With this fierce performance, Twisted Sister seems to be going out on top—and on its own terms.
In the 1980s, there was one face every hard rocker knew: Twisted Sister’s outrageous lead singer Dee Snider’s mug was hard to miss. The third album, Stay Hungry, was flying off record store shelves, and the band was a staple on MTV rotation. With their singles “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock,” they leapt into metal superstardom. Snider’s presence and speech at the Tipper Gore–led Parents Music Resource Center hearings led to him playing spokesman for an anti-censorship cause.
Twisted Sister was fiercely popular…for a short time. Infighting and poor sales of their Stay Hungry follow-up,1985’s Come Out and Play, resulted in the tour for the album to abruptly end in the middle of its run. By 1987, the band had shattered apart, and Twisted Sister went seemingly into rock ’n’ roll oblivion.
Yet, the band has a very loyal fan base, both here in the U.S. and heavily in the U.K., where the band first broke in 1982. While it seemed the bandmates would never mend their fences and reunite, the hell of the 9/11 attacks brought the fractured pieces of the group back together, when they were called upon by a close friend to do a benefit show for the victims. Organically, the members of Twisted Sister came together to heal the wounds that separated them. However…was their still room for the band in the current market? Yes, perhaps, but not necessarily to make new music, instead to revisit their glory days of the 1980s.
But did anyone want to see them play anymore? The answer turned out to be a resounding yes, and the band did not disappoint. Their fans, especially in Europe, came out by the thousands to see the original five members of New York’s best bar band. Twisted Sister was back. They headlined festival after festival, including their headline spot at the Wacken Open Air concert in Germany, one of the largest heavy metal festivals in the world, which the band has headlined on more than one occasion.
Unfortunately, things would take a dramatic turn for the worse, when drummer A.J. Pero suddenly passed away of a heart attack in 2016.Picking up the pieces, and hiring a stand-in drummer, the remaining members decided they would do a few shows, but touring was now out of the question.
Now, Twister Sister has released Metal Meltdown: Live at the Hard Rock Casino Las Vegas. This CD/DVD/Blu-ray pack includes extensive interviews with the band, as well as a fitting tribute to their original drummer. Yet it is the concert that blazes here. Always faster and heavier in a live setting, Twisted Sister took its sonic influence from the English bands of the day, namely Motörhead and the like. While their albums are more studio slick and radio friendly, on stage the band is blasting, fast and loud. Snider still has his classically trained pipes, while bassist Mark Mendoza still beats his bass with his fist. This show features the band without makeup or costumes, but with a raw expression of their best tunes; tracks from the ill-fated Come Out and Play are even given a chance to shine. Roaring through seventeen classic Twisted Sister songs, tracks like “Burn in Hell,” “You Can’t Stop Rock and Roll,” and “The Fire Still Burns” are a fan’s dream. The band is tight and aggressive; the guys have not lost their live feel.
With this fierce performance, Twisted Sister seems to be going out on top—and on its own terms. It’s a shame they will not be touring any longer, yet they leave us with a great reminder of why we still love this band. They are forever embedded in rock ’n’ roll history. They are Twisted Sister. A+ | Marc Farr