The Meads of Asphodel/Tjolgtjar – Taste the Divine Wrath
Always experimental and sometimes controversial, UK avant-garde black metal institution The Meads of Asphodel have been making weird, mind-bending metal records for nearly 20 years.
America's own Tjolgtjar is less well know, but has been active for just as long. What was once a raw black metal act now incorporates Nuggets-ish psychedelia into the mix.
given their mutual years of origin and equally iconoclastic takes on the conventional black metal formula, it's surprising that it took the two groups this long to release a split EP together. We've got that 12", Taste the Divine Wrath, for your enjoyment below, followed by an interview with Metatron, the vocalist of The Meads of Asphodel.
You've been making music since the 90's, but it seems to me that The Meads of Asphodel maintains a kind-of low profile. Is that on purpose, or should I attribute that to other facts? Perhaps I'm misguided in my assessment, as well. What do you think?
I think it is a mixture of the band not touring, the eccentric nature of the music and the lack of big label promotion. We have our loyal following, and the band name is pretty much widely recognized, and yet we are still very much an underground band which is fine by me. I think our lyrical contact is also something that pushes us into the dark recesses of the industry. Subject like the Holocaust are not really everyone’s choice of interest. If we wrote about Satan’s balls aflame in a Nun's cunt, then maybe we would get more attention.
Still, you're better known than Tjoltgjar. Why choose to do a split with this particular band?
The label came up with the idea and we are familiar with Tjoltgjar work. The underground format of splits, vinyl, and tapes , always appealed to us as we were born in the tape trading era so the whole unseen world of trading and small pressings is very familiar to us. I think Tjoltgjar’s music is as experimental as ours and yet darker and more primitive.
In your music you now play with a whole host of different sounds, including folk and electronica. What do you listen to for recreation?
J. D Tait listens to anything and everything; he has no limits to music. Myself, I am more of a rock / metal / punk, person, from Hawkwind toThe Doors, Motorhead and across the board really.
"You've got the Hate" is a very different track from the rest of your contributions here. Why a girl-pop song?
We did two versions, one with a female vocal and one with mine. We always try to confuse the ears of whoever listens to our music, so this curve ball seemed a natural choice for the split.
Historical figures and complex story concepts figure prominently in your work. Where did your fascination with history begin?
My father used to flood me with books from my earliest memories. History books and encyclopedias mainly, so I was drawn to the past and have studied our world and its human parasites ever since. Humans wouldn’t be so bad if we flowed with the natural order of things as all animals kill, all creatures live to survive, and yet we have the gift [of curse] of conscience, to contemplate and reflect. To fully be aware of suffering and pain and thereafter to commit such cruelty makes us scum.
The joke is when we try to bring the God figure into the equation and justify it all with nonsense like original sin. To even attempt to justify our failings is obscene in itself.
Balthasar Gérard killed the Duke of Orange. Why write a song about him?
It is the way he died that makes his existence so interesting. His death was not a good one. In the first night of his imprisonment Balthasar Gérard was hung on a pole and lashed with a whip. After that his wounds were smeared with honey and a goat was brought to lick the honey off Gérard's bruised skin with his sharp tongue. The goat however refused to touch the body of the sentenced. After this and other tortures he was left the night with his hands and feet bound together, as a ball, so he couldn't sleep. During the following three days, he was repeatedly mocked and hung on the pole with his hands tied behind his back. Then a weight of 300 pounds (136 kg) was attached to each of his big toes for half an hour.
After this half hour Gérard was fitted with shoes made of well-oiled, raw dog's leather; the shoes were two fingers shorter than his feet. In this state he was put before a fire. When the shoes warmed up, they contracted, crushing the feet inside them to stumps. When the shoes were removed, his half-broiled skin was torn off. After his feet were damaged, his armpits were branded. After that he was dressed in a shirt soaked in alcohol. Then burning bacon fat was poured over him and sharp nails were stuck between the flesh and the nails of his hands and feet. Gérard is said to have remained calm during his torture. He was finally executed in accordance with his sentence
While we're on the subject of history, you've composed some pretty controversial stuff in the past. For example the last album, Sonderkommando, was about the Nazi soldiers that disposed of the bodies of Jews in death camps. Before that, on the album The Murder of Jesus the Jew, the song "Jew Killer" contains the lyrics "Sand Nigger," chanted over and over. It took me some research to figure out your personal politics before conducting this interview. Could you explain these artistic choices to me and my readers now?
Racism and hatred walk hand in hand and derogatory words for other peoples have always caused confrontation. The song, "Jew Killer," is about Pontius Pilate the Roman Governor of Judaea at the time, and that is what he was. The term sand nigger is how the desert dwelling people were perceived [are to this day by some]. The song is about this inherent hatred of a people, and the Romans treated the Jews no less cruelly then the Nazi’s 2000 years later. The Murder of Jesus the Jew, album and the Sonderkommando, album are linked by the Jewish people and both albums tell the story of why they are hated. It is a massive undertaking and the history of this hatred is long and complex. The Meads web page has more info on the subject if anyone cares to look. [I also recommend reading this interview- E.d.] We have been labels racists by a few people and I can understand why, but to call anyone anything without doing your homework reeks of ignorance and stupidity.
So you've got a new album coming later this year. What can I expect from it?
This is still work in progress; J.D Tat has been finishing his other project, Ebonillumini, and I have been working on my pagan project, Wolves of Avalon. The forthcoming Meads album will be much of what we have been doing and yet many new ideas will leap out of the music. Lyrically, human idiocy and hatred is as always the main theme.
Taste the Divine Wrath drops tomorrow via Eternal Death[http://eternaldeath.storenvy.com/] Follow The Meads of Asphodel[https://www.facebook.com/themeadsofasphodel?_rdr] and Tjolgtjar [https://www.facebook.com/tjolgtjar?_rdr] on Facebook.