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Virgin Steele - 2010 The Black Light Bacchanalia

ARTIST: Virgin Steele
ALBUM: The Black Light Bacchanalia
LABEL: SPV/Steamhammer
YEAR: 2010


LINEUP: David DeFeis - vocals, keyboards * Edward Pursino - guitar * Josh Block - bass * Frank Gilchriest - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 By The Hammer Of Zeus (And The Wrecking Ball Of Thor) * 02 Pagan Heart * 03 The Bread Of Wickedness * 04 In A Dream Of Fire * 05 Nepenthe (I Live Tomorrow) * 06 The Orpheus Taboo * 07 To Crown Them With Halos (Parts 1 & 2) * 08 The Black Light Bacchanalia (The Age That Is To Come) * 09 The Tortures Of The Damned * 10 Necropolis (He Answers Them With Death) * 11 Eternal Regret



Since the mid 90's Virgin Steele has relentlessly pursued an epic symphonic metal style, far removed from their early days with Jack Starr in the early 80's. Much like Joey DeMaio, David DeFeis seems obsessed with producing albums based on mythology, particularly of the Greek variety, resulting in lengthy compositions which have the ability to bore like recent Iron Maiden (and Manowar) albums. This is their latest stab, an album DeFeis claims is about 'rebellion', something he achieves through a slew of 8 minute plus tracks. It's certainly heavy metal, but just how anyone can really obsess over this I'd be curious to know.

The Songs
I have to admit that 'By The Hand Of Zeus (And The Wrecking Ball Of Thor)' is a worthy opening, even at 8 minutes. It has plenty of 'Noble Savage' type intensity, but DeFeis vocals sound somewhat weak and this might as well be Manowar in disguise, or vice versa. Pompous symphonic keys appear in 'Pagan Heart' and these days I really am bored with this type of metal. It's all been done before and all that's really needed is a pure metal assault. At three minutes 'The Bread Of Wickedness' is shorter and heavier, the kind of song which the band needs to concentrate on more. The opposite is eleven minute opus 'To Crown Them With Halos Parts 1 and 2', taking all kinds of tangents obviously, soft, slow, build-up to heavy sections, lengthy guitar solos ... bloody hell take it away. There's more plodding during 'The Orpheus Taboo' and despite several listens it sounds like all the previous tracks I'm afraid to say. 'The Tortures Of The Damned' is a brief ballad, promptly followed by two nine minute songs, one of which 'Necropolis (He Answers Them With Death)' has a few faster moments, but nothing crushing. The other, 'Eternal Regret' is a ballad and not worth its length. This sounds like something off a pop album and is about as metal as some bollocks by The Jonas Brothers.

In Summary
Virgin Steele's early output certainly meets my approval, but this route the band has taken is stale, just like Iron Maiden (again). After thirty years I'm sure there's only so much the band can do, but this is stagnant and boring. There is a following for Virgin Steele of course, mainly in Europe like Manowar, which suggests they have a penchant for this kind of metal. For me the days of sitting down and consciously listening to such long-winded albums is a thing of the past. Who has 80 minutes to blow on this? For fans only.

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#1 | gdazegod on October 31 2010 01:03:38
Some might say that David DeFeis is clever, intellectual even, with this Greek mythology road he is on. Personally, I think it's self indulgent with scant regard to putting out music that the masses want. But hey, we've seen it in music for decades now, why should this be any different.. helpless
#2 | jefflynnefan on October 31 2010 04:07:15
Ouch Dangerzone! lol - Well you know Virgin Steele is one of my top five bands. But I haven't heard this yet but I am really looking forward to it. I have pre-ordered it. I recommended to David to do a song about the Orpheus story a couple of years ago so I'm curious about that song. I think his voice has slowed down a bit based on some recent live songs I've heard and the production of this cd from the couple of songs I've heard on youtube seem to be lacking somewhat. But in fairness it's been recorded at his house and not a bigtime studio. I was hoping that this cd wasn't going to have the over the top long unnecessary stuff that Visions Of Eden had that made it somewhat boring. Still I know I'm going to like this album. Thumbs Up

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