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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Twisted Sister

A Twisted Christmas

Review by Rick Damigella

Twas the month before Christmas and all through the stores, not an album was stirring, they were all such bores. The new releases were sitting, all snug in their racks, in hopes that buyers soon would buy stacks. When out from the Marshalls there arose such a sound, I sprang to the speakers to hear it pound. And what to my wondering ears should I hear? But five metal veterans, singing good cheer! With makeup and spandex and tons of hairspray misted, I knew all at once this album was Twisted!

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and he has long blonde curly hair, wears make up and hangs out with four head-banging elves in black and pink spandex. The classic line up of Twisted Sister have reunited for (what they call) their last album. A treasury of some of the best-known Christmas songs, done only as Twisted Sister can. Twisted! Now before you go saying, “bah humbug” at this album, sit back, drink a cup of Jack, er, uh, egg nog, and get ready to hear an album that any holiday loving head-banger will get into.

Why does this album play as well as it does? Is it some Christmas magic that allows songs to sound so good when played with palm muted power chords? Is it the who-cares-what-our-critics-think Twisted Sister attitude? Did Dee Snider leave extra cookies for Santa one year? It doesn’t really matter. What does is this is a great album - fun, instantly listenable and worthy to be played season after season. After spinning this disc if you aren’t in the head-banging holiday spirit, then perhaps your name is Ebenezer. Personally, I would go to any holiday gathering where Twisted Sister is playing. I would be there with (cow) bells on.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
A nice acoustic guitar strum and horn (!) lead off the opening number with Dee Snider singing elegantly along with the melody. Yeah, that goes on for less than a minute before the pounding drums and guitar that are Twisted Sister come through. Funny enough, it’s almost the same performance from Snider, just gutsier. It is genuine and heartfelt, with a heavy metal backbeat. You feel the warmth of the hearth as Snider sings the classic. Of course the song really kicks in about three minutes later and the heartfelt performance turns downright Snider-snarly. This is Twisted Sister.
Oh Come All Ye Faithful
You will recognize the AJ Pero drum line instantly as the intro to their mega-hit “We’re Not Gonna Take It.” The twin guitar riff that joins in is also a near straight lift from the band’s metal classic. The lyrics are however a “faithful” performance of this treasured carol. This song is so much fun that you will find it hard not to join in the gang-shout chorus and sing along “joyful and triumphant.” I don’t care what anyone else says. This works and works well. Yes, a smart-a** mash-up mixer might want to have fun and mash the two songs together, which wouldn’t be hard. Some people might say this is just a cash-in song. I will say what the band would say to that: “F*** ‘em! It’s Twisted Sister!”
White Christmas
This is galloping guitars and drums, but not the kind that foretell tales of heavy metal doom, more like a twin guitar trot across a Thomas Kincaid/Derek Riggs snowy landscape. Again, Jay Jay French and Eddie Ojeda prove the electric guitar was made to turn Christmas traditionals into modern metal fun. Granted, Bing Crosby may have sung a Christmas tune with David Bowie, but I’m not sure how he might take this particular performance of his signature song. I would like to think he is politely head-banging in the afterlife in approval.
I'll Be Home For Christmas
What holiday album is complete without a celebrity duet? Dee Snider gets to match his pipes against another blonde haired member of the heavy metal class of ’85. Lita Ford lends her feminine metal voice, which is in as true form as Snider’s trademark growl. Again, no apologies, just a straight up metal spin on a song we’ve heard or sung a million times. This makes a fan wish Snider and Ford had crossed vocal paths sooner or that perhaps the lovely Miss Lita would grace us with her own collection of hair-sprayed holiday hits.
Silver Bells
And the fun just keeps coming. A Bing Crosby standard gets the six-string and 4/4 metallic treatment and to wonderful effect. The gang-shout along backing vocals are in full effect and Snider sounds like he is having more fun behind the mic than he has had in many years. As a present to fans, Mark Mendoza plucks a wicked bass solo during the later half of the song.
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
Now one might think that a band like Twisted Sister might take a little creative license with this one and naughty things up a bit. Not so. Once again we have a very straightforward (yet dipped in New York style glam metal) version of a holiday hit. It features one of the more inspired guitar solos on the disc. 
Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow
This has a very original opening riff that is not as instantly recognizable as the other songs so far. This is the first time we hear the must-have sleigh bell tree being played - just enough, not too much. Another wicked guitar solo and the non-traditional riff make this song stand out a bit more.
Deck the Halls
Boom - hit number two. Twin guitars, Snider on top of his game and shout along vocals all meld together into a cover that works really well. It shouldn’t, but it does. About a minute in we are treated to a bass and church bell solo riffing on “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” (I swear I am not making this up!). If you can’t head-bang as you “fa la la la la la” along, then turn it up a bit louder to drive out your inner Grinch.
The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)
Yes, let’s tread where angels fear. Taking one of the most beloved Christmas classics of all time and spinning it into a pounding heavy metal riff, the only thing that would have made this better would have been another duet with Lita Ford.
Heavy Metal Christmas (The 12 Days of Christmas)
Ah yes! Here it is. The Twisted Sister rapier wit. If there is one Christmas song that has been rewritten more times than another, this is it. Twisted Sister are no exception. All 12 days are there with metal themed gifts that rank right up there with Bob and Doug McKenzie’s version of this song in terms of humor and fun. I take my Santa hat off to the guys for coming up with some less than obvious gifts to sing about. I would have bet “2 backstage passes” and “5 golden records” would have been in there, but Dee Snider and the boys manage to make this one Twisted Sister’s own. While your true love may not give you “a tattoo of Ozzy” for Christmas (man would that be hard to wrap) you would be thrilled to get this disc as part of your heavy metal Christmas.
Hidden Track - We Wish You a Merry Christmas
Here is 36 seconds of the Twisted Sister gang singing this chestnut to you as a hidden bonus song.
 
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