Holy Grail
Seasons Bleedings

Looking for a last-minute Christmas gift for the power/traditional metal fan? Well, thanks to my crappy timing in writing this review, you’re too late. But you still might want to check out Holy Grail’s holiday 7-inch single Seasons Bleedings. The run is limited to 500 copies – 250 red and 250 green – or there’s also a digital version out.

Don’t expect rocked up versions of traditional Christmas carols from this holiday release, though. The two tunes here are certainly traditional, but you probably haven’t heard either at your family Christmas party before.

The main track is a cover of King Diamond’s “No Presents for Christmas.” It’s an obvious choice for a metal holiday release, and Holy Grail covers it pretty much straight up like the original. In place of the original “Jingle Bells” intro, they opt for a piece from the Nutcracker Suite, but after that, it’s pretty much note for note. James Paul Luna’s vocals are not as piercing in the highs as King’s, obviously, but he does a pretty good job with it. The song also features the recording debut of new guitarist Alex Lee, and he, along with Eli Santana, provide some scorching axe work throughout. The song goes off-script again at the end, skipping the “Rudolph” interlude and adding a few lines going into the “I’m dreaming of a White Sabbath” line.

The second track is a cover of Rainbow’s “Kill the King,” reportedly chosen simply because Santana was listening to a lot of Rainbow at the time they were recording. Like the King Diamond cover, the Rainbow cover is pretty straightforward. Holy Grail juices the song up just a little bit, throwing in some heavier guitars and drums in later verses, but sticks with the melody line and key points of the original. That’s a good idea since, particularly with an iconic song like this one, you’re not going to outdo the original.

If nothing else, Luna shows that he has a huge set by belting out these songs from two of the most distinctive voices in metal – King Diamond and Ronnie James Dio. Naturally, he can’t match either, but he doesn’t try. He sings the songs the best he can, and that’s pretty damned good. His performance here, and on the band’s last record Crisis in Utopia, is a far cry from the weaker vocals he showed on my first encounter with him, White Wizzard’s High Speed GTO, and I’ve got a new respect for him.

The digital version of the release also features covers featuring a couple of other big voices – Judas Priest’s “Exciter” and Accept’s “Fast as a Shark.” I would have liked to hear both of them, but sadly, they weren’t included with the promo download.

Seasons Bleedings is a fun little two-song set for the holidays, and it also serves to whet fans’ appetite for a new full-length Holy Grail offering, hopefully coming in 2012.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Fred Phillips
December 28th, 2011


  1. Commented by: Storm King

    The Judas Priest and Accept covers were also on Holy Grail’s EP Improper Burial, and are much as you describe here-they follow the originals fairly closely and are both pretty good, faithful covers. These guys play some solid, straight up metal.

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