Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Halford ~ Winter Songs

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: heavy metal, holiday, British
Label: Metal God Entertainment
Year: 2009
Home: England

Members: Rob Halford ~ vocals
Roy Z, Metal Mike Chlasciak ~ guitars
Bobby Jarzombek ~ drums
Mike Davis ~ bass

Additional: Ed Roth ~ keyboards


Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford has generally received praise for his non-Priest outings with self-titled band Halford since its debut in 2000, so it was a bit of a shock that his collection of Christmas songs would fare as bad as it generally did with music critics. Albeit, unless you're Trans-Siberian Orchestra Christmas albums tend not to be the highlight of one's recording output, so its not really too much of a shock. What's worse is that the critics are largely right. It's not the highlight of the Halford catalog. Albeit, it's not bad as some say, as the band has yet to put out a truly bad album, as the catch-22 is that it might be a good, though not great, Halford album of straight-ahead New Wave of Heavy Metal but Winter Songs is a weak Christmas album. The problem is essentially the material itself & what he's chosen to do with it. It's all the traditional Christmas songs, no altered lyrics to make them metal themed, done with riffing guitars & double bass drum. But, the problem is so many of them are soft gentle tunes that just don't jive with the speed metal approach, or not with the arrangements here. It all comes off as campy unoriginal metal that shows how limiting the musical form can be or something akin to a karaoke metal performance. It's loud& wild, but heavy metal is far more than that. Some of the greatest heavy metal songs have been light, free & emotion ... just with lots of notes & distortion. It's not helped any by the fact that Halford doesn't really put a lot of emotion into his vocals, as was heard on the Halford debut album Resurrection or even the latest Judas Priest outing Nostradamus. It's missing any spirit ... Christmas spirit. However bloated Nostradamus was you felt Halford's love of the songs & theme, but here that's missing. Some of the songs have some piano picking out the melody against the vocals, but this is a musical cop-out to really pulling out the stops & being creative. But, one song does cry out something great & it's ashame most of the album didn't go in this direction. "Winter Song" is a soft melody with Halford's most emotional singing & is a near cry of Christmas unity. It's a definite inclusion on any Christmas rock mix tape. Though, what makes it so great is that it puts the thrashing metal aside to focus on the song not the musical genre. Making a Christmas album is a worthy but risky endeavor as one is essentially creating an album of limited listens. You can't market your Christmas songs in June. Not even Trans-Siberian Orchestra does that. So, one should try to aim for the best product possible. It's admirable that metal god Rob Halford attempted this project, though one can't help but ask why, but the results don't honor his vision. Anyways, this is by the near untouchable & definetly iconic Rob Halford, so on the whole we fans will tend to forgive him his mistakes, such as his outings with Fight & the Trent Reznor produced metal hybrid Two, & look forward to the possibilities of his next release. The joy which most have welcomed the latest release Halford IV: Made Of Metal is proof.

(featured on the Roman Midnight Music CD Reviews & Interviews podcast: episode 9 "Xmas Headbanging Special", December 2010, click here to listen)



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