What does heavy metal have to do with The Most Wonderful Time of
The Year? Not much -- but, as it turns out, even metal gods enjoy
the holidays... or at least enjoy hard-rocking songs about the
There are three types of metal Christmas songs: Mind-bending
covers of classic church carols, amped-up covers of classic rock or
pop Christmas songs and, darkest of all, heavy metal originals.
Whether you like your holiday metal with a sense of humor or a
sense of doom, here are 16 of the best, in no particular order:
King Diamond - No Presents For Christmas (1985)
King Diamond turns the spirit of Christmas upside-down and
shakes it up with this most metal of Christmas songs, which also
happened to be his first post-Mercyful Fate hit.
Manowar - Silent Night (2007)
Released as an online Christmas gift to fans in 2007, Manowar's
version of the hymn "Silent Night" showcases Eric Adams' more
traditional vocals before amping it up for a few bars at the end.
Though far from the heaviest Christmas song on the list, it's still
Manowar to the bone. There are two versions, in English and
Ronnie James Dio and Friends - God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Ronnie James Dio collaborated with Tony Iommi (Heaven And Hell/
Black Sabbath), Rudy Sarzo (Whitesnake/Dio) and Simon Wright
(AC/DC/Dio) for this epic version of the Christmas hymn for the We
Wish You A Metal XMas...And A Headbanging New Year! compilation.
Lots of guitar and spotless vocals make this a metal Christmas
Venom - Black XMAS (1987)
Venom doesn't mess around with bad reindeer or ghoulish
interpretations of Santa Claus -- Black Xmas is set in a dark metal
universe of a warrior battling his own demons on Devil's Eve. And,
oh yes, it's heavy.
Twisted Sister - O Come All Ye Faithful (2006)
Twisted Sister didn't just record one Christmas song -- they put
out a whole Christmas album. And they weren't afraid to tear up
some of the most sacred Christmas hymns, including "O Come All Ye
Faithful," which somehow aligns perfectly with the melody of "We're
Not Gonna Take It" before a smooth segue into "Hava Nagila" at the
Lemmy, Dave Grohl and Billy Gibbons - Run, Rudolph, Run
This is a pretty straightforward cover of Chuck Berry's 1958
rock 'n roll take on Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer -- but, unlike
other covers over the years, this one has Motorhead's Lemmy, which
automatically makes it rock harder than pretty much anything. The
mini-supergroup of Lemmy, Grohl and Gibbons was put together for
the We Wish You A Metal XMas...And A Headbanging New Year!
220 Volt - Heavy Christmas (1984)
Sweden's 220 Volt delivers an original metal Christmas song
that's both blistering and decidedly sincere .
Trans Siberian Orchestra - Wizards in Winter
The Trans-Siberian Orchestra is more closely associated with
Christmas than pretty much any other band this side of the Brian
Setzer Orchestra, and for good reason: their prog-metal Christmas
concept albums are spectacular. "Wizards in Winter" was pretty
obscure until a Youtube video featuring a Christmas light display
synced with the song went viral in 2006.
Stephen Pearcy and Friends - Grandma Got Ran Over By A
Also from A Headbanging Christmas, RATT vocalist Stephen Pearcy
leads this crazy cover of the most annoying Christmas song ever,
"Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer." With collaborators like
Tracii Guns and Billy Sheehan, it actually doesn't suck, as long as
you have a sense of humor about it.
Kamelot - We Three Kings (2000)
Kamelot's gigantic, symphonic power metal lends itself perfectly
to classic Christmas songs. The Instrumental "We Three Kings"
probably won't scare your grandma, but it's a great addition to
your metal Christmas playlist.
Iron Maiden - Another Rock 'n Roll Christmas
Written and originally performed by Gary Glitter 1984, "Another
Rock n' Roll Christmas" was given new life -- and a metal twist --
by former Iron Maiden vocalist Paul Di'Anno in 1996, for The 21st
Century Christams Rock Album. For those who love the song but are
put off by Glitter's child porn conviction, Di-Anno's heavier
version is a good alternative.
Spinal Tap - Christmas With the Devil
Yes, Spinal Tap is a gag, but "Christmas with the Devil,"
released as a bonus track on the 2000 re-release of the 1984 movie
tie-in album This Is Spinal Tap, deserves a spot on the list, if
only for the line "No bells in Hell." It never gets old.
Skid Row - Jingle Bells (2007)
"Jingle Bells" isn't the most challenging choice of a cover, but
if you're looking for a metal Christmas song you can sing along to,
you won't do much better than Skid Row's version, from the Monster
Ballads Xmas Compilation.
Alice Cooper - Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
This mid-20th Century pop song has always been on the creepy
side, conjuring images of Santa spying on sleeping children. So an
intentionally creepy version by Alice Cooper works, even if it's
not as blistering as some other choices.
Type O Negative - Red Water (Christmas Mourning)
Not the most uplifting Christmas song, "Red Water" tells a story
of loss and sadness. The haunting song has taken on new meaning for
fans since the death of Peter Steele in 2010.
AC/DC - Mistress For Christmas (1990)
Few would argue that "Mistress" is one of AC/DC's best, but as a
Christmas song, it has to be one of the raunchiest. "I can hear you
coming down my snow stick" is so dirty and badass, who cares that
the metaphor doesn't really make sense?