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Twisted Sister - A twisted Christmas 3.5/5

Reviewed: 12-15-06


1. Have yourself a merry little Christmas
2. Oh come all ye faithful
3. White Christmas
4. I'll be home for Christmas
5. Silver bells
6. I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus
7. Let it snow
8. Deck the halls
9. The Christmas song
10. Heavy metal Christmas

Everyone knows that New York shock rockers Twisted Sister experienced their creative and commercial peak more than 20 years ago. The band's reunion for the last 3 years or so has been quite successful, particularly on the European festival circuit, where Dee Snider and his merry band of S.M.F.'s have been hailed as conquering heroes, a phenomenon that I witnessed firsthand at the Bang Your Head Festival in 2005. Despite a re-recording of their classic 'Stay hungry' opus and a 'Live at Wacken' CD/DVD release, the reunion had failed to yield any new material. Why? Snider (the band's sole writer) has made it clear that he has no interest in penning new songs, in large part because he cannot re-create the creative headspace necessary to sculpt ticked-off, rebellious Twisted material. But Twisted Sister are savvy enough to know that their 80s fanbase is now of an age where they're raising children and generating gobs of disposable income with which to purchase new product from their favorite 80s nostalgia acts. This creates a dilemma. So why not record a CD of traditional holiday carols with heavy guitars, metal/hard rock arrangements, and a full-on dose of Twisted Sister attitude? And so, a brilliant marketing idea was born.

In interviews antecedent to this CD's release, Snider stridently contended that despite the rather silly notion of it all, these heavied-up renditions of Christmas evergreens work. And you know what? He's right. What Twisted Sister have done is to take a batch of Christmas standards and perform largely faithful, straight-faced renditions of them, albeit from a metal perspective. By now, you're probably aware that the band's version of "Oh come all ye faithful" is done to the tune of "We're not gonna take it", including trademark arrangements such as the drum intro, the ludicrous whammy-bar solo, and the like. But can you imagine a version of "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow" done with obvious galloping Iron Maiden influences? How about "I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus" with full-on Judas Priest homage a la "You've got another thing comin'"? Or the Thin Lizzy-flavored "Deck the halls" with a pinch of "God rest ye merry gentlemen" stuffed into the middle? The icing on the cake is "Heavy metal Christmas", which is simply "Twelve days of Christmas" with goofy new lyrics (sample: "Four quarts of jack / three studded belts / two pairs of spandex pants / and a tattoo of Ozzy").

I know what you're thinking. You're saying: "I already have the Trans-Siberian Orchestra discography. Why should I bother with any other rock/metal Christmas CDs?" It's a fair point. I enjoy the TSO material as much as anyone, as Jon Oliva and Paul O'Neill have created some simply breathtaking, timeless holiday recordings that I expect to be playing many years from now, when I'm old and deaf and my grandchildren are nestled under my Christmas tree munching on my wife's famous spritz cookies and holiday mints. But sometimes during the Christmas season you have that hankering for something a little crunchier, a little less pompous, and a little more in-your-face. That's the niche filled by 'A twisted Christmas'. It's innocuous, good-natured stuff that captures the holiday spirit and puts a smile on your face. More importantly, it simply rocks.




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