Virgin Steele Overview
Virgin Steele is a heavy metal Heavy metal music band from New York originally formed in 1981.
Together with a huge number of career highlights albums (Noble Savage Noble Savage (album) , The Marriage of Heaven and Hell Part I, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell Part II and Invictus Invictus (album) ), in recent years, they have displayed musical theatre, progressive progressive metal and symphonic metal elements in their sound developing & writing "never done before" projects such as the Metal Opera "The House of Atreus" (based on Oresteia & the Greek myth related to the Atreides House of Atreus ) in 1999/2000 and the soundtrack for an imaginary movie Visions of Eden (A Barbaric Romantic Movie of the Mind) Visions of Eden aka "The Lilith Project" (based on the sumerian legend of Lilith) in 2006.
They play what they call "barbaric romanticism" which is a symphonic, romantic & bombastic music with many elements from classical music european classical music and fantasy/mythological lyrics based on real life events.
David DeFeis (all vocals, keyboards, orchestration, synth bass, swords & effects) about Virgin Steele's music: "From a whisper to a scream, barbaric, romantic, bombastic, yet subtle, grandiose, yet earthy. A call, a shout, an invocation to Freedom and the continual awakening to the awareness that every moment of life is lived to its fullest potential. It is a force, a sacred quest which drives Virgin Steele on".
Typically, during Virgin Steele's concerts a sword is burnt on stage.
In some special show they used to play a truly long live set called "Three hour extravaganza".
Fans consider "The Burning of Rome (Cry for Pompeii)" and "Emalaith" some of the most representative songs of the band.Many Virgin Steele songs are mythological, dealing with subjects from especially Greek mythology and the Christian Christian mythology religion. Most of their albums are concept albums.
The later albums tend to be more epic and mythological while, on the early albums (up till Life Among the Ruins), many songs are more real-life based stories of love and ***.
According to David DeFeis, all the lyrics he writes are based on real life in some form or another.A 'Metal Opera' is a mix between Rock opera, Broadway style Broadway theatre and "Heavy metal Heavy metal music adapted for theater Musical theatre 's actors live performances".
According with German artists Walter Weyers and Martina Krawulsky, with the name "Klytaimnestra": "The House of Atreus" Metal Opera (musically available on the Virgin Steele's albums "The House of Atreus Act I", "The House of Atreus Act II") was performed on stage in Germany theaters by Landestheater Production.
| The result, very different from an heavy metal Heavy metal music concert, is a metal based dark Broadway Broadway theatre style musical Musical theatre really powerful and energetic with actors only.
The premiere of "Klytaimnestra" in Memmingen, the 5th June 1999, has been the first ever regular musical theatre show based on heavy metal Heavy metal music concepts.
After "Klytaimnestra" success, David DeFeis & Landestheater Production extracted a second Metal Opera musical Musical theatre , named "The Rebels", from the previous Marriage of Heaven and Hell trilogy ("The Marriage of Heaven and Hell Part I", "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell Part II", "Invictus Invictus (album) ").At the beginning of the Eighties, Jack Starr Jack Starr (blues guitarist) (a guitarist of French France origins) was looking for the right elements to form the ultimate heavy metal heavy metal music band. The first to answer his call was drummer Joey Ayvazian, and together they started jamming and auditioning singers. They auditioned around 40 singers before David DeFeis was introduced to Jack by a friend of Joey.
| With an astounding interpretation of "No Quarter" by Led Zeppelin, "Child in Time" by Deep Purple and "Catch the Rainbow" by Rainbow Rainbow band : David got the vacant role of singer, bringing with him bassist Joe O'Reilly. At the end of 1981 the first line-up was ready.
Virgin Steele debuted in 1982 with "Children of the Storm" (a song loved by Metallica), included in the compilation "U.S. Metal Vol. II". A bit later they issued their self-titled first album. Their style was and remains very original, a melding of American United States heavy metal Heavy metal music and Rainbow's Rainbow (band) epic atmospheres. David, who also plays piano and keyboards, shows a particular liking for pompous and melodic arrangements, while Jack goes for a harder and more immediate assault.
Fan mail was becoming more interesting. Two letters in particular stand out, one from a young band, who were from Seattle. Their name was - Queensryche. The other, from California, also a band, who called themselves Metallica.
The following year (1983) the second album Guardians of the Flame was supported by a mini LP called Wait for the Night ("A Cry in the Night" in the European version).
After this, Jack Starr Jack Starr (blues guitarist) left in a dispute with DeFeis over the direction the band should take and afterwards recruited former Riot Riot (band) vocalist Rhett Forrester (killed in 1994 by someone unknown) and Rods' rhythmic section and released a powerful heavy metal Heavy metal music album called "Out of Darkness".
Even if David DeFeis produced this Starr's solo debut, Jack Starr Jack Starr (blues guitarist) tried to keep the Virgin Steele name for his new venture trying to appear with this moniker at the Breaking Sound Festival (Paris). They had a weak claim to the name, though, and so David DeFeis and the rest of the band (completed by DeFeis' old time friend guitarist Edward Pursino) managed to keep the Virgin Steele name after a victorious legal case against Jack Starr Jack Starr (blues guitarist) .
Supported by Pursino whose style prefectly fits DeFeis' songwriting more than the Starr's one: Virgin Steele new lineup recorded Noble Savage Noble Savage (album) , which melts classic and epic music. Today, this album is still considered one of the most important manifests of heavy and epic metal worldwide.
Between 1985 and 1986, also, some members of Virgin Steele strongly contributed to an album published under the name Exorcist called "Nightmare Theatre" and to an album published under the name Piledriver called "Stay Ugly" . David DeFeis only produced and helped these albums even if some rumors say he and Pursino are behind these bands .
The band, finally, manages to come to Europe supporting Manowar Manowar (band) and gains great approval from all quarters because of their live performances. When things started to come together, though, some inexplicable laws seemed to apply and the following album, Age of Consent Age of Consent (Virgin Steele album) , got a very narrow distribution and ended up a complete commercial failure. At this point, Virgin Steele were then in their darkest period: their label shut down and Joe O'Reilly decided to leave, and therefore the band stopped playing for a while.
During this break, David DeFeis finished his graduate in piano and composition and played live with a semi-improvised band called "Smoke Stark Lightning" featuring some famous musicians like his old mate Jack Starr Jack Starr (blues guitarist) and drummer Bobby Rondinelli.
In 1993, Rob De Martino was chosen as the new bass player so Virgin Steele came back with Life Among the Ruins: an album of Whitesnake-influenced hard rock with a strong bluesy vein. The song "Last rose of Summer" is the highlight of the cd but, featuring none of the trademark epic and mythology-based elements of the band, Life Among the Ruins is probably the most atypical release in the Virgin Steele discography and disliked by many die-hard classic metal fans. Quite interesting is the fact the American version has got a different cover and a bonus-track called "Snakeskin Voodoo Man" (published as a stand-alone single too) while many video-clips, taken from this album, were included into the home-video "Tale Of The Snakeskin Voodoo Man".
One year later, the band returned to the original sound with The Marriage of Heaven and Hell Part I, an album of epic metal full of melodic and symphonic influences, very progressive oriented.
This work (a concept regarding the different side of human nature) includes, among the others, the song "Life Among the Ruins" which is no related (apart for its title) to the previous Life Among the Ruins album. |
Virgin Steele come back to Europe (supporting Manowar Manowar (band) and Uriah Heep Uriah Heep (band) ) and at the end of 1995 the second part The Marriage of Heaven and Hell Part II came out, following the concept and the style of the first one.
Also, the band appeared on the compilation "A Tribute to Judas Priest: Legends of Metal - Volume II" playing a raw cover of the song "Screaming for Vengeance". Another Judas Priest cover "Desert Plains" is included, as bonus-track, into the Age of Consent Age of Consent (Virgin Steele album) album reissue.
After another European tour (this time as headliner) in 1996, a new album was released in March 1998: the third and final chapter of the "Marriage" saga, titled Invictus. This was their heaviest album at the time and also very epic. Lyrically it is a concept album about humanity's rebellion against a pantheon pantheon (gods) of evil, uncaring gods.
The band played at the Wacken Open Air festival in 1997 and in 1998.
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell trilogy signs also the debut of the master drummer Frank Gilchriest.
Always in 1998, Virgin Steele headlined a real long new European tour with Mark Reale's Riot Riot (band) and Stigmata IV as supporting acts. This tour, also, included the headliner performance at the Biker festival "Motorock" in Cremona (Italy).
Between the years 1999 and 2000 (with David DeFeis and Edward Pursino at bass too), the band released the never done before project of a Metal Opera writing the albums The House of Atreus Act I and The House of Atreus Act II intended to be played by actors in the theaters.
As subject of the Metal Opera it was choosed Oresteia & the Greek myth related to the Aeschylus very closer to David DeFeis, from his early years, because of his father theater's background. On the albums all vocals and orchestrations are managed by David DeFeis himself.
Just before The House of Atreus Act II, it was published the single "Magick Fire Music" with some Metal Opera outtakes. Inspired by Virgin Steele's Metal Opera, the German band Tobias Sammet's Avantasia wrote various albums using this format, David DeFeis appears as special guest on the track: "The Final Sacrifice" included in the Avantasia first EP.
After the show at the Bang Your Head!!! festival in 2000 without a bass player, in 2001 with the new bass player Josh Block: Virgin Steele toured with Hammerfall and Freedom Call. |
In 2002, the band did release two compilations to celebrate the 20th years anniversary. "The Book of Burning" consists of a mixture of previously unreleased songs, new compositions created by David DeFeis in collaboration with original guitarist Jack Starr Jack Starr (blues guitarist) (written at the beginning of the 90's and previously unofficially appeared in the underground, with Starr at the guitar, with the name "Sacred Demos") and re-recordings of various songs from the first two albums with Josh Block, and no Jack Starr Jack Starr (blues guitarist) , at the second guitar supporting Pursino. "Hymns to Victory", consequently, is a best-of album covering the band's career from Noble Savage Noble Savage (album) until their latest album The House of Atreus Act II.
The way to manage the reissues of the first two albums Virgin Steele Virgin Steele (album) and Guardians of the Flame Guardians of the Flame (album) , never published in cd before, created one more time problems between DeFeis and Starr so they decided to truncate any sort of relashonship. DeFeis managed the reissues himself remastering the original albums and adding new bonus tracks. The EP "A Cry in the Night" was included into the Guardians of the Flame CD.
David DeFeis (keyboards and backing vocals) appears as special guest on the first two Immortally Committed albums in the tracks "Epic" and "Council in Hell". He, Edward Pursino, Josh Block and Exorcist's drummer Geoff Fontaine played some live dates with the New York cover band Carnival Of Souls.
Between the years 2002 and 2005, the band headlined a large number of heavy metal festivals such as the "Agglutination Festival" (2003, Italy), the "Tradate Iron Fest" (2004, Italy), the "Keep it True V Festival" (2004, Germany) and the "Ragnarock Festival" (2005, Netherlands).
David DeFeis also created his own recording studio called: "The Wrecking Ball Of Thor".
In September 2006, after 6 years without an all-new studio album, the band released its 11th full-length Visions of Eden. The album revolves heavily around Gnostic beliefs and critically revisits the traditional Christian mythology with regards to the creation of the Earth and the Biblical accounts of Adam and Eve. An even darker, more melancholic drama than the House of Atreus saga, the story revolves around Lilith, the first wife of Adam and a symbol of female strength and independence. Representing the female side of the true, higher god, she suffers under the lusting, jealous Demiurge who represents the Christian god, and as an emancipated woman who could not get along with the dominant Adam Adam (Bible) stands in stark contrast to Eve Eve (Bible) . Adam's second wife is portrayed as a docile, subservient partner created by the demiurge at the request of Adam, who could not cope with an independent woman on equal footing with him.
Visions of Eden (A Barbaric Romantic Movie Of The Mind) Visions of Eden aka "The Lilith Project" is based on the Sumerian legend of Lilith and it is intended as the soundtrack for an imaginary movie. The band is actually looking for a producer to bring this concept album story on-screen.
In 2007, the band played at the Power Prog VIII Festival (Atlanta, Georgia) and at the Evolution Festival (Florence, Italy) & David DeFeis, with Josh Block, appears on the Polish band Crystal Viper EP in the cover of his song "Blood and Gasoline". The original version of "Blood and Gasoline" is available on Virgin Steele's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell Part I album.
Between 2007 and 2008 the sold out albums Noble Savage Noble Savage (album) , Age of Consent, Life Among the Ruins, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell Part I & The Marriage of Heaven and Hell Part II were reissued (with bonus tracks) by the German label Dockyard1.
A new Virgin Steele album is scheduled for 2010.
There are also rumors that a DVD live album is planned, a three hours show recorded at THE DOWNTOWN CLUB (Long Island, NY) in 2002 and an acoustic concert played in 2000 in München should be part of it.
In addition, the first ever Virgin Steele tribute album entitled "BY THE GODS: A NOBLE TRIBUTE TO VIRGIN STEELE" is in the making. The album will feature true/power metal bands from all over the world and is being supported by Virgin Steele frontman David Defeis.
(info taken from* David DeFeis - all vocals, keyboards, orchestration, synth bass, swords & effects
* Edward Pursino - electric & acoustic guitars
* Frank Gilchriest - drums, chaos & pandemonium
* Josh Block - electric bass & additional rhythm guitar
* Virgin Steele Virgin Steele (album) (1982)
* Guardians of the Flame Guardians of the Flame (album) (1983)
* Noble Savage Noble Savage (album) (1986)
* Age of Consent Age of Consent (Virgin Steele album) (1988)
* Life Among the Ruins (1993)
* The Marriage of Heaven and Hell Part I (1994)
* The Marriage of Heaven and Hell Part II (1995)
* Invictus Invictus (album) (1998)
* The House of Atreus Act I (1999)
* The House of Atreus Act II (2000)
* Visions of Eden (2006)
* Wait for the Night (1983)
* Magick Fire Music (2000)
* Hymns to Victory (2002)
* The Book of Burning (2002)
* Snakeskin Voodoo Man (1992)
* Through Blood And Fire (1998)
* Tale Of The Snakeskin Voodoo Man (1992)
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