Released: 2014, Spinefarm Records
I’m a Metal fan through and through year round 24-7. That passion for the music doesn’t stop at Christmas either. I have quite the collection of Metal themed Christmas albums and each year around December I pull out my box of 20 or Metal themed Christmas albums and it is about all I listen to for a month. This year I added one more album to my treasure box RAGNAROK JULETIDE by Raskasta Juolua.
Raskasta Juolua is a Finnish Christmas themed touring/production company, much in the style of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Raskasta Juolua means ‘Heavy Christmas’. RAGNAROK JULETIDE is their fourth or fifth album (depending how you count) and is essentially the English language version of the same album that came out in 2013. It is a nice looking CD with a big booklet and liner notes for each song, which adds some nice background to the songs. If you are not familiar, Raskasta Juolua is basically the Christmas side-project of the Northern Kings. At least six members have crossed over and are in both bands. If you are not familiar with the Northern Kings…well, that is the all covers tunes project from Finland featuring the vocalists of Charon, Terasbetoni, Nightwish, Sonata Arctica and more.
The immaculately produced CD is a nice blend of original songs and metalized reinterpretations of Christmas classics. The originals are as good (or even better) than the reworked versions, because let’s face it, the concept is not new and we have heard crunchy guitar based versions of Metal songs for over 20 years. Like I said, I have 20 albums like this in my collection. Highlights include ‘Christmas Has Come’ with all the vocalists participating and ‘Christmas is Here’ featuring a duet with Elize of Amaranthe and Tony of Sonata Arctica. There are also some remakes of traditional Finnish Christmas tunes, which while technically remakes, I have never heard so they are like new songs to me and they are beautiful, including the lead-off song, ‘We Celebrate At Christmastime’.
There is a hell of a lot of Metal star-firepower on this album. Since it is the time of year where everyone makes lists, let’s list who is on the album (in alphabetical order)
Antony Parviainen (Machine Men)
Antti Railo (Celesty, Cain’s Offering)
Ari Koivunen (Amoral)
Elize Ryd (Amaranthe)
Errka Korhonen (Northern Kings)
Erkki Silvennoinen (Omnium Gatherum)
Jarkka Ahola (Dreamtale, Terasbetoni, Northern Kings)
JP Leppaluoto (Charon, Poisonblack, Northern Kings)
Kimmo Blom (Dyecrest)
Marco Hietala (Nightwish, Tarot, Sinergy, Northern Kings)
Mirka Rantanen (Kotipelto, Warmen, Hevisaurus)
Pasi Rantanen (Thunderstone)
Tommi Salmela (Tarot)
Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica, Northern Kings)
Tuomas Wainala (Kotipelto)
Ville Tuomi (Amorphis, Kyyria, Waltari)
Villi Ollila (Northern Kings, Tunnelvision, Thaurorod)
A rating of four out of five (every Metal fan should own this) might be a bit high, but what else are you going to listen to for a month? It might as well be Christmas Metal! RAGNAROK JULETIDE has quickly vaulted its way into my top five Metal Christmas albums.