Virgin Steele – Seven Devils Moonshine (Box-set)

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Virgin Steele – Seven Devils Moonshine
Released: SPV, 2018
Reviewed: March
Reviewed by: JP
Rating: 4/5

Late in 2018 Virgin Steele fans were treated to a nice end-of-year present with a massive (and somewhat unexpected) box-set called SEVEN DEVILS MOONSHINE.

This set is presented in standard box, not one of these clamshell boxes.  Housed inside are five, wallet/slip-cases, a 24-page booklet and a sticker.  Apparently there was supposed to be a poster, but mine did not have one.  The box itself is too big and the discs slip and slide and rattle around in there.  More attention could have paid to that detail.  This is a beast…88 tracks!  The box in an incredible value; I only paid $25.00.

There are three ‘new’ albums GHOST HARVEST VINTAGE 1-BLACK WINE FOR MOURNING, GHOST HARVEST-VINTAGE 2-RED WINE FOR WARNING AND GOTHIC VOODOO ANTHEMS. The first pair are mostly new material and the third consists of lots of orchestral versions of old songs.

For those of you who don’t follow industry news much, back in 2010, Virgin Steele signed to SPV/Steamhammer.  This is a pretty good fit for the band.  Since that time, the band and label have been slowly but methodically reissuing almost all the bands back catalogue, much of it with bonus tracks.

In a sense this completes the reissue campaign because the two ‘bonus’ discs in this five disc box-set are two albums that were previously issued, HYMNS TO VICTORY from 2001 and BOOK OF BURNING from 2002.  Both of those were albums that were compilations, collections, rarities and re-recordings. This important because what essentially this box is a five-disc set of rarities.  So now the label has reissued everything from 1985 to 2002 and Virgin Steele has pretty much purged the entire vault.

Now, here is the minor issue.  The pre-release information suggested that these were all new songs. Well, yes and no.  TECHNICALLY many of them are ‘new’ if you believe that alternate versions of existing songs or cover tunes are ‘new’.  Are these all new, Virgin Steele songs composed recently?  No.  In my mind, this really is a five disc box-set of rarities, covers with a whole pile of unreleased tracks, but in my mind, this doesn’t really meet the conventional definition of ‘new’ album. To confuse matters it actually says in brackets (new album) for the first three discs.

This is a review where I’m going to cop out and not really talk too much about the music.  Virgin Steel is already one of those fringe bands that you love or hate, based on the unique vocals of David DeFeis.  With 88 tracks, I could write an entire book analyzing each song and how it is different than previous versions, but his review is already pretty long.  Suffice to say, overall, this is a quite mellow collection.  That is why many of these songs do not make the full, studio albums which are considerable faster and heavier.  This is a chance for DeFeis to release all that stuff he does when he experiments studio, blues stuff, piano ballads, medleys, cover tunes by bands like Alice In Chains and Jimi Hendrix and old blues dudes like John Lee Hooker and Willie Dixon.   There are a significant amount of blues jams and covers, at least two dozen cover tunes, especially on the second and third albums.  What I like is how he integrates little bits of things, his own original compositions, classical, hard rock, blues into these weird, late night, drank too much, stream-of consciousness, medleys with things ranging from Whitesnake and UFO to Sting and Chris Issak.

These are songs that many fans (myself included) would probably not appreciate in the context of a new, full-on Metal studio album.  These are, well… the leftovers.  There is nothing wrong with leftovers!  Many of us eat them quite often! On Sunday night you might make a nice, big, roast beef dinner and Monday morning you take a cold-roast beef sandwich to work.  There is nothing wrong with leftovers, except it is not the main course.  This is an amazing collection of all those leftovers from the jumbo, Virgin Steele, late night, voodoo cauldron kitchen.   We get to hear early rough mixes of old classics like ‘Noble Savage’ and cool piano ballad versions of songs like ‘The Evil In Her Eyes’.  There are so many unique and interesting things going on in this collection.   It is an incredible treasure chest for fans who want to dig deep.

SEVEN DEVILS MOONSHINE has been taking quite a bit of heat in the Metal media, I’ve read a number of reviews that really criticize the album, some of the reviews I’ve read are downright mean and insulting!  I’ve read some critics who think it is supposed to be the new Virgin Steele studio album and it’s not.  In all fairness the band didn’t help by labeling each album ‘new album’ on the back cover, it is a bit misleading perhaps.  However if the critics had done their research and maybe actually listened to the album, or even read the liner notes,  they would have figured this out quite quickly.

I’m more of loyalist and an open-minded Virgin Steele fan who wants to hear the band explore and push the boundaries. For a budget presentation there is really nothing to complain about and this will give true Virgin Steele fans a lot of pleasure as the go through over six hours of material.

Track listing:

CD 1 “Ghost Harvest (The Spectral Vintage Sessions)” Vintage 1 – Black Wine For Mourning 

01. Seven Dead Within
02. Green Dusk Blues
03. Psychic Slaughter
04. Bonedust (Orchestral Version)

05. Hearts On Fire
06. Child Of The Morning Star
07. Murder In High-Gloss Relief
08. Feral
09. Justine
10. Princess Amy
11. Wicked Game (Chris Issak cover)
Clouds Of Oblivion Medley (Tracks 12 & 13)
12. Little Wing  (Jimi Hendrix cover)
13. The Gods Don’t Remember…

CD 2 “Ghost Harvest (The Spectral Vintage Sessions)” Vintage 2 – Red Wine For Warning

01. The Evil In Her Eyes (Piano & Vocal Version)
02. Feeling’ Alright  (Dave Mason cover)
03. Sister Moon (Sting Cover)
Summertime Darkness Suite (Tracks 4, 5, & 6)
04. Sweating Into Dawn
05. Summertime (George Gershwin cover)
06. Black Leaves Swirl Down My Street
07. Rip Off (T-Rex cover)
The Gods Are Hungry Triptych (Tracks 8, 9, & 10)
08. The Gods Are Hungry Poem (George Gershwin cover)
09. The Poisoned Wound
10. The Birth Of Beauty
11. Profession Of Violence… (UFO cover)
12. Rock Steady (Bad Company cover)
13. Nutshell (Alice In Chains Cover)
14. Slow & Easy “Intro” (Whitesnake cover)
15. Jesus Just Left Chicago (ZZ Top cover)
Late Night Barroom Hoodoo Medley (Tracks 16, 17, 18, & 19)
16. Soul Kitchen (Doors cover)
17. When The Music’s Over (Doors cover)
18. Crawling King Snake (John Lee Hooker cover)
19. When The Music’s Over “Reprise”
20. Imhullu
The Drained White Suite (Tracks 21, 22, & 23)
21. After Dark (Tito And Tarantula cover)
22. Wake The Dead
23. The Graveyard Dance
24. The Triple Goddess
25. Twilight Of The Gods (Live Acoustic Rehearsal Version)
26. Transfiguration (Live Acoustic Rehearsal Version)

CD 3 “Gothic Voodoo Anthems” 

01. I Will Come For You (Orchestral Version)
02. Queen Of The Dead (Orchestral Version)
03. The Orpheus Taboo (Orchestral Version)
04. Kingdom Of The Fearless (The Destruction Of Troy) (Orchestral Version)
05. The Black Light Bacchanalia (Orchestral Version)
06. Zeus Ascendant
07. By The Hammer Of Zeus (And The Wrecking Ball Of Thor) (Orchestral Version)
The Gothic Voodoo Suite (Tracks 8, 9 & 10)
08. Rumanian Folk Dance No. 3 “Pe Loc” (Bela Bartok cover)
09. Delirium “Excerpt”
10. Snakeskin Voodoo Man (Orchestral Version)
11. The Enchanter (Robert Plant cover)
The Fire & Ice Medley (Tracks 12, 13 & 14)
12. Bone China (Mother Love Bone cover)
13. No Quarter (Led Zeppelin cover)
14. Bone China “Reprise”
Passion In The French Quarter Medley (Tracks 15 & 16)
15. Chloe Dancer (Mother Love Bone cover)
16. Gentle Groove (Mother Love Bone cover)
17. Darkness-Darkness (Youngbloods cover)
18. Death Letter Blues (Son House cover)
19. Spoonful (Willie Dixon cover)

CD 4 “Hymns To Victory” (re-release)

01. Flames Of Thy Power (From Blood They Rise)
02. Through The Ring Of Fire
03. Invictus
04. Crown Of Glory (Unscarred) (In Fury Mix)
05. Kingdom Of The Fearless (The Destruction Of Troy)
06. The Spirit Of Steele (Acoustic Version)
07. A Symphony Of Steele (Battle Mix)
08. The Burning Of Rome (Cry For Pompeii)
09. I Will Come For You
10. Dust From The Burning & Amaranth (Orchestral Versions) (Bonus Tracks)
11. Noble Savage (Long Lost Early Mix)
12. Mists Of Avalon
13. Emalaith

CD 5 “The Book Of Burning” (Re-Release)

01. Conjurtion Of The Watcher
02. Don’t Say Goodbye (Tonight)
03. Rain Of Fire
04. Annihilation
05. Hellfire Woman
06. Children Of The Storm
07. The Chosen Ones
08. The Succubus
09. Minuet In G Minor
10. The Redeemer
11. I Am The One
12. Hot And Wild
13. Birth Through Fire
14. Guardians Of The Flame
15. The Final Days
16. A Cry In The Night
17. Queen Of The Dead (Nordic Twilight Version) (Bonus Track)