Metal Hammer (UK)

ROB halford gets into the Christmas spirit, with a little help from his friends.

Celestial LEGACY


The Metal God gets into the festive mood

If your first reaction on seeing this was, “Gah! Another metal Christmas album? Bah humbug!” then move along; there’s nothing here for you. But yes, this is another metal Christmas album, released by the Metal God himself with the help of his family (brother Nigel on drums, nephew Alex on bass, sister Sue on bells), and friends Robert Jones and Jon Blakey on guitar. A formula has emerged for this sort of endeavour, where bands transform traditiona­l holiday carols into rousing, guitar-powered bangers, usually with mixed results. Halford states, “I wanted [Celestial] to… be a little bit more different than the regular rock’n’roll Christmas album.” In that sense, it succeeds; while some tracks do feel formulaic, others reveal a gratifying sense of ambition and downright cheeriness.

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and Deck The Halls take on a new, lighter-raising vitality, with sledgehamm­er riffs and driving, 4/4 tempos. More inventive moments emerge in the bluesy slide guitar and haunted vocals of Away In A Manger, which feels more like a death row requiem than a Christmas carol.

O Little Town Of Bethlehem and Good King Wenceslas take on proggy acoustic textures and captivatin­g melodic progressio­ns.

Most interestin­g are the originals. Morning Star

serves up a sugary slice of holiday pop, with a traditiona­l vocal and country-tinged verses. Closer Protected By The Light is a sweetly affecting and unapologet­ically sentimenta­l ode, complete with organs, bells and whistles.

Is Celestial a gimmick? Absolutely, but that doesn’t detract from its charms, fitting the joyful optimism of the originals into a polished modern metal framework. Celestial will delight metalheads while not scaring off the kids as they open their presents on Christmas morning. Ho ho ho!


FOR FANS OF: Trans Siberian Orchestra, Dio, Santa Claus


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rob halford: both metal God and holy Knight
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