(Celtic Music Magazine - November 18, 2014)
When The Rogues' “Hellbound Sleigh” came up for review I jumped at it - even though I'm generally a stickler for not listening to Christmas music before Thanksgiving. This, I thought, would be a fun addition to my Christmas music collection. I figured it would be weirdly irreverent with the title. I was surprised.
Apart from the title track, Hellbound Sleigh is mostly a lovely and lively collection of familiar Christmas and Holiday songs - some stand alone, others as part of medleys. Most are instrumental with pipes and bagpipes, violins and drums - along with other instruments that do give these time-honored classics unique elements. For the traditional Celts, and because there aren't that many New Year's songs, The Rogues appeal to all with "Ros' Hogmanay".
I have friends who are bellydancers. I can totally see this album as the base of a holiday-themed dance routine for them. There's a tribal sense to the instrumentals that make you want to move to the rhythm. That's not so hard to imagine since there are tracks like "March, Pat-a-Pan and Reel" and "Christmas Eve Reel/The Maple Leaf/Joy to the World" medley.
There are amazing - and different - combinations of songs on this album, too. I wouldn't ever have considered melding "Jingle Bells" with "Good King Wenceslas", but this works. It really works - to the point that I'm really looking forward to having this in my Christmas playlist just for the fact that it's “different” and very intricate and cool. My church has a symphonic violin player. I'm very tempted to make him listen to "O Holy Night/Ave Maria" because it's beautifully performed and haunting at the same time. The skill and musicianship is intricate and skilled.
If you're like me and buy a new Christmas album each year, this is the one to get this year.
Rhonda Eudaly - Celtic Music Magazine
Rhonda Eudaly lives in Arlington, Texas with her husband, and two dogs. She's ventured into several industries and occupations for a wide variety of experience. She has a well-rounded publication history in both fiction and non-fiction many of which can be found on www.RhondaEudaly.com.