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Uneven brilliance - 76%

Andromeda_Unchained, July 31st, 2013

Straight off the bat I’m going to say this is one of, if not the hardest Virgin Steele album to review. There are a number of reasons that makes this so, from the various pressings of the album doing the rounds, to the material included – some of which I might add is the finest the band has cut to tape – this is a hard job, but I’ll do my best to clear everything up both for fans and newcomers.

Admittedly, this was one of the last releases I checked out in the Virgin Steele back catalogue. I’d heard “The Burning Of Rome” on The Book Of Burning which was enough for me at the time. It wasn’t until the latest reissue of the album that I jumped on board, and unless you’re an ardent purist, I strongly recommend picking up said version.

In its original form, Age Of Consent plays out like a slightly weaker version of Noble Savage. You can actually make a godly playlist from those two releases’ original tracks, but I’m not here to talk about that today. So, before I touch on why I feel the reissue is the best way to hear Age Of Consent, I’d like to quickly comment on what I liked, and of course, what I didn’t, about the album’s original tracks.

Like I said, it plays out a lot like last album, except Noble Savage didn’t have “The Burning Of Rome (Cry For Pompeii)”, which still ranks amongst the finest tracks the band has ever done; it doesn’t get much better than this. The rest of the album is kind of confused. Whilst tracks such as “On The Wings Of The Night” and “Lion In Winter” are killer, there’s stuff like “Seventeen” which could have been pilfered from Poison (what was the fascination with seventeen year olds? Winger I’m looking at you too), as well as a cover of Uriah Heap’s “Stay On Top” which isn’t bad, but feels out of place here (especially on the reissue). Performance-wise, everything is ace, with DeFeis sounding equal parts wild and smooth, and Edward Pursino dishing out the goods in the riff department.

Now, this is where it gets interesting. With the reissue, a ten track album becomes a sixteen track album (plus a second disc with some nifty covers and rarities). The track listing has been completely changed up, opening up with the oh-so-magnificent “The Burning Of Rome” (okay, I’ll shut up about this song now). However, it is in the added tracks where I’ve found a considerable amount of joy. I’d say the first nine songs on the reissue play out like Virgin Steele through the 90’s (their epic power metal finest), which is thanks to the likes of superb interuludes, and two mammoth additions to the album (although they did appear on the ’97 reissue, but let’s not confuse things anymore). “Perfect Mansions (Mountains Of The Sun)” has quickly become one of my favourite Virgin Steele songs, and shows everything I love about this band. “Serpent’s Kiss” is a darker, riff orientated track which should please fans of the Atreus albums.

All these factors make the reissue of Age Of Consent an absolute joy, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t pick up said version, unless you’re an ardent purist, collector etc. Despite having some of my favourite Virgin Steele songs, I still think the album is a little confused, as well as having some filler tracks (I could happily cut three or four) In saying that though, this is undoubtedly a worthy addition to Virgin Steele canon, and a mandatory stop for all fans of the band. Newcomers should check this out as well, although I’d certainly recommend stopping here a little later in your travels with this brilliant band.

Originally written for http://www.blackwindmetal.com/

And Thus The Empire of Steele Was Forged - 90%

VirginSteele_Helstar, August 22nd, 2012

"Age Of Consent" is the quintessential Virgin Steele album. Most fans of the band will eagerly name "The Marriage Of Heaven and Hell" saga, "Invictus" and "The House Of Atreus" as their finest works but we all share a warm fondness for "Age Of Consent". It speaks a language we understand-it is the sound of the band naked and free in their skin and where others would look away self conscious, we don't. We share in the revels because we know this is the core of Virgin Steele.

The Empire of Steele as I like to refer to it, rests solely on the five magnificent heavy metal masterpieces that came after the “Life Among The Ruins” album. But at the foundation of that empire is “Age Of Consent”. This album embodies all the aspects of Virgin Steele; the epic, the light hearted, the aggressive, the romantic, the noble and the absurd. If ever a band was to be too multi dimensional and overly segmented, they usually strove to make a record that captured them at all angles. One that told the complete story, so to speak. For Led Zeppelin, Virgin Steele’s principal heroes, it was “Physical Graffiti”-a culmination of all they had been feeding on; a final coming together of all the elements that had made them such a thrill. As anyone will objectively attest, the Zep was never as memorable in the years that followed that record. Luckily for Virgin Steele, it is quite the reverse. “Age Of Consent” bared the band’s soul but didn’t really dig in deep. In retrospect, it can be viewed as a mere sampling of the different faces the band would fully show on records thereafter.

The most important songs on the album are firstly “The Burning of Rome (Cry For Pompeii) which is Virgin Steele’s original grand affair. It is hailed to this day as one of their greatest songs and its tasteful melding of basic guitar riffery with complexly melodic key work has since been mirrored in many a song of Steele. “Perfect Mansions (Mountains of The Sun)” remains one of the band’s more emotive and moving pieces. David DeFeis’ vocal performance is full of heart and such a force of transcendent beauty. I listen to it and think; “That’s the way a Power metal ballad ought to be delivered!” They shot a promotional video for that song and I think that was a particularly excellent choice. “Lion In Winter” offers a more earthy grit and natural aggression than any of the songs on “Invictus” exhibit. In a way it is the mother of all and any such Virgin Steele songs but with a bit more delicacy and nobility. DeFeis sings the line; “Anger is the symphony of screams” like he is stating a primary fact of life. Not in forced rage or petty “brutalness” but with an observance that is rather godly. “Cry Forever” is the pinnacle of Virgin Steele’s endless romantic strolls. It perfectly evokes the childish sweetness and adult anguish of those who offer and suffer for love. Like Robert Plant, David Coverdale, Ronnie James Dio, Steve Perry and Freddie Mercury before him, David DeFeis delivers it expertly. Emoting with only the right quantity of feeling and never going over the top with it.

They all go over the top though eventually. After all, this is the Steele Exhibition warts and all. Edward Pursino does with a wild unrepentant rocker’s solo that saves the rather dull but thunderingly epic “Serpent’s Kiss”. His equally delicious lead playing on the Uriah Heep cover, “Stay On Top” however, fails to redeem it in any way. It is the sort of ridiculous thing that seems to be a requisite for every Virgin Steele album. Just as absurd but all the more endearing for it is the song “Seventeen” which explores in more chuckalicios detail the jailbait themes momentarily explored on “On The Wings Of The Night” and responsible for the title “Age Of Consent”. Virgin Steele tackle the fun of illegal sex with the same gay abandon that Venom and Slayer displayed when shoving Satan down the throats of the moral majority.

Of the newer songs released on the 2011 reissue, “Under The Graveyard Moon” with its Gothic nuances is the most promising while the cover of “Screaming For Vengeance” is sorely disappointing or righteously riotous depending on your mood for the day.

For any Virgin Steele fan, “Age Of Consent” is a triumph worth savoring over and over again. The band was in conflict at the time of its making and release and it would be five years until the next one. The fact, therefore, that they came out swinging deserves celebrating. And look no further for a party record…

A Little Too Young - 64%

GuntherTheUndying, January 24th, 2012

Virgin Steele was somewhat caught in a minute funk (at least I think so) during 1988 and the album it heaved from the roaring womb of one of the most underrated bands of all time. I’ll be the first to tell you there’s no greater slab of human failure than the neglect of Virgin Steele; it’s actually embarrassing they were never standing among the Black Sabbaths and Iron Maidens of metal’s elite. Granted, there’ve been a few slips in their lengthy career, and “Age of Consent” might be one of those little goofs in a discography that otherwise reached pretty damn close to perfection. Glimmers of Virgin Steele’s expected glory shine through, yet there’s an unnamable inconsistency that the band seems to carry with them like a ghostly spirit that refuses to just drop the curse and leave.

And honestly, the sound of the album is Virgin Steele, just not at full creative strength. You should know the explosive voice of David DeFeis that lights the air ablaze as if he exhaled kerosene and ignited the metallic front on fire with vocal chords that shoot sparks by now; the epic riffing; and the fundamental traits of a stellar group crashing down on insipid ears, and if you don’t…well, you should, dick. Getting to the music, nothing hits the spot more than the monstrous cut of prime heavy metal that is “The Burning of Rome (Cry for Pompeii),” the album’s opener–at least on the reissue. It’s pretty much a total blast of fantastic riffs, melodies, and vocals condensed into a sensational piece of excellent, catchy metal, and it’s really no wonder the song has out lived most of its kinship and still captures the hearts of Virgin Steele fans everywhere.

The album declines in content as it progresses from this point, but there’s still no denying the unrelenting awesomeness of the speedy “Let it Roar” and the epic gallops of “Lion in Winter,” two songs that genuinely represent the phenomenal nature of DeFeis and crew. Things get a little hazy from here on out though, because the various reissues that were released after the original copy not only scrambled the tracklisting like Willy Wonka’s Wonkavision, but also dumped deposits of bonus material, most of which just blows to be frank. Three useless interludes are added along with two eight-minute mammoths which range from emotive and superb (“Perfect Mansions”) to a test of one’s patience (“Serpent’s Kiss”) in a blink of an eye, and there’s an average Judas Priest cover of “Desert Plains” to end this extra fluff too. The rest of the original album unfortunately trucks on in a rock-laden approach which inconsistency produces acceptable tunes. There’re a few goodies like “On the Wings of the Night” or “Tragedy,” but nothing in league of the album’s first half.

The armpit of the record is just that: an armpit. Virgin Steele for some reason included a handful of ghastly anthems between the occasional pitch of relevancy. “Cry Forever” makes me want to cry forever; they should’ve tossed that weak ballad on a b-side somewhere or a demo tape, never to be touched again. “We are Eternal” is a lame rocker that sucks the life out of Virgin Steele’s usually-impeccable atmosphere, and the Uriah Heep cover is probably the worst recording under the Virgin Steele banner; words cannot describe how much it sucks. And I don’t care what anyone says: “Seventeen” rules. I mean, everything controversial comes from this one tune: the lyrical affair regarding the porking of jailbait, the questionable album title, the sleazy hard rock, the chorus which repeats like a broken record…what's not to love? It essentially represents everything wrong and right with “Age of Consent,” albeit magnificently I might add. The lyrics are famous in their own right, mainly because Dateline NBC wasn’t too fond of Virgin Steele’s, uh, lyrical focus. Mr. DeFeis, please have a seat: I’m Chris Hanson and we’re doing an investigation about sexual predators…

Kidding, only kidding. Hey, I'm not disputing the level of immaturity displayed by the band, but as I said, "Seventeen" truly whips butt. Overall though I feel like "Age of Consent" sets the stage for what Virgin Steele would eventually accomplish, and that makes it remarkable in its own right. However, the only truly problematic quality of “Age of Consent” is its ceaseless irregularity after “Perfect Mansions," and the fact that there’re only a handful of significant tunes kind of makes it a bit of letdown. The vice of inconsistency was thankfully canned after this album, and soon they were riding the sky in the chariot of the gods. Here, Virgin Steele merely sits around and thinks about boning the passing jailbait. A utopia for some, but a fate not acceptable for Virgin Steele.

This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com

Romantic & romantic, with a side of underage girls - 88%

Acrobat, May 18th, 2008

Well, I never would have guessed Mr DeFeis and co. would have quite of taken their namesake so literally, having quite the obsession with the younger females. I somewhat naively believed ‘Age of Consent’ perhaps referred to something else (Chariot racing perhaps? Who knows). Still, jailbait aside, this is a very strong and generally underrated melodic metal album leaning towards the softer side of 80s metal. A touch cheesy perhaps, but when this album gets going have the fucking roof nailed down.

As previously stated we get more epic Romantic themes (the burning of Rome etc) with typical walking hard-on borderline sex pestery. As a result this album has a certain comedy value for me, having being acquainted with the bands later works, which are more Age of the Empires than age of consent, I expected just similar grand mythological and historical themes and as such I had a good old chortle at such near Shakespearian prose as;
‘I wanna feel you in the dark’
‘Ooh babe, don't say no..’
‘She's seventeen and tight’.
Oh, Mr DeFeis whatever will the clergy say? Aw well, it’s fine by me and certainly an entertaining listen. Also the more straight up love and lust themed songs tend to be musically straight forward as well, commercial even, but with a melodic class that never stooped down to the levels of the hair metal also-rans.

‘The Burning of Rome (Cry for Pompeii)’ is perhaps my absolute favourite Virgin Steele song, it bears all the hallmarks of a classic VS song. The haunting melodic riffs, empowered and emotional vocals, instrumental interludes that display a strong classical influence and never lose sight of melody and structure all topped off with sense of grandeur and majesty, that in the hands of lesser mortals could of become tacky or trite. This song kicks serious amounts of arse, so do your self a favourite and listen with open ears and heart…embrace it…now place your body next to your computer, feel my words inside of you. So yeah, nothing short of magnificent. ‘Chains of Fire’ will most certainly appeal to fans of the bands later works with some classy and distinctive riffs and a seductive chorus. More brilliant stuff. ‘Lion in Winter’ is galloping, epic number with a characteristic touch of pathos about it (mainly the sense of desperation in the vocals). ‘Let it Roar’ harkens back to the bands more undeveloped earlier works in places, but it’s an enjoyable slab of speed metal much like Dio’s ‘Stand Up and Shout’. The outro is rather stunning too, I just wish they’d done more with it…but you can always dream of what could have been.

There’s some great stuff to be found amongst the bonus tracks too, although some uneventful stuff as well. ‘Desert Plains’ shows the band making the song their own, not that it outstrips the Priest version in terms of quality but rather the fact that the band add so much more in terms of texture. ‘Perfect Mansions’ is a rather good epic power ballad, certainly one of the bands best ballads.

There is some shite here though. Namely ‘Stay on Top’ which is bland commercial dross, typical late 80s stuff, this really has no place on an album which shows very ably that the band can do so much more. ‘Cry Forever’ isn’t really doing much of note either. It’s these occasionally drab moments that let the album down a touch…still these are trivial matters when you have a song as strong as ‘The Burning of Rome (Cry for Pompeii)’.

In terms of musicality and overall style ‘Age of Consent’ shows the band really gelling into the classic Virgin Steele sound. Keyboards are utilised heavily, but never detract from the atmosphere and add lots in terms of melodic counterpoints and texture. This so easily could of descended into excess but DeFeis is a student of say Rainbow and Purple’s masterful use of keys (not to say there are any balls out organ solos here) but the keyboards really do work exceptionally well. This is Edward Pursino’s second album with the band and his sound is vastly improved over ‘Noble Savage’ benefiting both from a clearer production and a more focused approach. Now, dealing with the vocals I should warn you that I’m just a little bit gay for DeFeis. But yes, what a fucking voice; power, passion and a phenomenal range. He’s remarkably versatile too ranging from animalistic grunts and growls to softer ethereal, almost feminine high notes. Quite simply one of the best metal vocalists out there.

It may not be perfect, but by the Gods (pluralized for that pagan touch) does this have it’s moments. Certainly worth investigating if you have any interest in melodic metal…just don’t give your sister’s number to the band. Ok?

Somewhat inconsistent, but still good - 80%

Lennert, May 8th, 2006

*Note* This is a review of the re-release with bonustracks.

Yes, I rate Life among the Ruins above this one, mainly because Life among the Ruins is consistent and only contains hardrock songs. I like hardrock and I like epic heavy metal, but I like an album to be consistent. That means I like something, just as long as it sounds like a complete album, not like a mix-up.

Age of Consent is inconsistent. Songs like Seventeen, Tragedy, On the Wings of the Night, Stay on top, Cry Forever and Chains of Fire should all have been on an album which is completely hardrock. All the other songs would make a perfect heavy metal album.

The Burning of Rome is awesome and surely one of the best songs VS ever recorded. It's epic, majestic and emotional, lyrically it speaks of the destruction of everything that's beautiful on this world. Let it Roar, Prelude ot Evening, Lion in Winter and Stranger at the Gate are just good but not as outstanding like The Burning of Rome.

Then all of a sudden we get Perfect Mansions, one of the best ballads David Defeis ever wrote. The lyrics are somewhat cheezy, but that doesn't really bother me at all, the atmosphere is there, as is the wonderful solo. Coils of the Serpent and Serpent's Kiss could have been on the Invictus album, it has the same production and raw punch. Great songs, though not as great as songs like Mind, Body, Spirit or the Sword of the Gods. Desert Plains is a cover from Judas Priest and I like it better than the original. We are eternal is a great atmospheric epic song which sounds a little like Queensryche in the old days.

Like I said before, the other songs are not bad at all, but they should have been on a different album like Life among the Ruins. Noble Savage also had some songs which just didn't seem to fit there, but they weren't that many in number. Still, I like every song on the album (Cry forever was also on the Life among the Ruins album, I still like it very much) and I rate it this high because I think that even the worst Virgin Steele album is above average.

Why, you may ask. Seriously, I don't know, but ever since I heard Noble Savage (the song) for the first time I fell in love with the band in the same way I did when I first heard Iron Maiden. I think it's David's unique voice...

Anyway, this is the worst Virgin Steele album, but that really doesn't mean that much. It's still great.

Excellent follow-up and improvement... - 80%

Sinner, December 23rd, 2002

Definitely a huge step forward for Virgin Steele, although apparantly somewhat overlooked and forgotten by many.

Basically everything about this album (especially the production and Defeis's voice) is a lot better done than on their previous effort - and has more in common with later albums such as "The Marriage..." trilogy than with the earlier releases. There also seems to be more of a focus on the epic / fantasy tainted material instead of the glam material which could be found on "Noble Savage".

The album starts out in the best way possible with "The Burning Of Rome" - an absolute classic and still one of the strongest Vs songs ever. Further highlights are (what seems to be a straight follow up to forementioned song) "Perfect Mansions", the excellent "Serpent's Kiss" and the speedy "Let It Roar". A little less interesting are songs like "Seventeen" (yes, glam-rock indeed) and "Tragedy", but this is more or less overcome by the inclusion of two very decent covers, namely the excellent "Desert Plains" (Priest) and the good "Stay On Top" (Uriah Heep) (even though the second one somehow seems a bit out of place).

Just like "Noble Savage", the review here is for the re-mastered edition, which, just like that album is a huge improvement over the original.

Epic meets a few mounds of cheese - 61%

UltraBoris, December 17th, 2002

Virgin Steele goes a bit more epic on this album at times, though sometimes they do resort to the mounds of cheese that would mark their 80s work.

"The Burning of Rome". This is reason enough to pick up this album. This song is fucking fantastic, and rivals anything they've done in the past few years during their total glorious epic era. They must play this one live, I swear...

Anyway, there is also the rest, of which some stuff is great, other stuff is pretty forgettable. "Let it Roar" and "Lion in Winter" are both great, as is "We are Eternal". All of them reasonably good songs that stand on their own nicely.

"On the Wings of the Night" is pretty silly, but somehow ends up not being entirely stupid, and the re-release features a very well done cover of Judas Priest's "Desert Plains". Meanwhile, "Seventeen" and "Stay on Top" are just plain horrible, and should be forgotten.

The epic "The Serpent's Kiss" must also be mentioned - it doesn't go quite as immensely well as some of their later 8 minute numbers, but it's really not bad - quite good, in fact. Overall, the album has its moments, but is not really consistently amazing. Not bad, though.