"Taste of Christmas" (Warcon; 2005)

Reviewed by Ray Van Horn Jr.

Given the fact that you've already been submitted to ding dongs, sprinkly silver bells and holly jollies over store intercoms and your TV well before you've emptied your trick or treat bag onto the kitchen table, depending on your propensity for Christmas carols, you've had enough already. That's the sad reality: Christmas is way over-commercialized. It's a shame the purity of a season of peace and presumed goodwill is saturated by the grease of capitalism.

Okay, now that I have that rant off my chest, let me get into "Taste of Christmas." The folks in charge of assembling this 18-song holiday bonanza have painstakingly (or painfully, according to some circles) clustered some of today's young rock hopefuls, tapping into the genres of pop punk, alt rock and even some metal. 

"Taste of Christmas" is what it's supposed to be: a noncommittal listen designed to attract multiple walks of life to its mostly feelgood vibe. The thing is, all of the laidback, laissez-faire, airy ahhhhhh festival songs are less memorable than they are mere renditions by bands aimed towards focal groups. That's demographics, in marketing lexicon. The Used check in, along with Funeral For a Friend, as two of the bigger names appearing on "Taste for Christmas." Both do what they do on their respective versions of "Alone This Holiday" and "Miracle of Christmas." Other bands who aren't necessarily superstar acts but have their own contingencies are the house-reggae-metal hybrid Skindred, with a pretty risky version of "Jingle Bells," Opiate for the Masses with an interesting techno-aided take with "Christmas Evil," and My American Heart with a by-the-numbers "First Noel." Emery does an attractive "The Last Christmas" at least.

In all, "Taste of Christmas" is a walk down Candy Cane Lane with an emo swagger, or prance, if you so feel inclined to call it that. Confounding the formula on occasion is the spirited and hellafun "We Three Kings" by Amped, a deliciously nasty metal blast by From First to Last with "Christmassacre" and its thumping predecessor, "Saint Nicholas" by Gatsby's American Dream. Bleed the Dream's melancholic "No Smiles on Christmas" also changes the mood of the album, but in a superb way. Of course, Taste of Christmas opens up nicely with the marching rhythms of Street Drum Corps featuring Bert McCracken on John Lennon's "Happy Christmas."

As Plain White T's finish with their sugary "Season of a Lifetime," the leftover feeling is that this is an emo club that allowed a few stragglers to disrupt the pop-flavored tempo. The problem is, none of it is as entertaining as The Ramones' classic "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)" which is the original punk holiday jam, or even the hilarious angry spittle flung from Blink 182's "Happy Holidays, You Bastard." Taste of Christmas is a mostly safe endeavor that often makes you wonder if Charlie Brown doesn't have a right to be pessimistic.

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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 2005 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 12 Feb 2018 21:33:06 -0500 .