Artist: Various Artists
Title: “We Wish You A Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year” EP
Label: Armoury Records
Release Date: 11/24/2009
Genre: Holiday Metal
This is a review of the four-song EP that is being released as a digital download only companion piece to the original release of “We Wish You A Metal X-Mas & A Headbanging New Year. Since we reviewed that recording last year, we are representing it to get you up to speed and then we shall examine the new four song EP tracks. We enjoyed that original album and gave it a ranking of 4/5. Read on.
“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 stocking that is 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. This fun release comes with a booklet loaded with photos of the cast who delivers it but no real liner notes. There is a slip-case cover for it that is adorned with Santa Claus hat wearing skulls and it doesn’t get much more Metal than that. If you enjoyed what Twisted Sister left under the tree for the last holiday then I am pretty certain that this holiday headbanging treat will be just the kick that your eggnog needs.”
“The Players & Track Listing of Original CD: “We Wish You A Merry Xmas” (Jeff Scott Soto, Bruce Kulick, Bob Kulick, Chris Wyse, Ray Luzier); “Run Rudolph Run” (Lemmy Kilmister, Billy E. Gibbons, Dave Grohl); “Santa Claws Is Coming To Town” (Alice Cooper, John 5, Billy Sheehan, Vinny Appice); “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” (Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi, Rudy Sarzo, Simon Wright); “Silver Bells” (Geoff Tate, Carlos Cavazo, James Lomenzo, Ray Luzier); “Little Drummer Boy” (Dug Pinnick, George Lynch, Billy Sheehan, Simon Phillips); “Santa Claus Is Back In Town” (Tim “Ripper” Owens, Steve Morse, Juan Garcia, Marco Mendoza, Vinny Appice); “Silent Night” (Chuck Billy, Scott Ian, Jon Donais, Chris Wyse, John Tempesta); “Deck The Halls” (Oni Logan, Craig Goldy, Tony Franklin, John Tempesta); “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” (Stephen Pearcy, Tracii Guns, Bob Kulick, Billy Sheehan, Greg Bisonette); “Rockin’ Around The Xmas Tree” (Joe Lynn Turner, Bruce Kulick, Bob Kulick, Rudy Sarzo, Simon Wright); “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” (Tommy Shaw, Steve Lukather, Marco Mendoza, Kenny Aronoff).”
As expected with releases like this, when one finds success at it we also find an extended amount of similar products or re-issues and special editions of the same album coming out for public consumption. In this case we find such a release in the digital download only companion and this continues the premise of the original release and gives us four additional songs by a diverse grouping of artists. Considering that all of these songs are the bona-fide holiday classics I had a high expectation of how they would be done in a Metal sense and yet when it came down to it, two were superb while the other two made me wish I had those few minutes of my life back. The winner by far comes from Doro Pesch who sings a nice rendition of “Oh Christmas Tree” and is accompanied by guitar God Michael Schenker. Yes we do get a ripping lead break from the mad axe man that makes the tune worthy of ownership on its own. The second winner is the ladies of Girlschool who offer up a rousing version of “Auld Lang Syne”. It’s more a New Year’s Eve song than a Christmas one, but I liked it and will not complain and instead lead that for the other two tracks. “Frosty The Snowman” is delivered by Anvil who are now stars of their documentary film and as result are the topic of conversation among many in the Heavy Metal community. Musically this is a plausible version but Lipps voice is just horrific for the classic tune and to me sounds off key and out of the proper register from what he excels at as the lead singer for Anvil and their crushing brand of Metal. I am sure that he was asked to participate to help cash in on the movie’s vibe and reach. Next up and a must bypass at all costs is Dez Farfara who guttural growls his way through “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” with Whitesnake guitarist Doug Aldritch. Don’t get me wrong, as I like what Dez does in Devil Driver, but I love this song since a child and absolutely hated what his voice does to it. The idea probably sounded better on paper than it did to me as a finalized track. I still recommend the original recording in full as I felt there were a lot of fun moments on it, but with the EP you might want to hear some samples first before you spend your hard earned holiday money on all of them.
1. Frosty The Snow Man – Anvil & Company
2. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer – Devildriver Dez & Doug Aldritch
3. Oh Christmas Tree – Doro Pesch & Michael Schenker
4. Auld Lang Syne – Girlschool
Official Website: http://www.myspace.com/metalchristmas