Virgin Steele - The Book Of Burning

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Noise Records
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 73:26:00

The "new" Virgin Steele disc opens up emphatically with a song originally performed in 1985. Thus, this is not so much a "new" album, but an album chock full of differing versions of their songs, plus the addition of 8 (yep, 8) new songs. Before I talk about the album (and don't forget, their other "new" album Hymns To Victory - also reviewed), I want to say that the song order on both albums is poor. Very poor in fact. Whilst the liner notes suffice to cover all songs, surely the album could have been put in some sequential order. [I consider it more than a minor problem]. There are 3 elements to this Virgin Steele disc: 1. New songs, 2. Previously unreleased VS songs, & 3. Re-recorded old VS songs.

There are a number of new songs on this album, although I wouldn't suggest that they are all completely new. Whilst they were recorded in mid-2001, many of the songs have old sounding riffs and melodies that are reminiscent of traditional 80's metal ("Hellfire Woman," "The Final Days," & "The Succubus") whilst others sound very modern VS from Invictus onwards. The best of the new songs are the enigmatic "Rain Of Fire," the lengthy "The Chosen Ones," and "The Succubus." Why? Because they are just great songs.

The Book Of Burning also features previously unreleased songs that have been re-recorded. The opener "Conjuration Of The Watcher" is amazing and starts of the proceedings very well, whilst "Hot & Wild" - well... it was originally intended for Noble Savage and it has definitive glam/hair metal meets Manowar feel. Hell, this song is almost worth the admission price on its own.

Now to the original Guardians Of The Flame and Virgin Steele I tracks. Firstly, I have never heard the original albums (they were never released on CD [*]) but in general they don't sound overly dated (which is not to say that they are not dated). Tracks like "I Am The One" have a definite Def Leppard feel whilst "Guardians Of The Flame" has a slower, driving guitar rhythm to it with the addition of some wild piano orchestrations. "Don't Say Goodbye" is extremely catchy with power driving behind its soft façade. Still, I believe they should have done what Edguy did with The Savage Poetry - they should have re-recorded the album but also released it in a double disc set with the original recordings (if a resolution with Jack Starr or a contract arranged with Music for Nations could have been organised). That would have been a collectors item surely; although, as it stands, it's worth it, but I want to hear what the band sounded like all those years ago.

One of the great positives that surround Virgin Steele is the work of David DeFeis as producer, David as vocalist, David as musician. And let's not forget Edward Pursino (g) and Frank Gilchriest (d). Apparently David spends hours upon hours in the studio - well, it shows!

If you are only going to buy one of the two "new" Virgin Steele albums, then I would suggest this one, although if you are a fan, you'll be buying both. If you're not a fan of VS, then what the hell are you still reading this for? Heh-heh.

[* Gary originally wrote/published this review in 2001 (pub by PPO in 2002), before the 2002 CD reissues by Noise of those first two albums were released - PW ed.]

[This review originally appeared November 2002 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]

Conjuration Of The Watcher / Don't Say Goodbye (Tonight) / Rain Of Fire / Annihilation / Hellfire Woman / Children Of The Storm / The Chosen Ones / The Succubus / Minuet In G Minor / The Redeemer / I Am The One / Hot And Wild / Birth Through Fire / Guardians Of The Flame / The Final Days / A Cry In The Night

David DeFeis - all vocals, keyboards, orchestration, keyboard bass/guitar, swords & effects
Edward Pursino - all electric guitars & bass guitars
Frank Gilchriest - drums

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: March 29th 2005
Reviewer: Gary Carson
Artist website:
Hits: 1725
Language: english


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