Metalheads typically prefer their Christmas music with double kicks and massive amps – that’s why bands like Twisted Sister created an entire album of holiday songs with heavy metal tones.
Who knew that Jingle Bells could sound so sinister? Korn’s version is low-toned and filled with terrifying growls from frontman Jonathan Davis.
Twisted Sister – A Twisted Christmas
Twisted Sister released this 2006 holiday-themed album after years of success and failure. While some might find its music uninspiring or boring, heavy metal fans who don’t prefer traditional Christmas tunes should give this record a listen as it should provide something refreshingly new for Christmas celebration.
Although much of this album doesn’t feature anything incredibly innovative or creative, its songs remain enjoyable listening. This disc features Dee Snider in fine voice as he showcases that his growls don’t get in his way when singing classic Christmas tunes and their original material.
One of the highlights of Twisted Sister’s release was their fiery rendition of “Silver Bells.” Although many holiday classics feature more whimsical melodies, Twisted Sister decided to turn this Christmas tune into a death metal anthem with blast beats, double bass drum battery, and hellbound guitar solos – it certainly sets an impressive pace and sets off holiday metal as we know it! This song sets an excellent precedent and serves as an effective gateway for more holiday metal releases to follow.
Another stunning track from this release is the group’s rendition of “O Come All Ye Faithful,” an extreme metal version that showcases some fantastic playing from their band members. Chugging guitars and feedback provide plenty of churn while Mark Mendoza provides a memorable lead part in this track.
If you prefer more serious Christmas music, this album also includes an impressive cover of “The Nightmare Before Christmas”. Although perhaps not as captivating as other covers on this list, this track makes for a pleasant change-of-pace and provides a unique take on one of its classic tracks.
Finally, the album closes with an updated rendition of “Santa’s Coming to Town.” Although more traditional in style than some other tracks on this release, this version still sounds great!
Type O Negative – Red Water (Christmas Mourning)
Death metal christmas albums might sound strange at first, but they make for an interesting listen. Although the music remains true to its genre – with blast beats, double bass drum battery and hellbound guitar solos – the lyrics have a purpose – songs on this album feature traditional holiday tunes but have been deathified using metal music to explore themes like loss, depression and personal demons.
“Red Water,” the opening track on this album, is an emotionally melancholic song that explores feelings of loss and mourning during Christmastime. From its opening lines “Wake up it’s Christmas morning / those loved ones have passed on / Six feet beneath me sleep,” this track creates a melancholy mood which continues throughout. Lyrically speaking, it explores one person’s struggle to deal with both pain from loss of loved ones while enjoying holiday celebrations while at the same time dealing with grief from loss of loved ones being passed over while trying to enjoy holiday festivities as much as possible – possibly drinking to drown emotions while forgetting issues from themselves or anything else that might cause problems or other problems from emerging as self-medication against any difficulties they’ve come across or tried self-medication!
Korn bring their unique take on classic Christmas song with their thunderous rendition of “Jingle Bells.” Boasting downtuned guitar riffs, snail-paced drumming and the deathly growls of frontman Jonathan Davis’ deathly growls, this version transforms Mariah Carey’s melody into an aggressive march that showcases metal’s capabilities for holiday songs. Perfect for anyone tired of hearing Mariah Carey or just curious to witness how far metal can take it when it comes to holiday songs!
Italian gothic metal band Cristina Scabbia have come through with an irresistibly dark rendition of their festive anthem with “Naughty Christmas.” Beginning with orchestrals and sleigh bells, the song quickly switches over to brassy metal before featuring Scabbia’s more subdued vocals.
Rob Halford of Judas Priest has long been an admirer of Christmas, even releasing an entire album dedicated to it on his third solo effort “Halford III: Winter Songs.” Of the five traditional holiday tracks featured here, “We Three Kings” stands out as the highlight with its galloping heavyness sounding like something out of heaven!
Panzerballett – X-Mas Death Jazz
Christmas can be an enjoyable time of family, crackers and too much food – if you want to add an extra element of debauchery there’s always Death Jazz from Germany’s Panzerballett! Featuring warped versions of popular festive songs such as “White Christmas”, German classic “Leise rieselt der Schnee” and “Last Christmas,” Death Jazz offers up an entertaining holiday album full of comic chops, jazzy virtuosity and bubbly mouthfeel that makes Christmas memorable every time it plays!
Metal music can be an effective form of resistance against oppressive systems and authorities, especially when we feel powerless to resist their control. Korn’s 1999 LP “Nightmare Revisited,” for example, featured an explosive finale track in which they delivered an alternative Christmas version of a classic carol: with sludgy riffs, huge amps and growling vocals accompanied by lyrics such as “Knap Santa Claus by his claws, beat him with a stick, lock him up for ninety years / To see what makes him tick” guaranteed to make any tree move!
Band of Horses offers another hard-hitting take on Christmas with “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” an emotional rendition of an all-time holiday classic. However, unlike most tracks on this list, this track’s fury goes beyond mere musicality; rather it serves as a statement against greed and its power to destroy our world.
Entheos’ version of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” directed by Hate Eternal bassist J.J. Hrubovcak and featuring their signature death metal soundscape is sure to bring laughter this holiday season! Chaney Crabb’s unique vocals recall Viking warrior queens; watch it here.
Venom – Black Xmas
Success of Black Xmas album led other metal heavyweights to release collections of holiday songs; Twisted Sister broke their 29-year dry spell with their A Twisted Christmas album; Rob Halford of Judas Priest reactivated his band for 2009’s Winter Songs release; while Armoury Records issued their We Wish You A Metal Xmas And Headbanging New Year record featuring 12 classic tunes covered by Alice Cooper, Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi Lemmy Grohl among others.
Alla Xul Elu’s celebrated gothic metal track “Ruined Xmas,” featuring members wearing Leatherface-inspired masks while they sing about serial killers and all things sinister is one such noteworthy example of such unconventional interpretations of festive tunes by lesser-known acts.
Venom are another band known for transforming any song into black metal masterpieces, and this album is no different. Cronos and his crew produced some uniquely quirky tracks here that are still enjoyable listening.
Venom are best known for their complex, sophisticated thrash sound; but this album represents something completely different: intense tracks like ‘Teacher’s Pet’ where they riff about children being punished by Krampus (a half goat/half demon). That makes this record all the more impressive!
Manowar’s rendition of Franz Xaver Gruber and Joseph Mohr’s 1818 Christmas carol “Jingle Bells,” however, stands out as the real highlight on this record, featuring their signature bombastic assault. But what really stands out here is their stunning take on “Jingle Bells,” sounding almost entirely different due to downtuned riffs, slow drumming and Jonathan Davis’ deathly growls.