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Caesar of epic power metal - 90%

StillDeath, July 4th, 2004

If you are a newcomer than this is the best introduction to Virgin Steele, a best-of which favours the later and better albums. It was my first taste of the band and made me track down anything the band has released. If you take the best of Manowar and mix it with the best of Avantasia you will get Virgin Steele. I am not sure if this collection has enough new stuff to make it worthwhile for a VS veteran. OK, there are two previously unreleased tracks (Saturday Night and Mists of Avalon); some alternate versions of songs, the majority tracks are just re-mastered. Track selection is near perfect apart from a previously unreleased Saturday Night, which sounds like typical glam and does not fit in at all folks. Other than that every song is a highlight and my favourite changes day to day. Everything just screams fucking classic 80’s metal with 00’s production.

The lyrical themes deal with epic battles and Greek/Roman history. Very interesting time period, and a big plus for the band to do it properly in concept albums and not in a half-assed random way. Taking random tracks from concept albums may not be a good idea, but in this the material is strong enough and developed enough for each song to stand on its own. Honestly, I usually couldn’t care less about concept albums but this collection made me a believer even from the samples provided. I can actually see where they are going with this!

The music contains galloping riffs, piano passages, opera-style backing vocals, string instruments, straight up speed metal and one hell of a vocalist who is similar to Manowar’s Eric Adams. What separates the band from Manowar is that songs are more complex and just make more sense, when the fast sections eventually slow down they do so for a reason. Good songwriting is one that can be easily accepted by the listener. Did I also mention that epic songs must be catchy or they are worthless otherwise? We have a winner in this collection as it illustrates how musical complexity can be interesting and involving.

In conclusion, the material featured can appeal to anyone, and I also mean someone who has never heard true metal in their life. Suffice to say that no one can touch VS as far as epic metal goes, and these songs shove you straight onto a battlefield.