Sound: There are some albums that are just meant to be fun. And without running the risk of Dee Snider beating me senseless, fun is the appropriate word to describe Twisted Sister's latest CD A Twisted Christmas. If anything, fans of the infamous '80s band will at least feel a bit nostalgic at the sound of Twisted Sister giving the Christmas holiday a swift kick in the behind.
The highlight of the CD comes early in O Come All Ye Faithful, which successfully morphs into one of the classic hits for Twisted Sister (vocalist Dee Snider, guitarist Jay Jay French, guitarist Eddie Fingers Ojeda, bassist Mark The Animal Mendoza, and drummer A.J. Pero). When you first hear the intro full of cowbell goodness, you'll halfway expect to hear We're Not Gonna Take It. It soon becomes obvious that the band intentionally weaved the hit track in and out of O Come All Ye Faithful, with the signature guitar line popping up at intermittent parts of the song. Just when you think the caroling segment is back for good, the band then throws in a bit of the Israeli folk song Hava Nagila, a somewhat intriguing choice for a Christmas track.
If you're a child of the '80s, you might also be interested in hearing Lita Ford's guest vocal in the duet I'll Be Home For Christmas. Because Ford does have a lower vocal register than a lot of women, the song still manages to keep a gritty feel and a nice flow between the vocalists. The song feels just as much like a power ballad as a Christmas tune to Twisted Sister's credit. The liner notes state that Ford plays guitar on the track, although it does not specify whether she plays rhythm or lead. If she is tackling the lead, she should be commended for the impressive solo that actually is the highlight of I'll Be Home For Christmas.
The big sore thumb on the track is Heavy Metal Christmas, the hard rock equivalent to The Twelve Days Of Christmas. Just like the original carol, the song goes on way too long and could possibly grate on your nerves. While the song is done all in good humor and probably would be hilarious to listen to while drunk, for day-to-day listening it is a bit much. // 8
Lyrics: For the most part, the band is respectful of the Christmas carols' original lyrical content and most of the unique twists are put on the musical arrangement. If you're familiar with songs like White Christmas, Silver Bells, and I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, then the album should hold no shockers in terms of the words. It's actually admirable that the band decided to stick to a traditional format and not feel the need to turn up the shock value.
Heavy Metal Christmas is the one song that really goes it's own way in terms of the lyrics. If you're familiar with the original, The Twelve Days Of Christmas, you know that a partridge in a pear tree is the primary focus. This time around Snider sings, On my heavy metal Christmas my true love gave to me; A tattoo of Ozzy. While the song is a bit silly, it is amusing to hear that 2 pairs of spandex pants, 4 quarts of Jack, and 6 cans of hair spray all made the cut in the Twisted Sister version. // 9
Overall Impression: Making a traditional Christmas album in the heavy metal world is not an easy task, particularly if you live by the motto of Dee Snider, If it's not metal, it's crap. With A Twisted Christmas, the band sticks to the formula that made it a hit in the 80's, and that was a wise decision. The people that will want to buy this album will likely be those fans who ate up I Wanna Rock and Stay Hungry, not those who just picked up Clay Aiken's holiday CD.
The Christmas carols are approached very much like the way the band has approached their own songs, and in a sense it is a rather fascinating listen. The band does it's best to put its own spin on the well-known list of tunes, but at many points the songs do tend to go on a bit longer than the ears might want. If there's one thing that the guys in Twisted Sister get right, it's not taking themselves too seriously along the way. And for drunken holiday parties, that goes a long way. // 8