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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews


Christmas in Valhalla

Review by Gary Hill

Thor is a rock and roll superhero whose music often lands somewhere in the territory between heavy metal and punk rock. For this new holiday set, it's more firmly in the metal zone. This is an interesting release that works pretty well. It's a bit rough around the edges at times, but that's part of its charm, really. At just over half an hour, it's also rather short.

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Track by Track Review
Donner & Blitzen
This song has a lot of old school rock and roll built into it. The arrangement is more of a raw metal one. It's high energy, fast paced and a good way to start the set.
Gonna Have a Rockin' Christmas
A drum-in leads to another killer metal tune. This has a lot of that old school rock and roll element at play, but perhaps not to the same level as it was on the opener. I'd consider this track to be stronger than that one. It's less raw, too.
It's Christmas Time Again
A balladic intricate guitar texture opens this track. It works out in that vein from there as the vocals join. The arrangement gradually gains more layers of sound, but it still remains a ballad. The melodic metal guitar solo is all class, but this cut feels a bit awkward in some ways.
Slay Rider
Coming in metallic and dramatic, the whole quality level ramps up with this number. I dig the riff that settles in, but this song just works so well overall.
Our Last Christmas

Another balladic cut, the acoustic guitar textures that start this are more dramatic and powerful than those that were part of "It's Christmas Time Again." Synthesizer adds to the arrangement. Again, the quality level here is elevated from that of the first few songs on this disc.

Lend Me Your Ears
This might be my favorite cut here. It's so heavy and just plain mean in texture. It's fierce and really stomps.
Not So Little Drummer Boy
A drum with a child (or an adult sounding like a child) singing the classic holiday song is the start of this. There is some studio noise, and the child shouts. Then pounding drums take over from there. The metal rocking joins as it continues. This segues into the next cut, with this one essentially a little skit or introduction.
If Tomorrow Never Comes
A powered up rocking movement is on display here. The vocals are a little on the awkward side at times, but this is essentially an epic power metal stomper that's quite cool.
Cold Saint Nick
Keyboard textures start this, feeling more like Alan Parsons than heavy metal. The vocals come in over the top in a spoken form. This feels like Nox Arcana to me in terms of the full picture.
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