English lunatics The Meads of Asphodel never disappoint. Of course, in many respects they don’t play ‘the game’ as almost all other bands do, which means, with a constantly-shifting set of self-imposed parameters which morph from album to album, it’s almost impossible for them to fail by any conventional connotation of that world.
So, they exist in a bubble of their very own making, firing barbs at ‘straight’ society with scattergun rapidity, piercing the self importance of self-nominated scenesters and tastemakers, all the time building an impressive legacy of stern-faced, individualistic racket. In what is now a twenty-years plus recording career, the band have been Pigeon-holed by many, but this is an essentially pointless exercise as the band just doesn’t exist to conform to any sort of preset or norm. Whilst the Meads are still largely associated with the black metal scene, many of their more visible influences seem to stem from the proud English tradition of anarchic anti-establishment humour; Monty Python in their prime would have perfectly understood the likes of I Stood Tiptoe Reaching Up For Heaven, for instance. And whilst names like Akercocke and Sigh frequently come up in the review space surrounding this band – and it has to be said that tracks like Like Blood Shaped Flakes of Snow do carry a strong whiff of Japan’s finest – for the most part TMoA circa 2019 seem to exist and a world informed far more by the anarcho-political music of names like The Mekons, Hellbastard and even (old) Chumbawamba more than any corpse-pained and ever-more distantly related musical cousin.
The collective that the band’s core have built around themselves again do a lot of the leg work in making the whole thing work; Hawkwind man Alan Davey is back on bass again – and again there is a strong link to Hawkwind’s early seventies music here if you are patient enough to do a little digging. For a band frequently targeted for imagined Nazi sympathies the bud-tinged odour of Ladroke Grove squats and speakeasies again hangs heavy over proceedings.
At the end of the day, The Meads of Asphodel are the proverbial enigma wrapped in a riddle; to try too hard to unravel the whole thing is to take the first steps on the road to madness. It’s better surely to simply wallow in some of the most stridently avant yet purposefully accessible music currently doing the rounds in the UK music scene. You’ll need a certain kind of mindset to get into this – as usual – but for the already initiated this is another fine, fine record.
Running Out of Time Doing Nothing is released on June 21st.