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Twisted Forever | Tribute to Twisted Sister | review | metal | compilation | Lollipop

Twisted Forever

A Tribute to Twisted Sister (Koch)
by Scott Hefflon

This had about a 2% chance of not being fuckin' awful, ya know? Coulda been yet another one of those Deadline atrocities, an embarrassment barely worth mentioning. But Twisted Forever, ah, this is a tribute done right! Against all odds, this one navigates the obvious hits, the hidden gems, combining big names doing their glossy thing and underground faves digging deep and showing why the mainstream will simply never understand them. Yeah, this is how a tribute should be put together!

Twisted Forever opens with Lit covering "I Wanna Rock." It's as obvious as each of the two components are. Good song, good band, both straight-up, with no nuances or burrs or anything to offend or stimulate more than "Oh, how nice." Motörhead cover the driving "Shoot 'em Down," and it sounds like a latter-day Motörhead tune: Barroom swagger, pounding beats, gonzo solo, and anthemic rock sloganeering for partying'n'fightin'. Nashville Pussy trudges through "The Kids Are Back" as they trudge through everything else they do. I'm always surprised how lifeless these dirty rock mofos are compared to all the balls-out Swedes who kick their ass but most US fans have never heard of.

A real treat is the skippy boy band Nine Days (I don't follow this trend, so maybe they're huge, maybe they're wannabes, I don't know or care) waving lighters to the emotive "The Price." Holding hands beneath swaying trees, light rain spattering your upturned face, the orchestra swooping and soaring majestically, clueless that they're actually covering a Twisted Sister song. Yeah, the song always had this in it, and I'm glad someone had the balls to go all out with it. Chuck D lends his voice to "Wake Up the Sleeping Giant." I don't know the song or really love this cover, but Chuck D could read stereo instructions and it'd be bad ass. Anthrax slop through "Destroyer," sounding like shit, plodding unenthusiastically through a pretty uneventful song. Overkill shred through "Under the Blade," an old school metal classic, and they cheese it up accordingly. Overkill have always been rock solid, meat'n'potatoes metal, and that's exactly what this song calls for. Blitz screams great here, but I don't like the "off" harmonies in the chorus.

And then the real gem. One of my underground metal favorites, Cradle of Filth, covering probably my favorite song by Twisted Sister, "The Fire Still Burns." CoF cannot be explained to anyone who's never heard them (um, horror movie demons cackling, roaring, and shrieking over thunderous drums, sawing guitars, and then whoooosh!, the spooky/creepy near-silence just before the creature rises from the dead to hunt and kill again), and what they've pulled out of the song cannot be explained (the locked-arm brothers-in-metal sway has been turned on its ear, and now reminds me of a swaying hanged man, still twitching slightly, bounced about by half-crazed and freakish children chasing each other playfully and shrieking around a small, sealed-shut room, the thick, gloomy curtains on fire, bats smashing into each other along the ceiling in a frenzied attempt to escape before tearing each other apart and spattering blood on the disturbed children who lick their lips without noticing). The layered-in-third guitarwork is evil, the keyboard symphonics are nicely freaky and spooky, and Dani Filth does an admirable job of using all his wonderful demon voices (and cackles and shrieks) without anything sounding contrived. The original, you may remember, has a fist-pumping break toward the end with manly vocal harmonies and such, but each of Dani's demons takes center stage for a moment (think more of a bloody last-man-standing brawl than boy bands' tendency to each step forward and gush some lovey-dovey horseshit), and the fist-pumping beat has given way to the glorious "race like a motherfucker" gallop of riding like you've got hellhounds on your tail, boy.

Vision of Disorder follow up as well as anyone can, covering "Don't Let Me Down" in such a way that it's hard to remember the song was pretty unexceptional. Man are VOD better than most hardcore/nü metal, huh? Following is The Step Kings stumbling through "Burn in Hell," doing that hardcore stutter thing and doing it not very well. Great song, I've heard it covered worse than this, but these dimwits miss all the cool nuances and probably picked it cuz – huh-huh – they get to say hell, huh-huh. Fu Manchu stonerize "Ride to Live, Live to Ride," and that makes a lot of sense if ya think about it. Thick desert groove with that whiney kinda falsetto shit (Neil Young seems to've gotten away with it) offsetting the sing/speak verse. Interesting, if nothing else. Joan Jett mid-'80izes her thinly-produced sweet ass through yet another cover, and dude, what's up with that added ska-ish guitar upbeat and the Nintendo keyboards strolling along at the end? Hate to say it, darling, but when Bif Naked covered this same song, "We're Not Going to Take It," for Ready to Rumble, she smoked yer ass!

Sebastian Bach returns from wherever it is he's been for "You Can't Stop Rock 'N' Roll." The rocker's still got the lungs, despite styles having changed, and I wish he'd find a way to work himself back in again. This was always a barroom rock tune, nothing more, and it gets a kinda tentative Seb treatment, not really going full-throttle cuz, ya know, maybe that's not really where he's at... Hammerfall prance through "We're Gonna Make It," a cover of a cover, basically. That was always one of TS's rewrite-it-'til-we-get-it-right songs, and Hammerfall – while one of the best-known young classic-style heavy metal bands – is just kinda goofy. And that "Can you hear me Twisted fuckin' Sister?" thing is just embarrassing, boys. Sevendust work their way through "I Am (I'm Me)," running flat on a lot of the notes, but downtuning nicely for a good chugging effect. While a perfect example of brainless '80s anthemry, hell, it still makes me want to raise my glass to my proud metal brothers. Twister Sister themselves find the time in their busy schedules to cover the AC/DC classic, "Sin City," even though it's been covered a lot and they don't really do anything special with it, except sound like Twisted Sister playing it. Yippee.

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