Christopher Lee: From “The Lord of the Rings” To “Charlemagne; The Omens of Death”

11 Jun 2013 by staff in Reviews
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Christopher Lee, the legendary movie star (The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Dracula, The Man with the Golden Gun), released his Heavy Metal album titled “Charlemagne; The Omens of Death” on his 91st Birthday (27th May 2013). The album is available on Audio CD, a 2 Disc Gatefold Vinyl and Mp3 Downloads.

“Charlemagne; The Omens of Death” is already Christopher Lee’s fourth full length album, and while his previous release, “Charlemagne;  By the Sword and the Cross”, was more symphonic metal, this is outright heavy metal.

The album features the award winning guitarist, Hedras Ramos, and showcases arrangements by Richie Faulkner (Judas Priest), whose mark is clearly evident. The album dishes out classic hard core metal, overflowing with power riffs, melodic hooks and some serious shredding. A quick listen to “The Ultimate Sacrifice” and “Let Legend Mark Me As the King” will clear up any doubts you may have.

Lee, who is supported by a variety of voices on the album, is the lead vocalist and narrator, portraying Charlemagne in first person. The vocal interpretation, both spoken and sung in his apocalyptic baritone, is as always nothing short of epic. “Judgment Day” and “The Siege,” evidences the immensity of the tonal prowess Lee still possesses in his voice at 91 years of age!

“Charlemagne; The Omens of Death” sounds like Heavy Metal before the genre had all of the Rock & Roll stripped from it. It has those classic metal roots, which presents the album refreshingly full of rich textures, as well as being plenty fast and heavy in places. “Charlemagne” is not sludgy and mechanical like a lot of contemporary metal, so the most striking thing about the album, over and above Christopher Lee’s performances, is the bringing back of how dramatic and exciting metal music used to be. Nowadays, even the best bands of these genres seem to be incapable of the sheer intoxicating fervor of this pure classic metal sound.

The album’s momentum does lull at one or two tiny points, where maybe a couple of bars or so, aren’t as thrilling as the surrounding material, but the arrangements quickly get back on track with the roller-coaster guitar runs, and they certainly make up for the brief lapses within this adventurous musical storybook.

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Without being too presumptuous, Christopher Lee and “Charlemagne; The Omens of Death” rules. If you think that this may be mawkish or dated, you haven’t actually taken the time to listen to the work, and you are doing yourself a great disservice. Don’t confuse this with the throwaway nostalgia that is being released by scores of imitators. Powerful, pounding, creative, fiery, and epic – if those are some of the words that describe the music that you are searching for, then look no further than “Charlemagne; The Omens of Death”.

And then there is the legendary Christopher Lee. Word has it that Charlemagne, the most powerful man in Europe during the First Century A.D., is in fact Lee’s ancestor on his mother’s side of the family. But what ultimately will impress the listener most is Lee’s consummate performance amidst the grind and fury of a never relenting metal soundtrack, as he brings Charlemagne’s battles and conquests right into your sound system.

If you like hard rock or metal you owe it to yourself to get this album, it is consistent all the way through, and the musicianship is superb.

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