A Season In Chaos ...
The main guy at SOTD records had heard Deliverance's cover of "Silent Night" (A touchingly faithful cover with some killer thrash riffing and an slightly darker edge) and thought ~hey why isn't there an album of various extreme metal bands performing their own interpretations of traditional christmas carols? ~ . Now seeing as he owned a record company (now defunct, unrelated to the album I'm sure) and knew of several metals bands who could contribute. He ended up with "Brutal Christmas", a compilation of 11 bands performing Christmas carols like you've never heard them before. This is why I'll be giving each track a little blurb.
First off we have a thrashy cover of "Angels We Have Heard On High" by Archer. This has a great solo riff of the songs melody opening and closing the track. Though a faithful rendition it manages to have some killer riffing and blistering drum work. A shining start.
Next is Kekal's "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" which is standard Kekal fair. Kekal is an Indonesian Christian black metal band who order industrial. It's an interesting mix. Though the melody is not as traditional, Kekal manage to give the song a fresh sound while not ruining it.
Then it's "Mary Did You Know" by Royal Anguish (featuring guest performance by Henrik from Mistral). Royal Anguish do a passionate rendition while sticking to their distinct sound of progressive death metal. The song uses mostly clean vocals and some fine guitar work and keyboards. If Mary didn't know, she knows now!
Frank's Enemy destroy all that is "Lully Lullay" with their performance of "Coventry Carol (Lully Lullay)". It starts off with a renaissance sound and female vocals that are traditional, yet slightly unsettling. The music gets warped and woozy just before the band obliterates any sense of melody with their brand of sickenly brutal death metal. They do slow it up with some crunchy guitar work and a single bell. It's very disturbing and darkly sinister. The song ends with the chilling renaissance sound and female vocals. Oh those Frank's Enemy boys are one of the most brutal metal bands I've ever heard.
The renaissance sound continues on the intro to Frost Like Ashes "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence/O Come Emmanuel" with use of a harpsichord. The the band kicks in with brutal black/death metal rendition of "Let All Mortal ..." It's fast and pummelling. They slow it down into a gothy doom bit while transitioning into "O Come Emmanuel" and once we catch our breath we are blasted again into "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence". There is no silence here.
Tortured Conscience's old school death metal rendition of "Little Drummer Boy" is worth the price of the CD. It is so brutal it's almost silly. It is extreme death metal at it's best. The bone-crushing drum work is blistering, but the melody is still recognizable. Though it may get mocked (featured recently on the Howard Stern show) they perform the song faithfully with a little touch of good ol' death metal to enhance it. I would have liked to see a killer drum solo here, but maybe that's just me.
Hearken pull of a very melodic death metal cover of "O Come All Ye Faithful". It's mid-paced heavy with some nice off timed drumming and very melodic vocals that defy anyone who says death metal vocals can't carry melody.
I'm am unfamiliar with the song "Child Messiah" and cannot find an alternate version to compare to (maybe they changed the title?!?) But Death Requisite pull off some nice black metal here with hints of ethnic flavour in some of the melody. Good work
Eversinceve toss off a 7 min version of "O Holy Night" that is pure metalcore. The death/black metal vocals are great and the music is brutally faithful. The heavy breakdowns are mosh worthy and the middle bridge is stirring. But what I love here is the raw emotion inherit throughout the song. It is by far the most passionate song here because of its brutality.
Lucky for Faithbomb that Kekal's "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" uniquely their own or else we might have had some repetition. Faithbomb's "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (take 2)" is faithful to the melody, one really fast with some brutally heavy breakdowns. at a minute twenty, this is the shortest song here, but it delivers.
Pure Defiance closes the album out with a Christmasy sounding mid-paced thrash rendition of "Joy To The World". It's upliftingly wicked, with some fine thrash work in the middle and wailing soloing. It ends the album on a lighter note without losing the metal edge carried through the album.
As much as I love "Little Drummer Boy" I'd have to go with Eversinceve's "O Holy Night" as my fave, it's just so moving. This album is a must for any metalhead to own and crank through the holidays. I also have a silly cover of "Do They Know It's Christmas" by the Deftones, though faithfully done, is almost mocking, but not quite. As well as a Rush-esque cover of "O Come Emmanuel" with hints of Pink Floyd and new age. I don't know who the artist is though. And lastly if you can check out Korn's disgustingly brutal death metal version of Jingle Bell's... It's brilliant.
Well this is it for me till the New Year when I'll be limiting my reviews to once a week. I's is just to busy to keep up. This way I can give the albums my full attention and I don't feel I'm rushing them. Thanks to everyone who keeps on coming back and I wish you all a Merry Christmas and all the best in the New Year!