Napalm Flesh: Calling All Heraldic Beasts

Posted September 23, 2010 in

Gear up, grab your sword, prepare your chain mail and polish your shield this week’s Ye Olde Metal Blog features an interview with Grand Master Jaldaboath, the knight behind the absolutely one of a kind band Jaldaboath. Also on tap for this week’s blog are some extended reviews of new albums from U.S. Christmas and Death Angel.

Jaldaboath have their own storied take on medieval branding of metal that doesn’t sound like all the elves, warriors and Dungeons and Dragons fluff that exists. This is more like Medieval Monty Python poking around metal with just plain killer, headbang-worthy and danceable tunes. The trio that makes up the band will toss a holy hand grenade into whatever preconceived notions and boundaries that existed in metal when they release their debut full-length album Rise Of The Heraldic Beasts on October 5th via Napalm Records.

SLUG: One of the first things that comes to mind while I listen to Rise of the Heraldic Beasts which stems from Monty Python (which you’ve noted as an influence), is “Now for something completely different.” How did the main concept for Jaldaboath come about?
Grand Master Jaldaboath: If the truth be told of the legendary adventures in my quests, you would not believe! Needless to say, the path until now is strewn with slayed beasts, de-frocked priests, weary wenches and battle-scarred battalions of bothersome foes.  However, one morn, when seeking out a manxome foe, I did spy the tiny church in the village of Bolloxsham. Upon nearing, I heard the chorus of a rowdy rabble.  Upon opening the doors to see what kind of congregation would make such an infernal racket, I had to pinch my prickle-stick; there upon the floors were 23 naked nuns, writhing in ecstasy to the beating of a drum played by a lonesome, maleficent monk! Intrigued by his bestial magic, I parlied with him regarding the founding of a new military order; of troubadour knights, who would form to scribe the most jigsome of tunes. A little forther down the road, in the port of Greater Buttockton, we came across Sir Bodrick. This poor knight was in a frightful state! Having given his life to crusades in the Holy Land, he had returned to blighty with neither a Lordship nor a paper to wipe his rear.  He had spent his last few pennies drinking stale wine and gambling with the local ruffians. Upon spying a brother knight in need of a pick-me-up, I hastened to book him in to the local wench (Saucy Nancy, the nun-chucking nymph) who readily revived him enough to unsheathe and raise his sword—ready for battle!  When us three were finally established as the new order, we instructed the local masons, who began work on the erection of the Castle of Rhydian. The rest is history. 
SLUG: Is there a specific meaning behind the bands name?
GMJ: My adoptive name of Jaldaboath (a.k.a Yaldabaoth) was taking in my first crusade - it is the name of the gnostic demiurge, creator of worlds, and a demon who is also renowned for stealing the undergarments from his enemies in the middle of the night.  Furthermore, Jaldaboath is the military order under which we three troubadours do tarry and ride!

P.S.—Jaldaboath is also a cure prescribed by the local herbswoman for bunions, but I don’t believe she is aware of our infringement.
SLUG: On the subject of Monty Python and British humor in general, it’s a highly different form of humor than American humor. Since you come from the UK, why do you think there is such a cultural humor difference between our countries?
GMJ: What is this ‘America’ you speak of? We know not this place among the whole of Christendom!

SLUG: How would you describe Jaldaboath someone that has no clue about the concept behind the band, say compare it to someone who maybe would pick up a song on the radio and most likely be taken completely off guard by the style of Jaldaboath?
GMJ: Chivalrous merry making and the scribing of the jig are all that have meaning in our solemn existence. We are British by location alone, but travel throughout the whole of Christendom and beyond—we have learnt and tasted the tongues of many foreign lands.  We bring forth the rhythms of the nether regions to a world of Dark Age mysticism where the ale runs like a nun's juices and the heart burns like a dragon's waft! To be as blunt as the sword or your father, we give everything, and expect nothing. This is the path of the troubadour knight. 
SLUG: Rise of the Heraldic Beasts has been released in some way or another for a few months and will come out on CD in a few weeks here in the states. How has the metal community welcomed Jaldaboath’s first full-length album?
GMJ: We are still awaiting a full battle report via our fleet of carrier pigeons, therefore it is damn-too close to the battlefront to understand what is currently emerging and dispersing. Ask in one year’s time!

SLUG: When I initially listened to the album I thought it was fairly tongue and cheek silly, but listening to it further the songs, musically and lyrically got stuck in my head. Is this type of response something the band has been getting?
GMJ: Ask not what the Metal World can do for Jaldaboath, but what Jaldaboath can do for the Metal World! The power and magic of the humorous jig is oft underestimated!  whole dominions of minions can be captured in the trance of the jig and jive of our jousting jongleur jazz! The Hammering Heraldic Metal of Jaldaboath shakes even the foundations of the house of God!
SLUG: On Rise of the Heraldic Beasts a lot of the rhythm aside from the drumming comes j from the main guitar and more of the melodies come from the keyboards and use of whatever instruments you use for Jaldaboath, meaning there isn’t some mass abundance of guitar solos and whatnot, when writing the songs for the album. How did this decision come about?
GMJ: This is Heraldic Templar Metal–it has NO comparison.  You dare to question and jibe?  Damn yer eyes!
SLUG: The album’s title track is said to be inspired by the theme song from a British children’s TV show called Rentaghost. Was it a show you watched as kid or had an association with as a youth? Basically, what made you take the musical inspiration from the theme song?
GMJ: No, you have it the wrong way around. Our medieval tunes were written approximately 600 years prior to the invention of moving pictures. You simply have all the wrong way around (an easy mistake methinks— therefore you are pardoned). 

SLUG: Did you come up with the term to describe the band as British Heraldic Templar metal or was it from a record label or someone else? And why the term British Heraldic Templar metal?
GMJ: Well, here be the truth of the matter–we had perhaps 5 pages of descriptions of our merry-jig metal. Here are 13 more unholy tabards, which may ease your piles ;
1) Tumultuous Teutonic Templar Thrash
2) Hammering Heraldic Metal
3) Crusader Core
4) Horse-mounted Head-banging Metal
5) Castle-dwelling Cacophonic Rock
6) Jousting Jongleur Jazz
7) Round Table rock'n'roll
8) Dragon-slaying Death Metal
9) Mace-swinging Masonic Metal
10) Grand Lodge Grunge
11) Siege-engine Sonic Attack
12) Post-Medieval Punk
13) Dark-Age Doom Rock
SLUG: Is there something, if anything, you’d hope listeners take away from listening to Jaldaboath?
GMJ: Jaldaboath wish to spread far and wide the troubadour metal of yesteryear–if you can jangle your giblets to our rousting rock, then betwixt you and the moon, there be a million dreams !

In depth reviews—because they deserve more than one paragraph!

U.S. Christmas
Run Thick in the Night
Street: 09.21
U.S. Christmas = Earth + Hawkwind + Brain Eno + Om + Neurosis
Why a review of the new USX in the weekly metal blog? The term Heavy Metal is always a subjective one and I’ve never been one to piddle around and debate what is metal and what isn’t. This is an album that open-minded metal fans will want to know about and listen to. Hell, this album is more metal than the lame acoustic folk albums that a lot of the pagan metal bands are churning out. It’s denser than the plethora’s of post-rock/metal albums that are multiplying on a large scale that waters down the genre of some truly outstanding bands and artists. It’s a musically humble yet weighted album with potent poetic lyricisms that deserve every nuance and attentive portion of a listener’s conscious and subconscious.

Run Thick in the Night is USX fifth-full length album and my first endeavor into the band’s extremely unique and tightly crafted musical realm. Running close to an hour and a half of Run Thick in the Night is easily what I would call epic listening. It’s highly sedating and mesmerizing and has the poignant ability to attach itself to your psyche if you’re in the right state of mind. This just hit my “need to own on vinyl” list. It’s not a record to really be absorbed in portions and picking up tracks here and there–that method simply won’t reveal what the album achieve when listened to as one single musical entity. Seven members strong the album meanders like a cold stream in the forest at night it has some intensity in some songs with distorted guitars that provide some slow soul crushing rhythmic pulsations. There also detail attentive and beautiful acoustic guitars accompanied by heavenly violins. Themes tend to stay the same throughout the record but the songs almost have double identities to them. At one point they can feel humbly simple with long subduing focus on just an overall sense of rhythm that derives a pleasant meditative state of mind. Equally at the same time what can feel like a simple rolling melodic and repetitive type of song can easily expands your mental boundaries within the layers that lie in the songs. USX Run Thick in the Night pushes what initially can be a sedative sonic experience into a mind bending one - leading to an aural sensory garden that opens doors into blissful self contemplative trains of thought and a Serotonin producing feeling.

The CD package for the album is well worth its relatively small price. The cover art/liner notes and CD itself all flow together in a fantastic way leaving plenty of room for self interpretation but it’s imbedded with imagery of beauty and death and how similar the two can be. The liner notes also include all of the song lyrics and background art as intense as the cover and back. Bottom line is U.S. Christmas provide an album that challenges listeners instead of directly handing them emotions. It’s all open for self interpretation and listening to the album on different occasions and in different moods can stir up distinctly different emotions. If you enjoy many of the bands that are part of the musical boundary pushing of Neurot Records’ roster this is an album worth looking into – of if you’re just a fan of any type of rock, metal, experimental or acoustic oriented. –Bryer Wharton

Death Angel
Relentless Retribution
Nuclear Blast
Street: 09.14
Death Angel = Exodus + Metallica + Testament + Heathen
Expectations, expectations, blah, they can be quite annoying. Frankly the amount of metal fans that live their glories through the past of the mighty decade of the 80s is ridiculous. Every review I’ve read or comment floating around the internet states that Death Angel will never top their much applauded debut full-length album The Ultra-Violence, released in 1987. The fact of the matter is, they never really returned to that sound, they were young and basically untainted by record labels, sales pressures and all- that hullabaloo. It’s been 23 years since that release and the what’s left of the bands original members have grown up and respectively when they first reunited after their break-up in 1990 with The Art of Dying plenty of time had passed. Look back in your own life just ten years and think of how much you’ve changed. Yes Death Angel will never sound like they did in their glorious late 80s hey-day. Frankly I don’t care nor expect them too.

No thrash band that was around in the 80s either those that persevered through the anti-metal 90s or the ones that just gave up and regrouped later came out of that decade unscathed or unchanged. The point is it’s been over two decades since Death Angel delivered that glorious album to the world, nobody should live their lives in the past or be held to the accounts of what they did in the past. Death Angel have released some pretty damned decent thrashing/grooving metal in the last decade with Killing Season and The Art of Dying, now we have Relentless Retribution, easily the best of this decade. The bands new offering is a vivacious and polished ultra-catchy pure n’ awesome album that beats all the lo-fi sloppy sounding retro-thrash acts that have been bubbling up from the scene in the last five years or so. There are truly some amazing thrash riffs on Relentless Retribution, despite the fact that they lie a bit more on the groove side of thrash than the full on speed side of it. Everything on this album screams the fact that when they wrote and recorded it Death Angel were highly conscious of their songwriting, the overall flow of the album and just great attention to detail to make an album that people who have either heard of them or are completely new-comers are going to enjoy. Relentless Retribution is a modern thrash metal essential, brilliant, effective, potent and bombastically metallic songwriting at its best, it’s an album that instead of the so many forgettable ones being passed out these days will be one that remains full-on in your memory and with one listen it will easily incite the joy to spin the beast again.