Album Review: August Burns Red - 'Sleddin’ Hill, A Holiday Album'

21 October 2012 | 7:44 pm | Staff Writer

Season's Greetings Heavy Metal style.

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Heavy metal and Christmas go hand in hand, right? The months have certainly flown by, so perhaps a seasonal album is a timely offering.

The timing in many respects carries to August Burns Red themselves. The band have a solid reputation, enough years under their collective belts and a vast fan base to allow them to indulge a little. However, ‘indulge’ might be a stretch and unfair term. This intermittent album entitled 'Sleddin’ Hill, A Holiday Album’ is a neat, innocent release that is predicated on its simple charms not its ground breaking virtues.

See, this isn’t a vanity album that parades around unnecessary riffs and gives a platform to excessive performance. Instead, it is a reflection of a group that has an idea and artistic endeavour and chooses to explore it.

Off the bat, you can throw away any normal checklists or review guidelines, this isn’t a graded on a traditional studio album criteria. This holiday album is 13 instrumental tracks, which offer an alternative to the often dull, tedious and overplayed Christmas staples. Josh Groban anyone?

Thankfully this release is bold and dynamic. If you’re going to take a risk and jump in at the deep end, you may as well do it with one big jump instead of one toe at a time.

The production quality is precise, with the sound immediately recognisable as August Burns Red. The riffs and breakdowns just scream ABR.

The duality between the Christmas harmonies and the metal song structures work well. It has the feel of the traditional and pre-existing tracks, but balances with quicker tempos, denser tunings…and the occasional blast beat.

Frosty the Snow Man’ has never sounded so metal. Who would’ve thought it possible to make a circle pit anthem from the track? ‘Jingle Bells’ begins in an acoustic manner, while ‘Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer’ breaks up the instrumental delivery, with some background vocals.

Overall, the use of harmony and range is defined. The album finishes at the right point. Anymore and this fun album would quickly devolve into a tired, worn out release.

Why not immerse yourself in a change of pace once in a while? The holidays just got a bit more rock ‘n’ roll here. ‘Sleddin’ Hill, A Holiday Album’ is refreshing and proves itself worthy of the time and effort.

1. Flurries

2. Frosty The Snowman

3. Sleigh Ride

4. God Rest Ye' Merry Gentlemen

5. Jingle Bells

6. Oh Holy Night

7. Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer

8. Sleddin' Hill

9. Little Drummer Boy

10. Winter Wonderland

11. O Come, O Come Emmanuel

12. Carol Of The Bells (2012)

13. We Wish You A Merry Christmas

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