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Halford III: Winter Songs

When I think of Christmas, Rob Halford is not the person I would expect to put out a yuletide disc. Then again, neither was Twisted Sister. Never less, here it is. Rob along with his other band, the self titled Halford has put together a collection of Christmas carols along with a good sampling of new music by them. All of them are holiday themed and believe me when I say that they do an admirable job of giving us a metal heads Christmas present!

What better way to get into the Christmas spirit than to have Rob open with a heavy metal blast aptly titled "Get Into The Spirit". The twin guitar duo of Roy Z and Mike Chlasciak has impressive credentials and they make their presence felt right away. This is vintage Halford and will reflect his metal god image must better than the last Judas Priest offering.

From there they take you through four very well known Christmas classics. "We Three Kings" gets a real heavy metal makeover. They still manage to maintain the basic melody but it is on steroids here! It is very good and a whole lot of fun. "Oh Come O Come Emanuel" gets a similar treatment but the striking ballad "Winter Song" written by Sara Bareilles is played with a touch of class as Halford is back by only a piano for most of it. "What Child Is This" is done close to how you remember it for most of the song before giving you a metal twist near the end.

From there you get three more Halford originals, two Christmas rockers that will remind you of something out of the late 60's called "Christmas For Everyone" and "I Don't Care" plus a ballad called "Light of The World". The two rockers are going to be great Christmas party songs while the ballad is a kind of slowed down song that almost has an ELO feel to it. Rob has been making strides to a more progressive sound and this is another example of it. It will make a good tune for snuggling up in front of the fireplace.

He ends the album with two more traditional Christmas carols with a heavy metal tinge. "Oh Holy Night" and "Come All Ye Faithful" are done extremely well and will definitely appeal to the Trans Siberian Orchestra crowd as will the rest of the album.

I would have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with this album. Halford has the voice to sing it and the band has the talent to pull it off very well. Like most discs of this sort, it will be tucked away for about eleven months of the year but when the snow is flying and the tree is getting put up, it will most certainly be put back into heavy rotation.

Track listing:

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

Added: December 24th 2009
Reviewer: Scott Ward
Related Link: Halford's Official Page
Hits: 2957
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Halford III: Winter Songs
Posted by Scott Jessup, SoT Staff Writer on 2009-12-24 07:38:54
My Score:

I was apprehensive about Halford's Winter Songs, having seen it in the CD racks a few times I really wasn't at all compelled to make the purchase. Sure, Halford's previous work is a must buy for metal fans, surpassing recent Priest CDs, but this just seemed a tad corny.

Anyway, so many encouraging reviews got the better of me so I put aside my skepticism, and on hearing the first three tracks on Winter Songs I was impressed, these being the best songs on offer. One of the originals on Winter Songs, "Get into the spirit", is a fun metal tune to get that Christmas spirit rolling, followed by Halford's very clever and his best takes on Winter Songs collection of Christmas favorites namely "We three kings" and "Oh come o come Emanuel".

Taken for what it is, Winter Songs isn't a bad choice to put on at Christmas, myself the replay value is in those earlier tracks, as an overall package I wasn't totally sold. It is also debatable whether it should have been called Halford III; after all it's predominantly a Christmas cover album as such with some metal. That title probably could have been reserved for another kick arse metal album like Resurrection or Crucible.

Halford III: Winter Songs
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2009-12-20 07:08:30
My Score:

"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.

Halford III: Winter Songs
Posted by Butch Jones, SoT Staff Writer on 2009-12-14 08:22:24
My Score:

"The Metal God"! There is only one Rob Halford and the man has wholeheartedly earned that nickname. For 4 decades Halford has helped put Metal music on the map & continues to do even more in his early 60's, the guy truly does bleed Metal. He has even now begun a very cool, very Metal clothing line under his Metal God moniker. Besides the awful Priest records Turbo and the equally forgettable Ram It Down, Halford, his leather and Harley have stood for Metal for millions of fans, globe wide. But would you have expected a Halford Christmas record?! Me neither, but if you think about that amazing operatic voice, it lends itself to doing some wonderful justice to some holiday cheer, in true Halford only fashion, but of course there IS a twist.

With Winter Songs (Metal God Records) Halford the band, which still features all of the usual suspects, Metal Mike and Roy Z on guitars, the awesome Bobby Jarzombek on drums and Mike Davis on bass, and together with the Metal God have delivered 10 tracks for pure all out Metal, traditional Christmas songs and renditions of classic holiday tunes kicked in the ass with some great performances. In other words, Halford wasn't hearing any of OUR type of music while being stuck in the elevator and decided to right the wrong himself! New track, "Get Into The Spirit", leads off this record and from the word go the gauntlet is dropped and the headbanging begins. When Rob Halford shouts at you to, "Get Into The Spirit", you have no choice but to shut and do as your told! Mr. Halford sounds amazing, as you would expect, but what the hell is up with Halford, Ronnie James Dio (we are all praying for you!) and the unreal Glenn Hughes, all being in their 60's or close to it and kicking the asses of guys 35 years younger?! "We Three Kings", follows with some killer guitar work and Jarzombek's double kick drumming just plows this song ahead. You almost even forget that this is a traditional holiday song. Nope, you won't hear either of these in that elevator either, but damn holiday season tunes never sounded like this or so good! Also on the more traditional holiday music side, Halford offers up an epic sounding metallic version of, "Oh Come O Emanuel" and then slows it down with the touching piano and acoustic guitar laced, "Winter Song", complete with some truly wonderful vocal stylings. "What Child Is This", is given a nice palette for Halford's vocals to shine on top of, all while keeping the conventional vibe to it, as well as on "Oh Holy Night". And with "Come All Ye Faithful", Rob Halford pulls no punches and belts out a truly powerful and emotional vocal that only HE can do. Halford's voice does NOT disappoint!

All and all there are four new original penned songs on Winter Songs and these alone are worth checking out this disc, especially the opening 2 pounders. I have been a fan of Rob Halford since I was 11 or 12 years old and it's really cool to see how The Metal God refuses to get old and stays on the edge creating heavier and heavier music as he has gotten older. And with Winter Songs, Halford once again continues to blaze new territory that I am sure that the Metal community will also walk down.

» Reader Comments:

Halford III: Winter Songs
Posted by Jack Toledano on 2009-12-05 16:38:47
My Score:

Wow, very impressive!!!! This is what I was hoping for when Priest 1st released Nostradamus. The Metal God gives us a few typical Priest/Halford-like metals songs with a holiday theme, and quite a few well done traditional Christmas songs. Great job!!!!

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