The 10 best rock and metal Christmas albums shy away from being gentle tunes perfect as the background for your shopping at the mall or while driving your family to the grandparent’s house for Christmas Eve. A few artists have put out full-length rock and metal-tinged albums which deliver holiday cheer without sacrificing a hard beat. Here are a few of the best Christmas albums from bands who have explored the heavier side of the holidays.
- “Christmas with the Smithereens” by The Smithereens. New Jersey’s erstwhile hard rock act stayed true to their crunchy, melodic sound with their 2007 collection of holiday tunes.There are some eclectic choices taken from some of the best rock and metal Christmas albums, like “Christmas” from The Who’s rock opera “Tommy.”
- “Christmas with the Vandals” by The Vandals. If you’re looking for Christmas albums that are appropriate for the family, “Christmas with the Vandals” isn’t a choice for you. The Southern California punk rock stalwarts went a different direction for their 1996 release, including such snotty and dark tracks as “Thanxs for Nothing” and “A Gun for Christmas.” If you love punk rock and want to laugh, this is one of the best rock and metal Christmas albums around.
- “The Gift of Rock” by Smash Mouth. Several years removed from their halcyon pop hit-making days, the California group released a Christmas album in 2006. Unlike many other rock Christmas albums, it focuses on covers of popular rock holiday classics rather than reworking seasonal chestnuts.
- “The Flesh Eating Rollerskate Holiday Joyride” by Psychostick. One of the few nu-metal Christmas albums, the 2007 release by the wacky Phoenix, Arizona group balances the edge between head banging and satire. Track titles such as “Holiday Hate” and “Jolly Old Sadist” sum up the point of view.
- “A Twisted Christmas” by Twisted Sister. Given lead singer Dee Snider’s love of all things Christmas, it’s not surprising that the hair metal legends would choose a collection of holiday tunes for their final studio album. As with all of the best rock and metal Christmas albums, it manages to have fun with the concept without losing sight of the spirit of the holiday.
- “Happy Holidays” by Billy Idol. Fans from the 1980s might have suspected that the sight of Idol on the cover of his 2006 Christmas album with a sweater and smile worthy of Perry Como was a lark. It turns out that it’s actually a fair representation of what’s to come. Idol’s in full crooner mode for standards including “Winter Wonderland.”
- “We Three Kings” by the Reverend Horton Heat. The Right Reverend has been preaching the psychobilly message for decades, so it’s only logical that he would get around to celebrating the holidays. Released in 2005, “We Three Kings” whips 13 classic rock and country holiday tracks into a frenzy of rockabilly, punk and blues.
- “’Tis the Season for Los Straitjackets” by Los Straightjackets. When it comes to Christmas albums from masked instrumental surf bands, you’re hard-pressed to find a better group to fit the bill than Los Straightjackets. They tip their hats to 1960s Christmas albums by their surf rock forefathers like The Ventures and Dick Dale several times, including a cover of “Sleigh Ride” that is awfully similar to The Ventures’ take on the classic.
- “A Wild Eyed Christmas Night” by .38 Special. Both .38 Special and Lynyrd Skynyrd released Christmas albums in the 2000s (which are now available on a budget CD two-pack), but it was .38 Special’s that delivered the goods from start to finish. The Southern Rock veterans put several Christmas classics through the down home ringer.
- “Horny Holidays” by Mojo Nixon and the Toadliquors. One of America’s wittiest, most daring and offensive musical provocateurs delivers another broadside at stuffed shirts everywhere. Celebrating the tawdrier side of Christmas with this 1992 release, Nixon and his band offer cowpunk and soul-infused tracks that are pointed, graphic and always funny.
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