I remember the day that the disc-only promo for Jaldaboath’s The Rise of the Heraldic Beasts arrived at my former radio station. I took one look at it – medieval artwork, old English fonts, difficult-to-read and pronounce name – and flipped out over what I assumed to be overly pretentious packaging for what was sure to be a shitty black metal band. Yelling and wildly flailing my arms, I decided to give it a whirl just to feed my rage. The first thing I figured out was that the band featured ex-members of The Meads of Asphodel, which turned my rage into curiosity with just a bit of hope. Within seconds of pressing ‘play’, everything I thought I knew was proven wrong. This wasn’t black metal at all. It wasn’t just medieval – it was over-the-top medieval, as if Monty Python and the Holy Grail had become not just a person but a band. Traditional/folk metal straight from the 12th century that I was proud to include on my best-of list for 2010. Now, the purveyors of hammering heraldic metal are back with the aptly titled The Further Adventures…, which finds them exploring familiar territory in more ways than one in a rare case of a sequel being better than the original.
The lead track is entitled “Roland The Farter”, which tells you right away that any subtleties that existed on the first go around have been thrown out the window like so much rotting vegetation. In spite of that, it has a rather elegant opening with some choral chanting and down-tempo riff-chugging before the bard-like vocals kick in. Next is “Warrior Monks of Whitehawk”, which features lead vocals from fellow buggerer Christopher Bowes of Alestorm. Oddly enough, it makes for the most straightforward track on the album, even with lyrics like “There’s no way out / you will succumb / to red hot pokers / up the bum!”
Now things start to take a turn towards the familiar, as “The Bitch of Chiselhurst Caves” is largely based around the main riff from Boston’s “More Than a Feeling”. So adorned with traditional instrumentation, you might not even notice until the earworm settles in later. Less familiar is the melodic break in “Raise the Crummhorns” – that is, unless you were a devout follower of Jan Hammer and the Miami Vice soundtrack. Compared to the rest of this, it’s something of an awkward moment, as if an orgy is going to break out in the middle of a jousting contest.
I hate to keep dwelling on the pilfered riffs and rhythms, but they’re completely unavoidable. Like, you can’t just tweak the riffs from “Enter Sandman” and expect nobody to notice, as they do on “The Wailing Witch of Moulsecoomb”. It goes without saying that this recycling is far more entertaining than Kid Rock’s, although far less authorized, I’m sure. It’s nothing compared to “Dex The Whispering Dwarf”, though, which takes its cues in the first half from “The Trooper” and in the second half from the theme to TV’s Airwolf. For an added bonus, Roland The Farter is brought back for the airstrike. Outstanding.
Saving the best for last…
“In 1314, an order of troubadour knights were sent to Merlan by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the UK Black Metal underground. Today, still wanted by the Pope, they survive as minstrels of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help and if you can find them – maybe you can hire: Jaldaboath.”
Yes, the Teutonic Templars have crafted themselves a theme song based on that of Col. John “Hannibal” Smith and friends, complete with new intro and full lyrics. Frankly, there isn’t a scale than can measure how cool this actually is. Then again, I’ve always been a bit of a retard for The A-Team…
Musically, Jaldaboath ain’t pretty, with their muddled tones and simplistic riffs. But, you toss in the medieval instrumentation, the Robin Hood-ing of familiar melodies, and the humorous lyrics delivered in the most stereotypical of British accents, and suddenly you’ve got one of the most entertaining bands going today. They are somehow completely theatrical even without the aid of visual media. The Further Adventures… plays like a series of one act plays, delivering pun after pun in their unique bardcore style. I’m not saying you have to like them, but we have a better chance of being friends if you do.