Home Music Music Lists

15 Metal Christmas Songs for Unsilent, Unholy Nights

AC/DC, Dio, Type O Negative, Korn and more deck the halls with heavy riffs

Stevie Wonder once said “Everyone’s a kid at Christmas,” and the thrashers set are no exception. Over the years, metal bands have turned their inverted crucifixes around and cut some of the heaviest, loudest, most rip-roaring odes to the holiday season. Here are 15 if the most fist-pounding, throat-shredding, head-banging, heavy metal Christmas tunes ever recorded.


Amon Amarth – ‘Viking Christmas’

On "Viking Christmas," the melodic death-metal band Amon Amarth make an argument against revisionist Christian history. Or are they admitting that despite their lust for blood, they also like gingerbread cookies? It's open for interpretation.


King Diamond – ‘No Presents for Christmas’

"No Presents for Christmas" opens with a Muzak-style rendering of a few Christmas classics before King Diamond tears the whole thing apart with demonic laughter. Could it be King Diamond became a Satanist because Santa skipped his house when he was a little boy?


Dio with Tony Iommi – ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’

It's a testament to the power of the Sabbath that even the centuries-old "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" is turned from an amicable carol to a crushing tune with the slightest rearrangement. Iommi turns in riffs heavy enough for Vol. 4, while Dio delivers a performance nothing less than operatic.


Lemmy, Billy F. Gibbons, Dave Grohl – ‘Run, Rudolph, Run’

"Run, Rudolph, Run" is now a Christmas standard, played by everyone from Chuck Berry to Keith Richards, Billy Idol, Sheryl Crow and Cee Lo. But its Lemmy's whiskey-soaked voice that makes this version sound like it was recorded while the trio was full of Christmas "spirits."


GWAR – ‘Stripper Christmas Summer Weekend’

When GWAR celebrate Christmas, they do it in the summer . . . with strippers . . . over an entire weekend. Just because they're from outer space doesn't mean that these monsters can't kick back during the holiday season. Here they celebrate as only murderous aliens can – by violating Santa himself.


Henry Rollins – ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’

This one isn’t strictly heavy metal, but we’ll let it slide because it’s Henry. On Rollins’ rendition of the Christmas classic, he reads the poem over the top an avant-garde sound collage that includes sirens and gunshots. But in Rollins’  version, after he waves hello to St. Nick, the poor fellow gets blown out of the sky by a missile.


August Burns Red – ‘Carol of the Bells’

Christian metalcore outfit August Burns Red loves Christmas so much that the band recorded an entire instrumental album of metalized carols and classics, 2012's August Burns Red Presents: Sleddin' Hill, A Holiday Album. But the group first got into the Yuletide spirit in 2007, recording a fan-favorite cover of "Carol of the Bells," which turned the already fairly metal-sounding tune into a shreddy epic. –BRANDON GEIST


Christopher Lee – ‘Little Drummer Boy’

Thick, chugging riffs rumble in the background while 91-year-old British actor Christopher Lee, with his impossibly deep baritone, delivers a take that can only be described as epic. The other metalers on this list turned in smashing versions of their songs, but how could anyone top Saruman himself, bellowing "A-rum-pa-pum-pum!"?