Notre Dame - _Nightmare Before Christmas_
(Osmose, 1999)
by: Paul Schwarz (7 out of 10)
Seemingly two full albums, this double bill of schlock B-movie horror inspired quasi-black metal humour-mongering from Snowy (ex-King Diamond drummer) Shaw's new project is a strangely refreshing breath of fresh air from rather kitsch obsessions with being "true" to metal, i.e. taking it super-seriously. Metal is great, metal is heavy, but metal can also be funny, whether intentionally or not. _Nightmare Before Christmas_ is a kind of joke album with Shaw and his corpse-painted partners posing in mock-gothic style on the cover, while in the top left hand corner the man himself is black metal Santa. Beginning with Shaw whispering "When you wish upon a star -- your wish is granted -- here we are", a slogan which also adorns the front cover, there is amusement and decent riffs to be found on _NBC_, but it is more on _V1LTDV_ where Notre Dame's worth is clearly identifiable. The track which the two albums share, "Black Birthday (Hip Hip Hooray)", is, however, a good point from which to explain Notre Dame's appeal. Beginning with a bouncy but unmistakably metal riff which segues into a speed/thrash mockery, the proclamation of "Don't wish me happy birthday" in full, spiteful, black metal rasping glory is as funny as it is a hook which sticks firmly in you head. A chorus of children singing "Well he's a jolly good fellow..." segues the second, less speedy half of the song and the overall effect is funny and listenable in good balance. Notre Dame produce many funny moments with the lyrics and musical pastiches of songs like "I Bring Nosferatu You" or "Vlad the Impaler", but they produce as many memorable and often pleasingly muscular riffs which make listening to Notre Dame more than just a pastime undertaken for the purpose of having a good laugh. Unfortunately, Notre Dame manage to draw things out to an hour on the former and forty minutes on the latter album, and they do thus spread themselves rather thin at points, such as on _V1LTDV_ closer "Spiderella's XXX". If you want a laugh and the pleasure of having a dozen or so nicely executed chunky riffs smashing at your cranium, I suggest getting _V1LTDV_, it definitely has the edge in quality as well as quantity; if you -really- dig it then you might want to chance a look at _NBC_.

(article published 5/3/2000)

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