Christmas Day has passed and with it goes the holiday music from the airwaves, but to the faithful the Christmas season is just beginning. To help keep the spirit of Christmas alive through Epiphany Sunday, we are determined to continue to bring our readers some of the highest quality, most inspiring Christmas music, and today’s piece is a real treat.
This recording of “Angels We Have Heard On High” was produced by the superb vocalist Dan Vasc in 2021. While the singer is known for providing lead vocals for the metal band Fearless, he has built himself a huge following with phenomenal performances on YouTube.
The first thing that struck us about this carol was how enormous Dan’s voice is, but equally impressive are his flawless pronunciations of the various languages of this rendition, which include Latin, German, Portuguese, and English. In the comments, Vasc noted that he chose these languages because they represent the majority of his fanbase.
The piece opens like a classical arrangement with Vasc’s practically operatic tenor soaring over an orchestra, but it quickly builds, offering something a little different in each verse. In one of them he layers his own voice so that it sounds like a chorus, and by the end it modulates to a higher key that really lets his voice shine, especially on the final high note.
It is certainly a bombastic rendition, one that follows the Christmas rock style popularized by bands like the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. What really blew us away, however, was how much of the song Vasc produced himself. On this recording, the singer is also playing guitar, drums, and bass. He also orchestrated the whole thing on his own, as well as mixing and mastering – which encompasses all the technical work of recording a song.
Vasc did need a little help with some of the finer musical elements, and for those he brought in guitarist Gabriel Belozi and drummer Giovanni Rezende for the solo toward the end, but otherwise it’s all Vasc. In the credits, Vasc also thanked Canadian musician David Foster, as well as the world renowned Andrea Bocelli, whose performances of the song inspired his recording.
This rendition is an excellent example of how art forms and genres can be placed at the service of the Catholic songbook. Here, the use of electric instruments really bolsters the traditional tones of the orchestra to give greater weight to the hymn, while bringing this 19th-century work to the standards of 21st-century music sensibilities. Merry Christmas!