviewing a recent split that the UK black metallers put out, I turned my eyes to a bigger, much more exciting objective: interviewing the mysterious vocalist/lyricist at their helm, an ambitious, mysterious individual known only as Metatron. Honored by my request and consideration of him as an interviewee, Metatron and I had a brief little email chat, that was nothing short of a pleasant look inside the mind of an inspired and highly intelligent artist who I've been admiring for quite some time.
Che: Thanks a bundle for taking the time out to talk to me today, Metatron. Let's start with some of your current adventures. Most recently, The Meads Of Asphodel have just put out a split with Tjolgtjar, the American black metal band. How did you come to associate with them, and how did working together go?
Metatron: Eternal Death records from The U.S.A. wanted to put a split vinyl out, a limited 500 run, and for the Meads, this low key underground release was a great "between albums" kind of release. The tracks will be available digitally in a few months, but I am bothered by all this modern poison I associate with this cyber age. I much preferred it in 1998 with tape trading and a more personal band to fan relationship. Tjolgtjar are a really interesting band, albeit primitive in style, who carve a unique musical vision much like we try to do. Tjolgtjar also released their first demo in 1998, like us, so that was a weird coincidence. We are very tuned into the underground and it is the limited vinyl/splits and tapes that keep the scene alive.
Che: Do you think the sounds of your two bands complemented each other well?
Metatron: I think we are totally different and that allows the split to collide in musical tones, much like our music on its own does. For fans of experimental black metal I think it is a good release. It is a split of two very different experimental bands with different atmospheres, and for an underground release I think it works really well.
Che: The Meads side of that split reminded me a lot more of the band's older material than your more recent outputs: more raw, stripped down, and with a more-than-usual amount of that hilarious black humor that makes me love you guys so much. Was this approach intentional?
Metatron: We put out five new tracks for this release and kept the songs to a more old style formula. Mirai (Sigh) did the intro and the songs flow well enough. The forthcoming album is far more diverse and has a more definitive progression of our style. There are not many "wot the fuck!" moments on the split, so we put on the cover song "You've Got The Love" and changed the lyrics around. There is a version with my vocals that will appear one day in some format.
Che: Speaking of your older material, the one thing I notice a lot about the Meads is that there are two "eras" of the band, for lack of a better term. The earlier albums seemed to be focused on exploring more of a general medieval theme, with a big amount of tongue in cheek humor to go with it. The more recent ones, however, still have that humor to an extent, but also seem to be more channeled around your lyrical vision, and your exploration of themes of racism, hatred, and societal ignorance. What do you think fueled this transition, if anything?
Metatron: The demo era, the first album, and the split with Mayhem was a band not really knowing where it was going, a band developing a style and image that I think has been growing ever since. The "don't give a shit" attitude has always been a vital part of how we create our music, and the main change of the the old and new was the departure of Jaldaboath, and the arrival of J.D. Tait. This was when the band really found its identity and his vision runs parallel with my own. From early themes of religious nonsense, like how angels are nothing more in their original biblical form as messengers, and yet the Medieval age gave them wings. Or the Satanic thing with the goat and the pentagram having their basis in nothing more than an old Jewish festival, and even more so the persona of Satan and his conflicts with God. Satan is nothing more than a Medieval invention as a totally evil opposite to God dwelling in Hell, and does not exist in old Hebrew text. The very word means, simply, "adversary." And that takes us to Hell, another invention based on the words Gehenna, a raging rubbish tip out side Jerusalem. I could go on and on, and these were the band's early lyrical themes. Since then the world's genocidal addiction, human inhumanity, and the hatred core of racism have taken a more predominant form.
Che: Coming with this change in style seems to be a bit of a more Avantgarde approach to the music of The Meads Of Asphodel, a wider incorporation of non-metal genres than before. Was this your decision, or was there influence from some other band members as well?
Metatron: J.D. Tait has a free rein to weave his own soul into the music and there is no form of music he dislikes. His soul is part of the Meads sound and we work extremely well with regards to how music and lyric merge, as each component is as important as the other. The foundation of the music is usually built on a lyrical theme that I want to explore, whether religious or otherwise.
Che: What kind of non-metal genres are you into? I do think I remember something JD said in that Meads documentary about how you hate reggae.
Metatron: I dislike reggae, but the other band members don't mind it. I have a liking for most forms of metal, The Doors, Hawkwind, old school punk, d-beat, and even Oasis dare I admit it. If it sounds good, then I listen to it.
Che: Following with the blend of external influences into the Meads... you guys have collaborated with many musicians over time, all of whom have brought their own interesting twists to your sound. But the one that perhaps sticks out the most to me is your work with Mirai from Sigh. From what I've come to understand, you two have come to form quite the strong camaraderie.
Metatron: Mirai is the perfect gentleman, a true man with honor, and his band is a great influence on the reason the Meads came into being. His input to our music has been exceptional, and we hope to work with him again. The same can be said for, Hoest (Taake), Rob Miller (Amebix), and Alan Davey (Hawkwind/Bedouin), all extremely decent fellows who have good hearts. I have also recently worked with Alan Averill (Primordial) and Mantas (Venom) for a cover of Die Hard, with my other band Wolves of Avalon.
Che: This is the fanboy in me speaking, but do you think your friendship with Mirai would ever result in a full blown Meads/Sigh collab?
Metatron: Now that may very well happen, but only time will tell. I have actually spoken to him in the past about this, so I am sure one day we will collaborate and see what happens.
Che: Regarding other Meads collaborations, allow me to offer my deepest condolences in regard to the still recent passing or Mr. Huw Lloyd Langton, who I'm well aware the Meads had a wonderful partnership with for a good number of years. The Hawkwind love, I notice, runs deep with your band, particularly on the first three albums. Would you like to explain the association with them?
Metatron: Thanks for your words, Hawkwind have been a band I have long admired, and they are the quintessential British festival band. They have a classic rock track, "Silver Machine," and they gave us Lemmy, and where would the world be without Motorhead?. During the early era of the Meads I always wanted to mix alien elements into the sound, so a rock guitarist adding a different style into a basically twisted black metal formula created the Huw Lloyd Langton element. When he passed away I felt extremely sad, as he was a kind, decent man, and a truly underrated guitarist. Just listen to "Hawkwind live at reading" on Youtube to hear just how awesome he was. I remember meeting him by chance many moons ago and asking if he would play on our first album. I was amazed that he said yes, and that's how he became part of the Meads legacy. From that we met Alan Davey (second longest Hawkwind member), and he has played bass on many Meads tracks.
Che: Let's talk about your most recent Meads album for a second. Sonderkommando was a very special album to me. I especially liked how you presented the Holocaust themes you were exploring with it from this almost neutral perspective, not really weeping over "this is so terrible, how could it happen?" but also not taking away from the frightening reality of the incident either. Did you go at this topic with that sense of balance in mind, or did it just happen?
Metatron: I have always looked upon the world as a fragile puzzle of nations and races, all ready to explode into violence at any moment. I have studied the geographical, demographical, historical and religious impacts on humanity. When you grasp the whole picture you realize hatred is in all of us, not just the selected villains of the theater the writers of history force feed us. Take Hitler, for example. He is personified evil, (and it is true he was a maniac) and yet all he did was use the inherent hatred in the satellite states the Nazis controlled to do most of his murderous work. From France, Switzerland, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, and others, it was not that hard to persuade the occupied nations to evacuate their Jewish populations. This inherent hatred has been the direct cause of the Roman impact on Judea 2,000 years ago. The albums, The Murder Of Jesus the Jew and Sonderkommando, are linked in this telling of a story of how the Jewish population was dispersed across Europe to be pariahs. It is a paradox that the Holocaust can be directly linked to the Roman Church who deemed Jews Christ killers and fueled anti-Semitism across the world, when of all the communities that exist in various nations, it is the Jews who seem to respect laws and generally keep themselves to themselves, and do not advocate violence or extremism. They are also proud to be Jews and voice this aloud, and yet when we shout our pride for our own nations we are deemed racists. Another paradox.
Che: Speaking of Sonderkommando, there is one track in particular on it that I especially like, "Lamenting Weaver Of Horror," with its spoken intro that creates an imaginary conversation between a Nazi in a concentration camp (yourself), and a scared little Jewish boy. From what I've come to understand, the one providing the voice of that Jewish boy is actually your own son. How did he come to be involved in the recording?
Metatron: My son was ten years old when I had the idea to use a "Macbeth-style Shakespeare play meets a boy lost in Hell" combination. He recorded his innocent voice against questions that were not to the extremity of the actual track. I added the real malevolent answers afterwards, so as not to drag him into the horror of the theme. It is a song reflective of anyone who is hated by a stranger, for there can be no reason to hate someone you do not know, who has never harmed you, or to hate someone because of the tone of his skin. It is unfortunately what we humans have done to each other since the earliest times, and it is is still happening today.
Che: Also, if what I've read on the Godreah Facebook page is correct, The Meads Of Asphodel are actually planning a new album soon. With these themes you've been exploring lately with The Murder Of Jesus The Jew and Sonderkommando, I'm very interested to see where you go next lyrically. Without spilling too many beans, would you care to touch upon on what's been inspiring you lately?
Metatron: I think it will be an extension of the Sonderkommando album in that we will explore the genocidal nature of the human race further. There is a very unspoken genocide, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine that the Jews were part of, and this is a very interesting side to a people so synonymous with the word "genocide," the fact that they could even be perpetrators themselves. That was the chaos of the post-World War Two madness in Palestine, when, from a direct result of the Holocaust, the Jews finally gained their own nation, which was created with much bloodshed and land theft.
Che: As long as we're talking about inspiration... I really enjoy the codices that you have done for the past two Meads albums. They are incredibly informative and offer a tremendous amount of insight on your lyrical vision. Do you ever plan to revisit the first three Meads albums and do similar essays for them?
Metatron: No, as the early albums were very disjointed in terms of a direct concept. They deal with sporadic themes, both religious and more wide ranging. They are not fully wrapped around a singular theme like The Murder Of Jesus the Jew and Sonderkommando albums. I need to offer the fans and those who may find the lyrics to be too obscure or walking the line of racism to learn what I am actually trying to say.
Che: Are you planning a codex for this upcoming Meads album?
Metatron: I think there will be one for the new album also, just to explain my motives to the ignorant and the stupid idiots that have labelled us as an NSBM band, or implied that we are racists. This is a shame, but an inevitable fall out from the themes we explore, and I am aware my lyrics can bait people into thinking that.
Che: It looks as though you've also been doing some new things now outside of The Meads Of Asphodel as well, particularly this new Wolves Of Avalon band of yours. How did that one came into formation?
Metatron: I have a great love of Pagan metal, whether it is the harsh style of Graveland, or the jolly style of Finntroll. Bands like Moonsorrow, Finsterforst, and of course Bathory have all influenced the creation of The Wolves Of Avalon. I use this band to explore the ancient history of Britain, of times past. The first album was about Arthur and his battles with the invading Saxon hordes. The second was about Boudicca, our Celtic warrior queen. There have been some great guests on these albums from, Rob Darken (Graveland), Thurios (Drudkh), and Varggoth (Nokturnal Mortum). I am well aware that these guests have nationalistic views, and I have sympathy for a man's pride in who he is, albeit Zulu, Celtic or Nordic. Being proud of one's past does not mean you need to hate someone else. Take a look at the Jews, they are extremely careful to remain Jews wherever they are, and yet that does not make them racist. Wolves of Avalon promotes the British past and has no modern political motives. There will be a new album out later in the year called Of Corpse Grey. J.D. Tait has also another band called Ebonillumini, and they have a a new album out now called Arktos. The music is very complex Avantgarde black metal.
Che: Do you feel that Wolves can express something artistically that the Meads can't?
Metatron: Yes. The songs are very folk influenced and do not twist out of the direction they follow. It is a totally different atmosphere and the main songsmith, J. Marinous, is a very different songwriter than J.D. Tait, so there is no heavy Meads style running through the music apart from my vocals. It also gives me a chance to write about British myths and try to give a historical foundation for them. These themes would not sit well on a Meads album.
Che: Do you have any other side projects in mind for the future?
Metatron: Maybe a d-beat band like Discharge. I am really into bands like Avskum, Anti Cimex, Dischange, Doom, Mob 47, and many others. It is simple and raw to the bone. My vocals would suit this style well I am told. The Meads have covered a couple of Discharge songs in the past on the split with Old Corpse Road.
Che: As you seem to be exploring new territories now, both in and out of the Meads, a question no doubt arises: would you ever consider the possibility of performing live?
Metatron: That's a common question that has no answer.
Che: Last, but certainly not least, something of a personal question. I LOVE how on pretty much every Meads album, the second-to-last track always has some big long title. For example, most recently on Sonderkommando it's been "The Mussulmans Wander Through The Infernal Whirling Fires Amongst Silent Shadows To Be Fed Into The Thirsting Jaws Of A Godless Death Machine To Cough Up Their Souls To The Nazi Moloch Who Sits Within A Ring Of Smoking Infant Skulls." Is this something you plan in advance? At this point I'd think it almost has to be.
Metatron: We do this on every album and it is planned in advance always. I take quite a long time to weave these titles, and the end result is always very different from the first version.
Che: Well Metatron, thanks again for your time and for some of your enlightening responses. It has been an absolute pleasure. Now, just for the usual PR stunt, do you have anything in particular to say to all your fans over at Metal Storm?
Metatron: Only thank you to all who have an ear to lend to our music. We are very aware that without the fans we would disappear up our own arseholes.
That you would, Metatron. And we are more than happy to support
||Posted on 10.07.2015 by Comforting the disturbed and disturbing the comfortable since 2013.|
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