It is barely pumpkin latte season, but Jolly Saint Rob Halford is already revved up about Christmas. On “Donner and Blitzen,” the Judas Priest frontman sings about Rudolph’s reindeer friends raising people’s spirits, bringing good fortune, and, of course, tearing through the sky. In a video for the song, Halford leans into the mic and screams for vengeance while his bandmates play the tune’s lumbering riffs, as Christmas lights glitter around them. The tune will appear on his upcoming holiday solo album, Celestial, due out October 18th.
“‘Donner and Blitzen’ gets the snowball rolling for Celestial — a song full of excitement, love and hope,” Halford said in a statement. “You can hear and feel the power of Christmas time — energy roarin’ with rockin’ reindeers haulin’.”
Halford has a long history of making heavy-metal holiday music, dating back to Fight, the group he formed during his Nineties hiatus from Judas Priest. The band recorded “Christmas Ride” and, in 2009, he made a full album of Christmas music under the Halford banner called Halford III: Winter Songs. The new album, Celestial, is credited to Rob Halford With Family and Friends, and it features his brother Nigel on drums, Priest bassist Ian Hill’s nephew Alex on bass, and Halford’s sister Sue on bells. Robert Jones and Jon Blakey play guitar.
In addition to originals like “Donner and Blitzen,” the record also features Halford’s metallicized versions of carols like “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “Joy to the World,” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” among others. The album will be available on CD and vinyl, and Halford has made prayer candles and an “ugly Christmas sweater” to sell with it as well.
“The great thing about heavy metal is it’s got these kinds of multiple dimensions,” Halford said. “I think when you look at it from an outside point of view — if you’re not really familiar with the metal scene — it can look pretty intimidating. And it is a very strong, powerful experience. But it comes at different levels. I think the music that we’ve made on Celestial, for example, gives a display of that. Metal maniacs, as we call ourselves, are just as ready for the holidays as everybody else. And what we’ve tried to do with this music is to reach out to as many of those metal dimensions as we possibly can.”
The day after the album comes out, October 19th, Halford will make an in-store appearance at a Tempe, Arizona FYE location at 2 p.m. to sign copies of the album. Soon after the album’s release, Halford will be getting back on the road with Judas Priest next year for a run of U.K. and European tour dates in support of their recent Firepower album.
Celestial Track List:
2. “Donner and Blitzen”
3. “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”
4. “Away In A Manger”
5. “Morning Star”
6. “Deck The Halls”
7. “Joy To The World”
8. “O Little Town Of Bethlehem”
9. “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”
10. “The First Noel”
11. “Good King Wenceslas”
12. “Protected By The Light”