Virgin Steele
Nocturnes of Hellfire & Damnation
(Steamhammer)

I’ll be honest from the start. Sometimes, I know absolutely nothing about the bands that I review for New Noise Magazine or for my website, The Grim Tower. But this time, that is certainly not the case as I’ve heard every single record from the aforementioned heavy metal legends since Noble Savage and apparently that’s a great deal more than most people have heard. Though people like to make fun of them these days, I’d gather that most have never heard the band’s real classics, namely The Marriage of Heaven and Hell and Invictus which you have no excuse now not to pick up as they’ve been both digitally remastered and expanded with bonus discs as of just last year. But all things considered, I’ll admit in this review that I did not like the band’s last release The Black Light Bacchanalia at all. That record simply stunk as far as I was concerned, and the future of the band to me remained uncertain. Also taking note of the large amount of expanded acoustic tracks on the reissues I named, I was under the impression that whatever form the band would take in this next incarnation would be much softer than on previous albums. In part, that’s actually true – but they didn’t exactly dull down the metal elements either. As a matter of fact, frontman David DeFeis claims that this is the kind of record he wanted to write after Noble Savage had he been able to tap into his more progressive natures, instead of being forced to come up with a hit. Tracks like “Persephone” and it’s follow-up and “Devilhead” definitely describe these feelings, as sixties prog seems to meld with classical and a little bit of eighties heavy metal in order to bring out a really Queensryche influenced sound that’s structurally potent enough to get your cerebellum pulsating. But then the hair metal influences come out during “Demolition Queen” which almost makes me think that these guys are trying to show off their inner Crue. That’s not a bad thing however, as they’re definitely doing the style justice even though I think that this album might come off a little too archaic for younger metalheads as is understandable. But there’s something to Nocturnes of Hellfire & Damnation that you just don’t hear all that often anymore. What I mean by that, is that it sounds classic. Even if you think DeFeis’ high pitch vocals seem a little too cheesy for you, you cannot simply deny the work of Edward Pursino and Josh Block, who both prove their guitar skills on the record, as well as Frank GilChriest’s subtle drum taps, which feel right at home for a record like this, which has one foot in the past and one foot in the present as far as musical evolutions are concerned. There are also numerous areas of experimentation featured on tracks like “Glamour” for example, which seem quite different from work we’ve heard in the past. The record itself fills up the whole disc at close to eighty minutes of music, but that’s not all there is by a longshot. The Digipack edition of the record also includes a second disc filled with covers from everything from Black Sabbath to Led Zeppelin and everything in between. Yes, a total of fifteen extra songs await you on that edition which is definitely worth the money in my book, especially with a satisfying release like this fronting it. If you were as letdown by The Black Light Bacchanalia as I was, then I can certainly assure you of a certainly more focused and notable effort in Nocturnes of Hellfire & Damnation. While reading a recent post from Metal Sucks about these guys, I noticed that a commenter asked the question, “How did this band ever get signed?” Well, my answer to that is quite simple. You’ll just have to take a listen to this album. (Eric May)

Purchase Nocturnes of Hellfire & Damnation here.

1 Comment

  1. Pay attention: in this album Pursino recorded the guitar, while De Feis recorded all the rest with his keyboard.

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