“Winter Songs” by Halford

Artist: Halford
Title: “Winter Songs”
Label: Metal God Entertainment
Release Date: 11/3/2009
Genre: Holiday Metal
Rating: 4/5

“It’s a very Halford Christmas” as the Metal God himself steps outside of his duties with Judas Priest and delivers a Heavy Metal Holiday album with Halford and while the premise might strike you as a little weird, the end result is oddly satisfying. Given the powerhouse potential of the musicians that made up Halford in the first place and the fact that such Holiday-themed releases have been coming out in record number and actually being on the interesting side I ended up with high hopes for Rob and the boys and am happy to report that they did not let me down. I’ve long been a fan of the juggernaut holiday enterprise that is the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and the ever rising popularity of their “Christmas Eve and Other Stories” album which successfully blended heavy riffs into a holiday theme. Their use of Savatage riffs and classical melody to this end was bound to find other Metal artists tossing their own Santa hats into the arena and since this truly became the case why not see how the Metal God would do at it.

The release starts off “Get In To The Spirit” and this is a rousing tune that to my ears did not actually resemble much of a holiday composition and yet can be used in this context. Clearly this one will work under many different circumstances and not just around the Christmas Holidays if the singer opts to play it should he again do any solo shows. The album is a careful blend of traditional holiday fare and a number of originals and we first hear Rob’s take on the classics with “We Three Kings” and this one was a fast favorite based on just how driving the chorus and its double bass drums were. The song felt like it was propelling me on a jet powered sled through the frozen tundra. A tip of the hat to the Beatles comes into play a few times as hinting notes of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” make their appearance in parts of “Oh Come, Oh Come Emanuel”. Nicely done is the subtle opening notes of the next original “Winter Song” and this begins slow until it builds to a very heavy close. I think a potential holiday single comes via “Christmas For Everyone” and while I didn’t find “Light Of The World” to be all that astounding it worked out for the body of work that it was a part of. “Oh Holy Night” was perhaps the most profound of the Christmas classics and really lets Rob showcase the amazing voice that he is still in possession of so many years after beginning his career. The whole release is brought to a dramatic close by “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” which is a very much to the original rendition that features some military sounding drums and power riffs. They seemed to leave much of the traditional feels alone and only made them “bigger” with the use of electric instruments as opposed to twisting and turning them to fit other songs. Recording of the album was done with the assistance of Roy Z. and “Metal” Mike Chlasciak on guitars, Mike Davis on bass and Bobby Jarzombek on drums and everyone does a great job and makes me long for some solo Halford shows once again. Even though I love him in Priest, he really has some amazing original material that is essentially just sitting waiting to be played.

All in all this amounts to much more of a serious holiday album than we found the guys in Twisted Sister doing with their “Twisted Christmas” but that’s fine since their release works perfectly for them while the Halford one suits his style and delivery perfectly. A full color booklet comes with the album and is loaded with band and Rob Halford photos along with lyrics that will allow you an easier time remembering these new holiday classics. If Seasonal music is your cup of tea then you should most certainly add this one to your list as its bound to make any holiday gathering a little more festive.

Track Listing:
1. Get Into The Spirit
2. We Three Kings
3. Oh Come, Oh Come Emanuel
4. Winter Song
5. What Child Is This?
6. Christmas For Everyone
7. I Don’t Care
8. Light Of The World
9. Oh Holy Night
10. Come All Ye Faithful

Official Website: www.robhalford.com

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