Halford – Halford III: Winter Songs (Metal God Entertainment)
I laughed at Twisted Sister‘s Twisted Christmas, but apparently, they laughed all the way to the bank.
I’ll give ’em credit for at least opening my mind up to the idea of a heavy metal Christmas effort, but the more I thought about it, the more I began to realize that Trans-Siberian Orchestra is probably a good as the metal Christmas genre is going to get. And the more I thought about what exactly TSO does each year, the more I think it’s a fucking awesome idea: You blow the entire season up to rival the endless barrage of commercialism, throw in some smoke, lasers, and breakneck fingertapping guitar solos.
In 60 days, you’ve made enough bank for the next 10 months and like stop-motion Burl Ives you’re back next year.
But if there was anyone who could single-handedly take the metal Christmas crown away, it would be Rob “The Metal God” Halford. Not only does he have the chops to handle some of those old Victorian Christmas carols, he has the lineage to stake claim to that material.
To do so meant that Halford has inexplicitly recharged his solo “Halford” moniker and stepped into the Baby Jesus arena with Halford III: Winter Songs, a collection of Christmas favorites and newly composed tunes about the birth of Christ.
O.K., so maybe that’s stretching it a bit, as Halford takes anything quasi-related to the winter solstice and paints it as seasonal enough to warrant inclusion on this hodgepodge of songs, styles, and suffering.
As early as the first track, distorted guitars and double kick drums fuel “Get Into The Spirit,” a propulsive rocker that encourages listeners to “Get into the spirit / Reach up to the sky / Get into the spirit / Raise your spirits high.” Either Rob is forcing his will on us to realize the miracle of this holiday season, or he’s equating a crowd full of drunken Judas Priest fans raising a bunch of 16 oz plastic cups as a festive symbol.
“Light Of The World” apes the Beatles circa “Free As A Bird” while “I Don’t Care” uses the late John Hughes’ Plains Trains & Automobiles as lyrical inspiration, yet sounding about as funny as Curly Sue.
“Winter Song,” another original, keys in a piano and acoustic guitar while Rob asks the question that’s on everyone’s mind this season: “Is love a lie? Is love a lie?”
The traditional holiday material actually works during some moments. “We Three Kings” is nifty with its double-time drums and jug-jugging guitars and “What Child Is This?” is notable and fairly close to the original arrangement.
But aside for a few glimpse of metallic joy and mere hints of Victorian England’s chill, Winter Songs is almost as embarrassing as the cover art would have you believe.
For now, the arena is still ruled by the overkill and drama of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and even they have yet to master of capturing their bombast to tape.
So whadaya say we all put this ridiculous notion to rest and just play Chuck Berry‘s “Run Rudolph Run” when we’re feeling frisky during the holidays.
Yes Virginia, there is no such thing as a decent heavy metal Christmas album.