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Sweet Satan, this rules! Fuck all pretenses. I don't care how much of a raving fanatic I sound in this review, as long as it gets the point across. Virgin Steele's 90s run was one of the most impressive I've ever seen, and this album, along with the four that came after it, are undeniable metal classics, all of them. And they're all good for different reasons, too! Virgin Steele are one of the most flexible bands I've ever come across, at least in this genre, boasting new, great strengths with each leap and bound.
On The Marriage of Heaven and Hell part 1, their main strength is just being really, really epic. Now, there's a term that's seen quite a lot of over-use and stagnation lately, but here it is very applicable. The band cranks out huge, stomping riffs that can also gallop, soar and charge, and then you have David DeFeis and his unmistakable lion's roar of a voice, and Edward Pursino's solos are always juicy, melodic and rich, the keys are blended in perfectly, the guitar tone is crunchy and warm and heavy as Hell, and everything is pretty much perfect. Face it. This is the best Power Metal album of the 1990s, and it's probably better than anything produced in the '00s as of right now, too. It might not eclipse such transcendental albums as Ample Destruction or Burning Star or Transcendence, but rest assured, it's on that very same level!
We kick off with the atmospheric, haunting "I Will Come For You," and it's heavy and ominous. It's a good song, but not the best here...however, we then kick into "Weeping of the Spirits," and for anyone who doesn't like awesome, you'd better stop listening to this album right now. Virgin Steele have produced some fine epics in their time, but none are more boldly aggressive and stunningly crafted than this song. It's got a crackling verse, a headstrong riff and a lushly melodic chorus, all topped off with absolutely wonderful lyrics. "Blood and Gasoline" smokes, as does the wistful "Self Crucifixion," the big and epic "Last Supper," the kinetic "Raven Song" and the pristine balladry of "Forever Will I Roam" and "House of Dust."
The album finishes with a bang with the smoking "Blood of the Saints" and the seminal "Life Among the Ruins," which just shines with a catchy, bouncy, crunchy riff and a chorus that will make you want to pump your metal-spiked, leather-clad fist in the air like a fucking mongoloid. "You were a rose, you were a blade! Down on my knees in the fiery rain! Life among the ruins..." Fucking killer. And then of course the Marriage theme is quite poignant and regal, as always. Shove this album under the nose of all who worship false metal, and do it with vehemence.
Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com