With the holidays rolling in, the music on the radio, in stores and on TV shifts to Christmas carols and cheesy holiday music, but not every part of the season needs to be clean and chipper. Sure, you’re probably still going to have to deal with Michael Bublé blaring through the grocery store for a while. But if you want something heavier to play during the season, there’s plenty of bands with metal holiday songs to feel a little more jolly without missing out on the riffs.
Take a look below for 10 metal songs to get ready for the holiday season.
1. King Diamond – “No Presents For Christmas”
King Diamond’s “No Presents For Christmas” is one of the meanest-sounding holiday tracks of all time. With razor-sharp riffs and the King’s ridiculously evil falsetto vocals coupled alongside lyrics about Santa Claus, it’s a strange pairing but a metal classic.
2. GWAR – “Stripper Christmas Summer Weekend”
GWAR’s Christmas anthem is just as disgusting as the title would suggest. It was written prior to late frontman Dave Brockie’s passing. Featuring some of his signature gross-out lyrics, it includes lines about rubbing up on strippers during the holiday.
3. Korn – “Jingle Balls”
Who could have guessed that nü-metal icons Korn have a soft spot for the holidays? Their take on “Jingle Bells” is far from the rap metal they’re known to put out though and falls closer to death metal, strangely enough, with vocalist Jonathan Davis sounding more like Chris Barnes than himself.
4. August Burns Red – “Joy To The World”
August Burns Red have really cornered the metalcore Christmas market with a full-length holiday album and 2017’s “Last Christmas” single. Their seasonal songs make for a perfect playlist on their own. But “Joy To The World” is definitely one of the strongest of the bunch. Fingers crossed it makes their setlist at the first annual Christmas Burns Red festival.
5. Lemmy, Billy Gibbons and Dave Grohl – “Run Rudolph Run”
Motörhead were always one of the most macho bands before Lemmy passed away in 2015, but he had a great sense of humor that shines through on his performance of “Run Rudolph Run” with Dave Grohl and ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons. The track was recorded for a heavy-metal Christmas compilation called We Wish You A Metal Xmas And A Headbanging New Year that also featured Dio, Tony Iommi, Alice Cooper and more.
6. Becoming The Archetype – “O Holy Night”
Tech-metal crew Becoming The Archetype may not be around anymore, but the Christcore band pumped out a sick cover of “O Holy Night” that is a must-have for metal holiday playlists. It’s tight, heavy and a whole lot better than listening to jangly Christmas originals.
7. I Declare War – “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer”
I Declare War really showed their holiday cheer with their 2007 EP Bring The Season, which featured four ridiculously heavy tracks. The cover even has a corny look to it, much like the Christmas albums that have been sitting on thrift-store shelves for years without ever getting picked up.
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8. Vulvodynia – “’Twas The Night Before Crushmas”
If you need the absolute heaviest thing to listen to but still want to get festive, South African slam crew Vulvodynia are here to help. They did a split Christmas release, Slashing Through The Snow, with several other artists and bring a crushing mix to the holiday for their contribution.
9. Rose Funeral – “A Twisted Funeral Christmas”
Deathcore act Rose Funeral released a sick, snappy Christmas song back when they were active called “A Twisted Funeral Christmas.” With ridiculous lyrics such as “Oh die, all ye faithful, limbless and triumphant” or “Come and behead him, born the king of angels/Oh come let us destroy him, Christ the Lord,” the song is a dark and edgy take on a Christmas classic.
10. Agoraphobic Nosebleed – “Merry Chrystmeth”
There’s absolutely nothing joyful about grindcore kings Agoraphobic Nosebleed’s Christmas-themed track talking about meth users. The song is a bleak blast of noise with disparaging lyrics and hefty riffs. It’s built for ringing in the holidays in the most disgustingly metal way possible.