Archive for November 10, 2009

halfordIII - wintersongs

Halford III – Winter Songs (2009, Metal God Records)

  1. Get Into The Spirit
  2. We Three Kings
  3. Oh Come O 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

Band Lineup:
Rob Halford – Vocals
Roy Z. – Guitars
‘Metal’ Mike Chlasciak – Guitars
Mike Davis – Bass
Bobby Jarzombek – Drums
Ed Roth – Keyboards

Producer: Roy Z.

Country: USA/U.K.

Total Time = 41:24

Halford
Halford MySpace page

Aside from my Heavy Metal collecting, I have this obsession with Christmas music. As soon as Halloween passes every year I wait impatiently for the two lite rock radio stations in my area to switch over to their holiday format of ’round the clock Christmas music. I know it’s sickening to drive around singing ‘Here Comes Santa Claus’ two months before the big day but I do it! The other thing I like to do is collect holiday albums from Rock and Metal bands. It started with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra but I’ve added many holiday albums from other bands, the latest being the third studio effort from Halford – WINTER SONGS.

Most Metal fans see the name Rob Halford and immeadiately think of Judas Priest…..somehow I can’t see the Priest doing renditions of Christmas songs! The other thing you think of when you talk Rob Halford is his soaring vocals that have carried him through almost four decades of Metal mayhem…..again, soaring Metal vocals and Christmas songs seem polar opposites. I’m sure many fans out there have been asking themselves what Rob and his band are thinking. The Halford band has been one of the best new Metal bands over the last 9 years and the two studio albums the band released (RESURRECTION in 2000 & CRUCIBLE in 2002) are extremely good. So it’s natural to wonder why Rob Halford would take time off from his current tenure in Judas Priest and take his solo band on a journey of holiday originals and covers. The answer is simple: because he wants to! I’ve read many interviews over the years with Rob and he has always said that he would like to try and do different styles of music so why not do a holiday themed album?

The opening song ‘Get Into the Spirit’ sounds exactly like a regular Halford song: plenty of guitar, pounding drums and those trademark Rob Halford vocals. If you put this on either RESURRECTION or CRUCIBLE it would fit in with no problem. The traditional ‘We Three Kings’ has turned metallic and works really well with some really cool guitars solos added in for good measure, Halford’s voice fits the song well. Same with ‘Oh Come O Come Emanuel’, the metallic version Halford puts on it really fits the song and Rob starts to stretch that voice out a bit. The best song on the album for me is ‘Winter Song’, a song written and originally performed by Sara Bareilles. Halford is backed by a piano, acoustic guitar and some subtle percussion…..and that’s it! There really isn’t much to the song at first but it builds up with some orchestration and it’s really just a love song. The Metal God doing a love song? Well…..yeah and it’s goo too! I immeadiately noticed how versatile and good Rob’s singing voice is, he can basically sing whatever he wants and do it well. I’m so used to hearing him sing ‘Victim Of Changes’ or ‘Painkiller’ but he really nails this track down with plenty of emotion and melody. It may not be Metal but it is one of my favorite performances of halford’s entire career and I have been a long time fan.

The next 6 songs are half original material and half holiday classics. ‘What Child Is This?’ stays close to the original and has a very Trans-Siberian Orchestra sound to it…..I wonder if TSO producer Paul O’Neill will consider Rob for a new TSO holiday album? I really enjoy the guitar in this song as well. ‘Christmas For Everyone’ is a rocked up original that has this Pop feel to it, like a ’60s Beach Boys feel. Sounds weird doesn’t it? It’s definitely something different. Same thing with ‘I Don’t Care’, it’s different and sounds like something from years past, almost a kinship with the Judas Priest cover of ‘Johnny B. Goode’ from RAM IT DOWN in 1988. The track has that early Rock ‘n’ Roll sound to it but with Metal guitars. The last original is ‘Light Of The World’ and this is another great performance from Rob and the band. It’s a ballad with orchestration and acoustic guitars mixed with subdued electric, a very Progressive Rock sounding song in the same style as a Lana Lane, Rocket Scientists, or Ayreon. I could see ‘Light Of The World’ fitting in somewhere on Judas Priest’s last studio record NOSTRADAMUS because of that Progressive sound. The last two songs are traditional holiday songs, ‘Oh Holy Night’ and ‘Come All Ye Faithful’. Both songs are performed pretty much like the originals just with a more metallic base…..Rob’s vocals really soar throughout both songs and, if you look at the whole album, the vocals are superb on all the traditional holiday covers as well.

Bottom Line:
This is definitely something different from the Metal God but it’s also a solid effort. Halford’s voice is as versatile as it is powerful and he really puts in a masterful performance on the entire album, it makes me appreciate his singing even more. The Halford band is tight as ever and they are able to go from pure Metal to quieter, more subtle tones for some of the quieter songs. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the album because I wasn’t sure just how it would turn out, the Halford band and holiday music isn’t something you normally put together. I like all the songs on the album with maybe two originals (‘Christmas For Everyone’ & ‘I Don’t Care’) falling short of the high standard. They work well within the contaxt of the album but they are the weakest songs when compared to some of the majestic performances surrounding them. If Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Billy Idol and Twisted Sister can pull it off then a band as talented as halford can too. This is definitely a winner as far as holiday albums go and as for Halford albums go. It may not be the Metal of RESURRECTION but there is plenty here to please Metalheads and Christmas music fans alike.

Favorite Songs:
‘Winter Song’, ‘Light Of The World’, ‘Get Into The Spirit’, ‘We Three Kings’, ‘Oh Holy Night’