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Various Artists

Monster Ballads Xmas

(Razor and Tie; US: 11 Sep 2007; UK: Available as import)

Hair metal is making a comeback in a big way. Thanks to a sweeping wave of nostalgia buoyed by the children of the ‘80s, now financially coming into their own, the much mocked and maligned genre is suddenly cool again. With the recent musical success of Motley Crue’s comeback tour, and the Crue’s Nikki Sixx and Poison’s Bret Michaels jettisoning themselves into the current landscape of pop culture relevance (albeit at very different ends of the spectrum), other alumni from the pop metal scene are trying their hand at a possible second-wind. In spite of having fallen off the radar, many of these bands never really went away. Still cranking out pentatonic-punctuated albums, these bands are finally re-emerging from the Aqua Net mist. The light-hearted, yet musically solid hallmarks of hair metal lend themselves perfectly to this sort of compilation.


With tracks ranging from the good, such as Winger’s “Happy Christmas (War Is Over)”, to the cheesy-fun of Danger Danger’s “Naughty, Naughty Christmas”, Monster Ballads Xmas is a well-rounded disc of re-worked holiday favorites. Its charm lies within its lack of saccharine sap and the tongue-in-cheek presentation of many of the artists on the album. Although these bands have been out of the public ear for some time, devotees of the hard rock/pop metal genre will instantly recognize the signature sounds and styles of some of their favorites.


Cinderella’s Tom Keifer delivers a bluesy rendition of “Blue Christmas”, complete with a semi-hollow guitar and Hammond organ combo on the arrangement. Featured from their A Twisted Christmas album, Twisted Sister teams up with Lita Ford on “I’ll Be Home For Chrismas”, recapturing Twisted’s iconic sounds and Dee Snider’s distinctive vocals. Faster Pussycat contributes one of the most original and welcome arrangements with their industrialized take on “Silent Night”, while Enuff Z’Nuff’s incredible original “Happy Holiday” is stylized with the band’s Beatles-esque harmonies and breakdowns electrified to perfection. This latest disc in the Monster Ballads franchise swells with a sizeable gift of holiday cheer. Just keep your Aqua Net-ted locks away from your menorah or Yule log.

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Lana Cooper has written various reviews and features for PopMatters since 2006. She's also written news stories for EDGE Media, a nationwide network devoted to LGBT news and issues. In 2013, she wrote her first novel, Bad Taste In Men, described as one part chick lit for tomboys and one part Freaks and Geeks for kids who came of age in the mid-'90s. She lives in Philadelphia and enjoys spending time with her family, reading comic books, and avoiding eye contact with strangers on public transportation. A graduate of Temple University, Cooper doesn't usually talk about herself in the first person, but makes an exception when writing an author bio.


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