If you missed the 2010 release of Charlemagne: The Sword and the Cross, a symphonic metal concept album featuring Sir Christopher Lee as lead vocalist in the title role (check out our review of that epic here), you may be surprised to learn that the opera-trained genre legend is no stranger to the world of heavy metal. Lee has lent his operatic vocals to many other albums, including several by the band Rhapsody of Fire, and even released a heavy metal Christmas album! The sequel, which arrives today on Lee's 91st birthday, is being described as his most horns-worthy musical project of all.
Charlemagne: The Omens of Death continues the historical saga chronicling the first ruler of the Holy Roman Empire (Lee's distant ancestor), and includes tracks like “Massacre of the Saxons,” “The Devil’s Advocate” and “The Ultimate Sacrifice.” While the first album was more European-style symphonic rock, Sir Lee says the follow-up is “one hundred per cent heavy metal... I’m not screaming or anything like that, but it is definitely heavy metal.” Just when you thought this man could't possibly be any more awesome.
The new album features award-winning guitarist Hedras Ramos, and was arranged by Judas Priest lead guitarist Richie Faulkner, so it definitely comes with a high metal pedigree. “Some of the tracks didn’t have any music at all and were just Sir Christopher singing his melodies,” Faulkner said. “Most of the songs were already there, but they needed riffs, drum parts and musical parts that reflected what the guys wanted.”
Stay tuned for our feature review of Charlemagne: The Omens of Death this week... but in the meantime, give this preview medley a spin: