So, you're sitting in your living room next to your decorated Christmas tree with a glass of egg nog and wondering, “I'd really like to listen to some Christmas music, but it needs some crunch to it.” Don't fear, I have you covered. Not to sound like a Time Life commercial, but I've compiled a nice collection of some decent Christmas music for you hard rock and metal heads.
(FYI: Most song links go to either a blip.fm streaming version of the song or an Amazon link with previews for your listening pleasure. Artist links go to Wikipedia for more info.)
A mainstay during the holidays for heavier Christmas music is always Trans-Siberian Orchestra. While they're not always heavy, they do have some very good instrumentals. TSO is probably one of the first heavier Christmas albums that I came across. Our local rock station used to play “Christmas Eve-Sarajevo 12/24” during the holidays and I loved it.
They have three full Christmas albums starting with Christmas Eve And Other Stories, The Christmas Attic, and The Lost Christmas Eve. All 3 albums are a mix of instrumentals and rock-opera-type songs, so it's a good listen overall. We've seen them live in the past a few times and they put on a great show for all ages. We're going again this year with my parents on Sunday when they come to Milwaukee.
The next good artist is Gary Hoey. I found him in a similar way I found TSO. Our local radio station used to play some of his songs in either promos or during the holidays. I forgot how I exactly figured out who he was since this was before I could just look it up on the Interwebs. He's a phenomenal guitar player usually associated with the surfer-rock genre, having done some surf movie soundtracks, etc. Starting in about 1995, he released Christmas albums for about 3 or 4 years called Ho! Ho! Hoey. He did guitar renditions of classic Christmas songs, throwing his own style in here and there and they turned out great. A couple of the first songs I remember hearing were Frosty the Snowman, Deck the Halls, and Blue Christmas. I now own all of his Christmas albums and they come out every year.
Another good set of Christmas guitar CDs are the Merry Axemas collection. I picked the first CD up awhile back since I enjoyed Gary Hoey's stuff so much. It's very similar to his albums except that each song is done by a different guitarist. The first CD has some big names like Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Joe Perry, Jeff Beck, and Kenny Wayne Shepherd on it. Great collection of unique takes of the usual Christmas songs. Satriani's rendition (and jam) of Silent Night is interesting. They released a second volume and it's just as good, including people like Zakk Wylde and Ted Nugent.
The last CD I picked up last year on a whim from Amazon MP3. I just happened to see it as I was browsing for other stuff. It's called We Wish You A Metal XMas…And A Headbangin' New Year. Yeah, just like you, it makes me think of spending Christmas with my dear old Grandma, too. I had to pick it up just because of the artists involved: Alice Cooper, Lemmy Kilmister, Ronnie James Dio, and a bunch more. Lemmy's version of Run Rudolph Run is really good and you've never heard a version of Silent Night like it's done by a bunch including Chuck Billy and Scott Ian. You may not get away with playing this one during your family get-togethers, but it depends, your mom may be Angela Gossow for all I know. While searching for this album on Amazon, I see they released a 2009 version. I can haz?
I'll leave you with those recommendations. They'll get you in the Christmas spirit without ruining your metal sophistication. But, if you need more metal (and who doesn't) you can always check out the Christmas albums by Twister Sister, Billy Idol, and even Rob Halford.
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I admittedly am not super fond of this time of year and even less fond of Christmas music.. the traditional kind. If it wasn’t for metalized xmas music, I think I would go absolutely insane this time of year every year.