A Cherdmas Carol: Brojob – A Very Deathcore Christmas, Archeopteryx – A Very Blackened Christmas, and One Hell of a Christmas – Horrific Holiday Music for the Jaded Masses, Vol 1 Reviews

Once upon a time—of all the good days in the year, on Christmas Eve—I sat busy in my AMG office. It was cold and damp in the sub-basement, and the faint sound of Grier‘s ragged wheezing and occasional flatulence could be heard two offices down. I was composing my end of year list while keeping an eye on the junior staff member ghostwriting one of my Things You Might Have Missed posts a few feet away. The little shit kept trying to turn up the thermostat and was met each time with a stream from my spray bottle and a disapproving glare. Suddenly, a cheerful voice rang out, “Merry Christmas, Cherd!” Maddog had poked his head in the door. “Bah. Humbug. What’s so merry about it? Every year at this time I am compelled to review some masochistic metal band’s attempt at a Christmas album. ‘Tis a cruel season.” “Cruel? Why, it’s the one time of year metal heads and Christians cease hostilities to mutually engage in crass capitalistic intemperance!” “Humbug,” I mumbled. 

That night in my bedchambers, I had just changed into my dressing gown and settled before the fireplace when a song began playing, faintly, but growing louder until, alarmed, I recognized it as “The Hammer” by Skelator. “How?!” I cried. “Such drivel in my house?!” Just then, a ghostly apparition burst into the room and strut about like a pro wrestler winding up the crowd. I shuddered, for I knew its face: Holdeneye, my former list partner, who had been summarily executed for gross overrating. “CHEEERD” he boomed, as I cowered behind my armchair. “You can’t be real!” I stammered. “Why do you doubt your senses?” “Because I’ve been eating horrible holiday shit all day. You may be a bit of rancid egg nog or an undigested Reese’s Peanut Butter Tree.” At this, he became agitated and began dabbing sweat from his ghostly, gleaming bald head. “God, I haven’t had a Reese’s since I died.” He composed himself and continued: “This night you will be haunted by three spirits, who will show you the true meaning of Christmas.” “You mean there’s going to be two more ghosts?” “No, three,” he said, trying to sound spooky. “But that would make four, counting you.” “I’m just following the script, dude.” “How are you getting this wrong? Four was your favorite number,” I pointed out. “THREE SPIRITS!” he bellowed and disappeared.

Slumber eluded me, so I watched the clock with mounting anxiety. As the hour of one struck, a form appeared in my bedchamber. “I am the Ghost of Christmas Past,” it said. In appearance it was quite like El Cuervo, slight and childlike with rosy cheeks, but atop its head was a candle, from which emanated a soft beam of light. “What’s with the candle,” I inquired. “What candle?” I decided not to press further. “Take my hand,” it said, and with that my bedchamber dissolved and we found ourselves standing outside the AMG break room. It was the office holiday party, one week earlier. The mood was raucous, and I spied myself passed out in a corner with dicks drawn on my face in sharpie.

The spirit began pontificating about simpler times or kindness or some such, but all I could hear was the music playing at the party. It was deathcore, the kind largely composed in Pro Tools, and the songs were familiar. Through the mush-mouthed death growls and near pig squeals I could make out the chorus of “Feliz Navidad.” “Spirit,” said I, “What music is this to which they make merry.” “Brojob, A Very Deathcore Christmas,” it answered. “But that’s not why we’re here. Haven’t you been listening?” I had not been. The programmed synth melodies and beatdown chugs of Brojob’s rendition of “Last Christmas” were filling my head with an ill feeling. During their take on Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas,” admittedly a bit more novel than their other choices when rendered in deathcore, I mused aloud, “Tell me Spirit, is it enough to simply present these songs in an incongruent style? Has not this been done many times before? Should not these Brojobs of the world justify the existence of such releases beyond novelty?” “With a band name like that, do you think them capable of this?” it retorted. Just then, a more egregiously misguided cover began to play. In structure and melody, it was clearly Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back In Town,” but the words “Boys Are” had been replaced with “Santa’s.” The Spirit and I exchanged a look of disgust. “I have seen enough, Spirit. Take me from this place.” A moment later I was back in my bedchamber, alone.

I grew determined to meet the next apparition with some shred of dignity, so I quickly exchanged my dressing gown for an Inter Arma shirt. The clock again struck one—which was odd, but supernatural shit doesn’t need to make sense—but no spirit appeared in my bedchamber. Around the door to an adjacent room, however, a warm light appeared. Upon opening it my eyes were met with strange wonders. The walls and ceiling were hung with thick green foliage, and upon the floor was a great mound of grilled meats. Steaks, brats, pork chops, burgers and kielbasas sizzled in a heap, and atop the meat mountain sat a giant form clad in a novelty apron printed with the torso of a bikinied woman. Like Steel Druhm it was, hulking of frame and dim witted about the face. “I am the Ghost of Christmas Present,” it said. “Touch the hem of my hilarious apron and we shall away.” Having little choice, I did so.

It took me to a hovel where, in spite of abject poverty, the occupants were cheerfully gathered. “Whose house is this, Spirit?” “Do you not recognize the junior writer toiling under the workload meant for you? His name is Dolph Cratchit.” “I never bother with their names. Who then is the poor fellow slumped over in the wheelchair?” “Tiny Ken.” The Spirit then sermonized about contentment without material wealth, but I was otherwise occupied by the awful music permeating the room. “What racket is this?” “Archeopteryx, A Very Blackened Christmas,” it offered helpfully. Ostensibly black metal, the guitars and drums were half-distinct mush while dual rasped and growled vocals sat high in the mix. I stood aghast as they insipidly chanted “Hail! Santa! Hail! Santa!” As I pondered the oddly quiet production job, I noticed the Spirit wistfully peering into the house. “Alas, I see an empty wheelchair next Christmas.” I followed his gaze to where Tiny Ken had inadvertently pulled off his colostomy bag. Dolph busied himself cleaning the spillage. A spoken word piece began playing, a “Christmas Poem” about some dude, high AF, running over a mall Santa with his car. There were spooky noise samples, and it was mildly funny but delivered with all the gusto of a high school student reciting an essay on Ecuador. More tepid, black-ish riffs followed, and I suddenly noticed the Spirit staring at me, shoulders slumped. “Sorry, repeat that. I’ll listen this time.” “Whatever. I’ve already been paid for this gig,” it sighed, and launched me roughly back into my room to await the final ghost.

For this, I had not long to wait. No sooner had I collected my wits, but a figure in a hooded robe obscuring its face hovered more than stood beside me. It said nothing, so at length I ventured, “You must be the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.” It nodded and took me once again to the AMG break room, where a group of writers were talking. “So, he’s been sabbaticalled then?” said Grymm. “Yes, poor thing,” replied Madam X. “Good. That guy sucked” grumbled Grier. “Always listening to sludge super loud. One time I caught him printing out an entire Star Trek themed porno frame by frame on the office printer. Said he was making a flip book.” At this, my blood ran cold. “Spirit, surely they speak not of me?” Rather than answer, it silently transported me to our final destination. 

I immediately recognized the potter’s field behind the AMG compound. It was here the Happy Metal Guys of the world lay in eternal repose, far from home and hearth, kith and kin. The Ghost stretched out a bony finger toward a freshly dug hole. I approached with trepidation, but soon noticed a bluetooth speaker, no doubt left by the grave digger, playing a blend of generic traditional heavy metal guitars and early punk vocal delivery. “I hate the Christmas season more than any, it’s true, so here’s a ‘bah, humbug’ to you!” went the chorus. “Ok, I get it Spirit, a little on the nose, don’t you think?” It remained silent. The speaker display confirmed the song title “Bah, Humbug” from Horrific Holiday Music for the Jaded Masses, Vol 1 by the comedy metal band One Hell of a Christmas. Each song was at least capably played, and the production was clean, though no riff was memorable. Several of the holiday covers, like “Sleigh Bells” and “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” were overtly cheerful, literal interpretations. Original song “Krampus” displayed half-decent twin guitar harmonies early on, but this was shat on by a clunky chorus. “So, this is it then, Spirit? Am I to be dumped in an unmarked grave to uninspired Christmas metal?” “It’s no more than you deserve,” it finally said, lowering its hood to reveal AMG himself. “Then I’m taking you with me, you son of a bitch!” I tackled him into the open pit, where we struggled mightily against each other.

As if waking from a dream, I slowly realized I was thrashing about in my own bed, tangled in the bedsheets. There were no ghosts, no terrible Christmas metal playing, and daylight streamed through the window. This I opened, and called to a reader below, “You there, Hamster! What day is it?” “Yer mom!” he answered. “Kidding. It’s Christmas.” I had survived the night, and another Christmas metal review besides. I felt no joy, for I knew another lay in my future 12 months hence, and though I draw no pleasure from this annual torture, to you, dear reader, I heartily say Jorn bless you, every one.

Rating: Brojob: 2.0/5.0, Archeopteryx: 1.0/5.0, One Hell of a Christmas: 1.5/5.0, Christmas: 0.0/5.0
Format Reviewed: streaming
Label: Independent (all)
Websites: brojob.bandcamp.com | archeopteryxroar.bandcamp.com | onehellofachristmas.bandcamp.com
Releases Worldwide: December 1st, December 10th, and November 19th, 2022, respectively

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