VARIOUS ARTISTS


"We Wish You a Metal Xmas ... and A Headbanging New Year" (Armoury; 2008)

Reviewed by Metal Mark



Yet another collection of hard rock Christmas songs emerges just in time for the holidays. This one is a little different because, instead of just one band doing one song, we get a different group of musicians working together one each song. Also there seem to be more metal musicians here than a number of the other Christmas CDs that I have heard done by just hard rock acts. Some of the line-ups make more sense than others and some work together better than others. I thought it would easiest for me to do a song by song review so here it is:

1) We Wish You A Merry Xmas - Jeff Scott Soto, Bruce Kulick, Bob Kulick, Chris Wyse and Ray Luzier
The title track of sorts as they replace Merry with Metal on a few occasions during the chorus. The music is decent, but not particularly inspired as they seem to be just going through the paces. It's a bit of a one trick pony.

2) Run Rudolph Run - Lemmy Kilmister, Billy F. Gibbons and Dave Grohl
This song is a fine fit for the artists involved. Everyone sounds like they are having fun. They don't add a whole lot other than the change in tone to the vocals and guitar, but still a fine version.

3) Santa Claws Is Coming To Town - Alice Cooper, John 5, Billy Sheehan and Vinny Appice
What we get is a healthy of Alice Cooper's sound and humor. The music is good enough and Alice carries it the rest of the way.

4) God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi, Rudy Sarzo and Simon Wright
Now, considering that Ronnie James Dio has played with all of these people before, you would think that this would be a good song. He even tries to inject his own sound, but it comes across like he trying too hard. This song drags and it's actually kind of painful to take. This is a good example of the fact that not everyone should attempt covering a Christmas song.

5) Silver Bells - Geoff Tate, Carlos Cavazo, James Lomenzo and Ray Luzier
The band hits a few moments, but Geoff Tate seems to have just mailed in his part because they lack spirit. The band tries to make this version a bit flashy and it comes across as being cheesy.

6) Little Drummer Boy - Dug Pinnick, George Lynch, Billy Sheehan and Simon Phillips
If there is one song on here that would be tough to translate to metal than it would be this one. The drums begin in basic fashion and Pinnick hits it right on with the precision vocals. What worried me was that I knew the guitars were coming and my fear was that George Lynch would lay it on too thick. He didn't though because he delivered short and subtle bursts that completely fit in. This is a strong song all the way around.

7) Santa Claus Is Back In Town - Tim " Ripper" Owens, Steve Morse, Juan Garcia, Marco Mendoza and Vinny Appice
My main interest in this song was due to the involvement of guitarists Steve Morse (Deep Purple) and Juan Garcia. The music is fine, but a bit restrained. I have never been a big fan of Tim Owens and his performance here is just okay. The range is fine, but he doesn't step up enough to elevate this song at all.

8) Silent Night - Chuck Billy, Scott Ian, Jon Donais, Chris Wyse and John Tempesta
This might be the oddest version on here because Chuck Billy sings it with a death metal vocal growl. I applaud trying something different, but I think here it results in the track being rather tedious. I liked it alright, but certainly not one of the songs that I want to re-visit.

9) Deck the Halls - Oni Logan, Craig Goldy, Tony Franklin and John Tempesta
I always liked Oni Logan in Lynch Mob and Craig Goldy when he was in Dio. Add in a solid rhythm section of veterans Franklin and Tempesta and this is a solid group. This song does sound it could have been done around 1990 because that's kind of hard rock sound that they apply to this song. It works though because this kind of a light and fun song anyways. This band manages to add their sound without changing the feel of the song too much. Good job.

10) Grandma Got Ran Over By a Reindeer - Stephen Pearcy, Tracii Guns, Bob Kulick, Billy Sheehan and Greg Bissonette
We get David Lee Roth's original rhythm section plus two guitarists who have been slightly underrated in their long careers. The result they took a lame song and made it rock. Unfortunately, it sounds like Stephen Pearcy's throat got ran over by a reindeer because he sounds awful. His voice is shot and it distracts from the splendid job that the rest of the band did on this song.

11) Rockin' Around the Xmas Tree - Joe Lynn Turner, Bruce Kulick, Bob Kulick, Rudy Sarzo and Simon Wright
This is kind of the opposite situation of the previous track. Here we get an average song musically, but Joe Lynn Turner steps up and belts out his vocals with lots of range and feeling. The result is that Turner's vocals help this song to be better than it might have been.

12) Happy Xmas (War Is Over) - Tommy Shaw, Steve Lukather, Marco Mendoza and Kenny Aronoff
Not my favorite Christmas song and kind of a dull one to end the album on. Unfortunately this band just does a rather by the numbers version as they don't really attempt to add or bring much to it.

The end results here are that this is a mixed bag and most albums of this type turn out that way. It's not the best hard rock Christmas album that I've heard, but it's certainly better than others. The track records of the people involved are better than the end results of the songs included on this CD. Still, there are several good songs here that I will likely be playing during the Christmas season.


Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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Copyright 2008 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 08 Jan 2016 11:33:10 -0500.