Good day all,
WOW! It is already December! How messed up is that? Where has the year gone? It seems like just yesterday it was 70 degrees outside and sunny…oh wait, it was 70 degrees outside yesterday in DC. But it will get cold and we will all be huddled around our fireplaces, or heaters that have a faux fireplace fronts. Anyway the holiday season is here and that means the end of year is near and you all know what that means…End of the Year Lists! I will have mine posted soon, it is done, just waiting for the right time but in the meantime and since it is the holidays how do we feel about the holiday music that is now being released by our favorite metal artists?
When I was a kid I always found it a bit of a ripoff that none of my favorite metal bands ever put out a Christmas album and all of the other Pop and Country acts were churning them out year after year. I could never quite understand what metal artists had against putting out these albums. Sure, just by gimmick and “beliefs” some of the couldn’t consider putting out an album with religious connotations but there where others that I just couldn’t understand. The bombastic sound of metal should have been enough to give fans a thirst for what a metal band could do with Christmas songs whether secular or religious. Look at what King Diamond, the man voted Least Likely to Perform a Christmas Song and what he did with No Presents for Christmas. Sure it was a tongue in cheek stab at the holiday and if you look at the lyrics you will see it had more to do with the idea of the holiday than being anti-religion which is surprising for King Diamond, but nonetheless at least it was a holiday song from a metal band.
Now as a kid I liked the old standards when it came to Christmas and holiday music, I still think Elvis’ Christmas album is an all time great. Plus you really can’t beat some of the old school performers like Sinatra, Crosby, Ives and many more who were the soundtrack of our holiday experiences. But even with that being said as a young metalhead I always wanted to have something a little heavier from my Christmas and holiday music. Every once in a while you could hear a band do a parody song from the holidays or even a drunken rendition of a classic holiday song but it really wasn’t something you could take seriously and listen to in public. So for a long time there was a gap in the metal holiday music arena.
Then, out of the ashes of Savatage came Trans Siberian Orchestra to give us a little jolt for the Christmas and holiday season. Like them or not TSO did something for metal fans that had been missing in our blackened heart filled lives. They took what we love about music and put it to a holiday soundtrack. It was fun. As a fan of Savatage I had already heard the song “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24″ it was on the Dead Winter Dead album and then later used by TSO as their first real single. But when I first heard the song outside of the Dead Winter Dead album and as an actual holiday song, that perspective gave it a whole new meaning to me and the way that I heard the song itself. It was like I was hearing the song for the first time, it was a game changer.
From that point on it was all about making TSO a part of my holiday routine. I would force my family to listen to it even though they didn’t want to and I would play it at all of our holiday gatherings with the rest of our family. I usually wanted to listen to it louder than the rest of the family but eventually we compromised. What happened next was pretty interesting because soon the rest of the family started to get into TSO. Part of it was the commercial success of the band via commercial advertising using the songs from the album to sell beer, and many, many other products. But another part of it was that the live show became a holiday tradition for my family and from what I understand many, many other families around the country. I have seen both touring bands of TSO (they had a West Coast and East Coast touring group) and each time I see them it is a great metal show. One of the things that you have to understand about a metal show is pyro is important and say what you will about TSO and their music, but their pyro was always top-notch. Sure, like any underground band that makes it big, the feeling of the show and the music just isn’t the same. You as the fan who was with them from the start, learning and understanding the band’s history more than what you were supposed to learn in school and loving the fact that the band was “yours” it is a bit deflating when they start selling out arenas and you are stuck trying to scramble for tickets for what you thought was your own secret. But time moves on and with it the realization of what is important in life, it is not that the band got big it is that they can still bring it to the fans like they used to. Who cares if it is in a theater in Las Vegas or an arena in Pittsburgh or DC, as long as they can still beat our heads in with the music then so be it, bring your moms and grandmas and lets bang our heads to some original Christmas/holiday music. Sure it is all commercial now, you can literraly hear TSO everywhere during the holiday season. Just this past week we took my son to see the tree lighting at the National Harbor and before the actual tree lighting they had a light show and the sountrack to the evening was Trans Siberian Orchestra and I thought to myself “I liked TSO before they were cool but hey: it is still metal!”
As an added bonus today here are my top five favorite metal Christmas/Holiday albums:
- Trans Siberian Orchestra: Christmas Eve and Other Stories
- Rob Halford: Halford III: Winter Songs
- Helix: Heavy Metal Christmas
- Various Artists: A Very Metal Christmas
- Various Artists: We Wish You A Metal Xmas…And A Headbanging New Year!
Until later, Peace!