There's nothing sweet, sentimental or ring-a-ding-ding when Lemmy Kilmister, Ronnie James Dio, Chuck Billy, Tony Iommi and other metal and hard rock luminaries put their mark on traditional Christmas music.
Instead there are growls, shrieks, creepy crooning, sonic chords, screaming guitars and emphatic pa-rum-pum-pum-pahs. Jingle a bell and you've got We Wish You a Metal Christmas and a Headbanging New Year.
In a metal Christmas world, Alice Cooper's ghoulish "Santa Claws is Coming to Town" makes you want to hide under the bed. When Santa visits Alice, he breaks the toys and burns down the toyland town.
"Silent Night" becomes downright unholy when growled menacingly by Testament's Chuck Billy. Vocal giant Ronnie James Dio imbues "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" with a dark power that's magnified by the melancholy chords of longtime collaborator and guitarist Tommy Iommi.
While most songs fare well with metal's drama and drive, it can't save "Little Drummer Boy" from tedium (perhaps nothing can) although dUg Pinnick of King's X attempts to infuse the monotonous lyrics with emotion. But, face it, pa-rum-pah-pah-pum simply isn't metal. Perhaps if growled ...
Motorhead's Lemmy Kilmister shouts with enthusiasm on "Run, Rudolph, Run," but his distinctive gravelly voice somehow comes off gargly. Tim "Ripper' Owens yowls a rousing version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" while Styx's Tommy Shaw wails John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" with more grit and funk than the original.
Also getting a metal makeover are "Silver Bells," "Deck the Halls," "Grandma Got Ran Over by a Reindeer," and "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree."
This album is fun for diehard metal fans, but it's not something you want to play every day through the holidays.