Every year a slew of new Christmas albums gets released. Some offer renditions by classical artists, others by folk musicians, while many rock and pop icons also toss their hat into the seasonal music ring with covers and originals. A majority of the time the results are pretty traditional, so I always enjoy something off-the-wall, and hard rock and metal artists often provide the adrenalized twist that pleases me.
Following are thirteen hard ‘n’ heavy Xmas tunes that will make the Christmas season far more enjoyable. Most of them are original songs, but the covers are just as rockin’. Happy Holidaze to all!
1. TWISTED SISTER “Heavy Metal Christmas” — In 2006, Twisted Sister released a cheeky Christmas album entitled A Twisted Christmas and did some shows to support it. The entertaining album sold pretty well from the outset, and a live video followed the next year.
2. FIGHT “Christmas Ride” — This aggressive, radio-only track from 1994 sounds like the soundtrack for a homicidal Santa going on a slay ride. Frontman Rob Halford also did a full-on holiday CD last year called Winter Songs.
3. RONNIE JAMES DIO / TONY IOMMI / RUDY SARZO / SIMON WRIGHT “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” — Taken from the 2008 compilation We Wish You A Metal XMas and A Headbanging New Year, this is a classic Christmas tune done in classic Black Sabbath style.
4. BOB RIVERS “I Am Santa Claus” — This is a clever send-up of Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man”. Radio personality Bob Rivers produced a great video with Santa rockin’ out, too, and has done a string of Christmas parody albums starting with 1990’s Twisted Christmas.
5. COREY TAYLOR “X-M@$” — The Slipknot/Stone Sour frontman just unleashed this. It’s a heavy country rant that pokes fun at those Scrooges who hate the holidays. You know where to stick those jingle bells.
6. ARCHER “Angels We Have Heard On High” — Taken from the compilation A Brutal Christmas: The Season On Chaos, this is Xmas on overdrive. You’ve gotta dig the radiant guitar harmonies that kick off the track.
7. KING DIAMOND “No Presents For Christmas” — If you have kids who’ve been naughty and driving you up a wall, play them this track from the King to warn them about what could happen if their behavior doesn’t improve.
8. BILLY IDOL “Yellin’ At The Xmas Tree” — A tongue-in-cheek tune from Idol’s fantastic comeback album (2005’s The Devil’s Playground), this is his punk-ish take on Christmas cheer. Idol released his Happy Holidays album in 2006.
9. ERLÖSUNG “Carol Of The Bells” — A classical Christmas tune done up with a slight black metal twist. Sweet. Non-genre fans should enjoy it, however the live version of “Christmas ist Krieg” (from their Xmas album!) will scare away carolers and neighbors alike.
10. SPINAL TAP “Christmas With The Devil” — Released as a Yuletide single the year that the group’s mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap came out (1984), the funny 45 (remember those?) also included a clever-but-stupid “Scratch Mix,” which as I recall included the sounds of a turntable needle being scratched across vinyl. “Christmas With the Devil” was included on the 2000 reissue of the movie soundtrack.
11. AUSTRIAN DEATH MACHINE “Jingle Bells” — This American metal side project, gleefully devoted to the film canon of Arnold Schwarzenegger, lets rip with a thrashing version of this timeless tune. Not for girlie men.
12. AC/DC “Mistress For Christmas” — This is certainly a fantasy for many guys at Xmas time. Very rock ‘n’ roll.
13. TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA “Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)” — One could not assemble a list of heavy Christmas tunes and not include TSO, who have made their name with their bombastic, highly pyrotechnic tours. This original tune, first released on Savatage’s Dead Winter Dead, marked the birth of the group. The song also emerged on TSO’s debut Christmas Eve and Other Stories. You can find the official video here.