The story of King Charlemagne, First Holy Roman Emperor, acted and sung by the legendary actor Christopher Lee, one of the most popular and highest grossing actor of all time, with cinematic milestones such as "Lord Of The Rings", "Star Wars", "The Man with the Golden Gun" and "Dracula".
The Carandinis, Lee's maternal ancestors, were given the right to bear the coat of arms of the Holy Roman Empire by the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa.
Christopher Lee, directly linked with Charlemagne, has decided for the first time in his life to pay homage to his distinguished ancestor, who is credited as "The Father of Europe".
Charlemagne is a concept album with original words and symphonic metal music.
Marco Sabiu - best known for his collaborations with Kylie Minogue, Take That, Ennio Morricone - has composed a huge epic canvas of sounds in the form of a movie score, introducing modern metal symphonies for orchestra, choir, two metal bands, and several guest vocalists.
The mesmerising lyrics meld with this powerful story, transporting the listener into the Dark Ages and allowing for the imagination to run wild. All these elements bring to life the legend of Charlemagne.
The metal community will no doubt already be aware of Sir Christopher Lee's affinity with the genre through his Rhapsody of Fire and Manowar collaborations during the past few years. However, 'Charlemagne - By the Sword and the Cross' signifies his first venture into metal territory independent of an established band. I say independent as this is being marketed as a 'Christopher Lee' album, but a quick glance at the press release reveals a great ensemble effort at work here. The music has been composed by one Marco Sabiu (renowned for collaborations with Kylie Minogue, Take That, and legendary film composer Ennio Morricone) and is performed by a 100-piece orchestra, two metal bands, and a choir, together with several guest vocalists who both sing and narrate alongside Lee himself. Intrigued? I most certainly was, and the listening experience proves 'Charlemagne...' a fairly innovative cross-genre musical hybrid. Part film score; part history lesson; and part symphonic metal, Sabiu has fabricated a sonic tapestry rich with layers of orchestral grandeur and sporadically purposeful heavy guitars/drums that is aurally engaging from the offset and remains so throughout. Subject-wise, as one would guess from the album's title, it's centred around Charlemagne, the Frankish king and First Holy Roman Emperor who, during his reign from 768 - 814, expanded his kingdom into an empire that covered the majority of Western and Central Europe. Book-ended with two instrumental pieces, 'Overture' and 'Finale', the main body of the album is divided into five acts, each preceded by historical narratives, uttered by Lee's own daughter, Christina, and these serve to set the scene for each of the songs to which they relate. I guess "set the scene" is an apposite phrase as the underlying aesthetic is that of cinematic creativity. Interestingly, plans are currently underway to bring this project to the stage, so it will soon exist in visual form. And there lies another dimension of the album as it also has an undercurrent of the soundtrack to a musical, and an epic one at that. Lee's vocal performance is stunning, utilising the resonance in his classical baritone voice efficaciously to convey the drama inherent in the words he recites as the ghost of Charlemagne. The guest vocalists also bring with them a plethora of singing talent in their respective roles, adding drama to the story at all the right moments over the epically sonic backdrop of Sabiu's score. I do, however, predict that this album will divide listeners and journalists alike into a love it or hate it dichotomy. Personally, I'm in the former category and I await the stage version of 'Charlemagne...' with eager anticipation. All hail Sir Christopher Lee...the metal genre's newest, and oldest, singer! -- metal-discovery.com