Twisted Sister - A Twisted X-Mas: Live in Las Vegas

Twisted Sister – A Twisted X-Mas: Live in Las Vegas
Eagle Rock Entertainment
All Access Review: B+
Twisted Sister: A Twisted X-Mas - Live in Las Vegas 2012
Move over, Bing Crosby. There’s a new king of Christmas crooning, and his name is Dee Snider. Yes, that Dee Snider. Doing the unthinkable, in 2006, Twisted Sister – having only reunited a few short years earlier – recorded an album of holiday classics with a heavy metal edge titled A Twisted Christmas. It was supposed to be Twisted Sister’s swan song, an amusing novelty LP they probably did for laughs and to, perhaps, take one more opportunity to stick it to those self-righteous, stick-up-their-ass Bible thumpers who tried so very hard in the ‘80s to censor them.
After all, what could be more blasphemous than for Snider to put “Oh Come, All Ye Faithfull” under the blade and do unspeakable things to it … and to the tune of “We’re Not Going to Take It” no less? That, my friends, is twisted.
Not much was expected of the album, but to the surprise of almost everyone, A Twisted Christmas was a massive hit, and the lineup of Snider, guitarists Eddie Ojeda and Jay Jay French, bassist Mark Mendoza, and drummer A.J. Pero decided to stick around a little longer, performing here and there at the odd festival and other gatherings. And, strangely enough, it’s been their Christmas music that’s played a big role in their well-received revival.
So, with that holy day approaching, there’s nothing like a Twisted Sister live release to spread some holiday cheer. This particular one has been available before, as part of the 2011 Bars to the Stars 5-DVD box set, but it is now being reissued on its own on DVD, CD and digital audio/video. A rollicking good time, as any Christmas party in Las Vegas should be, A Twisted X-Mas, out via Eagle Rock Entertainment, is a spirited, pile-driving mix of Yuletide favorites and Twisted Sister classics. While the video versions of this set are visual extravaganzas, it’s the raucous audio document that we’ll drink a toast to here.
While it’s tempting to dismiss Twisted Sister’s metallic takes on Christmas chestnuts as simple parodies, performed with a wink and a grotesquely made-up smile, these old war horses seem to have a grudging respect for them. And while the tone of the record can hardly be described as “serious,” the always jolly Snider and his demented, denim-and-leather-clad elves obviously enjoy bombing their way through a lighthearted and fun “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” a sludgy “Have Yourself a Merry Christmas” and their own stomping “metal” version of the “12 Days of Christmas” – with a statue of Ozzy, spandex pants and studded belts taking the place of five golden rings and a partridge in a pear tree. The sequencing is interesting, however, considering how they put “Come All Ye Faithfull” through its paces and ratchet up the tempo right before Twisted Sister gnashes its teeth on its descent into the thrash-metal pit of evil known as “Burn in Hell” – an odd juxtaposition to say the least.
Mostly, however, Twisted Sister tackles more secular holiday fare, as their versions of “White Christmas” – with its scorching guitar leads and a twin-guitar double helix that Thin Lizzy would kill for – and “Deck the Halls” stampede through your Christmas office party, trashing the place with booze-fueled mayhem they may or may not regret when morning arrives. But, as much devilish glee as they take in reimagining these old standards with power chords and Marshall amps turned all the way up, it’s the blazing defiance of familiar Twisted Sister anthems such as “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” “I Wanna Rock” and “You Can’t Stop Rock ‘n’ Roll” that made the band a household name. And they tear through them savagely on this night in 2009 – the rugged old chainsaw guitars, brawling bass lines and pounding drums covered with more glitter than grit, but still capable of inciting riots.
However, not all of the reworked Christmas material works, even if it delivered with energy and volume. At times, you get the idea that Twisted Sister is trying a bit too hard to pull off the impossible – that is, turning quieter numbers like “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” into something louder and more brutish. To beat up Twisted Sister over something so slight, however, would be like taking a dump in Santa’s cookies and milk. It is Christmas after all.
-            Peter Lindblad

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