Actor Christopher Lee plans to celebrate his 91st birthday in unusual fashion: by releasing a new heavy metal album based on the life of the French ruler Charlemagne. Recorded with Judas Priest guitarist Richie Faulkner, Charlemagne: The Omens of Death is the follow-up to Lee's 2010 release Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross.
"The first Charlemagne album is metal, of course, but what I sang was more symphonic," Lee, who is best known for his role as Saruman in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, told The Guardian. "Now on the second one, The Omens of Death, it is 100 percent heavy metal. I've done my bits and pieces, and they are heavy metal. I'm not screaming or anything like that, but it is definitely heavy metal."
Lee worked with Faulkner before the guitarist left to replace K.K. Downing in Judas Priest. "Most of the songs were already there, but they needed riffs, drum parts and musical parts that reflected what the guys wanted – which was a metal record with an aim to be played live by a band," said Faulkner, who was replaced by Hedras Ramos. "Some of the tracks didn't have any music at all and were just Sir Christopher singing his melodies. I remember how surreal it was sitting in my place at the time with Saruman blasting out over the speakers! I've no idea what the neighbours thought."
The album is due out in the U.K. on Monday, which is Lee's 91st birthday. Charlemagne ruled France and Italy and served as Holy Roman Emperor in the eighth century.