This week Rikki and I looked at two very interesting Christmas albums to get into the Holiday spirit. I had a look at Green Days of Christmas, a Green Day inspired album, and Rikki checked out …And Christmas for All!, an album inspired by Metallica. Both of these were created by Santa Claws and the Naughty but Nice Orchestra. Strap in and prepare for a weird ride. – Steve
Green Days of Christmas
I remember seeing this album for the first time in a video game store while I was in college. I was completely baffled because I didn’t know that there was a Green Day Christmas album out there. I didn’t buy it because 1) I was a broke college kid and 2) I was too stupid to realize genius when I saw it.
I have always been a big fan of Green Day. When I was a kid, Dookie was constantly in my Walkman, partly because I was an angsty little shit and partly because it was the only album that I had. But as time moved on and the Green Day albums got progressively shittier, I still stuck by the band. I listened to all of their albums, even the weirdness of Uno, Dos, Tre.
The combination of my love for Green Day and the weird one time memory of finding that album in the front of the story led me back to look at Green Days of Christmas. It was…..pretty good! Granted, it did have its not very good moments, but the entire album as a whole made up for those not so nice parts.
The album starts you right off with Good Riddance or what most people know it as That one song that plays at everyone’s graduation party accompanying a slideshow of their life. They really start off with an upbeat song with bells, chimes, piano and other Christmas-y favorites. It really sets the stage for the rest of the album.
Good Riddance was one of the high parts of the album and moves pretty seamlessly into Boulevard of Broken Dreams. The strong use of bells really carried the cheer from the start of the album. Unfortunately the two songs after, Holiday and Welcome to Paradise, really sputter and are the low points of the album. The horns in Holiday don’t flow into each other very well and sound too “pointy”. Listen to it and you will see what I mean. The piano used in Welcome to Paradise is in the same vein. The repeating notes at the start sound really weird when played like that.
The album rights itself immediately afterwards with When I Come Around. This one is my favorite song on the album. It really puts you in a mindset of taking a slow walk down a snowy road. Afterwards is Brain Stew, another solid choice. This then flows into Jesus of Suburbia, Warning, She, and finishes off with Walking Contradiction. The holiday cheer and lovely tones of the bells and chimes really shows off in these last few songs. And it was very strange to type out “lovely tones” when speaking about Green Day.
All in all I was very impressed by this album. It tries to take a fresh look at a artist where you would not expect to hear cheery music from. The only thing that I could say that I didn’t like is that since it was made in 2007, I was missing some of the more current albums. I would honestly love to see this updated with some songs from 21st Century Breakdown and some of the more modern albums. Yes, even Uno, Dos, Tre. I am very happy that I listened to it and I recommend it to any fan who wants some holiday cheer.
…And Christmas for All!
So this is a thing.
When Steve mentioned there was a Christmas-themed Metallica tribute album, I… I had no idea what to expect. Was it gonna be some of their songs with lyrics changed to make them about some holly jolly nonsense? How the hell was it going to merge Metallica and Christmas!? I was totally clueless. After listening to the first few seconds of “Fade to Black” I understood.
The album consists of ten Metallica songs, sometimes seemingly chosen at near random, but with bells, keyboards, a horn section, and a few other instruments replacing drums, guitars, bass, and vocals. I say “near random” because there are a few inclusions and omissions that the casual fan wouldn’t expect. There’s no “Enter Sandman,” (which, tired as hell of the song as I am, would have probably fit really well) “Seek and Destroy,” (Kill ‘Em All gets the shaft, though it’s kinda understandable) or, strangest of all, “St. Anger.”
Meanwhile, “Battery” and “The Call of Ktulu” make appearances. It’s a solid set of songs with a few surprises.
I’ve been a huge metal head for over a decade now; since around the time I was 13. I know every one of these songs like the back of my hand. There were times where I was listening through this album and honestly couldn’t recognize certain sections. When the whole point is to turn something familiar into something more festive, that defeats the purpose. At those points, it feels like you’re just listening to random sleigh bells and keyboard notes. Luckily, this only happens once in a while.
Some songs definitely work better than others. When the intro for “Battery” is playing, which makes up probably 70% of this version, it’s good. But the verse and chorus are damn near unrecognizable with no vocal melody. “For Whom the Bell Tolls” is kind of a mess and I really can’t tell if it includes the verse or chorus anywhere in it. “One” feels like it could have been better. It’s not terrible, but it just feels like it’s lacking something. It, like “Master of Puppets,” just exists.
“Fade to Black” is far and away the best track. Whereas a lot of solos are avoided, the intro is intact and sounds great. The structure is largely unchanged and it just… sounds good. It’s almost haunting. It’s tough to describe why a song works, but believe me when I say this one does. The two ballads from the Black Album, “Nothing Else Matters” and “The Unforgiven,” are highlights as well. Being an instrumental, “The Call of Ktulu” is definitely up there with “Fade to Black,” since a lack of vocals doesn’t affect it. Its inclusion really makes me wonder why “Orion” wasn’t a part of this album as well. Maybe two instrumentals would be a little much, but still…
I think it goes without saying, but this isn’t something you’re gonna jam to on a long drive. It’s a novelty, just like most Christmas music. But hey, if you’re throwing a party for the holidays and you and your metal head buddies are tired of the same old songs, toss …And Christmas for All on and see how everyone reacts. I guarantee they won’t be expecting it.
Bizarre Side Note: A lot of these songs remind me of Croc on the original Playstation. Game had a great soundtrack and the snow levels featured basically the same style. Even my mom immediately recognized the similarities. Croc and Metallica being mentioned in the same article. What a time to be alive…