Ah, tis the season to be jolly. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, the smell of delicious turkey wafting from the oven and presents from Santa Claus in stockings on the mantelpiece.
It's Christmas time again, which is great news for the majority of the population... and very bad news for rockers. That's not to say that lovers of loud music don't like Christmas. They just don't like the songs that come with it.
Carols plain don't rock, and there isn't a screeching guitar solo to be heard in any of the seasonal-themed pop cheese that's been blasting out of radios everywhere since October.
In the past, the holiday season would see the sales of earplugs in the metal community soar. This year, however, lovers of Sabbath, AC/DC and ZZ Top need not face accusations of Grinch-i-ness.
Ultimate-Guitar is bringing you the alternative seasonal playlist; a selection of Christmas themed tracks that you can unashamedly bang your head to!
Ahead of many of their colleagues in the rock and metal fraternity, AC/DC got onto recording their Christmas offering back in 1990 for The Razors Edge album. What does the holiday season mean to Australia's finest export, you might ask? Big, sweaty lovin' apparently (no surprises there then). Mistress for Christmas has got sleigh-bells, big guitars and Brian Johnson throwing out more Christmas themed innuendoes than a drunken mall Santa. With lines like Jingle bells, jingle all the way, all I want for Christmas is a roll in the hay, you might want to avoid putting this one on the stereo if the extended family has come to visit. Then again, it's probably worth it if just to see their reaction to Malcolm Young's backing vocals (he's basically just intermittently saying Christmas in the dirty voice from Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap).
In a stranger instance of heavy metal one-upmanship, Twisted Sister decided not just to record a Christmas song, but an entire Christmas album. Any track from 2006's A Twisted Christmas could easily have made this playlist, and while We Wish You A Twisted Christmas and Oh Come Oh Ye Faithful were contenders, the honour goes to Heavy Metal Christmas. A remake of Twelve Days Of Christmas, the track is a rowdy run through of a headbanger's essential present wish list, from Skull Earrings, to Ozzy tattoos with a load of booze thrown in for good measure. With its sleazy vocals and intermittent guitar pyrotechnics, Heavy Metal Christmas is the perfect way to console yourself if you find another festive jumper under the tree from grandma and not the Slayer box set that you asked for.
There's nothing like Alice Cooper to spread a bit of Christmas fear. Indeed, the master of shock-rock's cover of Santa Claus Is Coming To Town is less Jackson 5 and more Welcome To My Nightmare. Expecting a jolly fat man to deliver presents down your chimney this Christmas? Alice isn't. His Santa Claws is more likely to spread Christmas cheer by shooting you in the face than giving toys to all the good girls and boys. With a relentless backbeat provided by Heaven and Hell's Vinny Appice and John 5 bringing shred to the holiday season, Santa Claws Is Coming To Town rocks, hard. If you want to give your loved ones some dark and twisted dreams this festive period, you could do a lot worse than playing this track. Oh, and Alice Cooper singing the line Rooty toot toots and rummy tum tums somehow manages to be the most metal thing ever...
Any Christmas song that starts with a Thin Lizzy-esque dual-guitar lick is alright by us here at Ultimate Guitar... and to our knowledge, there's only one of them. The Darkness's Christmas Time (Don't Let The Bells End) is about as over the top as you can get. With sleigh bells, children's choirs, key changes the band has basically thrown together just about every Christmas tune cliche known to man into one mega mix. It's completely silly, and it could probably put a smile on Scrooge's face. You can also play air guitar to it, which is a bonus.
If one man could ever be called the anti-Christmas, it's King Diamond. How could he use his demonic falsetto to spread festive tidings, you might ask? Well he just plain doesn't. No Presents For Christmas is a chugging anti-anthem, right down to the demented renditions of seasonal classics that occasionally crop up against the wall of screeching guitars. With a chorus of There's no presents, Not this Christmas
There's no presents, Tom and Jerry, drinking Sherry, They don't give a damn', this might be a useful one for sending an overexcited younger sibling or cousin into a fear induced silence.
Are messers McKean, Guest and Shearer taking the mickey out of Christmas Songs, Heavy Metal or Christmas Metal Songs here? Either way, Christmas With The Devil is exactly the sort of silliness that you'd expect from a Spinal Tap seasonal tune. Ridiculous lyrics about spending the holidays with Satan, completely over the top musical theatrics and a live video featuring Derek Smalls wearing a reindeer tail... need we say any more
This one is effectively a Dio-Era Sabbath Christmas song. Just think about the implications of that for a minute... It's God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, as interpreted by Tony Iommi and the late, great Ronnie Dio. You salivating yet? Thought so. What was already a fairly plodding Christmas carol has been turned by the masters of heavy metal into an epic, sludge-drenched, hell trip of doom. Iommi's riff is about as heavy as a 20ft Christmas tree. Dio's vocals soar higher than Santa's sleigh. Was this good enough that it should have been on the last Heaven and Hell record? Well, maybe... If you find, at seven o' clock in the morning, that Father Christmas has bought you a pair of hundred watt, floor standing speakers, you could do a lot worse than waking up your family with this slab of merry metal.
Have yourself a three chord Christmas... Well, you couldn't exactly say that the Ramones get into the holiday spirit on this one. A tale of domestic fighting at Christmas time, I Don't Wanna Fight Tonight may provide a somewhat sobering respite if the festivities are just a bit too overbearing. Originally released in 1989, the track sounds a bit like an angrier version of Denis by Blondie... only it's a Christmas song... so go figure. A snot nosed oddity for an alternative playlist.
Imagine the scenario in which Motorhead's Lemmy Kilmister, ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons and Dave In Every Band Ever Grohl show up at your house for Christmas dinner. Lemmy, in typical biology defying fashion, would probably single handedly eat the turkey in one bite. Billy might start a fight with your great aunt and Dave would... well actually, Dave Grohl would probably be quite nice, albeit in a very hyperactive way. Oh, and all the snow would melt and your lawn would die. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), none of that trio are on your Christmas guest list. They might, however, be on your Christmas playlist. Their cover of Chuck Berry's Run Rudolph Run is a raucous, boozy and downright fun run through of a festive classic. It's the perfect antidote to the schmaltzy holiday pop tunes and so damned sleazy that it'll scare away any houseguests who've got too much Christmas cheer.
So you've just eaten more Christmas dinner than you should be able to handle, you're eyes are getting heavy, and it's about time to fall asleep on the couch. This is the one time on Christmas day when loud rock music might not be appropriate. Fortunately, you don't have to give in to festive schmaltz just yet. Back in the late 90s, Billy Corgan and co. recorded a suitably ethereal holiday tune in the form of Christmastime. A wistful look back to Christmases past, it's heartfelt, slightly melancholic, and, most importantly, not completely sentimentalised seasonal pap... even if it does have sleigh bells...
By Alec Plowman Ultimate-Guitar.Com 2010