Tonight is Krampusnacht, the holiday that seems like it was made for black metal. Think about it for just a moment. Krampus is a demonic half goat, half man creature that goes around the alpine country punishing all the children who have misbehaved over the year, he’s pre-Christian, as far as we can tell, and he’s, well he’s horrifically unpleasant, violent, and ugly. What could be more kvlt? He covers every area of “antichristian” black metal that you could think of, except that maybe he’s gaining popularity over the years but that’s a whole other can of worms that I’m not even going to touch until a later date. Knowing that Krampusnacht was coming I wanted to find a black metal band that had a Krampus like theme or imagery that I could review and show off today. I found quite a few bands with the name “Krampus” (one being a brutal death metal band whose lyrics were, well what brutal death metal sings about, and another was simply a prog metal band that like the name I guess) but initially my search for a truly “black metal” holiday album was stymied, yes I know about the Christopher Lee albums but those are too sacred to be used as fillers. But then I found Krampus Parade, a melodic death metal hailing from the northern United State. With a logo that looks like it was inspired by the recent movie (a tradition now my house), the music and lyrics and imagery is exactly what I wanted. Exactly, like to the tee, exactly. I have never been this lucky before when I was searching for a specific band. I mean it’s not black metal but when you have songs like “Yuletide Overlord,” “Stille Nacht, Krampusnacht,” and “Krampuslauf” you can’t get any better.
“Alpine Nightmares and Holiday Horrors” is everything you could every want in a metal holiday album. It takes the classic carols and anthems that we have been so indoctrinated with and turns them on their head. It uses the loving, happy, cheery Christmas atmosphere to sow seeds of fear, terror, and violence, all in the name of Krampus, the original Yule Lord.
The album opens with some beautiful and haunting, it recalls the Bavarian winter and the picturesque delight that we see in holiday cards and movies until it takes a different turn. The instrumental folk music grows darker and darker, throwing in some dark ambient noises that almost remind you of Santa but given the atmosphere, you know is something else. Something older and darker.
Krampus Parade’s brand of melodic death metal kicks in there and throws everything happy out of the window. The music is fast and heavy, but the melody is strong, carrying a sort of off center Christmas theme throughout the whole album. The guitars are thick but not sludgy. They are stronger than what I would normally call melodic death metal but they aren’t quite anything else. The sound exists in a sort of vacuum. The drums blaze, creating a wonderful foundation and counterpoint to the guitars while the vocals evoke the horror and terror the Krampus is supposed to elicit. It’s a wicked fun album and I feel extremely enriched by having found and heard it. This is the kind of Christmas album that metal needs. There are some great ones out there, don’t get me wrong, but albums like this, ones that focus less on metal versions of old and tired Christmas themes and more on the darker, more traditional folklore.
The entire album, those far the only release from Krampus Parade, is a triumph of what imagination can achieve. Honestly, I don’t think Krampus Parade needs to come out with another album, indeed I think if they did their theme and sound could become a cliché. Alpine Nightmares and Holiday Horrors is too good an album to be sullied like that. It’s a gem that is a gem because it is so unique, it’s special because it fills a void that only needs one album to fill. Alpine Nightmares achieved everything it was meant to within the space of an hour’s worth of music. It has everything that both a metal album needs to be sound and solid and what a holiday album requires, or more precisely mocks what the holiday albums require. The music might not be black metal but the underlying theme of standing in opposition and looking back to the pre-Christian traditions as a replacement for Christian traditions and values is what the very heart of black metal is.
Should you buy this album? Absolutely, it has everything you need in an album. However, like holiday albums it’s not the kind you have on your playlists throughout the year; it’s a special album that you break out only once a year. I’ve had the album on repeat since hearing it, filling my humble abode with the odes to the monstrous Krampus (much to the “delight” of my wife I’m sure). It’s perfect for this time of year and only this time of year. If you tried to listen to Alpine Nightmares during the summer the effect, indeed the whole mystique of the album, would be diminished or lost entirely. Krampus is celebrated tonight, on Krampusnacht, when his legend and power are at its height. We don’t sing Christmas Carols in summer, nor should we disrespect the atmosphere and legends of Krampus. Winter is the time for Krampus Parade. Alpine Nightmares and Holiday Horrors is the album the metal community deserves. So in that holiday spirit let’s spread the album around as far and wide as we can!
Listen and support!