News Dec 22 2011
Tales from the Thousand Lakes
With an impressive and varied catalogue to draw upon, Finnish metal band Amorphis are still defined by their second release, Tales from the Thousand Lakes . The album is a brilliant re-visioning of Finnish epic Kalevala, a series of legends and folk tales. The culture's pervasive cold, sunless winters and brilliant storytelling tradition are palpable in this record. In particular, "Black Winter Day" evokes the role of the storyteller in keeping the monsters of winter at bay.
3. Celtic Frost
To Mega Therion
This album makes regular appearances in my playlists year-round, and not just because I think Tom G. Warrior is a stone cold fox. Celtic Frost are an incredibly influential band in the extreme metal scene, and To Mega Therion is their absolute best. It had a huge impact on the development of black metal and death metal as the genres were still being formed. The chill that pervades "(Beyond The) North Winds" makes me shiver every time. Having cover art by H.R. Giger, a piece called Satan I, also adds to the delicious perversion of the Christmas season. The dark, subversive nature of To Mega Therion is a perfect antidote when the holidays get a bit too wholesome.
Winter, and the entire yule season, makes me long for Viking metal. As a woman of genuine Viking heritage (family legend traces our genealogy back to a tenth century Norse clan), as soon as the snow starts to fall, something deep in my ancestral memory stirs and the urge to don some furs and pick up a battle axe rises in my spirit. While enjoying the finest roasted meats and ales with my family, Thyrfing's Farsotstider provides an excellent musical accompaniment to the best parts of the holidays.
Blood Fire Death
If there is one thing that defines the holidays, it is members of my family giving me all the unsolicited advice in the world and commenting on my life choices in shocking detail. This usually ends with my Russian grandmother attempting to set me up with an altar server and my dad asking why I can't dress like a lady. At moments like this, I turn to Bathory's Blood Death Fire. This seminal black metal album (also considered one of the first examples of Viking metal) sounds and feels positively demonic. It channels all the negativity out of my rancid brain and lets me expunge my frustration without setting the Christmas tree aflame.
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