As the year-end best album lists start coming out the holiday season, there’s always a few artists who either transcend critical influence, or are so under the radar it doesn’t matter, and they drop an album in December with little or no notice. In the former case, Beyonce did this effectively on December 20, 2013, and ended up selling quite well as a last-minute stocking stuffer. Then she released a Platinum Edition in a re-issue the next year. Last year, after a 15 year wait, D’Angelo dropped Black Messiah, and even made some lists from those who were able to hear it before their deadlines. On the other end of the spectrum, German psych legends Colour Haze came out of nowhere with To The Highest Gods We Know on December 23. Their hardcore following took notice in the stoner/psych blog world, but not beyond that.
There’s a number of high profile artists who we know have been working on something that have not announced a release yet, including PJ Harvey, Radiohead, M.I.A., Frank Ocean, Kanye West, Metallica, No Doubt and Rihanna among many others. Will any of them surprise us with an album in December with little or no pre-release hype? With these big names, of course, the hype is out there whether they do anything to stoke the fires or not. PJ Harvey turned the creation of her album into performance art, allowing people to watch the process. Metallica likes to yap about how awesome the recording progress is going. Rihanna shared the title and cover art of Anti, but no date. Frank Ocean announced a title, Boys Don’t Cry, and July release date, but it’s new release date has not been mentioned. Kanye West has been hyping So Help Me God for over a year, but no release on the horizon yet. Will he be the one to pop? Or M.I.A., who has no release date for Matahdatah, but has released the single “Borders.” Others keep fairly silent.
I’d certainly be interested to hear what any of those artists come out with, be it December or in 2016. I’m still holding out hope that at least one of my favorite genre artists will come through with something before the end of the year. I’m thinking of Swedish country psych rockers Troubled Horse, and the psych prog of Norwegians Spirits Of The Dead in particular. Of the other bands mentioned in my Anticipated Albums of 2015 piece, Wolf People I’m pretty certain won’t have their album until at least the spring, Witchcraft announced Nucleus for January 15. Mansion released yet another EP, Dead Skeletons only have a live album announced, and no word on anything from Dead Man, 40 Watt Sun, Hammers Of Misfortune or Gojira (though they have talked about their recording progress in the press).
Baroness is releasing Purple on Dec. 18, but it was announced quite a while back, and they have already released two songs, along with a SERIES of videos about making the album. This isn’t just canned hype, however, the band gives a truly intimate look into their world, and their sheer passion and enthusiasm for their art is infectious. At least for a band at this level (popular but not selling stadiums yet), it’s the best way to draw in people and inspire them to become loyal fans.
Who is Krampus, you ask? He’s Santa’s/Satan’s helper, the primordial Christmas demon portrayed for hundreds of years in Scandinavian/European folklore that punishes naughty children, when being crossed off Santa’s nice list just isn’t enough! is the dark companion of St. Nicholas, the traditional European winter gift-bringer who rewards good children each year on December 6. Known also as Knecht Ruprecht, Certa, Perchten, Black Peter, Schmutzli, Pelznickel and Klaubauf, Krampus is usually portrayed with horns, cloven hooves and monstrous tongue, but can also be spotted as a sinister gentleman dressed in black, or a hairy man-beast. Krampus punishes the naughty children, swatting them with switches and rusty chains before dragging them, in baskets, to a fiery place below. It’s Krampus who put an end to the Grinch in my twisted holiday poem. There’s not one, but two Krampus movies coming out this year! The first, narrated by William Shatner, straight to video on November 24! In A Christmas Horror Story, Shatner is the narrator of four interweaving stories, including Santa Claus pitted against a horde of zombie elves, and a family that inadvertently conjures Krampus.
And then there’s Krampus, coming to a theater near you on December 4, just in time for Krampusnacht!