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A Hero for The World
Winter Is Coming (A Holiday Rock Opera)
December 2013
Released: 2013, Indie
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: JP

‘tis the season…to crank Metal! Every year around this time we review the latest Metal Christmas albums. Over the years we have reviewed about 15 or so and this year we have a couple more for your holiday listening pleasure. They are on opposite ends of the musical spectrum; HELLISH RENDITIONS OF CHRISTMAS CLASSICS (by Death Metal Christmas) and WINTER IS COMING: A HOLIDAY ROCK OPERA (by A Hero for The World). Feel free to check our reviews for both.

This is one of the more bizarre Metal/Christmas hybrid projects I have heard. Hot on the heels of the debut album from earlier in 2013, A HERO FOR THE WORLD are back with a second album; a holiday rock opera. The band is a young Filipino Power Metal act whose self-titled debut album was quite well received in the Power Metal world. The band already has enough majestic pomp in their original songs that this is a natural fit. One may not automatically think that an Asian Power Metal band (with two guys from Sweden in the band) from a tropical country would do a holiday Rock Opera based largely on tunes of Northern European Christian origin, but knowledgeable people will know that 90% of the people in the nation of 98 million people are Christian, so it is not that foreign.

WINTER IS COMING (subtitled, A HOLIDAY ROCK OPERA) is a monster project with 20 songs running over 81 minutes. The music is a conventional Melodic Metal version of Christmas and seasonal tunes, very similar in style, tone and tempo to Trans-Siberian Orchestra and the Northern Lights Orchestra Christmas albums. Everything good about these types of projects is represented hear in a brilliant blend of power and glory, soaring multi-layered choral vocals, vocals, crunchy guitars, double-kick drums to add the fury to the fire and all of that juxtaposed with long, tender acoustic and piano based instrumentals. ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ just rips, you gotta hear the mighty screams of Jacob Kaasgard at the end of the tune. Likewise, the ripping guitar solo version of ‘Auld Lange Syne’ is magnificent. It starts with a single unaccompanied guitar solo and then about halfway in, rips into a killer Power Metal version with all Christmas guns blazing loaded with double kick mania.

There are a few original songs scattered across the album including the punchy title track. There are lots of piano and keyboard parts and many orchestrated and symphonic parts. The band refer to their music as ‘Heroic Rock’, which describes the sound perfectly; the world needs a more heros! The sweet female vocals are provided by Filipino native Loiuebeth Aratan and she does an especially fine job on ‘Winter Skies’ (Greensleeves)’.

WINTER IS COMING is a very welcome addition to the growing sub-genre. This up-beat and extraordinarily well-produced and well executed album should be high on your list of Christmas Metal albums to own.
Track Listing

1. Gloria in Excelsis Deo (Medley)
2. Act I: Snowfall on Mount Nyenchen Tanglha
3. In the Bleak Midwinter
4. Good King Wenceslas
5. Heart of Ice
6. We Three Kings of Orient Are
7. Winter Is Coming
8. One Voice Can Start an Avalanche
9. Act II: A Miracle on a Silent Night
10. Winter Stars (Greensleeves)
11. Dark Skies
12. I Saw Three Ships / This Endris Night
13. Peace on Earth (It Came upon the Midnight Clear / The First Noel)
14. Angels We Have Heard on High / Hark the Herald Angels Sing
15. Deck the Halls
16. Marche Militaire
17. O Holy Night
18. Auld Lang Syne
19. Joy to the World / After the Bleak Midwinter
20. O Come All Ye Faithful


Jacob Kaasgaard Vocals, Keyboards
Louiebeth Aratan-Vocals
David Sivelind Guitars, Bass
Andy Gentile Drums

Next review: » A Life Once Lost - Ecstatic Trance
Previous review: » A Hero For The World - West To East Pt. 1 - Frontier Vigilante

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