“A Merry Rockfest Christmas” Brings New Life to Classic Christmas Songs

A Merry Rockfest Christmas opens with “Underneath the Tree” by Seventh Day Slumber, starting the compilation with a bang! They bring their hard-hitting musicality with driving drums to “Underneath the Tree.” Any rock fan will love this take on this classic Christmas song, which keeps some of the same melodies as the original, but has some hardcore breakdowns in the guitar, solos and drums.

Next on the album is “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” by Magdalene Rose, formerly of GFM. This was the first time I had heard of a cover of an N’SYNC Christmas song. The song keeps a pop-rock feel that showcases Maggie’s melodic range before taking a heavy turn entering the final chorus. Here, Maggie’s screams would be a surprise to listeners who weren’t already familiar with GFM’s “beautycore” sound. The song is fun and lighthearted, with those screams satisfying the ears’ yearning for metal.  

Amongst the Giants has a great take on the forever classic “Oh Come All Ye Faithful.” They go between softer melodies and their well-known metal vocals with fierce growls and screams throughout. This was a great fresh take on a beloved classic!

On “Mary, Did You Know” by The Letter Black, the song starts an ominous beginning with light instrumentals teasing the famous chorus. It isn’t long before the song kicks into full rock mode. Sarah’s vocals on this song are a force to be reckoned with, and I love the bit of grit that’s present in her tone.

The Protest bring their version of “Run Run Rudolph” to A Merry Rockfest Christmas. They do this song in their signature style with a clean rock sound. It still manages to hold the familiarity of the original, but with an interesting twist musically through a nice metal breakdown at the end.

Living Scars is the newest Rockfest band to be featured on this Christmas compilation, as it was announced they were signed to the label earlier this year. I was thoroughly impressed by their cover of “Wonderful Christmastime!” It includes all the elements I hope for when I hear that a metal band will be covering such a familiar pop song. It has a great balance of keeping the original musical ideas and melodies while adding new things that make it unique and fun to listen to from start to finish. It is like the epitome of a metal Christmas song for me.

Probably the most surprising entry on this album is Relent’s “All I want for Christmas is You.” It starts out with the well-known stylings of the song and really showcases Miggy’s vocal ability. Then it breaks outs and really adds some of that electronic and dance style, which is a much-needed fresh take on this well-known song.

Eighth on the album is “What Christmas Means to Me” by Dawn Michele of Fireflight. This song starts off relaxed and subdued through the first verse, then dynamically builds with different bells and brass until the driving guitars and drums turn the song into a full-on rock version. Dawn’s voice is an incredible fit for this song, which really gives her a chance to show off her range — especially after the key change!

Matt Sassano brings his catchy electronic stylings to “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch.” It’s a fun track that adds a new flair to a song that can be difficult to do something new with. If you are a lover of the classic cartoon but want something that is both surprising but catchy, this is the song for you.

The album wraps up with “In the Bleak Midwinter,” a lesser-known Christmas hymn that focuses on the winter season, the birth of Christ, and what gifts can be given to Him. After all the holiday fun the album provides, this final track redirects our focus to the true “reason for the season.” It is a solid rock-worship rendition, just as one could expect from Seventh Day Slumber, who has already released 3 full rock-worship albums.

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