Believe it or not, a good many of us metal heads enjoy the Christmas season. Obviously not the church burning black metal types, but many of the rest of us do. From Thanksgiving on, the radio and popular culture is riddled with Christmas songs and carols, none of which appeal much to any of us. We’d like to get into the holiday spirit too! Aren’t you sick of hearing the same Jose Feliciano, Paul McCartney and Mariah Carey Christmas songs over and over again? Where is our music? It does exist, but surely the radio, stores and other holiday events are not going to play any of it. Therefor we put together a list of what we feel are the essential songs for metal fans during the holiday season. There are even more beyond the ones on the list, but we felt that these were the best and most important ones for your holiday soundtrack. If you enjoy them, we have included the link to the albums if you wish to pick up the song or the album.
August Burns Red – “Sleigh Ride” (Sleddin’ Hill 2012)
In 2012 the progressive metalcore guys from Pennsylvania released the instrumental Christmas album Sleddin’ Hill. There are many great holiday classics on this album including “Carol of the Bells”, “Frosty the Snowman” and “Oh Come, O Come Emanuel”. However, “Sleigh Ride” made famous originally by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops stands out as the best track on the album. It is heavy and progressive, while managing to stick to the breadth of the original song. We would definitely recommend the whole album, but if you only check one track, this should be the one.
Coffin Fuck – “Deck The Halls”
This is a band that is really hard to find anything about, but they are certainly all over YouTube and have some great death metal covers of Christmas classics. “Deck The Halls” is amongst their best, so make sure to give it a listen.
Halford – Oh Come, O Come Emanuel” (Halford III: Winter Songs 2009)
In 2009, Halford released a winter themed album with covers of Christmas songs and original songs mixed together. “Oh Come, O Come Emanuel” is one of the best tracks on the record. It gives a really cool power metal type feel to the church carol with those signature Rob Halford vocals.
Chuck Billy, Scott Ian, Jon Donais & John Tempesta – “Silent Night” (We Wish You A Metal Xmas…And A Headbanging New Year!2008)
We Wish You a Metal Xmas is a very solid metal compilation released in 2009 with songs from the likes of Dio, Lemmy, Alice Cooper and more. Chuck Billy from Testament does a really excellent death vocal version of “Silent Night” with Scott Ian of Anthrax, Jon Donais of Shadows Fall and John Tempesta of White Zombie providing the groove driven backing music.
Twisted Sister – “Heavy Metal Christmas” (A Twisted Christmas 2006)
80’s metal masters Twisted Sister released this Christmas themed album in 2006. Once again this is a really entertaining album that has a ton of excellent covers. There are certainly a couple that should be on every metal head’s playlist and “Heavy Metal Chritsmas” is our first recommendation. The song is a really creative and funny take on “The 12 Days of Christmas”.
Amon Amarth – “Viking Christmas”
“Viking Christmas” is an extremely heavy and catchy Christmas song which is exactly what you would expect from the Viking metal masters, Amon Amarth. The song was released a few years back as a single. It is a bit more difficult to find now, but it’s out there.
Dez Fafara, Blasko, Doug Aldrich and John Tempesta – “Rudloph The Red Nosed Reindeer” We Wish You A Metal Christmas EP 2009
In 2009 there was an EP released that went along with the We Wish You A Metal Christmas compilation that we mentioned above. From this there is an excellent death thrash version of “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer” with Dez Fafara of DevilDriver on vocals.
King Diamond – “No Presents for Christmas” (No Presents For Christmas 1985 Single)
King Diamond released this heavy traditional/power metal single in 1985. It is an original song that is less joyous and takes more of a heavy metal attitude toward Christmas. It’s perfect for any metal fan’s collection.
Korn “Kidnap The Sandy Claws” (Nightmare Revisited 2008)
Nightmare Revisited is a compilation album with bands covering soundtrack songs from the classic 1992 Tim Burton film The Nightmare Before Christmas. Korn’s version of “Kidnap The Sandy Claws” is excellent, heavy and fun.
JJ Hrubovak – “Nutcracker: Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” (Death Metal Christmas: Hellish Renditions of Christmas Classics 2013)
2013 brought us this awesome EP from JJ Hrubovak of Hate Eternal. It is always so fun to hear death metal covers of joyous songs. It sort of helps to breath new life into things. His cover of “The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” is both heavy and amazingly well arranged.
Venom – “Black Xmas” (Calm Before the Storm 1987)
Speed metal masters and black metal forefathers, Venom, gave us this great Christmas original from their 1987 album Calm Before the Storm. Once again this is not a joyous song and takes more of an anti-Christmas stance, but it’s still an excellent tune for a heavy metal holiday playlist.
Motionless in White “Santa’s Pissed”
This is a funny and heavy single released from the metalcore act Motionless in White. We’re not huge fans of theirs, but this song is great and perfect for the holidays.
Lemmy, Dave Grohl, Billy Gibbons – “Run Run Rudolph” (We Wish You A Metal Xmas…And A Headbanging New Year)
This is our second recommendation from the We Wish You a Metal Xmas compilation. Here we get an excellent cover of Chuck Berry’s “Run Run Rudolph” from Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead, Dave Grohl and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top. It is more of a blues rock/metal style arrangement, but it’s still awesome and it’s Lemmy. What more do you need than that?
Halford “We Three Kings” (Halford III: Winter Songs)
As we mentioned above Halford released this album in 2009 giving us some really excellent holiday songs. His version of “We Three Kings” is easily the best track on the record and should not be missed. Once again we get a great power metal style arrangement with top notch Halford vocals.
Twisted Sister – “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” (A Twisted Christmas)
Make sure you check out this entire album if you get a chance. If you don’t get that chance, make sure you at least add “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” to your playlist. We consider it the best holiday cover on the album and it even has a hilarious video to go along with it.
Nightwish – “Walking in the Air” (Oceanborn 1998)
“Walking in the Air” is a song that accompanied the 1982 Christmas film The Snowman. Nightwish and their former singer Tarja Turunen released a beautiful symphonic metal cover of the song on their 1998 album Oceanborn.
Trans-Siberian Ocrhestra – “Wizards in Winter” (The Lost Christmas Eve 2004)
Former members of Savatage came together to from the progressive rock/metal act Trans-Siberian Orchestra in 1993 and have since released a bunch of holiday themed albums. “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo” is probably their most recognizable song, but we felt that “Wizards in Winter’ was heavier and faster and appeals much more to the metal fan base.
Gwar – “Stripper Christmas Summer Weekend”
This is a classic funny Gwar single that adds strippers and summer into the Christmas season. This one is also hard to find, but it is definitely out there if you look hard.
Austrian Death Machine “Jingle Bells” A Very Brutal Christmas 2008
These guys are great and it’s always funny to hear songs inspired by Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’s too bad that lead singer and main creative guy, Tim Lambesis, is probably on his way to jail. This is a great death thrash style version of “Jingle Bells”.
Korn “Jingle Balls” All Mixed Up EP 2001
In 2001 Korn released their All Mixed Up EP that went along with their full album Issues. The last track is their version of “Jingle Bells”. Here the band jumps head first into the death metal pool to come up with a really great song. It would have been cool if they had done more death metal songs during their career because this is really well done.
Archer – “Angels We Have Heard on High” A Brutal Christmas: The Season in Chaos 2002
A Brutal Christmas is an excellent extreme metal Christmas album released in 2002. Most of the bands featured are lesser well known, but that doesn’t keep the songs from being awesome. Archer’s cover of “Angels We Have Heard on High” is our pick for the best track on the album, but do yourself a favor and check out the entire thing if you can.
JJ Hrobvak – “Unrest for Melancholy Men (God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen)” (Death Metal Christmas: Hellish Renditions of Christmas Classics)
Here’s another great track from the Hate Eternal bassist. This is our favorite one from the new EP. The cool thing about this song and some others on the EP is that he takes a holiday classic, re-titles it and re-words the lyrics to give it a death metal theme.
Dio and Tony Iommi – “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” (We Wish You A Metal Xmas…And A Headbanging New Year)
The last recommendation from We Wish You A Metal Xmas is also by and far the album’s best. Dio and Tony Iommi come together one more time to create that great Heaven and Hell sound on their cover of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”. The song has excellent riffs, an awesome arrangement and crazy vocals from arguably the best metal front man of all time. We hope you check out all the songs and albums we recommended, but if you only listen to one, make sure it’s this song.
What are some of your favorite Christmas themed metal songs?