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Various Artists

We Wish You a Metal Christmas And a Headbanging New Year (2010 Edition)

Review by Gary Hill

This is a reissue of a CD I’ve already reviewed – with a few extra cuts. So, the best method of doing this, for the sake of consistency, is to largely reuse the original review and add material about the new music. Now, rather than a single disc set this has two CDs, with the new songs (four of them) on the second CD. The majority of this review is taken from that original review.

So many times discs like this are really uneven. Well, that’s not the case here. There’s one song (two on this new version) on the CD I don’t like, but that’s just about my personal aversion to death metal growls. As opposed to a lot of collections like this where whole bands will record songs, these are new groupings of superstars creating the music. It works really well. This is a great CD to let you headbang your way through the holiday season. I really think it’s the best Christmas album I’ve heard in a long time – perhaps ever.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1
We Wish You A Merry Christmas

Jeff Scott Soto, Bruce and Bob Kulick, Chris Wyse and Ray Luzier is the lineup on this track. They start off in a traditional way. This turns to a killer metal jam after one chorus and it calls to mind Kiss quite a bit. They alternate between singing “merry Christmas” and “metal Christmas.” There is a killer guitar solo segment here. This track really stomps. It’s a great way to start things off in style. 

Run Rudolph Run
The lineup here is interesting. We get Foo Fighters and Nirvana man Dave Grohl, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and “the man” Lemmy of Motorhead. It pounds in like an old school rock and roll tune. Interestingly enough this feels a lot like a cross between Chuck Berry, ZZ Top and Motorhead – if you can picture that. It’s another killer kut.  
Santa Claws Is Coming To Town
Billy Sheehan and Vinny Appice hold down the rhythm section while John 5 provides the guitar and Alice Cooper sings. It starts off with Cooper spelling out “S A N T A C L A W S, Santa Claws.” This is very much an Alice Cooper song and it really rocks. There’s a cool “he knows where you live/he knows that your window’s open/he knows what lives under your bed” spoken part. Talk about bringing dread to the man in red’s visit. There is a bit of a School’s Out feeling to this track.
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

This is gothic and powerful. There’s a definite Black Sabbath feeling to it. That makes sense because both Tony Iommi and Ronnie James Dio are featured on this. They are joined by Rudy Sarzo and Simon Wright. There’s a killer signature Tony Iommi guitar solo on this. Dio seriously wails. This is without question one of the highlights of the disc.

Silver Bells

One of my all time favorite vocalists, Geoff Tate, sings this one. He is joined by Carlos Cavazo, James Lamenzo and Ray Luzier. This is a high energy number that’s fun.

Little Drummer Boy

Billy Sheehan is back here, this time joined by George Lynch, Simon Phillips and Dug Pinnick.  Drums appropriately bring it in. In fact, those play the only accompaniment to the vocals for a while. Then the guys bring the metal in a tasty jam. There’s a cool switch out into a smoking jam that’s almost proggy.

Santa Claus Is Back In Town

This screamer feels to me like a more metal version of something Ted Nugent might do. The partners in crime this time around are Tim “Ripper” Owens, Steve Morse, Juan Garcia, Marco Mendoza and Vinny Appice.  This has a killer guitar solo.

Silent Night

The lineup this time consists of Chuck Billy, Scott Ian, Jon Donals, Chris Wyse and John Tempesta. This one just doesn’t work for me. It’s not because of the music – it’s a great plodding grind. I can’t stand death growls and that’s what we get for vocals. They turn it into a faster jam later in the track.

Deck The Halls

This tasty morsel is brought to us by Oni Logan, Craig Goldy, Tony Franklin and John Tempesta. There’s a great old school metal texture to this. It’s another fun piece of music that really rocks. There’s a smoking instrumental section on this. 

Grandma Got Ran Over By A Reindeer
Stephen Pearcy of Ratt fame brings the vocals to this song. Tracii Guns, Bob Kulick, Billy Sheehan and Greg Bissonette have his back. I’ve never been a huge fan of this silly track, but as a frantic metal stomper it works.
Rocking Round The Xmas Tree

Bruce Kulick, Simon Wright and Rudy Sarzo are all back. Joe Lynn Turner joins the crew. They throw a real screamer on the fire here. This is a good time stomper that really rocks.

Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

Tommy Shaw (of Styx and Damned Yankees fame) and Steve Lukather from Toto are joined here by Marco Mendoza and Kenny Aronoff.  They put in an energized rendition of the John Lennon classic. It’s probably the least “metal” track on show here, but I think it still qualifies. Whatever you call it, it’s a great way to end things on a high note.

Disc 2
O Christmas Tree

Doro Pesch handles the vocals here, while Michael Schenker’s guitar wails. Tony Franklin and Frankie Banali round out the group. While some of the music is like a metal ballad, it screams out with some serious fury at times. It’s actually one of the stronger cuts in the whole set.

Auld Lang Syne

Girlschool addresses the headbanging new year end of things with this holiday classic. They turn it into a Girlschool type of piece with out taking any major liberties in terms of lyrics or melody. It’s like “Auld Lang Syne” on steroids.

Frosty The Snowman

The lineup for this winter tale is Steve “Lips” Kudlow, Bumblefoot, Chris Chaney and Kenny Aronoff. It’s a real screamer, but I’m not crazy about the vocals. They remind me a little of Dee Snider.

Rudolph The Red Noised Reindeer

Musically this thing really screams and is quite cool, but I can’t stand the extreme metal vocals. If that’s your thing, then this might be one of your favorites. The lineup is Dez Fafara, Doug Aldrich, Blasko and John Tempesta.

 

 
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