Skip to main content

My Two Cents: "Donner and Blitzen" (Rob Halford and Family)

Judas Priest front man and metal godfather Rob Halford has decided to do a Christmas-themes metal album, Celestial. The single "Donner and Blitzen" can be found, Spotify. It's also available on YouTube.


My two cents: What a treat! The dotted rhythm reminds me a bit of "Redeemer of Souls" and "Lightning Strikes," and the chorus is rhythmically similar to "Judas Rising." The title refers to Donner and Blitzen, Santa's foremost reindeer. The song uses short-but-hefty words like "power," "icon," and "glory" to regale the listener as D&B tear through the sky (much like their namesakes, thunder and lightning). It's a Christmas chant, but one imbued with divine might.

Consider these lyrics (transcribed by ear so there might be mistakes):

For one holy night, their incredible flight 
Arriving on earth, the immaculate power! 
Donner and Blitzen, tear through the sky! 
Raining good fortune, love from on high! 

Lots of dactyls (a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable). The typical Judas Priest scene—of a mighty invader raining down on us earth-dwellers ("Dreamer Deceiver," "Invader," "Starbreaker," "Painkiller," etc)—is well intact. The only difference is the payload. Moreover, if you listen creatively certain words have the potential to sound malign ("one holy" : "unholy" / "raining love" "raining blood").

Halford's vocal style adds to this effect. He brings more of a baritone yaulp than his trademark falsetto, but sounds fine regardless. He belts out verses of numinous power, singing about love and glory as delivered by the stellar vanguards of an annual divinity. The occasion is noted for its momentous qualities: This time of year, when the moment is right—when the daylight fades during a blessed eve, the icons appear... The song sings about faith in an Almighty force that delivers the goods.

These fellows aren't Judas Priest, but kick just as much ass.

The music around Halford is where the high points are really scored. Composition-wise, this is a single of sorts, and written like one. There's hooks galore: An enchanted bells tolls; stacked double-stops splinter into a memorable staccato refrain; and the twin-guitar solo is backed by a much-welcome ride cymbal. There even seems to be some cowbell in there! The production is tight and impactful (take notes, Metallica, Maiden). The snare is nice and punchy.

However, the guitars are the selling point, roaring like chainsaws during those glorious whole notes. It's great, allowing the listener to revel in their power as Rob tip-toes on high; then, the guitars break into smaller, equally muscular palm muting (to mirror Rob and the chorus). It makes for a fabulous one-two punch the listener can savor despite the brevity of the song.

The bass is a tad quiet; all the same, it is audible, and matches the serviceable drumming note for note. There's a steady snare/hi-hat beat, accented by toms, crashes and china. The expostulation-and-reply of the twin leads is a Priest staple. It's hardly compares to that band's best, but is nowhere near their worst, either. All in all, a gutsy Christmas song that makes me excited for the holidays way ahead of time!

***

Like my blog? Follow me on Twitter or support me on Patreon and Ko-fi!

Become a Patron

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

My Two Cents: An Interview with Ahdy Khairat

Hello, everyone! My name is Nicholas van der Waard. I have my MA in English Studies: the Gothic, and run a blog centered on Gothic horror, Nick's Movie Insights. However, if you follow Ahdy Khairat's channel on YouTube, you probably know me as "the two cents guy." With this post, I wanted to interview Ahdy himself and talk to him about his work. But first, a bit of history...


Preface
March 25th, 2018. It was a dark Manchester night. I was wearing a Cthul-aid t-shirt and standing in the kitchen of my student-provided flat. Holding my phone in my hand, I was making myself some dinner (rice, eggs and soy sauce—a student diet if ever there was) after a seminar earlier in the evening. I had on my headphones and was listening to some nightly music—some subscribed content on YouTube when Ahdy Khairat's latest remaster, "Call of Ktulu," popped up.

This caught my eye; I had several of Ahdy's remasters on my iPod, and enjoyed his work. However, I also knew he …

Dragon Ball Super: Broly (2019) - Is it Gothic?

Can Dragon Ball be Gothic? As a scholar of the Gothic, that's exactly what I wondered when I sat down to watch Dragon Ball Super: Broly (2019). In the movie, the death god Beerus literally takes a vacation. The Gothic mostly does, too, but let's take a closer look...


The movie more or less starts with King Vegeta looking upon his infant son, Prince Vegeta. Incubating inside the royal saiyan maternity ward, the boy is small; his power levels are not. The king looks smug. "I look forward to watching you grow into a vicious king!" he boasts. King Vegeta and those under him work for King Cold, an even bigger tyrant. At the movie's start, Cold retires, putting his son in charge. Ever the enfant terrible, Freiza belittles the saiyans for their poor technology. After killing a handful for seemingly no reason, he introduces the now-infamous scanners for the survivors to use. With more explanation than the original show ever bothered to provide, DBS: Broly throws the sava…

Mandy (2018): Review

Panos Cosmatos' Mandy (2018) borrows from many films. It opens with a scrolling forest, but the camera soon nods upward, at a colorful planetscape. This reverses the opening shot in Star Wars (1977), when the camera falls from the sky to rest on Tatooine and her moons. Murky and rich, the music sets the tone. It's a tale of good versus evil, of a pastoral scene broken by violence and repaid in kind.


Mandy is a fantasy tale of revenge that forces Cage into a largely mute role. The actor's somewhat constrained delivery assists the narrative versus hijacking it; the story is at once a fairy tale and a Western, with horror themes: an old gunslinger working a menial job must return to a life of violence after his wife is killed. To do so, he must also return to drinking and meeting with old, bellicose friends. His bloody quest is two-fold, the villain tucked away in a tower, guarded by parallel agents who swear fealty to no one and delight in mayhem. They cannot be killed; Cage …