But Christmas was a month ago…
Sleddin’ Hill is the only Christmas metal album I know of, and therefore, is the best. This review is either up very early or too late (depending on how you look at it), for which I apologise but moving on from that: Sleddin’ Hill is a solid release from one of the most exciting metal bands around.
The album is an odd prospect: mixing August Burns Red’s style with Christmas songs classical, new and original. The prospect however, works, as long as you enjoy incredibly cheesy riffs and guitar solos played to the tune and tempo of Christmas songs.
The two original tracks Flurries and Sleddin’ Hill are both solid tracks and decent Christmas tunes, mixing August Burns Red’s style with cow bells and the like, it works but ultimately these are the least interesting tracks from the album. It’s much more fun listening to Christmas hymns and tunes that you know and love.
Frosty the Snowman, Sleigh Ride, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Jingle Bells, Oh Holy Night, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Little Drummer Boy, Winter Wonderland, O Come, O come, Emmanuel, Carol of the Bells and We Wish You a Merry Christmas make up the rest of the track list and each one has its own merits. It is great fun listening to these tracks given an authentic August Burns Red makeover, but it isn’t half cheesy – which is fine for Christmas.
Like any Christmas related media product, Sleddin’ Hill is best listened to during Christmas (or whenever the Christmas mood takes hold of you). You’ll find yourself playing air guitar along to Frosty the Snowman, head-banging to O Come, O Come, Emmanuel and singing along to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (the only track with something resembling vocals).
Sleddin’ Hill is an instrumental album (for the most part), which is something I found disappointing on the first play-through. To be honest though, vocals would have felt out of place, the choice to make the album an instrumental one was a great choice by the band.
Indeed, the album contains strong performances from all band members, who really amped up the cheese this time round – amazingly – and there are some great performances from outside the band such as string sections, piano, violin, cello, tuba (that’s right) and a vocal choir. It all comes together for a musically accomplished album, with production values as high as any other release from the band.
However, for those expecting an album as heavy and complicated as the rest of band’s releases comes a word of warning: this is not as heavy and each song follows a simpler formula as they are re-workings of pre-existing Christmas carols.
Sleddin’ Hill is a solid album, but one just for Christmas (obviously). The band is on top form and it is clear they had loads of fun while writing and performing the album, just be prepared for a softer and less complicated release than usual – just in time for Christmas.
A fine cheese-fest Christmas album that will be on my playlist during December for years to come.