From the brutal to the sludgy to the experimental to the symphonic, we raise our horns in welcome and warning to the coming week: we are here to ROCK.

Step aside, Rudolph. You’ve had a good run in the spotlight (as the spotlight?), but this is a team effort, and it’s time for a dynamic duo to rock the yule season. Enter the metal gods of good cheer: Donner and Blitzen.

With Celestial, Rob Halford (with family and friends) submits a blistering Christmas fire of a song for entry into the canon of original Christmas classics. Rock and roll hasn’t had many of those since the 60’s, and the charm of hard rock seasonal albums tends to consist in draping old classics in hard rock tropes. But “Donner and Blitzen” delivers the goods—it sounds like it could be a proper Judas Priest song, complete with galloping riffage, soaring vocals fit to split souls, and delightfully unearned gravitas for an ode to B-list fictional arctic mammals. Halford even manages to place these reindeer at the birth of Christ, making Santa’s yearly journey a sort of holy pilgrimage of Christian remembrance. Light the tree and throw up the horns.

By Craig E. Bacon

Husband, Father, Philosopher, Music/Beer/Comics Enthusiast—Craig has written for The Prog Report and ProgRadar, and now serves as de facto progressive music editor for MusicTAP. Please direct interview requests & review submissions to [email protected]