As the bass player for the death metal band, Hate Eternal it was certainly something of a surprise when in 2013, J.J. Hrubovcak released a 5-track Christmas EP called Death Metal Christmas.
What is even more of a surprise is that this EP plays it completely straight, avoiding the cheesiness often associated with Christmas metal/rock songs.
Having recruited his brother Mike on vocals (Vile/Monstrosity), Death Metal Christmas is a serious take on five well known holiday songs with twisted lyrics & a darker theme.
…and that is something we certainly get with opener, Unrest for Melancholy Men. A version of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen but turned up to 11. Ferocious death metal riffing, drumming & the most unholy growls that would have Krampus saying “steady on, chaps”.
Is it any good though? Well, no, not really. It’s functional but that’s about it. For having such a serious tone it still comes across a bit cheesy thanks to the original song’s melody.
Things do improve for the sludgy effort that is Earthen Kings, an excellent cover of We Three Kings. As well as a version of the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy that is devastating but such a satisfying listen. The guitar work on both but in particular the former is very impressive. Over-shadowing what are overly-familiar deathly vocals.
Perhaps the most lacking track is an unusual cover of Greensleeves that is a bit messy to really enjoy. Once again the guitars standout, even though there are no vocals (obviously).
The EP comes to a close with O Come, O Come, Azrael, a much darker cover of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. A highlight of the record, here you can hear just what Hrubovcak was going for with an impressively sinister sounding death metal effort.
J.J. Hrubovcak – Death Metal Christmas Full Track Listing:
1. Unrest for Melancholy Men (God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen)
2. Earthen Kings (We Three Kings)
3. Nutcracker: Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy
5. O Come, O Come, Azrael (O Come, O Come, Emmanuel)
Check it out yourself below via Apple Music.
J.J. Hrubovcak - Death Metal Christmas (J.J. Hrubovcak)
The Final Score - 6.5/10