Christmas

Atrophy, Socialized Hate, cover

On Phoenix, Arizona’s Thrash Metal (20 years ago) Newbies– Atrophy

They’re a generic Flotsam & Jetsam.

And…as awesome as that may or may not sound…

to this day, many years, nay– two decades later– it’s thrash metal very-darn-near-perfection.

No innovation on there to speak of… “generic” at best… but within those narrow confines– greatness.

I got the Violent By Nature cassette for Christmas in 1990, along with Manowar’s Kings of Metal. Later, I even got the vinyl of Socialized Hate (originally released 1988).

Both albums are splendidly-straightforward, genre-pure thrash metal.

“Chemical Dependency,” off the first record, Socialized Hate, opens with a vaguely-synthesizer-y, heart-beat-ish bit, quickly becoming, at around 1:10, your typical late-80s thrash metal tune, replete with solos, wicked-hyper tempos, and Eric A.K.-esque vocals (though obviously-less-operatic); track two, “Killing Machine” opens with a great trash riff and continues from there, though with something less than success… and novelty tune “Beer Bong” is SOD-ish fun….

–and this is not a bad thing at all

Their second album,Violent by Nature, opens with the anti-animal-testing “Puppies and Friends,” which starts at breakneck pace… and being someone who was vegan at the time, this song really resonates for me, even now (and it’s a great, if somewhat comic, epilogue that so many cosmetic companies state very obviously that they don’t test on animals, in this, the future, 2012).

You also notice quickly that Violent by Nature is much more muscularly-produced: the tracks sound powerful and yet distinct….

Title track “Violent by Nature” is a generic if crazy-rocking thrash tune, “Slipped Through the Cracks” opens with a rockin’ breakdown-ish riff in high gain, low-reverb riffitude, then galloping away in a polka-ish speed fest… “Process of Elimination” sounds sinister as hell, even beyond the infernal-sounding intro to the downbeat-crushing verse… and closer “Things Change” forgoes the intro all together and fires off a blistering riff with similar lyrical content, closing the record out with the stacco-sputtered choral chant of Things Change…!

Like thrash metal? You will enjoy this. Otherwise? You might still dig the socially conscious/furious lyrics with the similarly-aggravated hyper-paced thrash metal.

Investigate the whole album, courtesy YouTube:

 

cover

Holy Grail, Season’s Bleedings EP

Ha! Get the pun? Bleedings…?

ANYhoo, dig that lead reindeer with the King Diamond makeup! Sweet, right?

For those of you not in your 40s, in the mid-80s, when King Diamond left Mercyful Fate the first time, but before his solo band released its first full-length LP, King Diamond released a cassette single of “No Presents for Christmas,” with the b-side of “The Lake,” a spooky non-holiday song. (My cassette was green and red, so I assume all of them were. I thought it was cool as shit.)

“No Presents for Christmas” was pretty much just King taking the piss out of Christmas/Christianity, as is his wont as a Satanist, I guess.

So, 25 years later (wow), enter Holy Grail: regular readers of this site might recall my waxing ecstatic about their debut LP Crisis in Utopia over a year ago. I love Holy Grail– I think they’re the best form of 1980s metal staples (operatic vocals with shredding guitars) but with a modern sensibility.

And now, for the holidays, dig their clever and fun update of King’s 1986 lead single (before Fatal Portrait), where the greatest of cover types of perpetuated:

the spirit of the original is intact, but there’s a nice update: for instance, in the original, there’s a brief interlude of “Rudolph…”, but in this one, it’s from a Charlie Brown Christmas, something I just posted about…! The production is overall much thicker, and the guitars are detuned a step from King’s version.

Not to coin a new phrase, but it’s everything you loved about the original, with a new twist.

Season’s Bleedings also includes a cover of Rainbow’s “Kill the King,” which, though interesting enough, isn’t nearly as great a cover as the one of Accept’s “Fast as a Shark” (originally on their first EP, Improper Burial), also included here with their cover of Exciter’s “Exciter.”

So, for our Christian readers, Merry Christmas! For everyone else, Seasons Bleedings! Go drink something with alcohol in it. I will.

But seriously though, not Southern Comfort 100– Jesus Buddha Christ that shit’ll give you the hangover of all hangovers. And I am, like Lloyd Christmas would say, a raging alcoholic.

Anyway, it’s awesome and all that. Check it out….

Vince Guaraldi, Charlie Brown Christmas, cover

Vince Guaraldi Trio, A Charlie Brown Christmas

Don’t be fooled, potentially, by sentiment from the CBS television special, sponsored by Coke, and having aired on TV every year since December 9, 1965.

It’s a beautifully restrained, subtle jazz work overlying a comic medium frequently ignored for its existential subtleties. (The potentially-horrific meaninglessness of existence, and all that.)

For example, “Greensleeves,” an Elizabethan ballad possibly-referencing the love of prostitutes.

Enjoy…!