“A Heavy Mental Christmas” by Helix

Artist: Helix
Title: “Heavy Mental Christmas”
Label: Planet Helix
Release Date: 10/21/2008
Genre: Holiday Hard Rock
Rating: 4/5

“Gimme an X”, “X!!!” – “M”, “A”, “S”, “Whatchya got? “XMAS!!!!!” What you gonna do? Sorry friends, I lost myself a little bit there but believe it or not those eighties Hard Rockers from Canada in Helix have actually delivered a Christmas album of their own for the entire world to enjoy. Presenting “Heavy Mental Christmas” an album where we find that the band follows suit with the similar idea that was executed by Twisted Sister a couple of years ago. The idea of Helix doing this appealed to me for growing up in the eighties in terms of the Metal bands that I would follow I was no stranger to what Helix was capable of and I really loved a number of the bands classics. I admit that I found their choosing this option a little bit strange but with the angle being so popular these days there are guaranteed to be those who bravely approach the subject matter themselves to see what comes of it. We all know that Hard Rock music and the Holiday theme are not new by any stretch of the imagination based on how successful the Trans-Siberian Orchestra has been for the number of years it has been touring and my thoughts are if the final product is something that many people can enjoy then I am behind it 100%. So how would Helix’s renditions of the Holiday classics be you might ask, well I am happy to report that the almost dead on versions are really good and while they offer up some extra crunch in the guitar and drum parts, that the songs are kept very, very close to the original versions. This ends up making the album a release that can be enjoyed by any rocking demographic who celebrates the holiday with their friends and families. It’s different from how Sister did their own for with “A Twisted Christmas” the guys chose to re-work their own songs into interesting Holiday versions. With “A Heavy Mental Christmas” we are not finding Helix reworking their catalog to fit the theme. Of course that might have been interesting when I come to think of it.

Still fronted by the bands long time original vocalist Brian Vollmer, the albums more upbeat highlights come via “Jingle Bell Rock”, “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” and “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer” and each has a cool rocking vibe to them which makes them tunes that will have you mingling under the mistletoe a little longer than usual. A touching version of “Silent Night” is delivered and what I felt was a decent go at the John Lennon staple “Happy Christmas (War Is Over)” raises the bar on this release. I like how most of these tunes were kept to the original melodies and not over experimented with because it’s the kind of stuff that the people like to sing aloud if this is their thing. I figure why cause them any distress and make this instead something that they will play over and over again at the holiday hangs they might be involved in. The Twisted Sister release was a lot of fun, but perhaps a little too over the top at points and when compared to each other I have to say that the Helix album is something that people will find to be a little easier to play for a larger crowd than the Sister album was. “Sock It To Me Santa” is a bit more funky and rocking and comes off as one of the heavier compositions on the release and the same applies for “Santa Claus Is Back In Town” – all in all this is a fun release that might have you decorating the Christmas tree faster and getting all those ornaments hung with enough time to relax to some tasty eggnog with a loved one. The downsides are minimal for me and the first would be in the overall length of the album. With only ten songs this is a really quick listen, but I recommend that you load this into your music player of choice or stereo alongside some other Holiday Heaviness and press shuffle so you can be better put in the mood for the festivities. The other downside comes more for those listeners expecting this to be the Helix that they knew and loved in the past and that would be where I disappoint you. The band now only seems to feature Vollmer from the original lineup but fear not as the music is in the capable hands of Jim Lawson, Paul Fonseca, Brent Niemi and Rick VanDyk who all do a stand up job with the material.

This album only seems to be available courtesy of the bands website, so please support their efforts by snaring a copy if we have managed to convince you of this being a worthy stocking stuffer. So make your list and check it twice to ensure you have added Helix “A Heavy Mental Christmas” to it.

Track Listing:
1. Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
2. Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree
3. Santa Claus Is Back In Town
4. A Wonderful Christmas Time
5. Jingle Bell Rock
6. Happy Christmas (War Is Over)
7. Sock It To Me Santa
8. Jingle Bells
9. Silent Night
10. Christmas Time Is Here Again!

Official Website: http://www.planethelix.com

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