Forgotten Hard Rock Albums: Halford, "Winter Songs"

Updated on December 6, 2018
FatFreddysCat profile image

I've been collecting rock and metal CDs since the late '80s and I enjoy sharing my thoughts about bands and albums with my fellow rockers.

Source

"Halford III: Winter Songs"

Metal God Entertainment, 2009

10 Tracks, run time: 41:25

When Rob Halford announced the release of his third solo album, Winter Songs, in 2009, the news was met with skepticism from many corners of the heavy metal community. Sure, it was good to hear that the leather-lunged metal legend was re-activating his solo project for the first time since he'd rejoined Judas Priest in 2004, but the bad news, at least for many, was that his new disc would be... a Christmas album.

...wait, what?

I wasn't the only one who thought this idea sounded like a train wreck at first. Prior to the album's street date, metalhead internet forums were lit up like... well, like Christmas trees, with fans asking, “A Christmas album? Seriously? Dude, this is gonna totally suck. Has Rob completely lost his mind?” However, when I finally heard the album for myself, it wasn't the horrific listening experience I'd been dreading. In fact, Winter Songs actually began growing on me with repeated listens, like the fungus on that Christmas fruitcake that’s been passed around my family for several generations now.

"Get Into The Spirit"

The Songs

Longtime Halford fans may recall that Winter Songs was not Rob’s first foray into holiday music. Back in 1993, he recorded a fan-club exclusive single called “Christmas Ride” with his then-current band Fight. Apparently Rob is simply an old softie who really digs the Christmas season, and he enjoys sharing that holiday cheer with the headbanging world. Is there anything really wrong with that?

Rob and his solo band tackle a number of traditional Christmas hymns on Winter Songs, and also offer several new original songs with a winter/holiday theme. Of the originals, the most "metal" sounding cut is the opener "Get Into The Spirit," a slick, fast paced number that sounds like it could've come off of Halford's previous solo disc, 2002's Crucible. "Light Of The World" is a mid paced piano-laden ballad with a nice orchestral feel. However, the fair-to-middling "I Don't Care" and the schmaltzy "Christmas For Everyone" are jingle bell-ringing Cheddar of the highest order; I guess Rob was attempting to cop the vibe of those old Phil Spector style "rock-n-roll Christmas" singles, but both songs turned out be be lumps of coal.

"Winter Song"

Thankfully, the rest of the disc makes up for those sub-par songs. The title track "Winter Song" is the highlight of the album's first half, with Rob giving a powerful yet restrained, almost plaintive performance on this sparse piano ballad (originally performed by singer/songwriters Sarah Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson) about missing a lost love during the Winter season.

The remainder of Winter Song's tracks are new Halford-ized arrangements of some well known Christmas perennials like "O Holy Night," "What Child Is This?" and "We Three Kings," electrified slightly and performed in Rob's distinctive style. I have to give the man credit, rather than tarting them up in tons of studio polish (like Trans-Siberian Orchestra does) or playing up the "Heavy Metal Christmas" camp value (like Twisted Sister did) Rob simply gives these traditional Christmas hymns the respect they deserve and sings them the way they should be sung. Period. Yeah, so there are some electric guitar solos added here and there that the original composers probably wouldn't have approved of, but this IS the Metal God we're talking about, after all. I especially liked his version of "Oh Come O Come Emmanuel," which was my late father's favorite Christmas song. Every time I listen to it, I can't help but wonder what his reaction to this metal-ized rendition would have been. (Wild guess: he probably would've hated it. Haha!) Rob's absolutely show-stopping take on "Come All Ye Faithful," which closes the disc, is worth the album price all by itself and has become my "go-to" version of the song in subsequent years.

"Winter Songs" on Amazon

Summing It Up

Obviously Winter Songs is a "seasonal" listen that has little to no replay value before December 1st or after the 25th. I honestly expected it to be a "one-and-done" listen or a "filler" release in my CD collection when it first came out in 2009, but it has had surprising staying power even all these years later. I still return to it for several listens every holiday season. I won't lie, I still prefer Halford's usual screaming, balls-to-the-wall style of heavy metal fury, but the relaxed, quieter vibe of Winter Songs shows a different side of the man and the album has a unique charm all its own. Give it a listen on a cold winter's morn and it may cast a similar spell on you. Merry Christmas, Mr. Halford.

© 2018 Keith Abt

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, spinditty.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://spinditty.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)