The metal Christmas thing has always felt a little forced. Sure, at heart the holiday is really just a mass of old pagan traditions shaped by the church and Coca-Cola into a family-friendly cheer-fest, but draping a bunch of holly garlands on some skulls and spikes rarely makes it much better. However, if there’s band who could pull of a cool metal Christmas album, it’d be Holy Grail. Their brand of hyper-aggressive power-thrash has a certain hyperbole to it that seems to fit the holiday’s overblown insanity. Hence, this—the Seasons Bleeding EP.
The two covers contained within are, in a word, brilliant. The former, an amped-up version of King Diamond’s “No Presents for Christmas,” manages to channel the Mercyful Fate frontman’s creepiness while using Holy Grail’s patented guitar tornadoes and dive bombs to inject the song with new energy, complete with some extra holiday goodies thrown in (the “Carol of the Bells” solo is clutch, and the use of the sad Charlie Brown music at the end will win over even the grimmest of Scrooges). The second track, a rendition of Rainbow’s “Kill the King,” has nothing to do with the yule, but is still a satisfying addition, especially considering how much Grail singer James-Paul Luna sounds like the late Ronnie James Dio.
In truth, this EP is a blip in the Holy Grail’s discography, most likely a pleasure-time activity by the band itself. It’s certainly not bad—both covers are played with equal parts reverence for the original performers and assimilation into Holy Grail’s modern-day sound. Maybe that’s what makes it a perfect addition to a Christmas list—something you’d love to have, but maybe wouldn’t want to buy yourself. CHRIS KROVATIN