The Bemoaning of Metatron
CoC chats to Metatron of The Meads of Asphodel
by: Quentin Kalis
Over the course of two full-lengths and a split with the legendary Mayhem, The Meads of Asphodel have forged a path that can only be described as unorthodox, fusing together a multitude of genres flawlessly -- ranging from the ska timing of "Angelwhore" through to the sample laden "Jihad: The Grisly Din of Killing Steel". Reading the lyrics, it was clear that the mind behind these songs possessed considerable theological knowledge, far greater than that gained from a cursory reading of "The Satanic Bible" and "The Da Vinci Code". I was sufficiently intrigued to seek an interview with their frontman, Metatron. What follows below is an all too brief interview conducted via e-mail.

CoC: What motivated the formation of The Thieves of Fate, a punk covers side project? This is not the first time that The Meads have toyed with punk; there is also the GBH cover on _The Watchers of Catal Huyuk_ demo as well as the punkish "God Is Rome" from _Exhuming the Grave of Yeshua_. To what extent has punk been an influence?

Metatron: We all have a liking for the UK punk explosion of the late '70s, and our covers are based in that time frame, rather than the punk of today. Bands like The Ruts, Stiff Little Fingers, Chelsea, etc. We could have used the odd track as a bonus on a Meads album, but for a project in its entirety, this could never have come out under the Meads name. We felt we had to separate the concept from The Meads. The music is totally different in style.

CoC: Your music, especially on _Exhuming the Grave of Yeshua_, is highly varied, pointing at a multitude of influences. Apart from punk, what has been your main influence musically?

M: We try to ignore the black metal ethos of today and feed upon the driving simplicity of Venom and Motorhead, and of course Hawkwind. The Middle Eastern influences are obvious and we feel the religious fanaticism has left the Western dogma to thrive in the East. Our black metal credentials are not as water tight from a purist's point of view, where the icy drones of Darkthrone define all things dark and Hellish. We believe black metal can emanate from many forms and is not any one person's genre to own. Is the genre defined by the sound or lyrics? Is a band who sound like Mayhem but sing about cakes any more worthy than a band who sing about Satan and anti-religious themes but sound like U2?

CoC: Your lyrics suggest a more than average knowledge of the monotheistic religions -- more so than the average black metal odes to Satan. Have you ever had any sort of theological or philosophical training? If the answer is yes, then why, from a Christian perspective, have you turned your back on it?

M: The answer is yes, and the shield of faith can only sustain the blows of truth for a short time. Faith is blind and although we respect any one's right to believe in whatever, our right to contest such must be upheld. Christianity, like all religions, is built on primitive theology. The nucleus of Christianity is in Jewish Judaism, and yet the religion is embraced as a Western ideal cast upon the world from its adopted Roman arms. Man does what he does, and religion is as good a tool as any to further his own ambitions. I cannot believe a being (God?) that can create a universe would really bother manipulating a creature as fragile as ourselves. Why would a supreme being even contemplate a Son in Human form to endure the savagery of a supposed creation that is at odds with the rest? It would be like a brain surgeon torturing ants on a lazy afternoon... no point to none of it.

CoC: Your website states that you are writing a codex on "the false doctrine of the Christian church". Can you tell us more about this?

M: It's about a lot of what I have spoken about and will speak about. A life's study on the human form and what makes such a unique being poison all he endeavors to make pure.

CoC: What was the motivation for _The Mill Hill Sessions_?

M: We were between albums and had these recordings collecting dust. It is a strange release as it reveals the band in a different light; stripped to the bone, so to speak.

CoC: Where do you see yourself within the black metal spectrum? I can imagine many self proclaimed "true" black metallers taking issue with the statement that The Meads of Asphodel "as a band respect any religion that promotes peace"?

M: Promoting peace and anti-racism isn't just a religious attribute. You can abhor the abnormalities of Mankind whilst still grasping onto an age-old dream of peace and equality. But peace and equality do not exist within the human psyche. Cruelty and selfishness are qualities of our species that seem all consuming, and we as a band find inspiration to write music about Human genocide, religious hatred and so on. Does that set us apart from any other black metal band? The basic tenets of most religions are peaceful, and in all cases manipulated by the not so peaceful humans, and as such become the very opposite to what they preach.

CoC: Do you know what Jaldaboath (former guitarist) is doing these days?

M: That is a subject I speak little of.

CoC: Your new album _Damascus Steel_ is billed as "Jihad II", the first of which was influenced by the events of September 11, 2001, and the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan. _Damascus Steel_ in turn is described as being "Lyrically woven around the tribalism of the Middle East and expanding terror". Can _Damascus Steel_ be assumed to be inspired by world events since _Jihad_, namely the invasion and occupation of Iraq? What are your thoughts on the Iraqi occupation?

M: We do not feel the invasion was justified. The invasion of the Sudan is more justified to put a stop to the slaughter, but ignored for political reasons. To relieve suffering is a good thing, but what motivates another to act? The Iraqi people suffer like all peoples in that level of evolution. The West seems to have evolved faster and tyrannical rule and oppressive control is more or less hidden, rather than openly employed. The modern age is not necessarily morally better; it has a lesser body count. Although our society in the West is not perfect, it does openly demonstrate that a free spirit can exist without fear of mob rule. I would rather live in fear of the not so frequent murderer of England, than the widespread genocide of other nations. It is a subject that I scrutinize and yet cannot make judgment on.

CoC: Have The Meads ever played live?

M: We have not played live and I suppose _The Mill Hill Sessions_ was a glimpse of the band in working motion. We will do a video before we play live.

CoC: Thanks for the interview! Is there anything else you would like to add?

M: Many thanks for your words.

(article submitted 5/5/2005)

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