Monday, December 2, 2013

A Hero For The World - Winter Is Coming (A Holiday Rock Opera) (2013)

Few bands this year have been as productive as the power metal band A Hero For The World. First they released their self-titled debut album in march this year, then they released the EP "On Fire" (that contained too much music for its own good). And despite an earthquake and the typhoon Haiyan attacking their recording location in the Philippines, they still managed to record a winter album just before the holidays.

"Winter Is Coming" is a two act opera containing both new material and some classic winter tunes in a new musical style. Frankly, I was not very excited with this release since I have heard thousands of metalized Christmas songs. Everything from Twisted Sister's holiday album to a black metal version of "Silent Night". But only so few of these versions are any good (my personal favourite is Ronnie James Dio and Tony Iommi's version of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"). The only thing that kept my hope up was that I have not actually heard a power metal band do any Christmas music, so it would be interesting to see how that would sound like.

The first act starts with a 8 minute long song called "Gloria In Excelsis Deo" that is a medley with "Hark The Herald Angels Sing", "O Holy Night" and more. It is a nice medley indeed and it is one of my favourite tracks of the album with its diversity and stable power metal foundation, but I was just wondering why the songs in the medley also appears in the end of the second act? I could see the point with it if they put those songs in a deluxe CD or so, but it is otherwise so unnecessary.

Besides from the medley, most of the songs here are just slow songs that is supposed to get you in the mood for Christmas. While some are quite enjoyable, most of these slower songs are pure sleeping pills. It is instead when the tempo is higher where the power metal influence is used at its best. Some proofs of this are "Good King Wenceslas" and the original song "Winter Is Coming". Some sweet power metal with winter coating.

Sadly, the down sides with this albums are more obvious than the up sides. Besides the sleeping pills, I think that there are too many songs on this album. There are 20 tracks in this album, but I think 15 would have been enough for comfort. Then there is the singer Jacob Kaasgaard, whose voice I still have a problem with. He definitely tries to adapt himself , but his voice is still too weak to nail those high notes. He is a nice keyboard player and there are weaker vocalists out there, but I feel that he should let the singing over to someone who has the capability to front a power metal band.

This is certainly one of the better Christmas albums I have heard for some time, but it is still a Christmas album, which means that it is almost impossible to get it completely right. The original songs in this albums are pretty good and some covers holds up nicely, but just like with all other Christmas music, I will probably be tired of this record around St. Lucy's day (13th December). Nice try guys, but put more of that effort in making a normal album instead of something we only will listen to one month a year (at max).

Songs worthy of recognition: Winter Is Coming, Gloria In Excelsis Deo, Good King Wenceslas

Rating: 5/10 Dark Skies

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