Published Nov 13, 2009While Rob Halford has proven himself on many levels over the past 30-plus years - as a heavy metal guru with an inimitable voice, Judas Priest front-man, clothier and record label owner - his third solo album with the metal brigade that bear his last name is causing quite a stir.
Winter Songs is a Christmas album.
"Just by association, I think that when everybody heard that the Metal God was doing a Christmas album, they had a sharp taking [in] of breath," Halford says in an interview with Exclaim! "But that's to be expected. The fact of the matter is that I've the luxury of a solo career that lets me do the unexpected. Having said that, like everybody else, I just love the Christmas holidays. I do the same things that everyone else does. In my mind, it's not that much of a stretch."
All right, so Halford knows we think he's flipped his lid. He was clearly expecting it, noting that he pondered the idea for years before acting upon it. But now that he has put his plan into motion, he's duly proud, especially because the band were able to turn Winter Songs into a bona fide Halford affair.
"I did this for a few reasons but the main genesis was a moment for me personally to express myself in a way that I've never done before," he rationalizes. "I just want to do what's important to me. As a musician, that's the way it should be. You stand by your choices. It just took a while to get to the point where we all wanted to do it. Once that decision was made, we ran with it.
"When you're covering such great composers, it's inspiring to have the opportunity to cover work that's already established and given various kinds of treatments. And for you to enjoy the challenge of putting your distinctive approach on the arrangements. That was important for us when we put this together: to make sure we could give it the Halford band stamp."
A collection of holiday classics such as "We Three Kings" and "Come All Ye Faithful," replete with double bass and searing solos, Winter Songs may be the antithesis of metal's "Highway to Hell" dogma, but it works. Even more impressive, though, was the band's ability pen some thematically similar yet equally epic and raucous originals ("I Don't Care If It's Christmas Night," "Christmas Is for Everyone"), something even the Metal God didn't anticipate.
"When we first agreed to do this type of record, there wasn't any inclination to go into self-composing mode because there's so much great material already out there," Halford says. "But the ideas started to flow forth and we were all so excited and inspired by the music we were covering that it was natural to be motivated and noodle around with ideas that came. You feed off each other's creativity. It was unexpected but it was great. It was a treat to show that as a band, we can also step forward in the spirit of the season and make music that fits with everything else we've done."
Surprisingly, everyone gets it. Released on November 3 via Metal God, reports are coming in loud and proud, if not a little shocked, that Winter Songs is well-done and entertaining. The news, coupled with his own enthusiasm at finally realizing a personal goal, has Halford fit to be tied. He even hints at a potential sophomore holiday affair should the opportunity arise again.
"I had so much fun making this record," he beams. "They're very uplifting songs. We'll see how it goes. The global reception has been strong so far and there were many other tracks/opportunities to cover in this vein that we didn't get to this time. If we've got enough to make full release, maybe we'll go for it."