Album Review : Charlemagne, By The Sword And The Cross - Christopher Lee 5*
I really, really wanted this album to be good, the concept of it sounded awesome, Sir Christopher Lee, a couple of metal bands, an orchestra and a choir and a concept album about battles and violence, it sounds like it should be great.
Sadly though, despite some good music and the voice of Saruman, the album takes itself rather too seriously and as such becomes just a little bit po-faced, camp and hammy. Christopher Lee's daughter Christina narrates the album in a strangely inflected style, her vocal emphasis comes at odd points in sentences which distracts from the story being told.
Lee himself has a great voice, especially considering that the man is just a few weeks from his 88th birthday, but, it is a really great speaking voice and doesn't hold up quite so well when he sings.
Charlemagne has been promoted in the press as a symphonic metal concept album, and it isn't that either, it is much more of a rock opera, don't buy this expecting heavy guitars and rock songs because their is a minimal amount of rocking going on. The album falls between two camps, it isn't an opera, and it isn't a rock album, and as such it isn't likely to make lovers of either style overly happy.
The main songs, or acts, are all largely similar, semi spoken word pieces telling the story of Charlemagne's life and epic battles, but even on the best of them, The Bloody Verdict Of Verden is the best of the main acts, the song style has just a hint of cheesiness about them, just enough so that you won't take it entirely seriously.
This is a valiant effort, and one or two tracks, the more metal Finale for one, work well. A lot of the rest though is somewhere between a musical, an opera and a film score and doesn't fill any of the roles entirely convincingly.