STYLE: Rock RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 82793-16105 LABEL: Centricity 1910922 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1 RELEASE DATE: 2009-10-30 RRP: £4.99
Reviewed by Paul Loader
If you, like me, are getting a little bored of the standard Christmas fare of Crimbo classics drawn from the festive musical heyday of the '70s and '80s and of course the '50s then this recording is very much for you. Made up of 13 tracks of original material and evergreen carols and songs, this album from the Canadian rockers has a slightly off the wall feeling that really appeals. The title track asks the question how many kings would send their own son for the sake of mankind? It's a strong song with a melody that sticks in the mind and left me humming it for ages after my initial listen. They perform a great rendition of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen". I wanted to refrain as many reviewers have before of comparing singer Marc Martel with Kevin Max from DC Talk and yet this song reminded me so much of several of the tracks off of the 'Jesus Freak' album. It doesn't distract from Marc's own vocal ability and most of the songs on this album are uniquely him. Downhere's version of "Silent Night" has a haunting quality, although I am not sure about the high voiced chorister bit in the middle as I felt it distracted from the over all feel of the song, which is otherwise great. "Good King Wenceslas" has a groove that defies the listener not to groove along and "Glory To God" has a real sense of majesty about it. Over all this is a CD that you could easily listen to in June without wincing.
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This is Downhere’s first ever Christmas collection which retains much of the bands classic elements, but also stretches to previously uncharted realms. There’s plenty of melodic vocal interplay from co-front men, guitarist Marc Martel and keyboardist Jason Germain, alongside the ultrainfectious rhythm section comprised of bassist Glenn Lavender and drummer Jeremy Thiessen, but there’s also a compelling experiment with organic instrumentation and ingenious seasonal interpretations, alongside equally riveting originals.
Though the band carefully preserved the integrity of timeless tunes like “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen,” “Bring a Torch,” “What Child Is This?,” “Silent Night,” among many others, each rendering has the group’s signature stamp and is firmly planted in the present. The group also hopes that in the midst of all the shopping insanity, brought on by today’s consumer society, people will use How Many Kings: Songs For Christmas as a soundtrack to slow down and plug into the true reason for the celebration.