August Burns Red are unquestionably the masters of today’s metal scene. Their technical prowess combined with top notch songwriting have propelled this band to the top of the modern hard music heap. They’ve also got a great deal of whimsy to boot. Sleddin’ Hill is a joyous display of both their metal mastery and unique sense of humor. This 13-song collection of holiday mirth is a combination of old holiday standards and a couple of unique originals that is sure to please any metal fan looking for a Christmas record that’s not going to drive them mad.
The album leads off with an original track titled “Flurries,” with soaring lead work over its heavy rhythm section. It’s honestly the perfect lead-off track for this Yuletide-inspired album. On the standard Christmas tunes the band adopts a fairly predictable but highly enjoyable formula, where the band hammers away while the lead guitar sings out the melodies we’ve known seemingly our entire lives. There are so many great songs worth noting, the rest of this review would just be a track listing from the album. But one track I really wanted to single out is the wonderfully moody “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” This song has an ominous but positive foreboding, and to me feels like what the world could have felt like in the hours leading up to the birth of Christ. It’s that heavy presence you feel when you know that something important is about to take place, and I think ABR did a wonderful job of capturing that intangible feeling. With only a few exceptions Sleddin’ Hill is a fun-filled almost punk influenced modern metal holiday masterpiece that will become required listening for all metalheads through the festive season.