Every August, the lakefronts and shorelines of America swell to the bursting point with sun-crazed vacationeers, plenty of them in black T-shirts. Unfortunately, for some reason the default soundtrack at beaches everywhere seems to be a washed-up flotsam of brain-dead pop hits, lame Jimmy Buffett songs, and useless reggae.

Headbangers should have no fear, however, because the ultimate metal beach soundtrack is here to take its necessary place alongside stocked coolers of beer, violent board wipeouts, and your friendly local neighborhood sea carnivores. Plant the flag of metal in the sand, prepare to get your leathers wet.

"I Am the Surf Wizards" by The Emperors

Ease into the spirit of the shore with this legit surf rock cover of a Norwegian black metal classic. This expert arrangement of "I Am the Black Wizards" joins a series of amazing surf renditions of black metal standards by "the Mayhems," "the Darkthrones," and "the Beherits."

"Pipeline" by Assassin

From their unsung classic Interstellar Experience album, Germany's Assassin conquers the crashing waves with tight as Hell thrash metal remake of one of the best-known surf instrumentals of all time.

"Surf Nicaragua" by Sacred Reich

These thrashers grew up with plenty of sand in Arizona, but for beaches they turned to the Reagan-era Pentagon party zone of Central America. "Surf Nicarauga" was a political jam referencing current events and surf music, and remains the band's best-known track.

"Surfin USA" by M.O.D.

Apparently Billy Milano felt the only way to soften up his mean reputation after S.O.D. was to release an EP of goofy thrash metal beach party and prom songs.

"Surfin' Bird" by Sodom

Sodom is the punkiest of the classic German thrash metal elite, so they slide right into the classic Trashmen surf tune already covered by the Ramones and the Cramps.

"Let's Go Beach" by S.O.B.

Just love this already. If S.O.B. wants to go to the beach, you and I and Napalm Death and Brutal Truth are all going to the beach today. This metallic Japanese hardcore group were intense and over-the-top in everything they did - and they were never swindle!

"Surf and Destroy" by BL'AST!

In this classic clip, Santa Cruz dudes and Damaged-era Black Flag acolytes BL'AST! surf, shred, and scream with a mania representing the California beaches where hardcore punk was born.

"Surf And Slam" by Suicidal Tendencies

These sons of Venice were practically born on boards. They crossed over from hardcore punk to thrash metal, then pulled back and began jamming on hard-edged beach rock like this.

"Surf of Syn" by GWAR

If you could just wipe the orange juice and fake blood from your ears for a moment, you might realize that this extraterrestrial intergalactic surf epic is one of these costumed creeps' very best songs.

"Barbara Ann" by Blind Guardian

Focussing on sunshine harmonies instead of an adrenaline rush, Blind Guardian put away their dragon-slaying weapons for this rainy rendition of "Barbara Ann."

"Karma" by Parkway Drive

Yeah, so there's this metalcore band on a beach playing chopped-up At the Gates riffs and thumpy breakdowns, and then halfway through the video they strip off their flannels to reveal wetsuits, and next thing you know they're flying through the air on surfboards, ripping 360s and generally turning the chaotic tidal display into a moshpit. Karma's a beach, man!

Hang heavy and don't forget your sunblock!

Ian Christe is the author of Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal, and the publisher of Bazillion Points Books, home to Murder in the Front Row: Shots From the Bay Area Thrash Metal Epicenter, Swedish Death Metal, Hellbent for Cooking, and We Got Power!: Hardcore Punk Scenes from Southern California.

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