The Meads of Asphodel: ‘Desolate Hymns To A Fallen God’
Reviewed by Steve Earles
9 out of 10
Many bands do cover versions but few stamp their own identity upon them as well as The Meads of Asphodel. Moreover, their eclectic choice of covers says much about the diversity of their own musical inspirations.
So, ‘Desolate Hymns To A Fallen God’ is an entire album collecting most of their cover versions from previous releases, along with some specially recorded for this album.
Throughout my long friendship with Metatron, we have often discussed our mutual love for the British institution that is Hawkwind. Hawkwind are the antithesis of the bigoted ‘culter than thou’ scene the ‘metal police’ would foist upon us, where it’s the not the music that counts but the clique. All cliques are vile, and Hawkwind with their all- inclusive musical approach are the polar opposite of this, and The Meads of Asphodel with their ‘no limits’ musical philosophy are exactly in the same vein attitude wise. Thus, the compilation contains two Hawkwind covers ‘Utopia’ (From ‘Exhuming The Grave of Yeshua’), and ‘Sword of the East’ (From ‘Damascus Steel’), both are radically different from the originals, yet bear the same spirit. Both tacks feature former Hawkwind bassist Alan Davey (the man Lemmy calls ‘Bass Assassin Number 2!’) on bass, and indeed, Alan provides bass on all tracks on tracks on this album. Moreover, the late legendary Hawkwind guitarist Huw Lloyd Langton plays some astonishing guitar on both tracks. It is worth buying the album for these alone.
‘Wonderful World’ is given a cynical slaughtering, while Sepultura’s ‘Refuse/Resist’ is transformed into a Discharge style assault. Speaking of Discharge, we have a medley of ‘Hell on Earth/Blood Runs Red’. The Meads have also been very much about the punk influence on metal. Thus we have tracks like ‘Straw Dogs’ from Stiff Little Fingers and ‘Tank’ by The Stranglers.
From their split release with the mighty Old Corpse Road ‘English Black Punk Metal’ (The title says it all!), we have fine versions of ‘Same Mind’ from Doom, ‘Nazis Killed’ by British crust metal legends Hellbastard (was ever a band better named?), ‘Protest & Resist; by Conflict, ‘War Drum’ by Skeptix, and amazingly ‘You Really Got Me’ by The Kinks, which works, don’t ask why!
One of the absolute highlights of this album is a version of the almighty Bathory’s ‘Destroyer of Worlds’ from Godreah’s superb ‘Voices From Valhalla’ 2CD tribute to Bathory (I cannot recommend Voices From Valhalla highly enough, featuring as it does superb Bathory covers from the likes of Old Corpse Road, Sigh, Ravens Creed and many more. It also features a rare taped interview by Godreah mainman Crin with Quorthon which is truly worth the price of the collection alone. Putting my money where my mouth is, I have just bought another copy myself).
Finally, some superb new covers finish the album off including ‘It Was Cold’ by The Ruts, ‘Commando’ by The Ramones and ‘Right To Work’ by Chelsea’
The album is available to those who support the underground by buying their music from: