ARTIST: Virgin Steele
ALBUM: Noble Savage
CD REISSUE: 1997, Sanctuary, TT00282 * 2008, Dockyard 1, DY100582
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
LINEUP: David Defeis - vocals, keyboards * Edward Pursino - guitars * Joe O'Reilly - bass * Joey Ayvazian - drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 We Rule The Night * 02 I'm On Fire * 03 Thy Kingdom Come * 04 Image Of A Faun At Twilight * 05 Noble Savage * 06 Fight Tooth And Nail * 07 The Evil In Her Eyes * 08 Rock Me * 09 Don't Close Your Eyes * 10 The Angel Of Light
This marked Virgin Steele's first album without famed axe hero Jack Starr
who had left due to internal dissension. As he left to pursue a prolific solo career, Defeis took control and drafted Edward Pursino to replace him, another technical wizard. With Starr gone Defeis was free to pursue the symphonic metal sound he and Starr had clashed about prior to his departure. Starr resented Defeis' attempts to lighten their sound, but most of 'Noble Savage' is anything but soft. The sound was divided between pure and pomp metal with slices of commercial hard rock. It resulted in a critical smash, but like past albums failed to shift copies.
Steele have often been compared to Manowar
for their 'true' metal sound, if only a slight poor mans version. But they played a more varied selection of styles, one Manowar
might have shunned. 'Don't Close Your Eyes' is a ballad, heavier than most, but something most metal bands reviled at the time. Thankfully it's the only wimp out on offer. 'We Rule The Night' cops Dio
's 'We Rock' riff, but has enough heaviness of it's own to be a blatant copy. 'I'm On Fire' keeps the intensity flowing with a rough chorus where Defeis unleashes his Bruce Dickinson
inspired range. 'Thy Kingdom Come' shows flashes of Defeis symphonic metal passion, with appropriate warrior lyrics reading very much like Manowar
- 'Action call to arms, I'm fighting for eternity...'
'Image Of A Faun At Twilight' is a short keyboard piece that resembles a Roman battle cry, but being the 80's sounds like a theme track to an American Vietnam war film. 'Fight Tooth And Nail' turns up the speed, with vicious riffing and mean vocals. By far the heaviest track here, it easily equals the best Manowar
material of the era. If this doesn't blow your balls off then you may not have had any to begin with. The title cut resembles mid period Iron Maiden
in the instrumental section, namely 'Powerslave' era. 'Evil In Her Eyes' and 'Rock Me' resemble dodgy hard rock plundered by Dokken
and co, a strange move on an album which should retain a certain degree of heaviness. 'Angel Of The Light' is more keyboard driven metal, something Defeis can claim to have pioneered, and been ripped off considerably since.
Steele are still around today with Defeis and Pursino existing from this lineup. Defeis has spent the last decade perfecting his classical metal sound through a load of albums including 'The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell Pt 1+2' and 'The House Of Atreus Act 1+2'. This has taken Europe by storm but left them virtually unknown in the States. This orchestral sound arguably had it's roots on 'Noble Savage' but the band sounds more at home on burners like 'Fight Tooth And Nail'. If 'Noble Savage' had been one whole album of such tracks it might earn classic status. But as good as it remains, the shifting styles make it sound like Steele were trying to appeal to fans of all genres, not sure of their desire on this one. Years later the result is all too obvious. By the way is that bloody Ted Prior on the cover?
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