Various Artists - We Wish You A Metal Xmas And A Headbanging New Year('08) - 1.5/5
Woah!! Talk about a cash in!!
I have slogged my way through plenty of compilations over the years, a tribute to this band, a tribute to that issue. Some were reverential treatments of the highest quality(QUEEN, BATHORY and PRIEST tributes come to mind), some were utter spew( KISS My Ass, yeah, right!). And so here we have a seasonal effort to ring in my favorite time of the year.
What I was expecting was a true Christmas album, with faithful renditions of yuletide classics(with that extra metal twist of course). What I was expecting was a bunch of metal's old guard showing the world what they were all about, and quash all snickering points of derision usually hurled their way. I mean, this was an opportunity to give the season a goose in the ass by having some of our greatest talents show off their chops, and create memorable holiday takes that will be played year after year. What I was expecting was a TSO style Christmas romp. Boy, was I disappointed.
What we did get was "metalized", dunderheaded piss takes on some old time classics, and a raft of newer holiday favorites.
It kicks off with one of my all-time metal God vocalists, JEFF SCOTT SOTO, spin on "We Wish You A Merry(Metal) Christmas. OK, not bad. Nice arrangement, good power chords, typical strong vox by Jeff. Not stellar, but not ugly either, and believe me, it gets ugly.
And I think this is where the problem stems from. In an effort to re-create the songs in metal's image, the message is lost and the music just seeps into banality.
ALICE COOPER chimes in(requisite seasonal reference) with a typical horror version of "Santa Claws Is Coming To Town", obvious and boring. DIO phones in a bland version of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen", the magic of the song and his voice lost in so much lack of effort. ONI LOGAN and JOE LYNN TURNER suffer similar fates.
And then there is CHUCK BILLY and GEOFF TATE. This is the ugly that I was referring to. Chuck turns in a death metal version of "Silent Night", and I didn't know whether to run scared or burst into outright laughter. I chose the latter. I hope they did this version of the song just to elicit chuckles, because how anyone could gain any other result from it's ridiculous racket is beyond me. And Tate, WTF?!?!? As I was listening to his tuneless, toneless send-up of "Silver Bells", I wondered if he had lost his voice or his mind! Simply awful "performance". Maybe he heard the rest of this bad idea and decided to sabotage it more.
OK all, enough Grinch time, cause there are some redeeming qualities on this disaster.
LEMMY & RIPPER OWENS do respectable versions of their selected tracks. The boogie of "Run Run Rudolph" suits Lemmy to a tee, and Ripper takes a similar route with his rendition of "Santa Claus Is Back In Town". But really, it's hard to mess up a boogie tune. Ask STATUS QUO.
And there are actually three worthwhile, terrific songs included in this comp. DOUG PINNICK(dUg?) delivers a typical soulful vocal on "Little Drummer Boy", which features a fitting and awesome KEITH MOON/WHO quote(SIMON PHILLIPS on drums!!! Yeah!!!!). Excellent axe carvings too, courtesy of GEORGE LYNCH and BILLY SHEEHAN.
STEPHEN PEARCY offers a pumped up, crunch time "Grandpa Got Run Over By A Reindeer", that is both riff fueled and honorific to the light heart-ed humorous original.
And finally, TOMMY SHAW serves up what is the most faithful cover on here with his sweet version of JOHN LENNON's "Happy Xmas(War Is Over). His syrupy vocals coupled with a largely acoustic backing(but there are power chords and a resolving solo), is both pleasing to the ear, and totally in keeping with the season. Nice job.
So there it is. A totally unnecessary project filled with 12 songs that should not have been attempted for the most part. Or at least attempted with more vigor and verve. I know metalheads are going to go for this, and some may derive some enjoyment from it's grooves. But for the most part, I feel that it reeks of cash-in, and should only be approached with a wary eye, or as a curiosity. TRANS SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA this most certainly is not!
Recommended Track: Little Drummer Boy(DOUG PINNICK)
By. J. Costigan