Hertfordshire experimental extreme metal trio Meads of Asphodel are back with their fifth studio album entitled Sonderkommando. Since their inception back in 1998 the group have consistently delivered abundant slabs of medieval tinged metal. However, following vocalist Metatron’s visit to Auswitch Birkenau back in November 2011, the resulting sound here is even darker and colder than any of their previous work. The overall concept of Sonderkommando, as described by the singer is “the inhumanity of humanity”. The lyrics were written in just three days, and narrative parts were recorded during the visit to Auswitch. Sonderkommando – translated as special unit, were work units of Nazi death camp prisoners. A chilling theme for the album and one look at the very impressive and eerie artwork provided by Edinburgh painter Aisha Al-Sadie confirms this. The album also features new drummer Andre Kjelbergvik Thung, a Norway native with a unique style that adds new depth to the sound. The music is indeed darker and features a wealth of creative talent in a number of notable guest appearances. Artists who appear include Mael Mordha’s Roibeard O Bogail on whistle and Mories from Gnaw their Tongues. The album is also produced by J.D. Tait. This is not an easy record to listen to,with unsettling song titles such as ‘Lamenting Weaver of Horror’, ‘Hourglass of Ash’ and ‘Wishing Well of Bones’ setting the rather bleak tone for the record. The title track is by far the longest, that starts out with violin and piano, with the inerasable line “You don’t have to die to walk in hell”, before the trio tracks erupts into a tsunami of guitars and crashing blast beats. Other highlights include the truly chilling ‘Last Train To Eden’, which (for the most part) is one of the slower tracks on the record, featuring a lot of technical drumming from Thung. All in all a very good record from an often overlooked act.
The Meads of Asphodel are:
Metatron (Vocals), J.D. Tait (Guitar, Keys & Vocals), Andre Kjelbergvik Thung (Drums & Percussion).