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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!

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Comments

  1. You're sadly mistaking , Rob high notes screams are NOT falsetto , its full out .

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