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Pure cheese, but man is it catchy! - 80%

Xeogred, May 1st, 2007

Maybe its a sin, but this is probably my favorite Virgin Steele album. It pretty much always has been and I don't think that'll ever change. Drastically different than the Virgin Steele most people have come to know and love, and definitely showcases a younger and experimenting band, but this is hands down their most consistent release from their golden days. That was a major issue with their debut, and their next few albums "Noble Savage", "Age Of Consent", and "Life Among The Ruins", the inconsistency and there were too many times when it seemed like Defeis wanted to transform them into a hard rock band. "Guardians of the Flame" however is probably their "most metal" release out of their prime and has more than a handful of classics all over it.

David Defeis is hands down a top notch vocalist. Again however, I'm going to have to say I enjoy his vocals here more than his newer developed voice and singing style displayed from the Heaven and Hell albums and up, where he started staying in a darker mid-range and often sounds quite a bit like Eric Adams. He gives off quite an aggressive performance here, and throws out those longer notes effortlessly. Though I can't lie, the first time I heard some of those shrieks I couldn't help but laugh (just listen to the intro on Metal City). You will hear some -insanely- high pitched screaming here.

Style wise, the more straightforward Jack Starr influence is all over here (if you've heard his stuff off his Burning Starr band you should know what to expect). Jack Starr is one of the more energetic and true metal guitarists out there, and has been all over the place. Not a mindblowing figure or anything, but he's kept pretty true to his passion and his songs on here are pretty top notch. The guitarwork he displays here is top notch, filled with catchy rhythm's and great solo's. His writing along with Virgin Steele's main force David DeFeis definitely complement each other well here. There are a handful of epic moments too, though the keyboards and whatnot aren't much of a major focus here like they are with their newer works. Often the sound and style here could be compared to Attacker's "Battle At Helm's Deep", but a little more accessible and not as over the top.

Virgin Steele has also done a lot of remakes from this album, heard on their best of/compilations "Hymns to Victory" and "The Book of Burning". Though again, I'm going to have to say I enjoy the originals here a lot more. But if you want to compare old Virgin Steele to the new, listening to these original songs and then the remakes would definitely be the perfect way to do this.

The last two tracks Go All the Way and A Cry in the Night are to goofy for metal, but for the rest of the album its really enjoyable and catchy. The re-release includes five bonus tracks. I Am the One tends to stand out more than the rest, after its goofy intro is over with. The Interview track has DeFeis playing a bit on the piano before they actually start talking, nothing too incredible but for the huge fans it'll probably be interesting to hear, as it is literally an interview with the band. The first handful of tracks from Don't Say Goodbye Tonight to Guardians of the Flame are definitely a blast with some very catchy rhythm's and choruses. And Metal City's intro always brings a smile to my face.

Its goofy, but cheese doesn't get old and little bit here and there can't hurt right? If you're a big fan of the band but have only heard their newer stuff, definitely reconsider giving this album a chance. There is quite an odd and majestic vibe to be heard here. The only other band Virgin Steele reminds me of is probably Manowar, so if you're a fan you just may love this and vice versa. Fans of energetic, catchy, and happier-than-most metal should definitely check into this album.