Tag Archives: holiday heavy metal

“We Wish You A Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year” (Deluxe Edition) by Various Artists

Artist: Various Artists
Title: “We Wish You A Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year” Deluxe Edition
Label: Armoury Records
Release Date: 9/14/2010
Genre: Holiday Metal
Rating: 4/5

A couple of years ago the folks over at Eagle Records gave the Metal fans a holiday album that was really something up their alley. Though not as much a story-telling enterprise as the Trans-Siberian Orchestra or as tongue in cheek a delivery as a Twisted Christmas, this really had some interesting and fun stuff to enjoy. Having reviewed the original CD and then its EP follow-up, I decided to combine and slightly rework those thoughts based on Eagle Records re-releasing these albums in time for the 2010 holiday season as one package.

“I’ve been a fan of the holiday juggernaut that is the Trans-Siberian Orchestra for several years now, but there was no way that my experience with that would have prepared me for how Twisted Sister would deliver their “Twisted Christmas” release. I bring them up as it originally hit me as one of the most absurd items in reviews to do pile but after several listens I found myself intrigued at just how well the conventional Metal vibe worked when crafted together with Holiday classics that they chose. It was an album that left you hungry for more and that made the arrival of the “We Wish You A Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year” release something I was eager to dig into. The players on this one are as vast as the Metal genre itself and as result finds legends like Alice Cooper and Ronnie James Dio performing along with the likes of diverse quality players like Steve Lukather and Ray Luzier and many, many more. The vibe of this release is rather heavy which was good and I admit it that it almost felt like a Motorhead track when Lemmy gave it a go at “Run Rudolph Run”. Shock master Alice Cooper and John 5 delivered the creepiest “Santa Claws Is Coming To Town” I’ve ever heard and believe me at the end of this one, the fact that he knows when you are sleeping and knows when you are awake will scare the Charles Dickens out of you. Winners come shining through during a few numbers like “Silver Bells” which has a powerful modern Metal drive to it and Geoff Tate singing and I felt the same way about the albums opening title track that gave us the magical voice of Jeff Scott Soto, a singer I have always been able to enjoy. Dio is at his ominous best with Mr. Iommi and company for “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and the best way to describe this one is as imagine the band Heaven And Hell doing the track. Weird huh, but it does work on some levels. I had to say that I was put off by the Death Metal growls of Chuck Billy and Thrash treatment given to “Silent Night”, as this is a track that I like to much to see given such a reworking. Of course there are some who might enjoy the chance to finally hit the circle pit to this one, so here you go folks. Former Judas Priest/Iced Earth front man extraordinaire Tim Owens hits it out of the park with “Santa Claus Is Back In Town” and he sounds like he is having a blast and the same can be said for King’s X vocalist Dug Pinnick during “Little Drummer Boy”. It wouldn’t be fair for me to ruin every single surprise on the album so I shall leave the remaining tracks to your own surprise as you unwrap this present with glee after you taking it from the spiked leather stockings that are hanging on your mantle. It does end with a rousing rendition of John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” and I love this tune and felt the guitarist/singer did a fantastic job of it. He is joined by Toto’s own Steve Lukather who can deliver the goods in any situation it seems.
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“A Very Brutal Christmas” by Austrian Death Machine

Artist: Austrian Death Machine
Title: “A Very Brutal Christmas”
Label: Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 11/25/2008
Genre: Holiday Heavy Metal
Rating: 3/5

If you thought that “Total Brutal” would be the last that you heard of Austrian Death Machine, well founder and sole band member Tim Lambesis is ready to prove you wrong with a Thrash-laden and funny follow up to the release with “A Very Brutal Christmas”. Many know Lambesis as the singer for As I Lay Dying, and considering the music industry is one that often finds performers utilizing their talents on additional outlets for their downtime, Austrian Death Machine seems to be just what the doctor ordered for Tim. Of course having heard both albums now, I am pretty sure that the doctors have realistically prescribed him serious levels of medications for adventure into lunacy. Don’t get me wrong, the premise is hilarious and finds Tim performing alongside an additional musician/singer called “Ahhnold”, who sounds a whole lot like California’s Terminator Governor Schwarzenegger. This is actually Tim doing a reasonable impersonation of Mr. S. as he would sound in his action movie persona and if he sang co-lead vocal in a Metalcore band. The CD “A Very Brutal Christmas” follows along the same path that they laid down with “Total Brutal” and finds them covering the time honored Christmas classic “Jingle Bells” but with a decidedly Thrash Metal twist. I actually liked the way that “they” did this but that’s only because I had been warmed up to such off kilter Christmas tunes by Twisted Sister and then all the players on “We Wish You A Metal X-Mas”. Sadly this was the only Christmas tune on the album which made me wonder more about the title they chose. The second track plays upon the Ahhnold identity quite a bit with “Get To The Choppa”, a phrase that we know Arnold has coined in more movies than one can count. Readers need to remember that Lambesis’ love for Arnold movies is what led to this project in the first place and that the debut is chock full of movie references. Sadly the album is over before you know it and like I said I found the idea of this hilarious so was amused to death at the idea of Arnold singing the Judas Priest staple “Hell Bent For Leather”. This track is for all those Priest fans who sat back and wondered just how the song would sound if the actor were to give it a go.
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“We Wish You A Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year” by Various Artists

Artist: Various Artists
Title: “We Wish You A Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year”
Label: Armoury Records
Release Date: 10/13/2008
Genre: Holiday Metal
Rating: 4/5

I’ve been a fan of the holiday juggernaut that is the Trans-Siberian Orchestra for several years now, but there was no way that my experience with that would have prepared me for how Twisted Sister would deliver their “Twisted Christmas” release. I bring them up as it originally hit me as one of the most absurd items in reviews to do pile but after several listens I found myself intrigued at just how well the conventional Metal vibe worked when crafted together with Holiday classics that they chose. It was an album that left you hungry for more and that made the arrival of the “We Wish You A Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year” release something I was eager to dig into. The players on this one are as vast as the Metal genre itself and as result finds legends like Alice Cooper and Ronnie James Dio performing along with the likes of diverse quality players like Steve Lukather and Ray Luzier and many, many more. The vibe of this release is rather heavy which was good and I admit it that it almost felt like a Motorhead track when Lemmy gave it a go at “Run Rudolph Run”. Shock master Alice Cooper and John 5 delivered the creepiest “Santa Claws Is Coming To Town” I’ve ever heard and believe me at the end of this one, the fact that he knows when you are sleeping and knows when you are awake will scare the Charles Dickens out of you. Winners come shining through during a few numbers like “Silver Bells” which has a powerful modern Metal drive to it and Geoff Tate singing and I felt the same way about the albums opening title track that gave us the magical voice of Jeff Scott Soto, a singer I have always been able to enjoy. Dio is at his ominous best with Mr. Iommi and company for “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and the best way to describe this one is as imagine the band Heaven And Hell doing the track. Weird huh, but it does work on some levels. I had to say that I was put off by the Death Metal growls of Chuck Billy and Thrash treatment given to “Silent Night”, as this is a track that I like to much to see given such a reworking. Of course there are some who might enjoy the chance to finally hit the circle pit to this one, so here you go folks. Former Judas Priest/Iced Earth front man extraordinaire Tim Owens hits it out of the park with “Santa Claus Is Back In Town” and he sounds like he is having a blast and the same can be said for King’s X vocalist Dug Pinnick during “Little Drummer Boy”.
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“Monster Ballads Xmas” by Various Artists

Artist: Various Artists
Title: “Monster Ballads Xmas”
Label: Razor & Tie Music
Release Date: 9/11/2007
Genre: Holiday Rock
Rating: 4/5

So you’ve outgrown your “Alvin & The Chipmunks Christmas” album and with age you were more inspired by the heavier side of things which makes a “Celine Dion Christmas” practically useless when you need a dose of holiday tunes with a little Metal edge to them. Well look no further boys and girls because the folks that gave us “Monster Ballads” have delivered a present wrapped in leather and spikes in the form of “Monster Ballads Xmas”. The premise is a whole lot of fun since it takes a number of the eighties Hard Rock heroes and lets them deliver the jingle and the jangle in a distinctive Metal fashion. It begins with Skid Row and while a couple of the lines are changed around the song is a quasi-Punk jam that was quite interesting and the perfect way to open the CD. Winger follows next with his rendition of John Lennon’s “Happy Christmas (War Is Over)”, and I admit that I was hesitant at first but found the manner in which Kip and company did it to be a great success. I am sure John smiles from the beyond with how classy this one was done. Jani Lane’s contribution didn’t appeal to me much since it was very close to the way Twisted Sister did it on their full-length Christmas album and we get a sample of it next. Metal fans should look into that release as a must have for the Heavy Holidays without a doubt.
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“A Twisted Christmas Live” (DVD) by Twisted Sister

Artist: Twisted Sister
Title: “A Twisted Christmas Live”
Label: Razor And Tie Music”
Release Date: 9/25/2007
Genre: Holiday Hard Rock
Rating: 3.5/5

If you seek something heavy for your holiday stocking then look no further my friend for an item that should truly be on your Christmas list is Twisted Sister’s – “A Twisted Christmas Live”. Now before we go any further there needs to be some explanation about this one because you probably equate the band Twisted Sister and Christmas as much as you would relate Bing Crosby to circle pit. Yet the trains of Metal mayhem and Holiday cheer met one night on the same track late in 2006 and delivered an album called “A Twisted Christmas”. The initial response was one of shock and utter disbelief but after a few listens the kitsch aspect of it and the fact that it was actually done damned well made this a blockbuster hit that had the Associated Press lauding it as the best Metal Christmas album to date. Of course I really don’t know of any other full on Metal Christmas albums besides it but lets give Dee and the boys a little credit for edging into the territory more commonly tread by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. The positive response to the album led to the boys doing a few concerts to support it and one such gala was held at The Starland Ballroom, in Sayreville, NJ. I was among the lucky audience members present for this show and it wasn’t only the sold out room that made me realize that a good time was in store for all, but the fact that the amplifiers were all decorated with lights and other holiday ornaments that really tipped the scale.
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