Review Summary: Christopher Lee enters the world of music by shedding the blood of Saxon men.
Everyone knows who Christopher Lee is. (If you don't then go out and watch Lord of the Rings, he plays Saruman, don't worry I'll wait.) At the grand age of 88, which is older than most band's combined ages when they begin, he comes out with Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross.
Charlemagne was the first Holy Roman Emperor, (My other job is a history student.), who conquered most of France and West Germany, paving the way for the foundations of an empire that would last 1000 years. Christopher Lee is descended from this great leader, and this album is his tribute to the Frankish King.
There in lies the first problem of Charlemagne, the album doesn't know whether it is an album or a biography. Roughly 15 minutes of the album is taken up by intros, which are comprised entirely of spoken word. These help to advance the plot of his life, by musically they are a total waste of space.
The album is set up like an opera, with each act having its own intro and song. This means that the music doesn't flow entirely well and the songs, which are rather good on their own accord, do not flow very well.
There are some brilliant tracks on his album, 'The Bloody Verdict of Verden' peaking out at the top. This song is one of epic proportions, with the deep bass voice of Christopher Lee contrasting starkly with Vincent Ricciardi, who sings in a tenor style. The song has a symphonic background until the guitar kicks in at around 2:20 and its chorus will have you singing 'I shed the blood of the Saxon men' for weeks afterwards.
Christopher Lee does not sing on this album, but he doesn't need to as his voice does all the work for him. The raw untapped bass of his voice holds up well on the album despite his advanced years, there are a few places however where his voice does seem to be a bit shaky, but he does extremely well. If this album had taken place 30/40 years ago then it might have sounded even better.
In conclusion, Charlemagne: By the Omen and the Cross is a mixed bag. The music is good when it turns up and is played well and rather catchy. But do not listen to the rumours as this is not a metal album, but rather a symphony with a harsh guitar thrown it. But this does not take away the fact that one whole quarter of the album is a historical biography with no music what so ever.
The Bloody Verdict of Verden
The Age Of Oneness Out Of Diversity