We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year, by Various Artists
Suggested by Santa Claws
Christmas is a lot of things, but it isn’t really metal.
Some of the yuletide iconography is metal-adjacent, I suppose. Santa has a beard, and a beer belly, but the big red suit ain’t made of denim or leather, and the while his elves are creepy as hell, they’re not exactly demonic. And yes, because he distributes billions of gifts every year then it’s a statistical probability that at least one is a skull, but even that will be gift-wrapped with a sparkly bow.
(As an aside, I originally misspelled “Santa has a beard” as “Santa was a beard”, which made me see Mrs Claus in a whole new light.)
It’s tough to see how yuletide merriment and thrashing metal can meld into a harmonious whole. It’s Reign in Blood by Slayer, not Rain in Deer by Sleigher after all. Nevertheless, the Various Artists on We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year do their level best to jam this black studded square peg into the bauble-decked round ho-ho-hole. And what a fantastic list of metallists we have! It’s a veritable cavalcade of almost legendary metal folk, plus the peerless Lemmy.
Things kick off with a fine rocking rendition of We Wish You a Merry Xmas, by Jeff Scott Soto, Bruce / Bob Kulick, Chris Wyse and Ray Luzier. Yup, literally no clue. Lyrically, this song is pretty metal; I don’t think I’ve heard a more vicious delivery of the line “now bring us some figgy pudding”. Next up is Lemmy and Dave Grohl’s version of Run Rudolph Run, which is every bit as joyous as you’d expect. Lemmy’s grand love for straight rock and roll helps this particular Rudolf run and run.
The next three songs, however, define the album’s general weakness. While Alice Cooper (Santa Claws in coming to Town), Ronnie James Dio (God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen) and Geoff Tate (Silver Bells) are all wonderful singers, they feel pasted on and out of place. In their bands, with original material tailored with their talents in mind, they are produced in a way that cocoons them, but here, there’s a feeling that the songs were assigned to whoever turned up on the day. As such, they aren’t the best vehicles for the voices, and the album suffers because of it.
The more upbeat and humorous songs work best, such as Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman, because Metal can take itself far too seriously. My standout track BY FAR is the perfectly tongue-in-cheek Silent Night. My one Christmas Wish is that everyone reading this fires up their streaming service of choice and gives it a blast right now. If you’ve enjoyed my reviews, you won’t regret it, and you’ll understand why I’m still laughing at this song hours later.
On any other day, this album would get a 5/10 score, with the patchy production diminishing the sporadic pockets of top tinsel tunes. But this is not any other day… while, likeRoy Wood, we may wish it was Christmas everyday, it’s only today that it actually is. So rock hard around that Christmas tree, folks, as We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year gets 8/10.
Happy holidays, everyone!
(Next Review: 18:00)