The Meads of Asphodel-‘Damascus Steel’




Razed Soul Productions

Reviewed by Steve Earles

Ten out of Ten

This is the third full-length Meads of Asphodel album, and the third of Razed Soul’s fine reissues of the Meads’ back catalogue.

This is as it should be. The Meads of Asphodel are one of the most significant, fearless and innovative bands to emerge from the British underground scene.

I can best sum them up as a black metal version of Hawkwind, for their music is also without limits.

Now before I get onto reviewing the music, I must compliment Razed Soul on the splendid new covers of the reissues, the new cover of ‘Damascus Steel’ is particularly magnificent, and one that screams to be released on vinyl. There is also a redesign of the CD booklet, which again features some excellent artwork.

As to the music, well, this was an even better album than those that came before it. Obviously by the third album the band had consolidated their sound yet they were even more daring and innovative than hitherto.

Opening with ‘Psalm 666’, a wicked piss-take of George Bush, it sets the stage for a barnstorming album. For the following track ‘Creed of Abraham’ establishes that these conflicts have been with us for centuries. What has changed? Only the scale and the weapons, mankind remains the same, tribal, frightened and a deadly danger to himself and the planet he destroys. ‘Creed of Abraham’ is a triumph not just as a metal track, but as a song, song-writing comes first with the Meads, thus, it has strong hooks, it’s message embeds itself in the listeners brain. ‘Death means nothing/Life means less.’ It’s a track with strong melodies, it goes somewhere, a dirge it isn’t. It forms the perfect companion to ‘Hollow Womb of Suicide’ with its soaring keys and Middle-Eastern influences. The use of haunting female vocals gives the track further resonance, beauty and darkness in perfect accompaniment.

Once again there is a magnificent Hawkwind cover, in this case ‘Sword of the East’. To take the Hawkwind connection further, Alan Davey, a friend of both myself and the Meads, now provides bass on all the album tracks. This is perfect as his bass-playing is adroit and powerful, in the same vein as Lemmy. The late Huw Lloyd Langton plays guitar here too. It’s the perfect cover version, faithful yet very different.

Satanic Black Nubian Pharaohs’ is another statement of intent from The Meads, expressing a similar creed here to the mighty Amebix. “No more pharaohs/No more kings/No more masters/No more darkness.”

The standout track on the album has to be a sarcastic yet very faithful version of ‘Wonderful World.’ No other metal band would have the courage to attempt this. It’s both moving and searing at the same time. ‘The Gods Who Mock Us’ is also powerful with its insistent mantra that asks why humanity kills in the name of gods.

The massively titled (deep breath) ‘Behold The Kindred Battle Carcasses Strewn Across The Bloodied Dunes of Gilgamesh Mute In the Frenzied Clamour of Death’s Rolling Tongue and Ravenous Bursting Steel.’ That title is longer than some bands songs! Musically innovative, mixing the modern and ancient, it’s very melodically inspired and catchy, and is the perfect ending to the original ‘Damascus Steel’ showing the Meads growing confidence and maturity as musicians and songwriters, and as a music writer, it’s such a pleasure to review songs.

There are also four fine bonus tracks to add further lustre to an already lustrous repackage. The Meads are truly a band who respects their own legacy while always forging on towards the future.