Sound — 10
On his first solo album since 2002's 'Crucible', and first new release since his reunion with Judas Priest in 2004, Rob Halford takes a surprising turn by releasing a Christmas album. The idea works quite well, thanks to Halfords careful selection of traditional Christmas songs that translate well to the metal genre, mixed in with a few original songs on the same subject. The Halford band is in top form, and the arrangements of traditionals are creative and solid, and the production is top notch. Also, no shortage of great guitar solos.
Lyrics — 10
The lyrics to the tradional songs are faithfully reproduced, and serve to reinvigorate an interest in Christmas music if, like me, you're a metalhead and only remember the first verses of most of these songs, it's cool to hear these songs presented in a complete form in a metal style. The new songs are great as well, and present a diversity of styles. Halford has never been one to sing the same way all the time, and this is no exception. He sings 'Get Into The Spirit' in an aggresive falsetto, but there's not much more screaming to the found on the album, probably due to his age. His midrange voice is in top shape, culminating with an operatic 'Come All Ye Faithful'. His delivery never sounds forced, and he's not afraid to explore new territory while maintaning the spirit of Christmas. Also, this is no politically correct "holiday" album, these songs do not shy away from putting the Christ in Christmas. Never "preachy", just true to the story of the season, with an inspirational message of love.
Overall Impression — 10
Overall, this album proves that metal and Christmas can successfully mix. As a founding father of heavy metal, Rob Halford is accustomed to singing epic songs that have inspired millions. Christmas songs share these qualities. IMO, the best songs here are 'Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel', 'Oh Holy Night', 'Light of the World', and 'Get into the Spirit'. It's really a "feel good" album, and you can tell it was really a labor of love for the 58 year-old Metal God.