Virgin Steele – The House of Atreus Act I

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Reviewed: October 1999
Released: 1999, Noise Records
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: EvilG

I would of reviewed this CD with last months reviews but this is a CD that is not easy to grasp with a handful of listens. I figured another month would let this CD sink in so I get a handle on what I thought of it. This is not something that you slam into the player and you’re banging along to immediately. What’s really wild is that this band has been together since 1981! Despite this I bet there’s still a lot (especially in North America) who haven’t heard anything from them. Reportedly they are doing quite well overseas. The only original member left in the band from the 1981 line-up is vocalist and storyteller David DeFeis. David handles all vocals, keyboards, orchestration, bass/guitar, swords and other effects! Quite the creative guy don’t you think? The two other musicians that are on the CD are Edward Pursino (electric guitar / bass) and Frank Gilchriest (drums).

So what can you expect from “The House of Atreus Act 1”? Well, the band has been known to refer to their brand of metal as “barbaric romanticism” (as in Roman?). I’m not sure what that’s all about but to me Virgin Steele are symphonic metal mixed with traditional metal like what you’d find in Manowar. This CD is 22 tracks in length…sounds like a lot but this is a concept CD. I won’t bother going into the details of the storyline besides to let you know that it’s about The Trojan War and Atreus who was the king of the Trojans (or so I’ve been told). You’ll hear about: war, betrayal, death, swords, kings, revenge and more death. I’m sure there will be some who will think this is pompous but I can assure you this is not an amateur attempt at telling a historical story. The music is a melting of opera and classical in a cauldron of pure METAL! So don’t worry you’ll still find double kicks a plenty and 80’s styled power metal riffing. After numerous listens I am beginning to get more and more into this CD. I’m still getting an understanding of the storyline which like the band is all very complex….and to think this is only “Act I.” We can expect Act II to follow it up shortly. Some of the highlights on the CD for me was “Kingdom of the Fearless”, “Through The Ring of Fire”, “Flames of the Black Star” and “The Fire God.” For anyone who’s heard the CD you’ll recognize these songs as being the most pure metal out of the lot.

I would of given this CD a 5 out of 5 if it wasn’t for the handful of songs that are entirely keyboard / piano based. For creativity alone this at least deserves a 5….but I’m too metal to handle too many keyboards!!


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