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This is perfect from start to finish; a multi-storied body of work depicting Virgin Steele as barbaric, romantic and apocalyptic all in one fell swoop. Usually re-recording songs is not as rewarding as it promises to be. Many bands do indeed fumble the ball as they halfheartedly try to recapture the nuances of their energetic youths. The picture often reproduced is shameful and dishonoring, largely because they are "faking it"; the glory days are impossible to relive, especially when stylistically you've gone through more configurations than a Rubik's cube, and so what once sounded fresh and imaginative is rendered tastelessly slick and tacky. There's many examples to cite but this review happens to be about only Virgin Steele and I've digressed too far enough already.
Virgin Steele have been tirelessly selling the same old books for years. The versions differ and each manages to retain some sort of intrinsic qualities separate from the other, but at the core the message rings the same. And that is how I'll end that metaphor because it doesn't really matter how and from what ends you look at "The Book Of Burning", because the literal truth remains the same: this is thoroughly enjoyable material of top quality!
We are presented with eight never heard before songs and eight re-workings of old classics that still sound vital as they did back in the '80s from whence they were plucked. Heck, "Children Of The Storm" packs a harder punch than the original and if you thought "The Redeemer" was a force to conquer the lands with, then brace yourself because this time it is a potent vanquishing potion to arm yourself with at all times. "Don't Say Goodbye Tonight" travels respectfully over sacred romantic grounds, continually proving that our Mr. DeFeis is both a fighter and a lover.
"Conjuration Of The Watcher" was left over from "The House Of Atreus: Act I" sessions and maintains the groundbreaking epic flourishes of then, while "Hot And Wild" from the "Noble Savage" sessions is a thunderous heavy metal assault made all the more glorious because it is seemingly mindless of this modern new age of concise and neat song packages (hey Dave, people just don't sing like that anymore!)
Throughout the album, Edward Pursino's powerful riff tones and blistering leads ring out loud and clear (all hail the man!) and the keyboards maintain a graceful presence that neither clouds nor cripples the quality of the metal.
A final word must be said for the Anthem of the Apocalypse, "The Final Days" with its frenetic breaks, smart, segmented licks, and raspy Savatage-like vocals...and that word is ORGASMIC! Virgin Steele proved their worth a long time ago, but this should be owned by every fan just for the pleasure of beaming with pride as they race, by contrasts, wildly and elegantly from song to song.
Now this is basically an excellent collection of Virgin Steele songs, containing re-recorded versions of songs appearing on the first two releases as well as a handfull of new and previously unreleased songs.
Even though by now both of the first albums have been re-released as well - the new songs are strong enough on their own to warrant a purchase and a handfull of them even manages to be amongst Vs's best tracks.
Highlights are of course the re-recorded classics "The Redeemer" (one of THE best Vs songs ever), "Guardians Of The Flame" as well as a host of new songs like the amazing "Rain Of Fire", "Succubus", "Hellfire Woman" and "The Chosen Ones".
Definitely a must-have for any Virgin Steele fan - you won't be disappointed in the least...