Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Hump Day Hot Ticket: Orion's Reign “Jingle Bells”

Orion's Reign gets into the holiday spirit!

As a metalhead, it's probably isn't considered “cool” for me to admit I wear any other color than black, celebrate any other holiday than Halloween, or listen to “festive” music...but I admit that I love Christmastime. I love the bright lights, the home-cooked goodies, the overall spirit of the holiday season...and I absolutely love Christmas music. I love decorating my house with all the sentimental treasures I have accumulated over the years, as I listen to my personal collection of seasonal tunes, which has also amassed over time.

That being said, it probably comes as no surprise that I especially love when the worlds of metal and holiday music join together at this time of year. The end results can sometimes be impressive—such as the music of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, undoubtedly the most commercially successful example of metal holiday music. Or the combination could lead to disaster, such as the countless forgettable Christmas tunes that metal bands occasionally cash in on to make a quick buck. More often than not, I find these efforts create a happy medium, where it will not necessarily prompt these bands to change genre, but the music stands up well enough to provide a winter-time soundtrack for their fans as they return to these songs year after year as part of their own holiday tradition.

However, one band who is taking a cue from the template set by Trans-Siberian Orchestra is Orion's Reign, from Greece. Like TSO, the majority of their music is seasonal, with a bombastic power metal sound which works surprisingly well for both merry ditties as well as solemn hymns. Orion's Reign also dabbles in the occasional cover song from time to time; but unlike TSO—who have crafted original holiday material—they stick to those tried-and-true Christmas favorites that we all know and love, and put a little extra metal for just the right amount of spice.

But just because a band chooses to go with the classics instead of creating more Christmas songs for us to learn, does not mean that the music has to sound predictable and boring. In fact, what I love about Orion's Reign is their ability to have fun with these songs we have heard a million times over, and make them sound interesting. Take a song like “Jingle Bells” (the video featured here)—we have heard that song done so many times that there can't possibly be a way to make it new again—but Orion's Reign enlists the help of Norwegian vocalist Minniva Børresen, and creates this lush, symphonic earworm that gets your toes tapping before you realize what has happened!

The video itself is also cheery and light-hearted: the band rocks out in the middle of a wooded area, while Minniva and male vocalist Dan Vasc trade off operatic vocals in a jubilant sing-off for the ages. There is even time for a mad guitar solo. If that doesn't put you in a joyful mood, then you're probably gonna get a visit from a few ghosts on Christmas Eve. Just sayin'.

For more information on Orion's Reign, or to hear more of their Christmas music, visit the band's official website.

Special thanks to Noel Kardaris.

Season's greetings!

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