Winter is here. The nights have grown long, and while they’re broken by the beauty of annual Christmas and holiday light displayers, they merely hide a daker evil. Talk of Christmas stars and Hanukkah lights gives way to memories of another set of stars … those who lock away the Great Old Ones in their watery grave, and who’s proper alignment could bring about the end times.
Thus we have A Very Scary Solstice, an album of Lovecraftian music inspired by the insanity-inducing, reality-sundering (and yes, entirely fictional) Cthulhu Mythos, and giving the question “Do you hear what I hear?” an entirely new connotation.
Created by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, A Very Scary Solstice includes 25 Cthulhu-themed reworkings of classic holiday carols. Instead of “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” we get “Freddy the Red-Brained Migo”. Instead of “Oh Come All Ye Gentlemen” there’s “Oh Come All Ye Olde Ones”. And let’s not forget replacing “Away in a Manger” with “Away in a Mad House”
Blasphemous? Possibly … but if you’re listening to a Lovecraft-inspired Christmas album (or reading a review about said album) you’re skin is going to be thick enough to deal with a little light-hearted heresy.
Or you’re a fish/human hybrid from the Marsh Clan. Whatever.
A Very Scary Solstice sounds better than you might expect for an amateur production. It helps that these are based on holiday songs that we’ve all heard warbled offkey for decades — even when the songs don’t quite hit the mark (for example, the opening “Very Scary Solstice” duet sounds a bit off key) it’s all very much in keeping with the theme.
The real fun here though, is the lyrics. Most of them will be lost on anyone not versed in H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos (what the heck is a shoggoth? and why would I need an elder sigil to play with it?). Take “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Fishmen” (inspired by “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas”) which retails the classic tale of the “The Shadow over Innsmouth”, in which a foul cult of the aquatic horror known as the Dagon infiltrates (and ultimately crossbreads with) the townfolk of Innsmouth, Mass.:
It’s beginning to look a lot like fish-men
Everywhere I go;
From the minute I got to town
And started to look around
I thought these ill-bred people’s gillslits showed.
Or how about “The Little Rare Book Room” (to the tune of “The Little Drummer Boy”). The “Little Drummer Boy” was always one of my favorite Christmas songs; here it’s turned into a cautionary tale about the dangers of reading certain blasphamous tomes aloud:
King in Yellow Left me feeling glum
The Ponape Scriptures I’d stay away from
And then The Golden Bough
My brain had gone numb I read them all out loud
Well that was quite dumb, terribly dumb, fatally dumb.
And then there’s the “The Shoggoth Song”, which is based on “The Dreidel Song”, an upbeat little tune that demonstrates just why you shouldn’t play with powers you don’t understand:
One day while we were playing,
my monstrous pal broke free
I dropped the elder sigil, the shoggy turned on me
Shoggoth, shoggoth, shoggoth
He ripped me to a shred
Shoggoth, shoggoth, shoggoth
We played and now I’m dead
All told, you get 25 tracks and 41:08 minutes of music. All joking aside, while they’re all based on traditional holiday songs, I don’t think there is anything anti-Christian about them; they’re not so much a parody of Christmas songs as they are an homage to H.P. Lovecraft and his works. At $20 for a CD, the price may seem a bit steep, but considering it’s a niche product, I think that’s about right. The album has become a staple at our December board game sessions (and is especially appropriate for the Arkham Horror ones), and I’m looking forward to purchasing it’s follow-up, An Even Scarier Solstice. If you’ve got a Lovecraft fan on your list (or you are a fan yourself) it’s well worth buying.
- A Very Scary Solstice
- by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society
- 25 tracks
- 41:08 minutes
- MSRP: $20.00
- Buy the album