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From Judas Priest to Christmas carols

Unmistakable with his scorching voice, leather outfits and manytattoos, Rob Halford is known best as the front man for loud musicveterans Judas Priest.

Unmistakable with his scorching voice, leather outfits and many tattoos, Rob Halford is known best as the front man for loud music veterans Judas Priest.

Get ready for a shock though. You’re about to see this heavy metal hero in a very different light: Christmas caroller.

Yes, the Metal God — a long-standing nickname bestowed upon Halford for his iconic vocal styling and indelible impact on the world of hard and heavy music over the past 30-plus years — has just released a tertiary full-length with his eponymous backing band and it's a holiday album.

Consider it his festive gift to headbangers the world ‘round.

“I love Christmas time,” admits the 58-year-old with a soft-tone that belies his reverence as one of metal’s most brazen/dynamic voices.

“I think most of us do. It’s a special time. We enjoy being with family and friends, exchanging gifts, drinking and eating food. It’s a beautiful time that we have together.”

Dubbed Winter Songs (Metal God Records), the 10-track affair is a commingling of holiday standards such as We Three Kings and Come All Ye Faithful with original compositions (Get Into The Spirit, Christmas Is For Everyone) delivered as one would expect: via blazing guitars, pounding, hyperactive drums and mind-melting solos.

And while it may seem to come from out of the blue, Winter Songs is an idea Halford has been toying with for years.

“I’m very happy to have been able to fulfill something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember. It’s always been in the back of my mind: wouldn’t it be great if we had a bit more music to listen to and music in the style I’m associated with. Yet I waited (to do it) for multiple reasons. Is this a daring thing to do? Is it the right thing to do? How is it gonna sound? What’s the journey gonna be like to make this happen? I think a lot of things through in many ways and considered all of the possibilities but when I come to a conclusion, I can be very stubborn. I’ll do it, devil be damned.”

Yes, Winter Songs would surprise even Beelzebub himself but it’s no slouch. Since its Nov. 3 release date, initial shock has worn off and it is being duly heaped with accolades for sincerity, depth and unyielding metal, subject matter notwithstanding. It rocks relentlessly; is a fun but tough dose of metallic cheer.

“That’s a great way to describe it,” the obstinate Brit commends before alluding to a possible sequel. “It’s a concise way to describe what I was hoping to achieve with this.

The initial response has been encouraging. (Fans have) said, ‘Thank God we’ve got something for this time of year to listen to in our own style ... that we enjoy.’ I had so much fun making this record, I could even go for another batch.”

 
 
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