Virgin Steele and Epic Songwriting

HaffnerHaffner Posts: 7,799
edited January 2012 in Songwriting
I feel compelled to preface the body of this topic by stating that I dont mean any of this in a condescending, sweepingly negative or snooty way, and I never mean any disrespect to the listening tastes of my Dino friends. These are just my views, and I apologize in advance if any of it rubs anyone the wrong way.

I should start with some context: besides the Who and a little of the early Ayreon, I've been phenomenally bored by what passes as Rock and Metal operas. In fact, I was rediscovering and appreciating the Who because I considered Quadrophenia and Tommy to be the be all and end all in the genres, and at the time felt like I was just smashing my head against the wall with what seemed to me the worn out rote of recent heavy rock releases. Through communication with classic metal guitarist Jack Starr I found myself digging into my early copies of Virgin Steele's records, and soon after became interested in their later music, which I wasn't very familiar with.

I've started with these albums: Marriage of Heaven and Hell pt. 2 and House of Atreus Act 1, and now I can relievedly proclaim that Virgin Steele has brought me back to my beloved Metal, helping me to see both how far it's been taken, and new places where I can fly past in my own writing. There is some phenomenally creative writing on these albums, and I don't care who thinks it's overblown or too hard to understand. Great writing is great writing.

I feel as though I've been deprived of this band, as I knew very little about them (besides their aforementioned earliest records with Jack Starr) before last month. And to be blunt, I was turned off by the references I'd read to them over the years, many calling them a poor man's Manowar. Although there is a definite Manowar influence in the music of Virgin Steele, songwriter/producer/vocalist David DeFeis took the meager experimentation of DeMaio (the "Triumph of Steel" album) and righteously blew past. The albums by VS I've been listening to are often as good compositionally as anything in metal, period.

It was probably cosmically correct that I discovered these albums after writing Lyraka Volume 2, to ensure I don't get negatively influenced. Mostly I feel as though I finally have a project I can actively admire in Metal from a writing perspective.

Highly reccomended band, though I don't consider them quintessential Dinos.
Post edited by Haffner on

Comments

  • T-MANT-MAN Posts: 271
    I really like Virgin Steele's "House of Atreus" discs. They completely buried any and all Manowar comparisons with those albums. With Virgin Steele, sometimes you expect a huge metal anthem chorus and get something a little more deceptive subdued. It's a little strange to grasp onto at first but that particular approach really grows on you after a few listens. Of course, they have the pomp as well. They are a classy band with just the right amount of pompousness. I wish Eric Adams had songwriter like DeFeis to work with…his voice is wasted with that Odin’s loincloth “metal” crap.
           
  • HaffnerHaffner Posts: 7,799
    [quote author=T-MAN link=topic=13271.msg201472#msg201472 date=1326863481]
    I really like Virgin Steele's "House of Atreus" discs. They completely buried any and all Manowar comparisons with those albums. With Virgin Steele, sometimes you expect a huge metal anthem chorus and get something a little more deceptive subdued. It's a little strange to grasp onto at first but that particular approach really grows on you after a few listens. Of course, they have the pomp as well. They are a classy band with just the right amount of pompousness. I wish Eric Adams had songwriter like DeFeis to work with…his voice is wasted with that Odin’s loincloth “metal” crap.
           
    [/quote]


    I really like DeFeis' voice, especially when he gets away from the heavier, Eric-influenced growling (though I like that too). His clean vocals are great! But I think that comparing him overall to Eric might be a bit unfair; after all, Eric is probably in the top five best in metal, period.

    It's true that Manowar are going more for old song structures and lyrical content, not to mention seeming to be all about the money lately (their re recording of Battle Hymns is just a slap in the face to fans, where's the 3 year overdue new album?). Still, I'll always love them for what they've been, the Metal defenders they've always been.

    I agree about VS's unorthodox approach too, they often choose to go where you don't expect, and it blasts them way ahead of the pack. I haven't heard Atreus Act II yet, but I'm greatly looking forward to it. My faith in Metal is restored. 

    :metal: forever
  • maybeyesmaybeyes Posts: 4,522
    I don't think I have heard a VS album I didn't like.  Manowar I lost interest in many years ago when Ross the Boss left.  I should check out some of the newer stuff they have done, but everytime I get to it there is something more interesting that takes my attention away.  VS I kept up with for many years, but haven't listened to too much of their new stuff lately.  Still give regular rotation to Nobel Savage.  I just love Defeis' vocals.  That guy is just insane.

    Never mistake a clear view for a short distance.

  • HaffnerHaffner Posts: 7,799
    [quote author=maybeyes link=topic=13271.msg201501#msg201501 date=1326898518]
    I don't think I have heard a VS album I didn't like.  Manowar I lost interest in many years ago when Ross the Boss left.  I should check out some of the newer stuff they have done, but everytime I get to it there is something more interesting that takes my attention away.  VS I kept up with for many years, but haven't listened to too much of their new stuff lately.  Still give regular rotation to Nobel Savage.  I just love Defeis' vocals.  That guy is just insane.
    [/quote]


    I haven't checked out Noble Savage. I just ordered Atreus pt. 2, and my friend Giles from the band Dragonsclaw is sending me Age of Consent as a gift (nice friend huh?).

    I'm excited to further explore the later albums of this amazing band, I've really been admiring them! Can't wait to hear Savage, Invictus, Marriage pt.1...

  • gqn_angelgqn_angel Posts: 1,302
    I really like DeFeis' voice
    Unfortunately for DeFeis (and VS as a whole), these album qualities don't seem to translate well live.  Caught them twice (once at ProgPower USA in ATL a few years back and once somewhere else by happenstance), and not to sound harsh, but they sucked.  As for the albums, House of Atreus tops the list (in fact, I will go home from work and give it a spin tonight).
  • maybeyesmaybeyes Posts: 4,522
    I guess I will put some new VS on my list for next months acquisitions.  Will likely spin Noble Savage later today.

    Never mistake a clear view for a short distance.

  • HaffnerHaffner Posts: 7,799
    [quote author=maybeyes link=topic=13271.msg201531#msg201531 date=1326912545]
    I guess I will put some new VS on my list for next months acquisitions.   Will likely spin Noble Savage later today.
    [/quote]


    Marriage of Heaven and Hell pt. 2 is paying off more and more with each listen. http://www.amazon.com/review/R3UPH4I6OG9ZOJ/ref=cm_cr_pr_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B003F76NGA&nodeID=&tag=&linkCode=
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