Two things that certainly don’t blend well are Christmas and metal music. From the happy holiday cheer, overplayed Christmas tunes, and forced smiles, something about the whole event just makes me want to be alone. I don’t know, maybe I’m a psychopath. At least I’ve got Acid Witch’s surprise Christmas EP to keep me company.
Acid Witch are infamous for their 2008 debut full-length, Witchtanic Hallucinations. While there were certainly a few contenders beforehand, the band in question set the stage for spooky Halloween themed albums, and sadly haven’t topped this effort. Sure, the album probably doesn’t fit the relative mood during summertime, but when Halloween season rolls around? You better believe I’m spinning that thing weekly as part of the ritual.
Acid Witch’s music is compromised of four integral elements which conjoin in blasphemous fashion to deliver the band’s unique output. In terms of the first two, we’ve got equally heavy and catchy death/doom riffs and a wide vocal experimentation that uses of a handful of vocal styles. The third and fourth elements lie behind Slasher Dave’s incredible usage of the keyboard and his creative sampling ability.
Well, I’m pretty sure he’s responsible for the audio samples found throughout the band’s music. He’s not exactly credited anywhere, but his side projects (a death n’ roll band called Horrific and his self-titled ‘80s-themed electronic side effort) feature similar elements, so I’ll just assume its him. Anyways, these samples from movies and television really sell the band’s music for me, as no one in the game really does anything too similar. Part of the reasoning behind this is that metal fans often require their music to be serious, because “metal deals with serious topics and can’t be silly,” which is a ridiculous mindset. This has even plagued Acid Witch in some cases, like how their Midnight Movies EP is often disregarded due to its comical nature, even though it’s a delightfully splendid work. I’m prepping a review for it because it doesn’t get enough praise, but more on that later.
Acid Witch is probably the only band capable of releasing a successful Christmas-themed metal output, or at least one that isn’t just Christmas songs played with electric guitars. Our freaky friends really went all-out with this one with the inclusion of humorous samples and holiday-themed keyboard usage. There are two tracks on Black Christmas Evil, and they both offer fairly different vibes.
“Black Christmas” features some clever sampling at its beginning and tail end, and absolutely delivers from the moment the music starts. Opening with a killer riff paired with a repeating piano lick, this deadly combo should get any fan’s jollies jumbled. However, the track takes a turn when the band’s traditional guttural vocals are replaced with some soft-spoken segments that make me feel like I’m listening to a Korn album. I really hate to say it, but the eerie vocals coupled with repeating underlying riffs don’t really do it for me, and really harken back to the aforementioned band’s style. The chorus on “Black Christmas” is fairly catchy, though.
The song is a play on the whole “he knows when you’ve been sleeping” Santa Claus jingle, but the band takes the theme to a whole new level, provoking the idea that the mythic being is a crazed lunatic spying on his victims. I dig the theme, but the musical elements of this particular track don’t really do it for me.
“Christmas Evil (You Better Watch Out),” the EP’s sister track, follows an entirely different thematic and sonic direction. The opening sample features an older male describing how Santa will unleash hell upon his followers if they misbehave, and ultimately gives off a Black Mirror/Twilight Zone effect. The individual’s tone of voice makes it sound like a ‘60s sample, ultimately achieving a vintage atmosphere surrounding the track. I’m in.
This song reintroduces Acid Witch’s infamous vocal styles, with a healthy back-and-forth between a guttural doomlike vocal style and another similar to a witch’s voice. The two approaches pair together during the vocal segments to create a pretty cool sonic dynamic. The elements on this track work much better in assembly in comparison to the opening number, thus rewarding it the title of being my favourite song on the EP.
We’re not in the clear yet, however. “Christmas Evil (You Better Watch Out)” isn’t completely free of plague, as its opening and closing audio samples shorten the track’s runtime by quite a bit, resulting in a truncated song length. I feel like this track could have benefitted from a few more musical repetitions, but its still a good number.
I’m not the biggest fan of this release. While the endeavour to make a Christmas-themed metal EP is undoubtedly a daunting task, I expected a little more from this wonderful quartet of guys. I was honestly debating reviewing this one, as its just a fun little release that doesn’t really need to be dissected and branded with an arbitrary number. I’m more-so writing about this one to spread the word, as it at least deserves a listen. I do have a weird feeling that this effort will fall into obscurity due to its seasonal nature and its lacking replay ability, but I would enjoy listening to it in some sort of compilation featuring all of the band’s various non-album songs that they’ve release over the years.