Review Summary: Have yourself a merry headbanging punk rock Christmas.
It's that time of the year again.
Glowing lights wrap around the sides of Christmas trees. Little children write their letters to Santa Claus in hopes of getting their favorite presents. Snowfall reaches the sidewalks for the first time since what seems like forever. Stores are engulfed with swarms of consumers trying to take advantage of last-minute shopping deals.
It finally feels like December, and it's been way too long since these emotions have crossed my mind.
Yet as the holiday season approaches, there's sure to be one thing that will soon grate the eardrums of millions across the country: Christmas music. There's nothing satisfying about hearing "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" and "Jingle Bells" ten times a day performed in five different renditions. Whenever up and rising artists try to sing Christmas songs, they always end up putting no effort to distinguish themselves from others who have performed the same song.
That's what truly makes Christmas Songs
a breath of fresh air. All nine tracks (excluding the remix of "American Jesus") on this EP are traditional Christmas hymns, but with a Bad Religion twist. The same punk rock energy that fueled classic records like Suffer
and No Control
are present on Christmas Songs
. Many of the hymns included on this release deal with the birth of Christ, and his role as a savior. These aren't your average upbeat Christmas songs about snowball fights and reindeer; rather, they deal with the religious aspect of the popular holiday. When Greg Graffin cries out "Israel that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear" on "O Come O Come Emmanuel", he adds a certain sense of despair that the original hymn required.
Whether it’s the “I Wanna Be Sedated” tribute at the beginning of “White Christmas” or Brooks Wackerman’s crisp, pounding drum performance on “Little Drummer Boy”, Bad Religion find a way to make these old Christmas tunes unique and captivating. Putting a new spin on these songs manages to increase my enjoyment for them. Including a remixed version of their 1993 hit “American Jesus” makes perfect sense on an album filled with hymns about Christ’s birth. A song that deals with the United States being the country ‘blessed by God’ fits perfectly amongst “What Child is This?”, albeit in a sarcastic manner.
Some may see Christmas Songs
as a complete sellout effort; after all, how many punk bands from the 80s have recorded a Christmas album? However, knowing Greg Graffin’s stand as a naturalist adds a whole new level of irony and twist to these lyrics. Lines like “Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas day to save us all from Satan's power” from “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” could simply be delivered in sarcasm, as to dismiss these stories as pure fiction. Perhaps I’m thinking too much into it, but it sure adds to the album’s enjoyment factor. A portion of the record’s profits even helps children who have been sexually abused by priests. So why not get in the holiday spirit and jam out to nineteen minutes of pure punk rock Christmas tunes?