Film icon Christopher Lee is celebrating his 91st birthday today the way any dignified gent with a rich life of creative endeavor might: by releasing a heavy metal album. It's not Lee's first metal album, of course. In 2010 he released Charlemagne: By The Sword and the Cross.
But that one was more of a symphonic metal album, whereas the new one, Charlemagne: The Omens Of Death, is pure metal. "The first Charlemagne album is metal, of course, but what I sang was more symphonic," Lee told The Guardian "Now on the second one, The Omens of Death, it is 100 percent heavy metal. I've done my bits and pieces, and they are heavy metal. I'm not screaming or anything like that, but it is definitely heavy metal."
Judas Priest guitarist (and Gibson devotee) Richie Faulkner was called in to add some metal to the arrangements. As he told Gibson.com last year, "Most of the songs were already there but they needed riffs, drum parts and musical parts that reflected what the guys wanted — which was a metal record with an aim to be played live by a band. The team and Sir Christopher were great and they gave me a free creative reign really for any ideas I felt the songs needed. Some of the tracks didn't have any music at all and were just Sir Christopher singing his melodies. I remember how surreal it was sitting in my place at the time with Saruman blasting out over the speakers! I've no idea what the neighbors thought!"
As for working with the man who has played Saruman in the Lord of the Rings films, Count Dooku in two Star Wars movies and of course Dracula, Faulkner says "Sir Christopher himself was a diamond. He has a special way of being very commanding yet very down-to-earth. He was a wealth of knowledge, telling stories and cracking jokes. It was great to meet him and the team around him were cool too. Very professional and great to work with."