After the heavy concepts of their previous couple of albums, London trio The Meads of Asphodel have thrown off those shackles and just fucking gone for it on their latest release, Running Out Of Time Doing Nothing (Godreah Records).
Using the tried and tested Everything But the Kitchen Sink approach, the Meads have ended up creating one of the most bizarre and eclectic albums of the year so far. Songs rarely end in the same place they begin, and the ones that do have usually undergone a number of peculiar twists and turns along their illogical and disjointed journeys. The riffs are fast and jagged, or slow and menacing, sometimes a dominating force, other times there to simply enhance the many other aspects of each song.
Opener ‘Bug Splat’ is all riffs and space-age dance beats, ‘I Am Oblivion, Deep Drenched in Forever’ is experimental folky black metal, ‘I’m Running Out of Time Doing Nothing’ hits a more straightforward, melodic death/black metal vein with a chorus tailor-made for In Flames, and the furiously dramatic ‘Black is Black & White is White’ stops for a breather in the middle before ending with an explosion of black metal jazz prog. Or something.
The crusty, punk thrash of ‘Cockroach Marionettes’ segues into ambient acoustics and metallic folky-prog, and like a sketch taken from a particularly twisted episode of satirical TV comedy show Brass Eye ‘I Stood Tiptoe, Reaching Up For Heaven’ uses samples of disturbing news items overlaid with inappropriate laughter tracks before turning into a drum and bass 1990s rave track with a pointed message.
‘Like Blood Shaped Flakes of Snow’ and ‘The Broken Wings of a Hud-Hud’ are catchy slices of folky retro rock, while the cavernous atmospherics of ‘Funeral Drums of Insomnia’s Labyrinth’ give way to the proggy, saxophone assisted noodlings of ‘Recollections of a Hand Loom-Weaver’, and closer ‘Souvenir of Death’ is nine minutes of psychedelic mayhem which begins with machine gun drumming, and a riff which sounds very similar to ‘Piranha’ by Bay Area thrashers Exodus.
Once again enlisting the help of Hawkwind bassist Alan Davey, the Meads have also been aided and abetted by some of their semi-regular accomplices and taken aim at subjects such as religion and conformity, all achieved with both a comedic touch and a vicious streak a mile wide.
As ambitious as it is bewildering, on first listen, Running Out Of Time Doing Nothing can sound messy and almost improvised, and while there are more than a few moments when that’s definitely true, in its own way, this album remains just as focused as its two predecessors, even if the production, unfortunately, lets it down a little.
7 / 10