Released: 2010, SPV
It is truly a tragedy of epic proportions that Virgin Steele and not a much larger band. It’s unfair! They deserve so much more praise and recognition. Despite being one of the earliest (and respected) pro-genitors of US Power Metal a number of issues have haunted the band, and those have hindered the band from reaching the upper echelons. I think they should be as big as Manowar.
Virgin Steele could probably care less about history, label issues, or being more commercially acceptable, as they continue to do what they have always done, specifically make totally unique world-class Metal. When you hear Virgin Steele you instantly know it and I’m proud to report that their latest, 12th full-length album, THE BLACK LIGHT BACCHANALIA is another in a long-line of superb albums. The band really started to identify their signature sound back in the mid-90’s and after leaving behind some of the more Hard Rock styling’s of the first several albums (which were still good in my opinion) they really have developed into something special.
In case this is your first experience with Virgin Steele, the band for the last 15 years or so have created long thematic and/or concept albums that draw heavily on classic (Greek/roman) mythology. THE BLACK LIGHT BACCHANALIA is no exception clocking at an hour and a quarter spread across 11 cuts. According to Wikipedia Bacchanalia in the title refers to “wild and mystic festivals of the Greek and roman god Bacchus (Or Dionysus). It has since come to describe any form of drunken revelry.” Sounds like a party to me!
The album launches with a classic speedy VS track in the form of ‘The Hammer of Zeus (And The Wrecking Ball of Thor). OK, who said it has to be mythologically accurate by mixing Norse and Greek? I wonder who would win in that fight? Zeus vs. Thor? Wasn’t that a Marvel Comic Special Edition in ’76? Either way, the song kicks ass bring the metal weaponry to the stage and to set the tone.
David still possesses one of the most unique voices and styles in Metal today. His undeniable falsetto singing style is on plain evidence. Not many singers sing in not two but three totally distinct voices, I can only think of King Diamond primarily and perhaps a handful of others. His voice truly makes the band stand out. He uses all of his styles and range to good effect. I’ve read some critics that have suggested that is Defeis’ voice that holds the band back and being truly mega-huge but to my ear it is part of the signature style that make the band unique.
I’d suggest that the new album is a bit heavier and a shade less epic in scale than the last effort, ‘06’s VISION OF EDEN. Tracks like ‘The Orpheus Taboo’ and ‘The Bread Of Wickedness’ are real barn-burners. There are plenty of double-kick driven parts of the songs giving the band, as always, a real European sound. It still has the diversity one would expect with lots of bits of piano accompanying the mellower segments. The only other band that uses this technique to counter-point the heaviness to the same extent was Savatage. There are also some synthesizers present to create the more epic sounds on the album.
THE BLACK LIGHT BACCHANALIA is another triumph for the band with every aspect of the band unique and diverse style and character on full display. I suggest using this album as the soundtrack for your next toga party or bachelor party with a Roman orgy theme.