` Jesusfreakhideout.com: A Hill To Die Upon, "The Black Nativity" Review
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JFH Indie Music Spotlight Review

A Hill To Die Upon, 'The Black Nativity'

A Hill To Die Upon
The Black Nativity

Street Date: November 24, 2023
Style: Christmas / Death Metal
Buy It: AmazonMP3
Buy It: iTunes

One of the more revered blackened death metal bands in the underground Christian metal world, Rottweiler Records' own A Hill To Die Upon, is back with their first album since 2017's Via Artis, Via Mortis. But their return is not with just another standard studio album. For 2023, the group is presenting their take on the Christmas season with eleven brand new tracks for the holidays.

The Black Nativity isn't the world's first Christmas-themed metal album, but it is one of the more interesting. It features a mix of gothic metalcore, death metal, and acoustic music, along with some eclectic song choices. For every classic song, like "Stille Nacht," "We Three Kings," and "What Child Is This?" (which features Extol's Ole Boris), there are twice as many unique choices. Look no further than "Hymn To Marduk" and "Left Handed Wizard (My Eyes Look West)," both of which are not only slow, acoustic tunes with purely clean vocals, but also deal more in storytelling and an almost prophetic or even fantasy sort of narrative. It's also interesting to note that "Hymn To Marduk II" is a heavier rendition of the opening track. While the acoustic opener appropriately features Karl Sanders of the ancient Egyptian-themed band Nile, the metal version features Sakis Tolis and Living Sacrifice vocalist, Bruce Fitzhugh.

Some of the songs wouldn't necessarily be considered classics in the context of whether or not you're likely to hear them on a popular album or at your church's Christmas service. Still, though, they are in other ways traditional pieces, such as "Sacred Harp 133" and the two album highlights (if you ask me) in "Entre le Beouf" and "Minuit Chretien." Both of these tracks are French carols, the latter of which was eventually rewritten/translated into English as what we call "O Holy Night."

These days, the Christian music industry starts pumping out Christmas albums as early as late September. And while the beauty in the lyrics of the more reverent Christmas songs never changes, one can only hear the same song sung the same way so many times. So when a Relient K or August Burns Red comes along with something that feels new, it's refreshing. A Hill To Die Upon isn't as accessible as those bands, but with The Black Nativity, they've put an interesting spin on Christmas music that is more than welcome to my ears.

- Review date: 12/13/23, written by Scott Fryberger of Jesusfreakhideout.com

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JFH Indie Spotlight Review . Record Label: Rottweiler Records
. Album length: 11 tracks: 37 minutes, 16 seconds
. Street Date: November 24, 2023
. Buy It: AmazonMP3
. Buy It: iTunes

  1. Hymn To Marduk (feat. Karl Sanders) (4:33)
  3. We Three Kings (5:59)
  4. What Child Is This? (feat. Ole BÝrud) (4:58)
  5. Left Handed Wizard (My Eyes Look West) (3:38)
  6. Stille Nacht (4:04)
  7. Entre le Beouf (1:40)
  8. Auld Lang Syne (2:08)
  9. Sacred Harp 133 (3:22)
  10. Hymn To Marduk II (feat. Sakis Tolis and Bruce Fitzhugh) (2:45)
  11. Minuit Chretien (1:59)




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