Virgin Steele
Nocturnes of Hellfire & Damnation


2.5
average

Review

by manosg STAFF
June 19th, 2015 | 35 replies


Release Date: 2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: How the mighty have fallen…

Have you ever heard that story about the one time legendary warrior who slowly rose to prominence and finally became the king? He battled hard against all odds, with valor; alongside trusted companions, using his wit and inner strength. He was crowned the king – albeit in a small-sized country – and his followers loved him; they still do. But somewhere in between, he distanced himself from reality, lost his hunger and his trust towards the people that surround him. His symbols (sword, ferocious screams, etc.) no longer cause fear and admiration but laughter and disdain.

David DeFeis is a highly talented individual and the mastermind behind Virgin Steele. He’s the reason why The Marriage of Heaven and Hell and The House of Atreus – consisting of two parts each – are some of the most beautiful voyages in mythology. At the same time, he’s the main culprit for the drop in quality after The House of Atreus: Act II. Visions of Eden suffered from a lack of substantial guitar playing and drumming as both were “buried” deep in the mix. And while on The Black Light Bacchanalia the guitars were more audible, both albums revealed that DeFeis’ voice has deteriorated significantly.

Unfortunately on Nocturnes of Hellfire & Damnation, this is once again where the problem begins; DeFeis has sadly become his band’s Achilles’ heel. From weird girly screams that make their appearance from the very first track, to weird meowing sounds that only four-legged creatures can process and an unconvincing grit, DeFeis’ delivery can easily prevent a listener from taking this album seriously. It’s already known that Virgin Steele’s music is quite theatrical but over the years it has become this symphonic power metal/chamber music hybrid that is slowly moving away from its metal roots. In addition, the story behind the album doesn’t do much to make it less cheesy. According to the band’s leader, it’s not a concept album per se but there’s an overall motif that deals with entities’ relationships with gods, goddesses, animals and plants (!) among others. What is more, the ambitious nature of the project is also a weakness as its long duration makes an average experience feel even worse. “Demolition Queen” for example, with its bluesy/hair metal riff, sounds like something that Virgin Steele could have released during the pre-The Marriage of Heaven and Hell era. It’s by no means a bad track but feels like it doesn’t fit the mood of the album. Moreover, “The Plague and the Fire” which is not even one of the longest tracks on here, is typical of the unnecessary extended nature of the songs; an uninteresting guitar riff that plays over and over featuring a saucy/hilarious delivery from DeFeis on the word “fire”.

Nevertheless, fear not because there are bright spots on Nocturnes of Hellfire & Damnation. First of all, you can easily call it metal and its production is much better than the two albums that came before it as the vocals are not so much on the forefront as before while the guitars are audible. In addition, “Persephone” is an excellent song that could have found its place on the band’s classic period while the first two tracks and “Black Sun – Black Mass” form an encouraging yet deceiving introduction to the album.

To make a long story short, Virgin Steele’s 13th release lacks the energy, the solid songwriting and the performance we have come to expect from the epic metal masters. Additionally, lifetime value is a serious concern for almost all the material on here with the exception of “Persephone” even though there are moments where the listener can feel the barbaric nature of the music. Maybe the time for DeFeis to face the reality has finally arrived; he needs to return to the roots of what made Virgin Steele so special and face any lack of inspiration with a shorter album in the future. Until then – and excluding a serious surprise – the king is dead…



Recent reviews by this author
Flame, Dear Flame The Millenial HeartbeatArch/Matheos Winter Ethereal
Vargrav (FIN) Reign In Supreme DarknessSmoulder Times of Obscene Evil and Wild Daring
Traveler (CAN) TravelerTwin Temple Twin Temple (Bring You Their Signature Sound....
user ratings (29)
2.8
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
manosg
Staff Reviewer
June 19th 2015


11745 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I'm not happy at all writing a negative review for these guys but this is how it is.

Digging: Fief - V

piroga84
June 19th 2015


361 Comments


you have epic metal in your veins my friend
your disappointment shows
i will give it a listen but i get easily bored with them

manosg
Staff Reviewer
June 19th 2015


11745 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Thanks man, that's high praise! Knowing your taste, you'll find some interesting elements but overall, the album is a chore.

Sabrutin
June 19th 2015


6556 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Excellent review I've only heard the single but it's sadly enough to fear for the whole album. Some vocal parts are really questionable and the instruments sound buried, not to mention a sense of déjà vu. I will check it out though, I always find something to enjoy from this band even in their latest releases ("by the hammer of Zeus... and the wrecking ball of Thor!" m/).

manosg
Staff Reviewer
June 19th 2015


11745 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Thanks Sab. The single is actually one of the good songs of the album so go figure. But yeah there are some epic moments even on their worst albums. If you were to check only one track out of this album, it would be “Persephone”.

Sabrutin
June 19th 2015


6556 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I'm biting some tracks and I'm not too fond of it, DeFeis' highs can sound really weird too. Must say that I love the artwork with the angel though.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
June 19th 2015


8542 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Apt review as always, mindpos, the marriage albums are the last I've heard from these guys.





One minor correction:



this is one again



this is once again





Speaking of bland releases from acclaimed metal outfits this year, the new Tysondog album is yet another example.



Sabrutin
June 19th 2015


6556 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Helloween too, really disliking their last release.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
June 19th 2015


8542 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

^^True that, it's one hell of a "plastic" album.

yuneek
June 19th 2015


306 Comments


first virgin steele review on sputnik i think m/m/

Listened to a couple songs and it at least has some sort of "watching a car crash" value due to the vocals.

DrJohn
June 19th 2015


1041 Comments


I've only sampled the song you posted on the news section a couple of weeks back and LOL. I love you mate, but tbh these guys have always made me laugh, even during--what is considered--their heyday. Ye, I'm biased against them... hehe, not my cup of tea. Anyway, judging from what I've read, the track I've mentioned, and my taste, I won't try the whole thing out. Nonetheless, I truly enjoyed your write-up! mindpos

P.S. @Sabrutin & Voivod - agreed. the new Helloween sucks big time.



manosg
Staff Reviewer
June 19th 2015


11745 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

"first virgin steele review on sputnik i think m/m/"

I'll try to write something from their 1994-2000 period at some point because it doesn't feel right that the first VS on here is negative.



@Voivod

Thanks for the correction man! It's a bummer that the new Tysondog is so bland. The new Helloween is not only poor but it's also huge like this one.



@DrJohn

I know what you mean dude. I guess you're not a Manowar fan either?

DrJohn
June 19th 2015


1041 Comments


hehe... u've guessed right : P

edit: but I dig Manilla!

manosg
Staff Reviewer
June 19th 2015


11745 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Sweet. Manilla Road rule.

DrJohn
June 19th 2015


1041 Comments


Yeah, Manilla rule. Still, I sincerely hope you're not swinging sword, axe, and war-hammer on your lawn while in furry boots & undies, or do ya mate? : P

NLD
June 19th 2015


589 Comments


Well this is disappointing, these guys ruled

manosg
Staff Reviewer
June 19th 2015


11745 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

lolol unfortunately the only things I'm swinging on my garden are rake, mattock and fresh produce while wearing my overalls haha

DrJohn
June 19th 2015


1041 Comments


What a relief! Cheers!

deslad
June 19th 2015


645 Comments


Such an outstanding review; the first paragraph is like you are wandering in Camelot or something. I am not so sure I'll enjoy this one though...

manosg
Staff Reviewer
June 19th 2015


11745 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

haha or like the opening scene of a cheap wannabe version of Conan the Barbarian. Really appreciate the praise though ;)



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2019 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy