Hello, happy holidays! That's what we call the Triple H combo in my zip code. Go aHead, ask tHem, you sHall see. I come bearing gifts. Specifically, I'm open-carrying an album so hot it will melt the not-ice in this bogus age of climates and change. It's a Christmas album to end the year with a secular, or depending on how many ties you own, non-secular bang. It's called The Last Xmax: No More Hearts To Give. One of my favorite holidays is Xmax, so I'm elated that there is finally an album dedicated to the holiday. I've listened to it a few times over now, and it's a real missile to the toe. I've hit the joke quota, so here comes a serious review.
Hold your reindeer, pilot! Don't you want some background info on the artists? Me neither!
The album's first track "No More Hearts" opens and abruptly closes with bittersweet ho-hummery. What most would expect to be a song for gamers turns out to be a swift diddy about wanting love. Actually, this might be a song for gamers. My mistake. The tone quickly changes to an anthem about what the holidays are all about. All of them, if not most of them. I was very impressed that the lyrics included Hanukkah and Kwanzaa in the vocalist's appreciation of Christmas. I think holidays with a lot of "a"s should be more appreciated, and so does Enter The Flame. The beat is good, king, and I think the gunshots are my favorite ingredient. The vocalist's speculation of the yearly emergence of seasonally specific cheer is enough to make you wonder, "why do I feel so large-hearted today?" The answer may shoot you.
I've said it before and I'll say it 'til somebody important sends me a cease and desist, but I don't know nearly as much as I think I do when it comes to interpreting lyrics (except this one time). "CM" reminds me of my one weakness: my . The boomer in me thinks CM stands for "cool math," but the music journalist in me thinks I could quit my day job and decipher some tracks for the new year. "CM" is the definition of a wintry mix, the vocal effect reminding me of a vocaloid I don't want to avoid. This album is a blend of a certain sound I am not used to, like a spinach smoothie sans fruit. But unlike the greenest breakfast of them all, there is something about this album that keeps me chugging persistently. I think it is the holiday spirit. Everything is more enjoyable during the holidays. No matter how alone you are, or how stressed you are, there is the promise of joy and friendliness. And now that precious window of human decency is closed until next year or until you listen to this album.
Of my top 3 favorite tracks on the album (in no particular order), "You Shouldn't Have To Work On Christmas" is one of them. It's lively and I agree with the lyrics. You really shouldn't have to work on Christmas, and if anybody tells you otherwise they are a mean one. Speaking of mean ones, "Popper" contains a mean beat. The erratic nature of this one makes me feel like I live inside of an Etch A Sketch. This is my new favorite song about inclement weather. No more Scorpions for me. Rock me like a yesterday. Scorpions aren't the holidays.
Around half of the songs on this album are quick and clean, staying true to the blitzkrieg tactic used by the jolliest MC (Male Claus) of them all. "Blizzard on Yo Block" and many other songs fall under the 2 minute marker, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. It provides artists time to experiment with sounds that may not be optimal for a 3 to 4 minute session, yet still share them with the audience. But I will say I wish some songs could be longer, such as that one about not working on Christmas.
On the topic of me being a size queen when it comes to song length, some of the last stops on the album are longer in duration, and stranger in diction. The most existential song on the album and perhaps the only existential Christmas song to exist is "Xmas Story." Spoken from the unreliable narration of a figure trapped within a snowglobe, this song lightly strokes on what it means to be alive. For Christmas. It makes me wonder, is this caged spirit in the snowglobe willingly, of his own agency, or was it placed there for a reason? What if, and this is a stretch, what if we are within a sort of snowglobe ourselves? We occupy a society increasingly shaken and bombarded with the elements of our environment; in a world where every day feels more and more like a simulation, are we being shaken by a cosmic force with a cruel, sick sense of humor? Ask Enter The Flame, I couldn't tell you.
Fulfilling my desire for a Christmas PSA, "Let The Cold Ones in" reminds us all that there is reason to open your home to everybody during the holidays. It's a warm track, perfect kindling for the furnace of the heart. The vocals are full of bliss and some other things I can't repeat.
Although I appreciate the originality of this album, Enter The Flame appreciates a good cover of a good Beatle. "Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time" is a holiday classic. But now that I've heard this new version by people I have never met, I gotta say, Paul McCartney might be one of the most untalented musicians in the biz. You'll see what I mean when you dive under the cover. A sillier take on the cover tip occurs within "I Love You." Those who have celebrated between 17 and 29 Christmases are likely familiar with Chief Keef and his extensive lyrical catalog of things people love about him, stuff he doesn't like, and the folly of warfare/unprotected sex. There is something very painfully charming about taking a song called "I Don't Like" and re-purposing it into a song about Christmas called "I Love You."
An equally loved and appreciated number 2 for my favorite tracks of the season is "Billboard Top 100 Number 1 Hit 2011." It's pure holiday joy, real Xmax cheer from a hearthrob I have never met in my entire life, serving up swag on an aluminum tray for Earth's most crimson-clad chimney-phile. The production on this track is exemplary, enough sweetness to fill an entire continent's worth of goodies into one explosive sack. If you are still reading this, I am impressed. I have found my real ones. "Santa Slayer" is my 3rd mentioned out of 3 favorite songs of the season that I am proud of every day, regardless of the accomplishments of its less raucous siblings. "Wake up, it's Christmas! You wanna see what you got under the tree?! Wake UP."
Although it's a Christmas album No More Hearts to Give is something you or your family could listen to every precious day. I could review what each song sounds like, or what my favorite mustard is, or what each song means, but this isn't cheatingdome.com. I think you will be much more satisfied listening to it yourself. I will not spoil the "Outro" track for you. You will just have to listen to the entire album, which is available on bandcamp. And it's free. 'Tis the season, indeed! I imagine the rumored deluxe edition will provide plenty of new riffs and raps, and maybe even some scares and screams if we play our cards right. I know I say this about every album, but this really cured my night terrors. I hope it cures your night terrors, too. If it doesn't work, this will.