Christmas and heavy music make for strange bedfellows. That said, a handful of rock and metal personalities have managed to knock out holiday sets that are actually really good, both placing their muscular stamp on Christmas classics and crafting entirely new yuletide tunes. Read on for 10 hard rock and metal Christmas albums that might prove the perfect fit for background music at Christmas dinner. Okay, maybe that’s a stretch, but, nonetheless, these releases sure rock!
10. The Vandals, Christmas with the Vandals
To say The Vandals’ Christmas with the Vandals is not your traditional Christmas album is an understatement. The California punk-rock outfit dish out cynical tracks such as “I Don’t Believe in Santa Claus” and “Thanx for Nothing,” in typical anti-establishment, punk rock tradition. This is a good bet for someone with a sense of humor and love for DIY punk.
9. We Wish You a Hairy Christmas featuring Warrant, L.A. Guns and more
Who says hair metal fans can’t have a merry Christmas? We Wish You a Hairy Christmas features glam-rockers Warrant covering The Kinks’ “Father Christmas,” Faster Pussycat putting their spin on “Silent Night,” L.A. Guns doing “Run Run Rudolph” and more amusing arrivals. Have a fan of ’80s metal glory on your Christmas list? This set might do the trick.
8. Smash Mouth, The Gift of Rock
Rock is really a wonderful gift, right? That’s the idea behind novelty rock band Smash Mouth’s The Gift of Christmas, which has the California group covering rock holiday classics (“Snoopy’s Christmas,” “Come on Christmas, Christmas Come On; “Zat You, Santa Claus?”) instead of strictly traditional yuletide tunes. Who you expect anything less from the quirky pop band?
7. Psychostick, The Flesh Eating Rollerskate Holiday Joyride
With a title like The Flesh Eating Rollerskate Holiday Joyride, it’s no surprise that this Christmas album is packed with flat-out crazy holiday tunes. From the heavy metal to the sardonic, song titles like “Holiday Hate” and “Jingle Bell Metal” get the point across.
6. Twisted Sister, A Twisted Christmas
On A Twisted Christmas, Dee Snider and his glam group riddle the cherished Christmas carol through a hair metal lens, putting their mark on traditional songs such as “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Oh Come All Ye Faithful,” “White Christmas” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” While the songs no doubt carry Twisted Sister’s heavy metal edge and punk energy, Snider and company keep relatively close to the originals, and that makes this a surprisingly conventional score.
5. The Reverend Horton Heat, We Three Kings
We Three Kings is a group of 12 classic Christmas songs, plus one new original, flogged into an edgy lather of twang-y guitar and steady percussion by Jim Heath and posse. Fans of rockabilly, punk and blues will likely find charm in this set, which offers such classics as “What Child is This,” “Jingle Bells” and “Frosty the Snowman.”
4. Scott Weiland, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
Scott Weiland – the same guy behind ’90s grunge bastion Stone Temple Pilots – is doing a Christmas album? Really? That was the reaction when the news hit that Weiland was prepping a set of straight-laced Christmas traditionals! The set, titled The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, arrived this fall, and what’s perhaps more surprising is how Weiland captures the Christmas spirit with ease. His lush tenor proves a perfect fit with jolly, festival tunes like “White Christmas,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “What Child is This?” We give Weiland props for stepping outside of the grunge rock mold!
3. Halford, Halford III: Winter Songs
Heavy metal and Christmas make for unlikely buddies, but Judas Priest frontman Halford makes it work on Halford III: Winter Songs, approaching Christmas songs such as “Come All Ye Faithful” and “We Three Kings” with the same seriousness and conviction that he brings to Priest favorites. While the release still sounds very “metal” and may not be conventional enough for Christmas dinner, it’s a consistent and listenable release, and the metal genre should be happy to claim it under their roster.
2. Black Label Society, Glorious Christmas Songs That Will Make Your Black Label Heart Feel Good
Brawny guitarist Zakk Wylde’s Southern-fried metal collective, Black Label Society, show that they have the kind of sensitivity to melody that comes with years of honing their skills with this three-song, instrumental, acoustic Christmas EP. The set – Glorious Christmas Songs That Will Make Your Black Label Heart Feel Good (available on iTunes) – features the yuletide favorites “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem” and “It’s a Wonderful World.” This one you might actually be able to get by your significant other to play at Christmas dinner!
1. We Wish You A Metal Xmas & A Headbanging New Year featuring ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Dave Grohl and more
On We Wish You A Metal Xmas & A Headbanging New Year, a collection of rock and metal greats put their talents together to pay tribute to the merriest time of year. Album highlights are plenty, including Motörhead’s Lemmy Kilmister, Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl and ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons rocking out together on “Run Run Rudolph” and Testament‘s Chuck Billy and Anthrax’s Scott Ian putting their spin on “Silent Night.” Further appearances include Alice Cooper, Ratt frontman Stephen Pearcy and Black Sabbath‘s Tony Iommi. It’s safe to call this the definitive heavy music Christmas album!