Getting tired of “Wonderful Christmas Time” and “Have A Holly Jolly Christmas” and all those coy, equally loathsome versions of “Baby It’s Cold Outside”?
Allentown’s Katahajime (the name refers to a type of martial arts chokehold) will clear all the cheer from your ears before you can say “Yukon Cornelius.”
Consider a few lyrical samples from the crust-metal quartet’s Fall Tour Tape ’13, a three-song online EP posted last month:
Brighter and brighter as the end grows nigh
I’m living in this misery called life
I have nothing left as I self-destruct
Born into misery, suffering.
Eternally, internally. stranded
Cursed to serve time on this earth
This is all delivered in a tuneless torn-throated bellow-vocal, too, if you hadn’t already guessed that. (Actually, they have two guys in the band who sing like that, and sometimes they trade off, like Sam and Dave. OK, not like Sam and Dave, exactly.)
So, yeah, these guys won’t turn your frown upside down. But are they worth listening to anyway?
I think so. They have a solid command of essential metal moves, like the way two of the songs start with quiet, resonant passages before moving into the heavier stuff. That’s not hugely original, of course, but it is effective.
It works nicely when they do it in reverse, too — like at the end of “Whispers of a Fading Existence,” when the closing shouts of “Finally free!” give way to a quiet, resigned-sounding instrumental outro.
I particularly liked the third song — the wonderfully titled “A Bouquet of Rotting Flowers Lining the Mass Graves of Humanity” — which was recorded live on local radio station WXLV.
It begins with some vaguely Robert Fripp-ish guitar swells above a backing-tape atmosphere that sounds like 2 a.m. on a summer morning. The whole thing builds nicely into a clean-toned jam that could easily draw in listeners (like me) who wouldn’t ordinarily think something labeled “crust-metal” could be for them.
(Of course, they get to the crusty parts eventually. But I find the dark parts more effective when the band takes its sweet time getting there.)
So there you have it. Katahajime isn’t for everybody; but, more power to the sound of local crust. Give ’em a listen. You might find something you like — or, if nothing else, you might find a momentary antidote to “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas.”
Katahajime’s “Fall Tour Tape ’13” is available as a name-your-price Bandcamp download here.