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When I first heard that our dearest Metal God Rob Halford had some plans to release a Christmas album with the Halford band, I really gave up on the man. Every time I seem convinced the man has lost his voice, and when you see his live performances I am totally right, but somehow in the studio he manages to sing decently. Then there’s the choice of Christmas songs; despite three new songs he chose seven Christmas classics we all know but that almost never are done on other metal Christmas albums. How come? I’m very glad he did not choose to cover the most commercial songs like “We Wish You a Merry X-mas” or “Jingle Bells”. Instead, the man chose Christmas tunes with truly beautiful melodies that are fit for metal versions than those happy commercial ones. But how did the Halford band deliver those songs and is the album any good?
Opening track “Get into the Spirit” is not a Christmas classic, but a brand new Halford track through and through. We have the typical Halford heaviness and riffs and the band is doing great. Rob Halford however can no longer reach the “Painkiller”-heights here, but he does try to sing high-pitched again. This results in a Mickey Mouse parody. He swallowed helium to get this weird voice, and no matter what people say, this is not even comparable to what Halford does on “Betrayal” or “Resurrection”. He tries to do what he no longer can. And frankly, the Mickey Mouse Halford is actually quite funny in the end, leaving this song as okay. It’s really saved by Halfords backing band. Other self-written tracks on here are “I Don’t Care” and “Christmas for Everyone” and they are the weakest of the songs present on this release. The first sounds like some cliché 80s metal song with the cheesy Christmas ambience you’d expect metal to deliver and the second is a very wrong and awkward piece of... music? It’s fucking abominable! Cheesy bells ringing, horrible vocals and terrible arrangements. Didn’t they listen to it before they got it out as a single for Christ’s sake? Ah well, luckily we have a few traditional Christmas songs that always sound good, even when Rob Halford puts his fingerprints on them.
And damn right that is! First Christmas tune we’ll come across is “We Three Kings”, and boy this song sounds powerful! There is this terrific guitar riff added to the song and a firm double bass rhythm to accompany, not to mention the great solo. The only weak thing on this song is Halfords vocals, which are very low. I know his range is decreasing rapidly, but he could’ve at least sung as if he enjoyed himself? Then there is “Oh Come O Come Emmanuel”, another one of my favorite Christmas songs of all time and this one they can be proud of. This time we don’t have a Halford spoiling the vocals-department and we have a really successful conversion. One of my favorite songs on this album must be “Winter Song”. Even though this song is more pop-oriented in arrangements, this is by far Halfords best vocal performance and it is such a great ballad! We still have a few Christmas songs converted to metal left to discuss, but I’ll cut it short. The other songs are beautiful. They might not be total metal arrangements, but the band plays it so well and Rob Halford sings real well on his normal voice. Especially “Oh Holy Night” deserves a mention and so does well-chosen album closer “Oh Come All Ye Faithful”. There’s really a powerful ambience on this album and the entire band performs great.
In short, the Halford band created a great Christmas album. Even though it goes wrong on a few songs, the others make up for them. This release is one of the more gentle Halford releases ever and shows a whole different side of the band. And although the man sounds weak at some points, Rob Halford convinced me that he can still sing beautifully and full of emotion. This is my new favorite Christmas album and I highly recommend this to those who are interested.
Strongest tracks: “Winter Song”, “Oh Holy Night”, “Oh Come O Come Emmanuel” and “Oh Come All Ye Faithful”.
Weakest tracks: “Christmas for Everyone” and “I Don’t Care”.