Hail, Santa: The Top 10 Metal Christmas Carol Covers
Rocks Off likes to believe that Christmas is such a merry holiday, even some of Satan's most stalwart servants can't help but get into the act. Of course, it could be that heavy metal musicians record Christmas music for the same reason as Mariah Carey: Because there's a crapload of money to be made. Whatever their motives, even metalheads can put away the devil horns and celebrate the birth of our savior without feeling like total pusses thanks to this collection of ten of the best heavy metal Christmas carol covers ever crooned!
10. Twisted Sister - O Come All Ye Faithful
Did the melody of "We're Not Gonna Take It" ever remind you of "O Come All Ye Faithful?" Us too! Twisted Sister payed tribute to the anthemic carol behind their biggest hit with this makeup-slathered cover version in 2006. Did they need to record an entire Christmas album to go with it? No, but they did anyway, DAD!
9. August Burns Red - Carol Of The Bells
Few Christmas carols are as metal as "Carol of the Bells," and rightfully so: The ultimate ostinato tune was originally based on a folk chant known in Ukrainian as "Shchedryk." Metalcore enthusiasts August Burns Red added a breakdown to this yuletide classic in 2008.
8. Dez Fafara & Friends - "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"
Coal Chamber and DevilDriver frontman Dez Fafara makes no bones about being a big holiday guy, sporting a large "Nightmare Before Christmas" tattoo on his chest. In 2009, he paired gun-for-hire guitarist Doug Aldrich with Rob Zombie alums Blakso and John Tempesta to record the shoutiest version of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" there ever was or will be.
7. Kamelot - We Three Kings
Symphonic power metallers Kamelot can sometimes veer a little too far into Trans-Siberian Orchestra territory in their usual music, so it was no great surprise to find them covering this classic Christmas carol on their 2000 release, The Expedition. What is a little surprising is how easy it is to get away with playing this version in church.
6. Queensryche - White Christmas
Metallic progsters Queensryche have always followed their own muse without regard for fans' expectations or desires. That eclectic impulse had led to some of the genre's most daring songwriting as well as some of its weakest (lookin' at you, Dedicated to Chaos). It also led to this perfectly perfunctory version of Irving Berlin's wintry classic.
5. Apocalyptica - Little Drummer Boy
If you're skeptical that one of this list's heavier covers could possibly be performed by four cellists, you probably aren't familiar with the Finnish group Apocalyptica. These metal oddballs originally formed to play Metallica cover songs, but their unique treatment lends itself equally well to Eastern-influenced Christmas carols, as their version of "Little Drummer Boy" attests. Apocalyptica's music as a whole can more or less be taken as proof that Christmas miracles exist. How else could these guys find each other?
4. Austrian Death Machine - Jingle Bells
As I Lay Dying frontman founded his side project, Austrian Death Machine, to pay tribute to the films of Arnold Scharzenegger, and what better way could there be to celebrate the Governator's holiday classic Jingle All the Way than with a thrashing version of "Jingle Bells?" Don't bother trying to think of a better way, because there isn't one and there never will be.
3. Halford - Oh Come O Come Emanuel
If you assumed that Judas Priest singer and metal-god-cum-leather-daddy Rob Halford would be no great fan of Christmas music -- ahem -- you've got another thing comin.' Halford sang five metallicized carols on his third solo album, Winter Songs, including this fine take on "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel."
2. Manowar - Stille Nacht
Legendarily loud fantasy-metal pioneers Manowar actually recorded an English version of "Silent Night," too, but we like the German version better. Listening to the powerful voice of frontman Eric Adams soulfully belt this Christmas Eve mainstay without thinking of the famed Christmas Truce of World War I. That, and a well-oiled, musclebound Christ child.
1. Dio and Iommi - God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Two of metal's all-time greats delivered history's best heavy metal cover version of a beloved Christmas carol in 2008. More than a year after Ronnie James Dio succumbed to the devil's own cancer, this song still brings us tidings of comfort and joy. Keep protecting us all from Satan's power, Ron.