Released: n/a, Various
Christmas draws near and it is that time of the year where we are bombarded with Christmas music on TV, radio and in the shopping malls. What can a self-respecting metallion do to escape the vapid, drone of gay, not-metal, bands singly about Christmas, but still have that Christmas music spirit? Play heavy metal Christmas songs of course!! Here is a round–up of cranium-cracking Christmas carols for your heavy metal, holiday, head-banging fun. Many of these are rarities but a worthy addition to any metal collection. Some of these songs are “Songs about Christmas” done by metal bands and some are “Christmas songs” (eg. Traditional carols) done by metal bands. Both are worthy. Have yourself a metal little Christmas!!
PART I – Individual Songs and EP’s
KING DIAMOND - No Presents For Christmas EP
Released 1985 | Label: Roadrunner
This little treasure was the first “solo” release King did after leaving Mercyful Fate. This two track EP features the song “No Presents for Christmas”, classic King Diamond with his sense of humour and an evil twist in the lyrics. The cover features King and a Reindeer draped in Christmas decorations! Probably one of the best known metal Christmas songs.
PRETTY MAIDS-In Santa’s Claws EP
Released 1990 | Label: Sony/CBS
A great little EP with Jolly ol’ Saint Nick on the cover. It features a Sex Pistols cover, a Merry Jingle with Ian Gillian on guest vocals and another tune called “In Santa’s Claws”. The EP is rounded off by 3 live tracks. Quality through and through.
TED POLEY-A Letter To Santa EP
Released: 1993 | Label: Big Disc Music
A nice rarity featuring Ted Poley of Melodica (ex singer of Danger Danger, Bone Machine) It’s a little mellow for Metal Rules I know but it is cool. Ted did this 3 song EP as a charity thing and he did it with a sense of humour as well. The cover features Ted with sunglasses and a cigar dressed as Santa surrounded by four, nubile, young creatures dressed in fur-lined Santa bikini’s. The main song is actually called “A Letter To Santa From A Horny 12 Year Old Boy’ Well judging by the girls on the cover you can tell what the little boy wants for Christmas…the lyrics are hilarious!! “What I’d like to see… underneath my tree, is a nice tall blonde… with high heels on… and maybe double D’s”. Here’s another fine sample… “You know I was hoping for a girl with long blonde hair, but I’ll take a homely elf-chick if that’s all you can spare” It goes on like this for quite a while…
A great little EP and I believe it was cassette only so good luck tracking it down!
Other great Christmas tunes include…
TYPE O NEGATIVE -Red Water (Christmas Mourning)
CD: October Rust | Label: Roadrunner | Released: 1996
A great, doomy Christmas dirge like only Type O can do.
AC/DC – Mistress For Christmas
CD: The Razor’s Edge | Label: Atco | Released: 1990
We have all heard it before! A radio classic.
CD: Self-titled Label: Z Records | Released: 1998
This tune is a comedy track done by the Southpaw side project featuring
CD single | Label: Sony | Released: 1994
This 2 track single was a radio-promo gift to metal DJ’S. It has a fairly punchy Fight tune and a short spoken Christmas greeting from Rob. The thing is this tune sounds more like a Priest tune than a Fight tune. The car sound-effects is something you don’t hear on every Christmas CD.
PART II Christmas CD’s
GARY HOEY- Ho! Ho! Hoey
Released: 1995 | Label: Surfdog Records
A nice mellow instrumental Christmas release with 11 tunes some contemporary, (Rudolph) and some traditional (Silent Night) Not too much to tell, Gary a well respected hard-rock guitarist with about 8 CD’s under his belt just whipped off this Christmas CD in July in Venice Beach, which apparently was kinda weird. This is great background guitar music for a diner party with non-metal friends. There is also a Ho! Ho! Hoey Volume II, Volume III and a recently released Best of Ho! Ho! Hoey! Kinda of like a Christmas tradition everyone waits for the new Gary Hoey Christmas CD!
VARIOUS ARTISTS- Merry Axemas-A Guitar Christmas
Released: 1996? | Label: Sony
An all-star cast of guitar heroes doing Christmas songs. The whole thing was spearheaded by Steve Vai and features songs done by S. Vai, J. Satriani, R. Sambora, E. Johnson, J. Perry, A. Lifeson and a few others. I was a little surprised at how mellow the versions are. I was expecting at least one or two guys to totally shred a carol to bits…where’s Joe Stump when ya need him? Well regarded, well done and it should be available in most stores this season. The kind of CD you can play for your Mom on Christmas morning.
VARIOUS ARTISTS- Merry Axemas 2 - More Guitar
Released: 1998 | Label: Sony
To be honest I haven’t heard this although I expect it would be much of the same. Again Vai is the Executive Producer and the second features, N. Schon, Z. Wylde, J. Sykes, S. Hamm, T. Nugent and S. Stevens and many others. If you liked Vol I, (which I did, I just haven’t picked up Vol 2 yet) then go get it!
VARIOUS ARTISTS- Metal Christmas
Released: 1996 | Label: MCA
A strange little release, and to be honest I don’t own it. However I am told it is an odd mixture of guys like Lea Hart and Paul Dianno doing classic Christmas Carols. Weird…probably a major label cash grab, for curiosity seekers only.
DECEMBER PEOPLE – Sounds Like Christmas
Released November 2001 | Label: Magna Carta
Like much of Magna Carta’s stuff this is a super-group / all-star project. It has a the usual host of highly talented, prolific, progressive rock dudes from bands like Kansas, Magellan and Shadow Gallery all doing a fairly unique concept…taking classic Christmas Carols and re-recording them in the style of other bands like Queen, Pink Floyd and Genesis. A bit of a joke, one-off project it is likely too mellow for many of the fans of this site but if you are a fan of complex, progressive, melodic rock this will be a challenging and enjoyable listen for the Christmas season.
TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA-Christmas Eve and other stories
Released: 1996 | Label: Atlantic Records
TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA-The Christmas Attic
Released: 1998 | Label: Atlantic Records
I mentioning these two quickly because most folks know the story. Producer Paul O’Neil wanted to do an elaborate Christmas concept CD and used a good chunk of Savatage to do much of the music. The result was two extremely successful CD’s selling many units, much to the delight of the Sava-dudes, and they embarked on a few small, critically acclaimed, full production tours. In fact TSO is on tour in the US right now.
Lyrically and thematically the music is a combination of uplifting spiritual Christmas stories (without being preachy) in conjunction with some adaptations of some classical music, a little rock, a little metal and many different singers (male and female) This makes a very nice blend. The packaging is gorgeous and the production stellar. If you enjoyed the more subtle moments on Savatage’s STREETS or DEAD WINTER DEAD get these CD’s.
VARIOUS ARTISTS- X-Mas Project (assorted versions)
-Banging Round the Christmas Tree EP
Relased: 1985 | Label: Earthshaker
-X-Mas Project Volume I
Released: 1986 | Label: Aaarrg Records
-X-Mas Project Volume II
Released: 1995 | Label: Cream
-Vol I + II (minus a few tracks) was re-issued in 1997 on ABS Records
These are my favorites!! They are probably the rarest (and least well known) but the most, well done of all the metal Christmas carols I have heard. I was lucky enough to get the 1997 re-issue and it is fantastic!
The X-mas project started in 1985 as a one-off project by some German speed metal guys and it was so fun they continued to do it. The songs are essentially Christmas songs… traditional carols and modern classics done in a very euro-speed metal thrash vein…very brilliant. This CD has 16 tunes and most are all-star projects or at least have special guests. I won’t bore you with a track list because you can figure out which songs are there but it is very neat to hear German bands doing German tunes like “Stille Nacht, Heilge Nacht” and “Oh Tannenbaum”. Without hearing a note of this CD, I paid good money for it because of the all-star cast. This CD features in various combinations members (and/or ex-members) of…
-Axel Rudi Pell, Capricorn, Crossroads, Holy Moses, Holy Mother, Grave Digger, Living Death, Mekong Delta, Richthofen, Scanner, Steeler, Stratovarius, Rage, Running Wild Temple of The Absurd and Tankard. Wow!! My favorite track is “Mary’s Boy Child” featuring…
-Vox: Peavy (Rage)
-Guit: Frank + Reiner (Living Death)
-Bass: Bjorn (Mekong Delta)
-Drums: Jorg (Stratovarius)
A great CD, highly recommended…Hark!! The Metal Angels Sing!
I hope you enjoyed this overview of metal Christmas music. Happy holidays!