Already having a reputation for loving all things Christmas, Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford has, for the second time in his career, decided to release a Christmas album. As you can imagine, I have a couple of things to say about this.
Let’s make it clear – I have absolutely no problem with such an icon of the heavy metal scene for 50 years releasing whatever he wants. If the leather clad screech-merchant wants to get together round the piano with members of his family and other friends for a tipsy and festive cheese-metal sing-song, then who I am to say that he shouldn’t. Hearing ‘Hark The Herald Angels Sing’ and ‘Joy To The World’ belted out with a bawdy zest fuelled by the customary bellyful of turkey, port and good cheer is possibly something that only Mr Halford himself could get away with. You’re not going to forgive someone like Zakk Wylde, for instance, in the same way and you’re never going to see the members of Nile break out and croon their way through ‘The First Noel’.
The album is, without any doubt at all, absolute horse shit – or, in line with the thematic juice of the record, donkey shit. Even the baby Jesus, on hearing the opening song, would find himself wondering if there was any point in growing up, performing miracles and having to put up with having his limbs nailed to a plank. The Three Wise Men would have done the wisest thing and fucked off down the pub as soon as Rob swapped his sweaty leathers for swaddling clothes.
Despite this, I have two specific issues.
The first is the album cover. Just look at it. It’s like Grandad on Christmas Day wearing fancy dress and standing in front of Auntie Ethel’s living room curtains. Has anyone in the Northern Hemisphere ever worn sunglasses on Christmas Day? And how on earth would you stuff a turkey with all that finger bling on? Then again, Rob’s probably in the privileged position of having a whole line of people to do the stuffing for him.
The second is the timing. I listened to this album from start to finish looking at a tree laden with green leaves. I mean, Rob, it’s October for fuck’s sake. We haven’t even hit Halloween yet and you’re prancing about in your bobble hat Decking The Halls. People do, as Rob points out, love Christmas but people also ferociously hate anyone who jibbers on about it in October. The album is out on Sony – a fairly sizeable and reputable company yet possessing an apparent void of knowledge when it comes to the Gregorian calendar. I can only assume that either Marks and Spencer are behind this tragic miscalculation of release date and their bosses are still lapping up the dying drips of the Amaretto left from last year, or the Illuminati that sinisterly sit behind the governments of the world have decided that everyone looks a bit sad and it’s time Rob brought out a Christmas record to cheer them all up a bit.
Whatever the reason, the timing is shocking. The record hit our ears on a day when Norwegian black metal force 1349, US death metal savages Coffin Rot and thrash metal speedsters Pissed Regardless brought out their new offerings – and all the while Rob will be sat their with a turkey baster in one hand and a cracker in the other, laughing his head off and contemplating the influence Painkiller will have once had on all of the above.
No, you can’t open your stocking, Rob, because it’s nowhere fucking near Christmas.