• Virgin Steele – Nocturnes of Hellfire and Damnation

    Virgin Steele – Nocturnes of Hellfire and Damnation
    Released by: Steamhammer/SPV
    Released on: June 23rd, 2015.
    Purchase From Amazon

    VIRGIN STEELE have been around since early 80's and were contemporaries of METALLICA and MERCYFUL FATE. Their sound was initially hard rock with some metal tinges but as frontman/lynchpin David DeFeis assumed full control of the band they veered more and more into epic metal territory with a focus on concept albums, Greek and fantasy oriented imagery and even operatic areas.

    DeFeis has always had an amazing vocal range and that remains intact here. He's loaded this album up with some questionable singing though. He seems to favor a weird girly scream that pops up in the middle of opener "Luzifer’s Hammer” and the rest of this very long album has some highly suspect yodeling. The actual sound of this is also all over the map. There's some excellent traditional epic metal like "Black Sun - Black Mass" which is a re-recording of an old tune by obscure proto death metal band EXORCIST and heavy JUDAS PRIEST style grinder "Devilhead". "Persephone" is the album's most successful epic. It manages an almost perfect blend of pomp, strident riffs and progressive tendencies without losing focus.

    The bad stuff? "Glamour" is flat out awful with a histrionic vocal that will make your brain bleed. DeFeis stretches out words to five syllables in an attempt at "drama" that's laughable. There's also a weak ballad called "Delirium" and album closer "Fallen Angel" is weak tea as well.

    Everything that is wrong with this album is down to David DeFeis. He's so busy showing off on vocals that he has abandoned all pretense at quality control. Most songs are either too long or unfocused or ruined by warbling that detracts from the song's forward momentum. Edward Pursino does a good job on lead guitar and the rest of the musicians are up to snuff, but King DeFeis needs to put a lid on his ego.

    Ultimately, despite a few good songs I cannot really recommend this album. Depending on your tolerance for weirdly OTT singing others may find some value here. My recommendation is to listen to samples before taking the plunge.