Rob Halford might be best known for his scorching vocal performances and leather daddy sartorial choices as frontman for the iconic Judas Priest, but real fans know he's also a gentle soul whose tough exterior belies a kind and gentle man. To further underscore this point, the Metal God is set to release Celestial, a new album of holiday music fit for the whole family's enjoyment. Today you can hear the first song from that collection, a jaunty yet heavy original titled "Donner and Blitzen."
The galloping cut evokes the singer's work with Priest with it's NWOBHM licks and chugging rhythm guitars, but the lyrical story arc focuses, of course, on Santa's famous reindeers as they "tear through the sky ... raining good fortune." An accompanying performance video shows Halford in his biker-gear best, wailing away with his backing band behind him as Christmas-colored psychedelic effects wash over the screen.
If the rough and tumble stereotypes about metal and metalheads seem to starkly contrast the song's spirit of warm, nostalgic celebration, that's precisely what Halford wants. Further driving home that sense is his choice to record as "Rob Halford With Family and Friends," a moniker fitting the band that contains his brother Nigel on drums, his nephew Alex on bass (son of Priest bassist Ian Hill), his sister Sue on bells, and friends Robert Jones and Jon Blakey on twin guitars.
"The great thing about heavy metal is it's got these kinds of multiple dimensions," Halford explained in a of the coming release. "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."
Celestial is due to hit stores on October 18th via Legacy Recordings, with Halford scheduled to visit the FYE Arizona Mills for an in-store appearance the following day at 2 p.m. Find out more information on his official Facebook page here, and download "Donner and Blitzen" here.
Celestial track listing:
2. Donner and Blitzen
3. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
4. Away In A Manger
5. Morning Star [new song]
6. Deck The Halls
1. Joy To The World
2. O Little Town Of Bethlehem
3. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
4. The First Noel
5. Good King Wenceslas
6. Protected By The Light