C O L U M N S

Rusted Metal

X-Mas Project I - Various

By: Eric Compton
Published: Monday, December 6, 2004
In light of our current situation, ninteen days and counting before Santa makes his merry way down chimneys worldwide, I thought it would be neat to do a Rusted Metal column about a Christmas album. No, I'm not talking about the broadway tunes found on Trans Siberian Orchestra, instead I'm talking about a little gem called the "X-Mas Project", an all star event consisting mainly of German speed metal musicians partaking in traditional Christmas tunes.

Who would have ever guessed that a heavy metal Christmas album would be available? I assume that enough denim and leather motorheads were asking Mr. Clause for an album they could play to welcome in the season. What better way to drink eggnog and snuggle with the family than to put on a speed metal slab of Christmas goodness? "Jingle Bells" just doesn't have a jingle unless you put some fast double bass behind it.

With the '86 release of the "X-Mas Project", Aaarrg Records, famous for their releases of German legends like Mekong Delta and Holy Moses, decided it would be appropriate and indeed extraordinary if they released an album of Christmas tunes. They invited a who's who of German musicians into the studio to collaborate on traditional carols. Members of Rage, Holy Moses, Mekong Delta, Living Death, Steeler, Running Wild, and a host of others gathered around the ole Christmas tree to celebrate the birth of Christ speed metal style. The album features worldwide traditional songs including "Jingle Bells", "White Christmas", "Winter Wonderland", and "Silent Night, Holy Night".

I don't know of another collaboration quite like this unless you look at Dio's "Hear 'N Aid" project, which was really only one song. I'm not exactly sure if the "X-Mas Project" was done for charity, but Aaarrg Records apparently spent some bucks to get these guys together. All of the cuts on the album are performed by speed and power metal artists so you won't hear any slow tracks here. Instead every song is a blitzkrieg, completely dominiated by fast riffing and quick double bass. Keep in mind that this was done in the mid-80s by German musicians that don't exactly fit the mold of Accept and Scorpions.

All of these songs are done in much the same fashion as Germany's established big three of that era, Kreator, Sodom, and Destruction. These songs aren't quite as extreme as that material, but I emphasize that this is raw, gritty, and completely unpolished. Fans of German speed, power, and thrash have to own this record simply because it features band members performing with other bands. For example you will see the vocalist and drummer for Rage performing "Mary's Little Boy Child" with Mekong Delta's bass player and Living Death's guitarists. It is really a neat affair and certainly a metal fan's wildest dream to see these guys work together. Here is a breakdown of the tracks and who is involved on each cut:

1. "Mary's Little Boy Child"
Peavey Wagner-Vocals (Rage)
Thorsten Bergmann-Vocals (Living Death)
Reiner Kelch-Guitars (Living Death)
Frank Ullrich-Guitars (Living Death)
Bjorn Ecklund-Bass (Rage, Mekong Delta)
Jorg Michael-Drums (Rage, Running Wild, Grave Digger, etc.)
Andreas Libera-Backing Vocals (Holy Moses)

2. "Jingle Bells"
Thorsten Bergmann-Vocals (Living Death)
Axel Rudi Pell-Guitars (Steeler, Axel Rudi Pell)
Thomas Eder-Guitars (Steeler)
Martin Bork-Bass (Lion's Breed, Scanner)
Jorg Michael-Drums (Rage, Running Wild, Grave Digger, etc.)

3. "Leise Rieselt der Schnee"
Sabina Classen-Vocals (Holy Moses)
Andreas-Vocals (Richthofen)
Reiner Kelch-Guitars (Living Death)
Frank Ullrich-Guitars (Living Death)
Bjorn Ecklund-Bass (Rage, Mekong Delta)
Jorg Michael-Drums (Rage, Running Wild, Grave Digger, etc.)

4. "Winter Wonderland"
Reent Frohlich-Vocals (Crossroads)
Axel Rudi Pell-Guitars (Steeler, Axel Rudi Pell)
Thomas Eder-Guitars (Steeler)
Martin Bork-Bass (Lion's Breed, Scanner)
Jorg Michael-Drums (Rage, Running Wild, Grave Digger, etc.)

5. "Great King Wenzeslaw"
Peavey Wagner-Vocals (Rage)
Reiner Kelch-Guitars (Living Death)
Frank Ullrich-Guitars (Living Death)
Andreas Libera-Bass (Holy Moses)
Jorg Michael-Drums (Rage, Running Wild, Grave Digger, etc.)

6. "Silent Night, Holy Night"
Thorsten Bergmann-Vocals (Living Death)
Axel Rudi Pell-Guitars (Steeler, Axel Rudi Pell)
Thomas Eder-Guitars (Steeler)
Martin Bork-Bass (Lion's Breed, Scanner)
Jorg Michael-Drums (Rage, Running Wild, Grave Digger, etc.)

7. "White Christmas"
Reent Frohlich-Vocals (Crossroads)
Axel Rudi Pell-Guitars (Steeler, Axel Rudi Pell)
Thomas Eder-Guitars (Steeler)
Martin Bork-Bass (Lion's Breed, Scanner)
Jorg Michael-Drums (Rage, Running Wild, Grave Digger, etc.)

After the success of this album, Cream Records decided to do a sequel. In 1995 the "X-Mas Project II" was released containing both new cuts and the original songs that appeared on the first project. "X-Mas Project II" featured members of Tankard, Capricorn, and Holy Mother covering tunes such as "Run, Rudolph, Run", "Rocking 'Round The Christmas Tree", and "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer". ABS Records eventually released both albums on one CD simply titled "X-Mas Projects I & II".

Track Listing
1. Mary's Little Boy Child
2. Jingle Bells
3. Leise Rieselt der Schnee
4. Winter Wonderland
5. Great King Wenzeslaw
6. Silent Night, Holy Night
7. White Christmas



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