Celebrating their first album in over six years, American act A Hill to Die Upon returns with the Black Nativity and an album of re-interpretations of classic Cristian Hymns and songs with many special guests, including Karl Sanders (Nile), Ole Borud (Extol), Bruce Fitzhugh (Living Sacrifice), and Sakis Tolis (Rotting Christ).
From the opener of ‘’ Hymn To Marduk’’ (feat. Karl Sanders) and the pure folk sensibility of “Left-Handed Wizard (My Eyes Look West) “, this is a record that reveries its subject matter and their passion for heavy music that borders somewhere between metal, black metal, and pure folk intonations. It is with ‘’ We Three Kings’’ that the subject matter becomes more apparent, and the track is a heavy offering that is instantly recognizable yet something a Hill to Die On have made new.
The double kick bass and vocal-only sections of ‘’ Stille Nacht’’ (Silent Night) are downright menacing as the track is given its heaviest possible interpretation ever, A Hill to Die On do not shy away from their open beliefs but delivers them with such candour and a blackened metal sensibility that it must be taken seriously and judged on its own individual efforts. Take the speed and fury of ‘’ Entre le Beouf’’ and then the subtle guitar beauty of ‘’ Auld Lang Syne’’ with the multilayered vocals of the acoustic-led‘’ Sacred Harp 133’’and you have a record that is at times daring, nimble, powerful, and evocative. It simply gets better with every listen.
‘’ Hymn To Marduk II’’’ is a slow Tempo excellence blessed with a great riff that proves that when the band stretches beyond boundaries, they excel with its powerful hymn and fantastic tough vocals. ‘’ Minuit Chretien’’ is the instantly recognizable sonnet that closes the album. The Black Nativity is a record that will surprise you with its authenticity and genuine passion. It is a record that you take solace in appreciating for its honesty, heaviness, and diversity.
A Hill to Die Upon: Facebook
Release Year: 2023
Label: Rottweiler Records
Reviewed by Sparky