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Virgin Steele

An American-made power metal outfit beloved in Europe, Virgin Steele skillfully assimilates classical influences into its romantic, symphonic-based sound. Emerging in the early 1980s, the group perfected its signature blend of melody and might on 1985's Noble Savage, drawing comparisons to progressive power metal contemporaries like Manowar and Queensrÿche. Subsequent offerings like the Marriage of Heaven and Hell trilogy (1995-1998), the metal opera House of Atreus (1999-2000), the chamber music-inspired Gnostic concept LP Visions of Eden (2006), and the bombastic Nocturnes of Hellfire & Damnation (2015) and Passion of Dionysus (2023), saw the group looking to musical theater for inspiration. Led by vocalist/keyboardist David DeFeis since its inception in the fall of 1981, Virgin Steele began humbly with two self-released albums that, after being picked up for international distribution, brought in combined sales of nearly 400,000 units and critical praise from the metal underground. British metal mag Kerrang! even compared them to early Judas Priest. Virgin Steele's intriguing blend of classical, metal, and prog manifested itself fully for the first time on their third album, Noble Savage. This album marked a change for the band with the departure of original guitarist Jack Starr -- whose more traditional anthems clashed with DeFeis' grandiose epics -- and the arrival of talented shredder Edward Pursino. The following album, Age of Consent, was more commercial than its predecessor, attempting to appeal to both hardcore and mainstream metal fans. Management and label problems prompted a hiatus that ended in the early '90s, when German interest rekindled the band's spark. While the ensuing Life Among the Ruins album stayed closer to the '80s sound, the following three records, The Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Pt. 1 and Pt. 2, and Invictus, were powerful neo-classical metal epics that sold very well in Europe and Japan. Bearing the subtitle "A Barbaric-Romantic Opera," the band's formidable opera House of Atreus, Act I, dropped in 1999, followed closely by House of Atreus, Act II in 2000. 2006's Visions of Eden saw the group tackle a concept album concerning Gnostic beliefs, and like their previous outing, it was adapted for the stage and performed locally by Landestheater Production. The Black Light Bacchanalia, the group's power metal-heavy 12th studio long-player, was released in 2010, their first LP for new label SPV/Steamhammer. The band's second release for the label, Nocturnes of Hellfire & Damnation, followed in 2015. Celebrating their 35th anniversary, the band issued the career-spanning box set Seven Devils Moonshine in 2018, which included five full-length albums, three of which contained brand-new songs and re-recordings. An eight-year studio hiatus preceded the release of 2023's Passion of Dionysus, an innovative and grandiose set built around a timely narrative parable of control and freedom.
© Bryan Reesman /TiVo


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