|Review: Virgin Steele - Nocturnes of Hellfire & Damnation|
|Nocturnes of Hellfire & Damnation|
Year released: 2015
Genre: Heavy/Power Metal
Review online: June 21, 2015
Reviewed by: MetalMike
for:Nocturnes of Hellfire & Damnation
Rated 3.59/5 (71.76%) (34 Votes)
Virgin Steele's older releases get a lot of love her at The Metal Crypt. The reasons for that love have thus far eluded me even when I checked out the much-lauded The House of Atreus – Act 1. 2010's wildly erratic Black Light Bacchanalia only left me scratching my head more as I tried to divine what anyone saw in this band.
Fast-forward to 2015 and the release of Virgin Steele's 14th full-length, Nocturnes of Hellfire & Damnation and the fog that has obscured the finer points of the band's efforts is starting to lift. David DeFeis, the lone founding member remaining in the Virgin Steele camp, and crew long ago gave up on releasing "short" albums and Nocturnes of Hellfire & Damnation clocks in at an impressive 1 hour, 18 minutes so at the very least you're getting a lot of music for your dollar. More on the length later. One of the difficulties I had with Black Light was that DeFeis' vocal lines often seemed to have little to do with the song melodies as he screamed, purred, squeaked and generally caterwauled his way through the album. The vocal histrionics are still present on Nocturnes but they have been woven much more smoothly into the songs, kind of like how King Diamond's lines worked so well with Mercyful Fate/King Diamond. Nocturnes gives us a wide range of Virgin Steele's Power/Heavy Metal mastery with anthems like opener "Lucifer's Hammer" (spelled "Luzifer" on my promo which is sort of cool and cheesy at the same time), slow burners like "Queen of the Dead" and "Devilhead" and stuff with a more epic feel like "Persephone." They go back to the 80s on "Demolition Queen" which sounds a bit like Whitesnake's "Still of the Night" if it had actually been METAL. DeFeis still uses a range of vocal styles but as I mentioned he's much more in sync with the songs and the studio effects much less noticeable. What really separates Nocturnes from Black Light are the riffs; actual, crushing riff after riff, unencumbered by the overuse of keyboards. Even the softer songs like the Queensryche-esque "We Disappear" are guitar-driven and the use of piano has been reduced. The whole album feels more focused and coherent. Until the end, that is. Earlier I mentioned the length of all Virgin Steele albums and Nocturnes in particular. I will never fault a band for giving the fans more music but it needs to be quality and the last four tracks here just aren't as good as the preceding ten. From "Glamour" through "Fallen Angels" the Steele give us some limp choruses and less imaginative riffs that do Nocturnes no favors.
Far more consistent than its predecessor, Nocturnes of Hellfire & Damnation is a solid, nay excellent, release from this veteran band and despite running out of gas at the end should make long-time Virgin Steele fans and newbies alike quite happy.
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