Where do you begin when discussing rock royalty such as Rob Halford? The “Metal God”! One of the best voices in rock history! “Painkiller”! “The Ripper”! “The Sentinel”! “Hellrider”! “The Hell Patrol”! “Some Heads Are Gonna Roll”! “Into The Pit”! “Resurrection”! “Green Manalishi”! “Oh Come O Come Emanuel”! Wait, what? Did I miss something here?
As strange as it seems to think about the “Metal God” singing traditional Christmas songs, he went and did just that! One thing that’s so great about Halford is that he isn’t afraid to go out and do something different. One needs to look no further than Turbo or the dreadful 2wo album that he was involved with to know that Halford isn’t afraid to think outside of the box. According to Halford, his band put together the arrangements and he came in and sang. His guitarist, the brilliant producer Roy Z was a big part of this!
I told a friend of mine recently that Rob Halford had released an album with Christmas songs on it and he was just like what?!?! To be honest I don’t know anyone that is a Rob Halford fan that would have ever predicted such a thing! I must wonder where his mind was when singing songs about the Son of God! When you are in a band called Judas Priest it just doesn’t seem possible! Ok, anyways let’s see what we think of this album!
This album doesn’t just consist of classic Christmas type songs, it also includes some Halford originals and other covers. On first listen I had no idea what to expect but as the opening of song one, a Halford original, “Get Into The Spirit” ripped into my ears I realized that this was going to be closer to the Trans Siberian Orchestra than Bing Crosby! A barrage of double bass, heavy guitar, and classic Rob Halford screaming vocals give this album a heavy kick into gear!
“We Three Kings” is a traditional Christmas Carol written in 1857 and a favorite of Rob Halford as a child. Halford pulls the voice down a few octaves for this all guitars blazing song! I wish all Christmas songs sounded this good! Next, we have what I think is one of the best versions of “Oh Come O Come Emanuel” ever recorded. Halford sounds heavenly on this traditional hymn written in the 1500’s. This just goes to show that you don’t have to be singing “All Guns Blazing” to get a great song out of Rob Halford! He can do it all!
Next up is “Winter Song”, a song originally released in 2008. A drastic departure from the first three rippers (pun intended) on Winter Songs. A song driven by piano and Halford’s powerful voice. This is a love song to someone out there. The song builds up some at the end but is definitely softer than any of the other offerings so far.
“What Child Is This” follows and starts off in a much more traditional sounding fashion. Hearing Halford sing this song just blows my mind. I don’t know the man personally but being a fan of his since the 1980’s, it just blows my mind! Halford sounds majestic, not singing up high or anything, he adds exactly what the song needs when it needs it! He doubles his voice some in the choruses and it sounds great too! This one takes the traditional route from start to finish and is a great sounding tune!
Three originals from the Halford band follow, “Christmas For Everyone”, “I Don’t Care” and “Light Of The World”. “Christmas For Everyone” starts up with what sounds like church bells chiming. The song kicks in with a steady beat, a little more on the happy side than anything else on here so far. While I agree with the lyrics “when Christmas comes for everyone it brings us all together, for just one day there’s peace in the world, we wish would last forever” it’s not as great as everything else so far.
“I Don’t Care” is another steady rocker about a guy that sounds like he drank too much and missed his train and everything else and when he got home his girl wasn’t there, and he don’t care if it’s Christmas night because he’s headed for the pub and a fight to boot! “Light of the World” is a light flavored song that’s easy on the ears. Halford has a way with ballads and this one is no different, it’s a nice listen from start to finish. Halford still sounds great and does what’s needed to make it great!
The traditional “Oh Holy Night” is next on Winter Songs. This one starts out light and picks up the pace pretty quick. Halford sounds phenomenal singing this song! It’s a great arrangement and while Halford sounds great he doesn’t sound like the Halford of 1991. One wonders if he would’ve went for the much higher notes if they were still as easily accessible as they were back then. Either way, it’s still great to hear!
To close out the album Halford brings us the traditional “Come All Ye Faithful” which dates to the early 1600’s. The song begins with a drum-roll and is sung much like you’d hear it in a church these days except with a much better vocalist! Halford pushes his vocals on this rendition of this classic hymn.
I didn’t know what to expect on first listen to this album (about 8 years after it came out!), but I was pleasantly surprised. If you are a fan of Rob Halford I don’t think you’d be disappointed to hear this. This album pretty much covers the spectrum of musical styling you’d expect to hear from Halford all in one album. Plus, it’s always great to be able to pull out a heavier version of any Christmas song and throw at the family and say well hey, it’s still the song you like, now it’s just better!