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I have to give Twisted Sister some credit here. Every year someone in the pop music scene puts out a Christmas album, and it's quite sickening. Every year, someone else does the same old tunes in the same old style, and it's so very bland and generic that there seem to be exactly three styles of Christmas album: The male vocalist, the female vocalist, and the country album.
Enter Twisted Sister, who just plain weren't going to take it anymore. Apparently, they were as sick of the rehashes as I am. "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" starts off just like any other rendition of the song by a pop artist, until about a minute in, where someone points out: "HEY! That's not Twisted Sister! THIS is Twisted Sister!" And the rest of the album is performed in classic Twisted Sister fashion, as promised.
Despite these promises for something a bit more "twisted," the album only partly delivers. Taking away the guitars, the opening track, "White Christmas," and "I'll Be Home For Christmas" really aren't anything out of the ordinary. "Silver Bells" ain't much special, either, though it is a bit better. Unsurprisingly, the best tracks are the ones the band decided to have fun with.
"Oh Come All Ye Faithful" if the first of such tunes. Did "We're Not Going To Take It" ever sound a bit... familiar? That's right, they used almost the exact same instrumentation for their rendition of this song, and the similarities between the Christmas tune melody and their biggest hits' vocal line are revealed much like a new puppy in front of a young boy on Christmas morning, amidst the piles of shredded wrapping paper.
Unfortunately, what follows is a block consisting of the tunes mentioned in the second paragraph above. The Christmas simile applicable here is more one of having to open all the gifts from the relatives and getting sweaters, pants, homemade socks, and their joy-killing ilk. You expect them, you are not disappointed, and they may even be well-made, but it's all quite boring.
Things pick up with "Silver Bells" just a little bit, and a little more so with "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," but then we start opening the REAL shiny presents from good ol' Uncle Dee. Good thing, too, because I was starting to really question if that defiant statement in track 1 was just a front. "Let It Snow x3" could possibly be the highlight of the album, with a nice gallopy riff unheard in the older renditions of the tune. The backing vocals on the chorus are a nice touch, too, almost adding a drinking-song quality to it. And... what's that... could it be?... A SOLO! And not just a token bit, as in "Oh Come...", this is a full-blown 80s Heavy Metal solo! "Deck The Halls" doesn't slack off, either, picking up right where "Let It Snow" left off. Once again, backing vocals on the "FA LA LA LA LA, LALA LA LA"s help make the song something really special. Also note the breakdown-ish bridge, at which point the bass starts playing "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen." I rather wish they did that as a full stand-alone song, but it's good to know they didn't completely forget it.
If "Let It Snow" didn't do it for you, "Heavy Metal Christmas" darn well will! Yes, it's the Twelve Days Of Christmas from a glam rocker's perspective. Spandex pants, cans of hairspray, skull earrings, a tattoo of Ozzy... it's all here in all the whimsical self-parodying glory you could possibly want from Twisted Sister. My only possible complaint here is that it gets a little monotonous towards the end, but that's equally applicable to the original song, and at least it's helped out by the bass fills that go through the song.
It's not a shredfest, there's no Satan worshipping, and the execution isn't even as original as the concept would have you think from the outset. But for the unquestionably dull half-genre of Christmas albums, this is a refreshing lift from the standard dreck... and let's face it, it could have been worse. Still, I'd rather recommend the compilation of Christmas tunes with such inclusions as Motörhead and Heaven And Hell over this. This ain't a Leg Lamp, but it's certainly not a Red Rider BB Gun, either.
For years I've wished a popular metal band like Megadeth, Slayer or Metallica would record a Christmas album. Every year Tis the season for boring music. Not everyone wants their Christmas tunes served up by Burl Ives.
Well, it finally happened and from an unlikely source. Enter Twisted Sister and "A Twisted Christmas." I was born in 1971, so I was 13 and in 8th grade when Stay Hungry came out. That album along with Metal Health from Quiet Riot (both on the middle school store's jukebox) were my gateway drugs to metal. I mention this only so it is understood that Twisted Sister is something special to me, so there is perhaps an unintentional bias.
Now to the album. You can tell by the score that it rocks. But, it rocks just right. By that I mean that it isn't some kind of death metal Christmas album that can't be played around small children (my 4 year-old loves TW's version of The Christmas Song, but keep it to yourself, his mom doesn't know.) The first track is brilliant in that it starts with Dee singing an acoustical and quiet lovely version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." However, he is interrupted by a bandmate who informs him that Twisted Sister doesn't sound like that. All of a sudden the drums start banging, the guitar starts riffing, and Dee starts rocking. The album gets off to a great start.
Most of the songs work, a couple not as much. The highlights for me were the aforementioned songs, "White Christmas," "Silver Bells," "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" and "Let it Snow." The lowlight for me, but still not too bad, was "Deck the Halls" which has kind of a audience chant vibe. The rest of the songs are very good. Another 80's icon, Lita Ford, shows up for "I'll Be Home for Christmas." While the song itself is very good, Lita sounded nothing like I remember from her "Kiss Me Deadly" days. Also worth mentioning is the last song, which is also a great song and very funny. It's essentially a metal version of the "Twelve Days of Christmas." Now you'll know what to buy for the metal-head in your life.
So, if traditional Christmas music bores the pants off you, but you still dig the holidays, "A Twisted Christmas" may be the answer. If you just like Twisted Sister and aren't a complete Scrooge, you'll want to get your hands on this one too.
Have a Merry and "Twisted" Christmas.