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Dai Jeffries of R2

reviews Frost Bites by Belshazzar's Feast

Paul Sartin and Paul Hutchinson are quick off the mark to hit the Christmas market with this rather fine collection of traditional carols and songs plus two of Hutchinson's own tunes. There are only eight tracks but all bar one clock in at over five minutes, giving the chaps plenty of room to explore.

The majority of the carols come from the mystical and ritual: 'King Herod And The Cock', As Joseph Was A-Walking' and' Sans Day Carol'. Even the album title suggests the darker aspects of the season. If you want pure religion, look elsewhere.

The set opens with 'Cherry Tree Carol', which can get tedious, but this is an Appalachian version couched in somewhat secular language and Sartin delivers it wonderfully. It's coupled with 'Yuleogy', one of the original tunes and the title of their winter tour. That's the only joke except, perhaps, 'One Cold Morning In December'. Belshazzar's Feast have put aside the musical gags that are their stock in trade on stage and show what superb musicians they are.

It's tempting to ask how many Christmas records you actually need but I'd place this one very high on the list.