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Death Metal Christmas - "Hellish Renditions of Christmas Classics" (CD)

Death Metal Christmas - "Hellish Renditions of Christmas Classics" CD cover image

"Hellish Renditions of Christmas Classics" track listing:

1. Unrest For Melancholy Men (God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen)
2. Earthen Kings (We Three Kings)
3. Nutracker: Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy
4. Greensleeves
5. O Come, O Come, Azrael (O Come, O Come, Emmanuel)

Reviewed by on December 17, 2013

"There’s another Christmas metal album available now, just in time for the holidays, but this one takes a darker turn focusing on the death metal aspects and perverting the classics with a touch of evil."

There’s another Christmas metal album available now, just in time for the holidays, but this one takes a darker turn focusing on the death metal aspects and perverting the classics with a touch of evil. The charging opening riff on “Unrest For Melancholy Men” piques the interest, but it then shifts gears towards the traditional Christmas sounds – albeit done at full volume with electric guitars – and the album arrives at its standard slow and plodding speed. When the vocals drop (or are just replaced by hellish screams without words) and the guitar acrobatics come out, the tune is actually surprisingly good.

There is one major undeniable problem to his effort: even when the lyrics are tweaked to be more evil, the famous Christmas tunes come off as silly when offered with a guttural scream. It doesn’t really matter how it’s dressed up, hearing the base “O Come O Come Emmanuel” or “We Three Kings” presented in mid-paced death metal just doesn’t really work. There’s a reason Christmas metal albums are novelties and not serious endeavors, and that reason is unfortunately present here.

That being said, there’s one gem on the disc that doesn’t just break that rule, it positively shatters it. The metallic rendition of “Nutcracker: Dance of the Sugar Plum” is undeniably awesome, and it had frankly better hit some movie or game soundtrack post-haste. Something truly awful in a holiday-themed horror movie needs to go down with that song as the backing soundtrack. “Greensleeves” also has its moments, going all-instrumental and tweaking the base formula a bit.

Existing fans of project mastermind J.J. Hrubovcak or his vocal-lending brother Mike may be more willing to forgive the faults, so the album may be worthwhile for some, but for most the majority of “Hellish Renditions of Christmas Classics” will be an amusing side note at best.

Highs: The Nutcracker rendition is amazing, and there's some solid riffery found in each of the songs.

Lows: The whole thing unfortunately comes off as silly, and much of the disc is constrained by the originals, moving too slowly to be worthwhile.

Bottom line: Death metal versions of Christmas classics are about as silly as you'd expect, but there are a few gems to be found here.

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)