Unless you've been living under a rock in Norway
somewhere, you probably know about Christopher Lee. After living a long life and starring in many big roles throughout the ages, the great actor is now gracing the scene of heavy metal with his basso vocals and kingly presence.
But is the great Christopher Lee capable of making this album work?
Let us begin by saying flat out that it is a symphonic metal album. However, what we see here is not a mess of orchestra drowning out the metal or even something as cohesive as Stand Up And Fight
. What we have here is an album that is more symphony than metal.
For those who like concept albums, the "intro" tracks in between each real metal track will be insightful and might actually spark your interest in the tale of the great Charlemagne
. Narrated by his wife, Christina Lee, the album's story is of the Dark Ages
, and of the rise of a king destined to become the greatest king of Frankish history. For many who choose to listen to this album, this will be your first chance at history lessons outside of folk metal.
However, the intro tracks may also seem to drag the album out and be very intrusive for those looking for straight, wall-to-wall metal. Even furthermore, the over-dominance of the symphony means that there is very little metal to be heard. Unfortunately, what metal there is is cliche, sound-alike power metal from guest-vocalists who perform some of the singing on this album.
But let us be fair. The star of this metal opera, the big-screen titan Christopher Lee himself, delivers a stellar, hair-raising performance. Maybe it is his kingly heir, due to being related distantly to the real King
Charles the Great, that makes his appearances on the album the high point. Furthermore, unlike other metal singers, Sir Christopher Lee is not only 88 years of age, but a bass vocalist at that! (take that, Bruce Dickinson
But for all that it is cracked up to be, this album fails to deliver in re-playability. Christopher Lee's performances may be chilling, but they are few and far between. Perhaps as a novelty item, something to keep on the shelf and only take out at special occasions. But the mere statement of that shows that it fails as a metal album: metal is an up-front and explosive kind of music. Aside from the fine orchestrations and Christopher Lee's singing, the guest musicians are more or less hiding behind Christopher Lee's performance, hoping that his air and relation to Charlemagne
will cover up an unsatisfactory performance on their part. For all that Sir Christopher Lee adds to this album, in regards to the metal aspect of this album, it is easily forgettable.