So you like the holidays, but aren’t a fan of Christmas music because it just isn’t metal enough. Do you wish the Twelve Days of Christmas was actually turned up to 11? Disappointed that Jingle Bell Rock isn’t really a rock song? Then welcome to your new playlist!
Savatage – Christmas Eve / Sarajevo
“But wait,” you say, “isn’t that song by Trans-Siberian Orchestra?” Why yes, it is, but Savatage did it first. In fact, the version you know and love is actually taken from from Savatage’s excellent 1995 rock opera Dead Winter Dead, a love story about a Serb and a Muslim set during the Bosnian war. You know, real cheery, happy stuff.
The band liked the song so much, it inspired them to form the group Trans-Siberian Orchestra to record full-length Christmas albums in the same style of music. They re-released Christmas Eve/Sarajevo two years later under the TSO banner, and the rest is history.
Ragnarok Juletide – Home for Christmas
Ragnarok Juletide is like an all-Finnish version of Trans-Siberian Orchestra: an album of original and traditional Christmas songs performed by an all-star group of musicians, including members of Nighwish, Sonata Arctica, and Amaranthe. But unlike TSO’s family-friendly radio rock, Ragnarok Juletide does not shy from its metal roots. The entire album is excellent, but the heartbreaking “Home for Christmas” is a true standout.
Twisted Sister – Heavy Metal Christmas
Twisted Sister’s final album, A Twisted Christmas, is a full length record featuring the band’s take on traditional Christmas tunes, and it’s actually quite fun. It’s hard to pick a favorite track, but their “interpretation” of The Twelve Days of Christmas seems the most appropriate. Don’t miss their version of “O Come All Ye Faithful,” recorded to the tune of “We’re Not Gonna Take it.”
PelleK – Deck the Halls
YouTube sensation and self-taught metal singer PelleK (pronounced “Pella K”) released his own album of traditional Christmas songs, cleverly titled Christmas with PelleK. Again, it was hard to pick a favorite track, but his high-spirited take on “Deck the Halls” is hard to resist.
Spinal Tap – Christmas with the Devil
This was released as a one-off bonus track for the 2000 reissue of the band’s classic album This is Spinal Tap. Pretty typical fare for the band, which is to say that for a fake heavy metal band, they are really good at making metal music.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Wizards in Winter
Arguably TSO’s second most famous song, “Wizards in Winter” appeared on their third Christmas album, The Lost Christmas Eve. The accompanying video set to highly animated Christmas lights is probably just as famous as the song itself.
Halford – Winter Song
Metal legend Rob Halford’s third solo album was a mix of original and traditional Christmas songs. The album is a bit hit or miss – but when it hits, it’s a home run. Highlights include a fantastic version of “Oh Come, O Come, Emanuel,” and the original metal anthem, “Get into the Spirit.” But the best track by far is the bittersweet title track “Winter Song,” an incredibly moving tune about loneliness and longing for the loved ones who are missing during the holidays.
Eric Calderone – Let it Go
Better known as 331ERock, Eric is an amazing guitar shredder famous for his YouTube series of metal covers of non-metal songs. His blistering cover of “Let it Go” quickly became one of his biggest hits, and for good reason. This version is simply sensational.