Old Man Gloom - Christmas
Back at my last retail job, I played 'Christmas' for my co-worker, the soon-to-be-famous Jeremy Curry (because we're building a cult around him and you're all invited, that's why...); when the track 'Valhalla' came on, he looked at me excitedly and said, "This sounds like someone coming into my house and killing my family with hammers!"
I don't know why he'd get excited about that, but he wasn't wrong, and I mean that in the best possible way. 'Christmas' alternates between brooding tension and all-out assault, becoming an exercise in extremes, opening with the distorted hymn 'Gift' (which states bluntly, "This...Is...A...Gift!" in a chorus that would make any metal god smile), then leading into 'Skullstorm', a song with guitar whorls that recall the Pixies at their meanest and enough amperage to burst a hog or two; from there it's onto 'Something For The Mrs.', a landscape of dissonance puncuated by the short-wave radio broadcast of a nonsensical military evangelist proclaiming that "'always' was a word you used in promises; it is valueless...".
Harder songs such as 'Sleeping With Snakes' & 'Girth and Greed' reek of violence (and I mean real, adrenalized, SCARY violence: they're sharp, brutal, invasive, and over before you realize anything had happened, leaving you with the impression you've been violated..), whereas tracks such as 'Lukeness Monster' & 'Sonic Dust' create a malarial drone that seduces as it sets you up for the suckerpunch waiting around the corner.
Each song carves it's way into your head: 'Tis Better To Recieve' is a menacing, Melvin-esque dirge, while 'The Volcano' creates a palpable sense of foreboding, before stuttering into full-blown cataclysm; and I'd be remiss in not mentioning the brilliant 'Valhalla', which immediately bludgeons the listener, then settles into an almost triumphant groove, then disappears beneath an overwhelming wash of static, all before it even reaches the two-minute mark.
Perhaps I'm gushing; if I am, it's because this album deserves it. 'Christmas' on a whole is absurd, chaotic, mysterious, frightening and ultimately addictive; just don't play this while you're using power tools. The results might be messy. You've been warned.
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