Yesterday was Sir Christopher Lee's 91st birthday, and what better way to mark the occasion than the release of his second heavy metal album? Charlemagne: The Omens of Death was recorded with current Judas Priest guitarist Richie Faulkner and 2009 Guitar Idol runner-up Hedras Ramos, and continues the headbanging Holy Roman concept narrative begun on Lee's 2010 opus Charlemagne: By The Sword And The Cross.
"I have been metal for many years, only I did not know it," Lee explained three years ago, talking about his love and respect for Rhapsody of Fire and Manowar, both of whom he'd worked with. "Lots of people see me as metal," he went on. "It has come as a great surprise." Yes. The clip above features Lee describing Black Sabbath as "one of the greatest metal bands ever," and includes footage of his Metal Hammer interview with Tony Iommi.
This time, he's keen to explain, there's a difference in approach from the first album. By the Sword And The Cross was "symphonic metal", whereas The Omens of Death is "100% heavy metal. I'm not screaming or anything like that, but it is defnitely heavy metal."
"Most of the songs were already there," says Faulkner of his own role in the unlikely but wonderful procedings, "but they needed riffs, drum parts... with an aim that they could be played live by a band." We're going to guess Lee's contribution to any gigging would be recorded, although the thought of him on stage at Donington is not displeasing.
"Some of the tracks didn't have any music at all and were just Sir Christopher singing his melodies," Faulkner recalls. "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 neighbours thought."
Charlemagne: The Omens Of Death is out now on its own label.