Raise a goblet to the late actor-slash-metalhead, whose secret passion was to SLAY
News that Christopher Lee has passed away has hit the world hard, and no one more than the metalheads who, in the latter part of his life, the acting legend affected via his contribition to the heavy metal scene. It all makes sense when you think about it: how many other sweet, famous older gentlemen can you imagine harbouring secret desires to thrash around bellowing heavy metal? But the star of Dracula who also played an evil wizard in The Lord of the Rings? No problem. Lee was the ultimate villain, with a voice deeper than the Mariana Trench and a devilish twinkle in his eye.
In his autobiography, Lee wrote that he was present at the last public execution by guillotine in France as a child. Seemingly inspired, he channelled his love for the blood and guts of history into the majority of his film work – and his passionate heavy-metal pastime. In fact, Lee was such a fan of the genre that he collaborated with a number of artists including Judas Priest guitarist Richie Faulkner, appearing in music videos, performing live on stage and accepting a 'Spirit of Metal' award at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods bash in 2010.
He even released a pair of metal albums (2010's Charlemagne: by the Sword and the Cross and its follow-up, 2013's Charlemagne: The Omens of Death) and three EPs, including the yuletide-themed A Heavy Metal Christmas (2012) and its 2013 sequel.
If you get a moment, put your headphones on, light a candle and enjoy a few of the videos below. Seeing Lee dressed up as a king wielding a massive sword and roaring into the camera is something we're used to seeing on screen, but watching him do the same in these classic, low-budget metal music videos is super special.
Starting with "The Bloody Verdict of Verden", we give our bloody verdict on some of his greatest metal moments.
THE BLOODY VERDICT OF VERDEN
If you've never watched a heavy metal video then this is a VERY good place to start. Fake skeletons, dry ice, digitally crafted medieval backgrounds and a flaming castle.
Bloody verdict: Excellent, well-crafted music video and a rousing song that really shows off Lee's vocal range.
A HEAVY METAL CHRISTMAS
What is it about unexpected Christmas records? Is literally everyone trying to do a Mariah Carey and earn so much they can live a painfully boring lifestyle like Hugh Grant did in About a Boy? On this particular seasonal treat, Lee imparts his dulcet baritone vocals on to some of the world's best-known carols.
Bloody verdict: Not feeling it. But we'll just blame that on it being mid-summer.
This one opens over snow-topped mountain peaks as Christopher growls about battle in the background. Later on, we visit the ruins of a castle where metal band Rhapsody have set up outside. A couple of shots of fingers running down ancient scrolls, some loose-curl headbanging, guitar solos atop turrets and burning skulls later, and you're looking at a very entertaining and rather epic video.
Bloody verdict: Fantastic. I challenge you to name another music video that ends with "to be continued..." which you genuinely want to be continued.
THE MAGIC OF THE WIZARD'S DREAM
This 2005 single by Rhapsody has it all: candles, choirs, swooping camera angles and Christopher out of his king's costume and just being his fantastic self. What more could you ask for?
Bloody verdict: Rousing as fuck.