Heavy Metal Christmas (and Dungeon Synth)

I love Christmas music. From “Silver Bell” -type shit crooners to old-fashioned traditional hymns. Guess this is one of those “dirty little secrets” that you aren’t supposed to admit if you’re in a black metal band. Or an adult, really, but whatever. You can eat my whole asshole if you have a problem with that. Last year I was training for my job in Raleigh, which is full of great record stores, and decided to check out Sorry State Records due to a bunch of recommendations when I asked about cool places to visit in the city on the cesspool that is my Facebook. I ended up coming out with the Zygote reissue, a 7 “hoax that I had never seen before, and, more importantly for this story, a beautiful copy of” The Star Carol “by Tennessee Ernie Ford. My mom was set to commemorate the start of the holiday season when I was a kid, but I had lost the tape during one of the many times I had been uprooted since and never really set out to look for it again until last year, probably because the upcoming birth of my child made me somewhat sentimental for memories of my own childhood.

Aside from issues that require therapy, for an overall subculture that seems to oppose the holiday season, there are many cases that mention it. The one you’re probably most familiar with, especially if you’re on social media and surrounded by people who think they’re fucking smart, is King Diamond’s “No Presents for Christmas”. Now, I’ve given this one a lot of crap over the years, and unfairly – it’s probably strictly because of how many people will be posting it with a cool holiday post on their social media platform. choice, similar to anyone posting Samhain on Halloween with a message about the (albeit real) superiority of November coming fire on the Misfits. I know these are meant to impress their friends, but if your friends are so easily impressed with nonsense, I would consider finding some new friends. Then you have other mentions, like “Black Christmas” by Venom, the multiple Christmas covers of Helix at (my favorite) gehenna‘s No fucking Christmas EP, and, if you’re brave / dumb, you can type up “Heavy metal Christmas” on Youtube and be greeted with hundreds of fucking horrible fucking metalcore videos and images of Santa Claus skeletonizing or drinking Santa Claus. beer or some stunted metal cliché. Bah fucking bullshit.

The snowiest corners of black metal lend themselves well to this time of year, but luckily there’s no Christmas black metal record yet, which means there’s still some time before I have to jump off a bridge. There are enough silly metal parodies floating around the universe that make conversations with well-adjusted people who have normal listening habits, like a sane collection of Phil Collins, more uncomfortable since that’s the kind. something they probably know about. One thing I will continue to stress for the three columns that Invisible Oranges allows me before I get fired is that the most intentionally “funny” metal is absolute junk. Is there room for humor in metal? Absolutely, but trying to force the humor is like trying to force a shit: you’re going to blow your o-ring and it’s going to heal badly. Then you end up with a weird asshole for the rest of your life, but at least one thing about you will be funny.

If I had to pick an album out of all the metal or metal adjacent for this time of year, I wouldn’t have to go much further than Krampusnachtthe eponymous debut of 2017.

Krampusnacht was ahead of the curve before a few dozen projects started to “cozy synth” and build on the winter holidays. By taking traditional Christmas hymns and reworking them through the prism of dark dungeon music, he has managed to create something dark and completely original. It has become the way I welcome the winter months and the holiday season; every late november i pick an evening when i drive home from work to put it on, almost like a little ritual for the changing seasons.

Hey fuck you, some people have pumpkin spice lattes (now available mid August!) I have a weird synth record.

Either way, Krampusnacht has recorded material since then, but nothing really has ever scratched the eponymous itch, which Phantom Lure wisely put on vinyl earlier this year. He started reworking more popular holiday songs and each successive release was cool, but didn’t stick with me (except for the brilliant song title “Kramp of Murmuur” last year) for very long. Until this year when he comes out Krampusferatu.

Krampusferatu is awesome from start to finish and picks up where the eponymous album’s promise left off. While it has moved a bit away from the more anthemical aspects of Christmas music and delved into some of the weird pulp-Christmas culture of the 50s-80s, the music itself does not suffer and continues to be as dark as hemlock milk and cookies. Since I was a kid in the 80s, I also enjoy the use of “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” towards the end of the record.

We could talk about Christmas music in punk, but all you really need is Poison idea.

I could really talk about Christmas music a lot longer, especially after working in a few record stores over the holidays. And so I will, in a few weeks when I come back with another album from Noise Pollution. Don’t drink too much eggnog, it sucks to clean a sofa.

I know I’m not the only one who hears “straighten the halls of holly branches” in there.

—Neill Jameson

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