I prefer my reviews to be serious and informative. ‘First Impressions’ allow for a more director’s commentary approach. I can be silly and talk bollox, or make points that only a handful of people will understand. Usually I will deliver insights into my history with similar music as well as into how my mind works and how both of these things change over time. You will have to either possess a fairly detailed understanding of Rock and Metal history and Subgenre conventions or have a second tab open at Wikipedia to fully follow every single point that I make, but don’t let that put you off…I’m not honestly expecting you to know every single riff or tone I’ll point out off by heart.
If you want your own First Impressions article done, just suggest it in the comments. I’ll give anything a shot.
Its been a long time coming, the old Twisted Sister FI. I’ve been planning on this one for a while. I have been wanting to get this record for a good three years now, sort of since I got into Judas Priest, and even more so after getting into Skid Row, and even more since getting into W.A.S.P, that’s gotten me very excited in this sort of music.
W.A.S.P I was pretty keen on during the First Impressions listen, but afterwards that debut album really, really grew on me and songs like ‘The Torture Never Stops,’ ‘L.O.V.E Machine’ and ‘Hellion’ have become absolute favourites of mine.
I got it in a set with their second album and I’ve listened to that a frig load too. I recently picked up a set of their third and fourth album which I always listen to when I’m going to sleep, so have heard between one to three songs from each about a dozen times, but I usually fall asleep before hearing a lot of them.
I’ve also picked up their seminal fifth album The Crimson Idol which seems like a masterpiece based on the bits I heard before falling asleep, and it has some amazing drumming, both in production and playing. Its kind of like listening to Bon Jovie covering Judas Priest with Bran Dailor on drums. You should check a few songs out, like ‘Chain Saw Charlie’ or ‘I Am One.’
But anyway, we’re not here to talk W.A.S.P (directly at least), we’re here to talk Twisted Sister.
The album opens up with the Title Track, which really reminds me of NWOBHM. It is really reminiscent of Saxon’s ‘20,000 Feet,’ Angel Witch’s ‘Sweet Danger’ and Diamond Head’s ‘The Prince’ in particular.
Its got that pumping, classic Metal sort of feel, that’s heavier and more pumped than Thin Lizzy, but missing that crunch that Metallica added to Metal. Very much in the 70s-Priest/D’iano-Maiden mould. It’s a simple, three minute, perfectly formed track, with a guitar solo and clean, characterful vocals.
Next up, the instantly recognizable drum intro of the uber-hit ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It,’ it has a completely different feel. From sounding like Priest and Maiden, they now sound like someone tried to re-write ‘Rock N Roll All Nite’ and that someone is Nimrod era Green Day.
I can’t help but love every second of this song, its so catchy, its just unbelievably good fun. The guitar solo has such character, it sounds like some country’s national anthem, the chorus just sounds like a brilliant party, even with the rebellious sentiment, it just sounds so warm and friendly.
Next up is ‘Burn In Hell.’ This one is once again back in the NWOBHM sound, its got a sort of Sabbathy doom tempo intro, the way some Angel Witch songs do. The vocals are quite different to those of the first two songs. At about 1.18, the song kicks out that Saxony pump again. It actually sounds in parts like Judas Priest’s ‘Between The Hammer And The Anvil.’ Quite a contrast with the previous track indeed. Its hard to imagine any one of the anti-hair league of the time listening to this track and hating the band, unless they see the glam image first. This song is what early Metal is all about; the Sabbath doom, the 80s speed, trade-off guitar solos, build ups, ghostly vocals, shouting vocals. All that’s missing is the high screams and the double kicks.
Next up is the oddly-titled “Horror-Teria (The Beginning): A) Captain Howdy B) Street Justice.” It starts off with more slow, doomy, sabbathy menace. Its got another fun slow guitar solo, and there’s some talking that reminds me a little of “Dead Skin Mask.” In some ways its similar to Overkill. I wouldn’t be surprised if Twisted Sister were from New York.
I get a little confused as the band appear to start doing a punk rock cover of “The Fields Of Athenrye” setting off a load of flashbacks for me, but it turns out its just part B) of that song. It actually reminds me of the Overkill song “Overkill” off of Feel The Fire, but a little slower and less heavy. But the bit with the “three sixes branded, the top of his head bit” yeah? That bit!
Afterward, once Dee sings “No More Street Justice” the song gets exciting. It kind of sounds like if Gamma Ray played at one quarter of the speed. I can kind of see why Speed Metal got called “Speed Metal” at the time, if this was a sort of standard tempo.
Then comes “I Wanna Rock” which I already love anyway. Like the other aforementioned hit, this is just terribly good fun. Completely catchy, memorable and almost demanding you sing along. Seeing this live at the time must’ve been amazing. I like the bits in the verses where it goes from a slow vocal delivery to a quick and slightly misfitting one. I remember drunkenly singing this as a teenager with the lyrics changed slightly to be a bit more rude. I can’t remember where it was coming from, I just checked the Guitar Hero 3 soundtrack and it wasn’t there, so I’m guessing its in season 3 of American Dad somewhere? Maybe Bush sings it?
That fun-fest is followed by the slower, more emotional (or at least reverby and arpeggiatiated – the 80s signal for emotional) ‘The Price.’ It sounds like a sad scene in an 80s movie. Its got a kind of Bryan Adams meets The Police vibe, but strangely it would also fit on American Idiot. One of the guitar runs really sounds like Slash, I think on “November Rain” but it could be “Don’t Cry.”
‘Don’t Let Me Down’ comes next. It reminds me of something else, ‘you better run for cover, cuz I’m the hit n run lover.’ (Quiet Riot). This one sounds like W.A.S.P’s debut, although W.A.S.P have a bit of a harder edge and a sharper bite. Still, this is a fun, perfectly satisfactory song, it ticks my guitar solos box, it ticks boxes for being succinct and tasteful.
‘The Beast’ which is not about Doc McCoy reminds me a little of parts of the Title Track to 7th Son Of A 7th Son. It also reminds me a little of Priest’s ‘Defenders Of The Faith.’ It reminds me of the Cold War for some reason.
Next up is ‘S.M.F’ which I believe stands for “Sick Motherfucker.” Its pretty much the middle ground between Kiss and W.A.S.P. Its like a darker Quiet Riot. There’s a bit in the chorus that sounds a bit AC/DC. This one has the most interesting a different guitar solo on the album so far.
And the next song is nothing because the record has ended.
Its interesting the difference between the two big hit single and the rest of the album. Both stylistically, the hits were more Rock than Metal, and in quality, as the singles had ‘x factor’ and while I’d give the album a rating of perfect overall because there is absolutely nothing wrong with it, its still not great, because there’s just not that magic extra power, that takes the perfect music and makes it brilliant.
I’m happy with this album. It was very enjoyable and its unarguably very good, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say it is amazing. Its perfectly polished competent classic Metal with two amazing rock songs.
Its kind of like, there’s nothing really to say about it. Its there. Its satisfactory. It sounds like it should and like the other things like it.
Kind of interesting how underwhelmed I seem versus how good I think it is. Also, wait till you see, I bet now, as soon as I’ve gone and bought it, they’ll finally put out a boxset of all the Twisted Sister albums like I wanted (they just did it for Blackfoot).
Sorry. I’m out of thoughts. I just want to go to sleep (literally, I’ve been up since 4.30, not as an insult about boring music) and can’t really feel things or think properly. Goodnight.