Ho-Ho-Ho, Merry Bloody Christmas. And I don't mean that in the way the English might mean it. But rather in the the way this blood on the sleigh, Rudolf slaughtering, raping Mrs. Clause heavy metal Christmas album might mean it. Of course since the metal comes from one Twisted Sister, those of the painted faces, too high hair, and spandex underwear, well, perhaps its not all that treacherous. But Dee Snider and his merry band of Satan's Hel....um, I mean Santa's Helpers, get the job done pretty well, nonetheless.
Of course most Christmas albums of traditional material are from an artist stand point unremarkable at best. Restrained by the nature of the songs and restricted somewhat by the fact that changing classic and well written standards of the season can lead to musical disaster, many Christmas albums are unadventurous and generally unnecessary by their very nature, the songs done again and again by numerous artist throughout the years. From Bing Crosby to Phil Spector to Sarah McLachlen, its all been hashed and rehashed. Twisted Sister's "A Twisted Christmas" collection is no exception. But as a novelty of the season it livens things up and gets "twisted" just enough to give us all a hoot or two while waiting for Santa to stuff his fat arse down the chimney.
The boys kick things off with the 'ol yule time favorite "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" that begins in a god awful traditional arrangement completely ill suited for TS, but its not long before they stop the charade and kick out a riff heavy jam worthy of, well, Twisted Sister. "Ho Ho Ho, Let's Go!" they shout at the coda, recalling The Ramones that I'm sure would have made Joey chuckle and Johnny cry, but its all in good fun as the next track "Come All Ye Faithful" will quickly bear out. Ripping a page from their own history book, this almost five minute reworking of TS's own "We're Not Gonna Take It" is a hoot and a holler as the band stomps this once peaceful religious hymn to pieces and manages to work up a decent head of steam while they are at it. The next tune, "White Christmas", is actually musically varied, and it provides some lite shredding to go along with Snider's galloping vocals. And although its hard to figure whether you should be banging your head or rolling on the floor with laughter, chances are by the end of this disc you'll have done a little of both.
From here on highlights include a thunderous, KISS like "Silver Bells", with its huge chugging riffs and big, layered, choir like backing vocals, a propulsive and equally huge "Deck The Halls" that has to be heard to be believed, complete with a foreboding Sabbath like bridge that features a tolling bell, and a Judas Priest inspired "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause" that recalls that bands "You Got Another Thing Coming". The sound is HUGE throughout the entire album, riffs large, rhythm section like a sledge hammer. Not exactly easy holiday listening, but it'll only be relevant for a month, so who cares? Its a gas and a giggle while it lasts. Derivative, sure. But being that its an album of covers and Twisted Sister to boot, what the hell is to be expected? Its sure to make parents of teenagers all over the world scream "For the love of Christmas, turn it down!" And that's quite enough.
Ironically the worst rendition on the album also happens to be the best rendition on the album. No small feat to pull off, but humor is part of this record, as the band wisely knows this can't be taken completely
seriously or straight. "Heavy Metal Christmas" (The Twelve Days Of Christmas) is a mess. But its a jolly mess and I guarantee you won't be able to hold the laughs back as the gifts of the twelve days of Christmas, once the domain of fairy doves, french horns, and golden rings, are turned to this:
12 Silver crosses
11 Black mascaras
10 Pairs of platforms
9 Tattered t-shirts
7 Leather jackets
6 Cans of hairspray
5 Skull earrings
4 Quarts of Jack
3 Studded belts
2 Pairs of spandex pants
And a tattoo of Ozzy!
Yup, its an lol if ever their was one. And the band has tongue planted firmly in cheek throughout, exactly where it should be in this case.
A Twisted Christmas is as bad an idea for a Christmas album as any. Even rock/metal fans like a little peace on earth and goodwill toward men during the holidays, and this album sounds like a full frontal assault on the entire season. But its certainly no more useless then any other album of traditional carols that are likely to come our way this Christmas, and its amusing as hell in certain places which will have you grinning from ear to ear from the, well, Twisted Sister of it all. Dee Snider is in fine form vocally and is the glue that holds it all together, the band has their riffs down to a cliched science, and even heavy metal heathens deserve some good cheer this holiday season.
Holiday Headbangers, your album has arrived. So roast you nuts over an open fire, spike that egg nog with some Jack, and throw the tree in the fireplace. Its time to celebrate. 'Tis the season for a reason to jump and shout and break with tradition just a little bit, and Twisted Sister has come bearing gifts for doing just that. Have a Metal Christmas, everyone. And an ear splitting New Year, too. Ho Ho Ho, lets go!