Sunday, October 12, 2008

Helix-Heavy Mental Christmas


Wow, Christmas music already? Here I am just getting my Halloween decorations out. I wonder if two years ago that Twisted Sister knew the impact that their Christmas album would have? I mean it hasn’t exactly been an outpouring, but hard rock and Christmas songs have been coming together on albums with a great frequency over the last few years. This is the band’s 12th full length studio release and it features Helix versions of nine songs plus one new song. Essentially I approached this album as I would any cover album because despite the holiday motif it is still cover album. My rule of thumb on cover albums and cover songs is that a band should remain somewhat loyal to the original, but they need to put some of their own sound into it as well or else it is not worth doing. Now if this album was some kind of school assignment then it might get a fine grade because vocalist Brian Vollmer still has a strong voice and he sounds comfortable on most of the songs. The music is tight, clear and concise plus they benefit from some considerably decent production values. The problem is that rock ‘n roll isn’t about hitting every note correctly. While Helix have all their ducks in a row as far as doing note by note translations they forgot about adding in personality and making any attempt to really make these songs their versions. I never questioned the playing on this album yet almost every song sounds like some band who was hired to play “Rudolph the red nosed reindeer”, “Jingle Bell Rock”, “A wonderful Christmas time” and others for some tv Christmas special where they are essentially background music. That’s how these versions come across to me, they didn’t put enough of their own style into it and the songs just become rather mundane backdrops. Now the one new song they wrote “Christmas time is here again” closes the album and finally the band sounds very excited and motivated. You can tell they enjoyed this one and they loosened up and dove into it. Helix diehards will likely run after this album, but for everyone else you are better off pulling out one of their past albums or just wait for the next studio effort.

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