Virgin Steele - Virgin Steele II - Guardians Of The Flame

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Noise Records
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 67:13:00

Tease your hair and get out your best leopard skin trousers, it's time to drag something out of the murky vaults of the early eighties - specifically, Virgin Steele's second album, Guardians Of The Flame. Originally released in 1983, this little screamer has been re-packaged, re-mastered and re-released nearly twenty years later with bonus tracks and an audio interview from shortly after the album originally appeared.

They say the first bite is with the eye. This album has some fairly ridiculous cover art, in the style of too-large swords, band members dressed up as warriors standing around bonfires, and women scantily dressed as vestal virgins. If I may make an observation (and a sweeping generalisation), power metal albums with silly swords involved in the artwork are - almost always - really awful, or great fun. Fortunately this album falls into the latter category. Plus, it was the eighties, so a certain attitude is allowable. Nonetheless, a power band from any era which takes itself too seriously can be a terrible thing, but a truly effective one knows how to use the genre to have a bloody good time; such a band is Virgin Steele. This was a quartet of brash youngsters, oozing supreme self-confidence and determined to broadcast their own virility through their music. The band was fronted by the shrieking David DeFeis, with Edward Pursino, Joey Ayvazian and Joe O (guitar, drums and bass respectively) completing the lineup. [Although other sources say it's Jack Starr on guitar, including Jack Starr himself -ed.] This album has raw aggression and vitality, and a sense of hard rockin' fun which makes up for a lack of any kind of finesse. It is not for the musically delicate.

There are quite a few highlights to this album, the best parts being the rock 'n' roll jivey numbers such as "Burn The Sun," the punchy "Hell Or High Water" and the unruly "Metal City," which has a high metal scream at the beginning which would put your average dog whistle to shame. By contrast another favourite, "A Cry In The Night," is a smoochy love ballad, possibly something one could get away with playing at a wedding for a bit of cuddle dancing. The original album finishes on this note, and there are five bonus tracks following: "I Am The One," "Go Down Fighting" and "Wait For The Night" (from various EPs), the aforementioned interview (a lighthearted, informal banter with the brother of Twisted Sister's Dee Snider) and "Blues Deluxe Oreganata," a heavily blues-influenced piece from an audience recorded bootleg.

An overall diagnosis: this is a lot of fun. It's not to be taken too seriously, and if you wish the eighties hadn't happened, don't touch this with a ten-foot pole. It was not the greatest album to come out of that time period - not by a long shot - but one of many of the high-spirited albums which emerged, dripping with machismo, from the turbid musical porridge of the time. Good solid stuff.

Similar to: Led Zeppelin, Accept, Gamma Ray

[This review originally appeared November 2003 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]

Don't Say Goodbye (Tonight) / Burn The Sun / Life Of Crime / The Redeemer / Birth Through Fire / Guardians Of The Flame / Metal City / Hell Or High Water / Go All The Way / A Cry In The Night / Bonus Tracks: I Am The One / Go Down Fighting / Wait For The Night / Interview / Blues Deluxe Oreganata (I Might Drown)

David DeFeis - vocals
Jack Starr - guitars
Joey Ayvazian - drums
Joe O'Reilly - bass
(Edward Pursino - guitars?)

Virgin Steele (1983)
Guardians Of The Flame (1983)
Noble Savage (1986)
Age Of Consent (1989)
Life Among The Ruins (1994)
The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell: Part I (1995)
The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell: Part II (1996)
Invictus (1998)
The House Of Atreus: Act I (1999)
Magick Fire Music (EP) (2000)
The House Of Atreus: Act II (2000)
Hymns To Victory (2002)
The Book Of Burning (2002)
Visions Of Eden (2006)

Genre: Traditional Metal

Origin US

Added: January 31st 2005
Reviewer: Karyn Hamilton
Artist website:
Hits: 956
Language: english


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