Various Artists – Ragnarok Juletide (Spinefarm)Wednesday, 19th November 2014
Tis the season for holiday festivities – so why shouldn’t metal musicians join in merriment? Sure, Halloween has always been considered a heavy holiday – but we love our eggnog, decorations, and celebration of Christmas too! Spawned out of the template set by Trans-Siberian Orchestra, a group of Finnish musicians get together annually to perform as an all-star symphonic Christmas rock project called Raskasta Joulua. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of this get-together, various singers from bands like Sonata Arctica, Nightwish, Amaranthe, and Northern Kings assembled to release this 12 song record of Finnish and international Christmas classics recorded in English.
The songwriting ranges from straight power metal offerings to symphonic and occasional doom leanings. “We Celebrate At Christmastime” features the familiar strains of Tony Kakko, Ari Koivunen (Amoral), and Marco Hietala among others. Subsequently “The First Noel” has a touch of that doom nature, a male and female duet as Elize Ryd showcases her talent and you have cool guitar licks during the instrumental section from Erkka Korhonen and Tuomas Wäinölä, heightening the cinematic scope of holiday music.
Personal favorites include “The Little Drummer Boy” given more of a military march feel and “Christmas Has Come” that allows Vili Ollila keyboards skill set to shine around a bevy of impressive melodies. Understand that is a showcase of the best talent in the Finnish melodic, power, symphonic scene – so for those who want something a touch heavier, Ragnarok Juletide is definitely not the record for you. When I feel the need to bust out a little something beyond the conventional pop and big band renditions for the holidays, this record gives us 12 new tunes to crank up, become a part of the choir, and keep us warm by the fireplace as we walk in the winter wonderland.