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Armor of Flaming Gold - 95%

GuntherTheUndying, October 14th, 2014

Is the last bite as good as the first? Well, “Invictus” has the decency to rightfully accept its place as the weakest chapter in Virgin Steele’s three-part “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell” saga. That said, the unforgettable symmetry between the howling croons of David DeFeis and Edward Pursino’s guitar shrewdness, even in the record’s weakest moments, puts the primes of most to shame. By far the heaviest Virgin Steele record, “Invictus” drops some of the elegance seen on the first two chapters of the trilogy for a charging element of intensity. Despite the minor changes, its trajectory remains acquainted to the musical arcs of its spiritual siblings; the major motifs of “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell” mostly stay unaffected. “Invictus” crafts its own destiny of unconquered purity and robust passion until DeFeis ends the voyage by screaming, “We came! We saw! We conquered you all!” Truer words have never been spoken.

While the many themes of sophistication and class play a role here, this is an album driven by Virgin Steele’s stoutness. The songs are more like “Victory is Mine” or “I Wake up Screaming” structurally than the varied approach used on “Parts 1 & 2,” coming off as rougher, meatier staples; it isn’t so much of a change of style as it is a broader focus on a few sequences Virgin Steele had dabbled in hitherto. There are no ballads, no eloquent cuts à la “Self Crucifixion,” no big or brazen attempts to shift the record’s point of attack elsewhere. Pursino’s riffs are often forthright and strong up against the solid rhythm section and DeFeis’ vocals, which sound fine under the harsher elements. Anatomically much simpler and not so determined by the shifting of tactics.

Stripping things down does not lead to the high level of quality dissolving reciprocally, however. The avenues are narrower, sure, and there is less magic brewing here, but these songs still manage to be fantastic (not to imply that’s a big surprise or something). Things boil down to the consistency of DeFeis’ songwriting and Pursino’s guitar work, which together do the usual Virgin Steele routine of songs featuring incredible bridges, striking choruses, and dynamic arrangements far beyond the norm. “Invictus” actually ends up having the luxury of being an incredibly varied record despite its base driving on a straightforward path, but again this is due to Virgin Steele’s tremendous compositional habits and the unparalleled cognizance among Pursino and DeFeis. The sixteen cuts, from introduction to epic, make the heavens quake.

The primary strength of the album is its flow. There is an astounding amount of diversity linked among numbers that have the same roots and elements ingrained in their structures; “Invictus” feels very conceptual between its several realms. Virgin Steele kicks things off nicely with the title track and “Mind, Body, Spirit,” which, respectively, are great representatives of the forceful blitzkriegs and the lengthened epics “Invictus” has to offer within. Things really ignite on “Sword of the Gods,” an excellent seven-minute voyage of high-flying sectors and unforgettable power. Electric rockers like “Dust from the Burning” and “Dominion Day” are robust and sharp; heavy on the riffs and huge on Virgin Steele’s unmatched intensity. My loins quiver with excitement.

“Veni, Vidi, Vici” closes the circle on Virgin Steele’s prime, and there is no better way to sum up their stint of glory than this song alone. The ten-minute epic runs through a multitude of titanic riffs and sections that are like raiding temples of gold, brought to an incredible apex by its amazing chorus and Pursino’s scorching solo. To think “Invictus” is the weakest point of the trilogy doesn’t change that the album is a remarkable achievement on its own; just another masterpiece in Virgin Steele’s trophy case of stellar opuses. Virgin Steele would go on to make some other outstanding efforts after “Invictus,” but the semblance here of a barbaric, romantic epic remains an outstanding statement by one of the best bands ever. Thank you David DeFeis and Ed Pursino, for crowning us all kings.

This review was written for:

Steele at its heaviest - 90%

Andromeda_Unchained, September 22nd, 2013

Having sought out medical attention after my mind was shattered by the sheer overload of excellence which I was bombarded with from reviewing the Marriage albums, I’m back and grounded again. Let’s push on with the rest of the Virgin Steele discography! Invictus was the eighth full-length from DeFeis and the gang, and was one of the last albums I checked out from Virgin Steele on my journey through their music.

Invictus is technically the third instalment in the Marriage cycle of the Virgin Steele discography, although I see it more as a bridge into their later direction. In particular, I think this work segues well into the House Of Atreus albums, and I’d even go as far as to say that I feel there are elements which aren’t too far away from Visions Of Eden or even The Black Light Bacchanalia. I also think that Invictus is the first Virgin Steele album which really feels at home with what was going on with the band’s European power metal contemporaries, and I certainly believe it to be an influence, particularly on some of the more epic and progressive acts. Frank “The Krakan” Gilchriest’s drum performance in particular ties this in, as I think this is the first time they really utilized a lot of double kicking.

I’d definitely say Invictus is the heaviest album amongst Virgin Steele’s catalog. Edward Pursino really honed in the power of the riff, and his skills are displayed to phenomenal effect in thumping numbers such as “Dust From The Burning”, the anthemic “Mind, Body, Spirit” and my personal favorite, “Through Blood And Fire”. David DeFeis also channels his aggressive range more prominently here, it’s certainly what I’d class as one of the best examples of his lion’s roar style. Of course, his range is as deft as ever; the man really is a god among men.

Those who look to the Steele for grandeur likely won’t find disappointment here on Invictus, with tracks such as “Sword Of The Gods”, the super impressive “A Whisper Of Death”, and of course the majestic “Veni, Vedi, Vici” being nothing to sniff at. The latter of which is probably the finest moment on the album, as they put everything good about Invictus together for an ace finale: highly memorable riffs, excellent dynamics, and some of the best vocal lines DeFeis has ever performed.

Where I feel the biggest departure from the previous albums lies is in the atmosphere. Invictus doesn’t feel as all-encompassing as the last two records. The songs are little more simplistic, and obvious in what they’re going for despite some of the aforementioned grander tracks. This works to both the album’s slight detriment (for me) and its appeal. If you asked me where to start with Virgin Steele, chances are I’d tell you to start with Invictus. The song driven approach is ideal, and whilst I mentioned that it was similar to the first Marriage album, I’d say the songs are a lot easier to grasp, which is ideal for a newcomer.

As the end of the Marriage cycle, I’ve always felt Invictus came up a little bit short, as I documented well enough in The Marriage Of Heaven & Hell: Part II review, that’s one of my favorite albums. In terms of theme – as well as atmosphere – I don’t feel Invictus delivers suitable closure to the cycle. “Veni, Vedi, Vici” does come really close, although I think it’s more about the sum rather than the parts. As such, I personally like to take Invictus as a separate entity.

When taken out of context with what came before and what would come after, Invictus stands proud and mighty; an undoubtedly complete album which will always be the ideal starting point for prospective fans. As the final Marriage album, I find it ever-so-slightly wanting, although I feel it would be completely unfair to let my score reflect this. There isn’t really much left to say, people refer to Invictus and its siblings as the classic five Virgin Steele albums for a reason. Get this now!

Originally written for

I AM POWER - 100%

DrDMX, November 23rd, 2012

I feel genuine pity for all the pseudo-intellectual jokers who have their heads too far up their asses to enjoy this. Stop trying to be so deep, sometimes something has to just kick the ever-loving shit out of the entire universe. This is perfection. This is a god damn masterpiece that is completely true to the foundations of me'ul. So let's try to review this without using the word "Epic"

A monumental and grandiose production, Virgin Steele's Invictus stands tall at 16 tracks and 75 minutes, more than 3 episodes of The Simpsons, for the record. There's no denying, this album is big, and it feels even bigger than it is. I can chalk some of that up to the keys, they've been implemented in such a way that you'd think you were listening to an entire orchestra, but no, this is 4 men, the manliest of men. This is what I want from power metal, and I fucking got it.

Behind the gloom of his keys, vocalist and master swordsman David DeFeis offers an incredible vocal performance, not by showing us any insane falsetto, but with a vicious voice, a voice that keeps the very gates of hell from coming unsealed, and a voice that might turn to an angelic and sublime lullaby without warning. I absolutely hear a lot of Eric Adams in there when he gets particularly aggressive (Especially, I think, in Dust From The Burning.), that special kind of commanding power that only a few voices have, it's fucking great. My only issue is that his vocals are a little doctored, but I'm a traditionalist fuck motherer so I won't harp on him too much for it, it sounds great either way.

Riding alongside him, on steeds of steel and fire, rides the incredible and versatile guitarist, Edward Pursino, the architecture threatening drummer, THE KRAKAN, and the unstoppable bass force of Rob DeMartino. These three bring some of the strongest heavy metal musicianship seen in that entire decade, and they damn well know it. The 90's had few heroes, but those heroes shone like a fucking quasar. After all, they had to compensate for a lot of garbage.

Rob and THE KRAKAN make up a brilliant rhythm section, controlling the pace of this massive tale is a feat in and of itself, but to do it so fucking well, that's just gravy, delicious gravy. I wish THE KRAKAN would have jumped out at me a little more, some more sick drum fills here, something a little unexpected there. To be fair, he's got like a trillion time changes to keep track of so I can forgive him. I could say the same for Rob but he does seem to indulge a little here and there.

My man Ed comes in with a seemingly endless arsenal of sick licks, skull smashing riffs, and fucking explosive solos. Just like Dave, he's able to jump from viciously battling the legions of hell with the magicks of the ancients to a somber march towards oblivion, through valleys of mist. I've already said it but versatility is the key here, this guy just offers a bit of everything, and I want it all. I could pick out so many fantastic instances of ridiculously badass guitar work, but I'll make a long story short and point to the closing track.

An awesome story told by way of a relentless heavy metal maelstrom, I got what I expected, and then some. A mandatory album for absolutely every person who is presently alive.

Top Track: Veni, Vidi, Vici (Though Defiance nearly ties it.)

Worst Track: God Of Our Sorrows was the only one of the minute long interludes that really threw me off my violent testosterone binge. I'm sure I'll learn to love it in time though. (EDIT: I Do.)

My advice? Have my babies so that they may grow to be kings.

This was my introduction to the band, I've since learned that they are amazing and the world needs to know about them.

Die like your son, nailed to his tree... - 91%

Jophelerx, May 19th, 2012

1995's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell Part II made its stand proudly and triumphantly, proudly carrying the torch of power metal as one of its greatest releases to date. After waiting three years for its successor, one could only wonder what was to come. Would it live up to its predecessor? Would it fall back into the glam metal roots last seen in 1993's Life Among the Ruins? Or would it fall into the vast middle ground between utter mediocrity and near perfection?

Invictus proved to reside firmly somewhere in that middle ground - good, perhaps even great, although still overshadowed by the glorious Marriage II. While the songwriting is significantly less consistent, some things are improved here. Everything is sharper and crisper here - particularly the razor-sharp guitar tone and DeFeis's savage, precise shrieks. While previous albums have featured a more varied performance from DeFeis, with emotions ranging from desperate to caring to aggressive, here we see him focus almost exclusively on aggression; this is a mixed blessing. The album doesn't provide as rich an emotional contrast as the Marriage albums did, but this is by far DeFeis's best display of pure aggression and testosterone. If you're a fan of songs like "Twilight of the Gods" and "Victory Is Mine", you're in for a treat here. This is Virgin Steele at its toughest, crunchiest, and most straightforward.

As far as songwriting is concerned, this is probably the simplest of VS's post-80's albums. Out are complex, multi-part opuses like "Emalaith" and in are concise, savage anthems in the vein of early Manowar. This, however, is much more ambitious than anything out of Manowar's playbook, and Eric Adams only wishes he could ever match DeFeis's performance here.

The riffs here are simple and repetitive, but extremely effective and catchy as hell. If the main riff of "Sword of the Gods" or "Defiance" doesn't have you headbanging like a maniac, then I'm not sure what will. There are no ballads here, although "Veni, Vidi, Vici" does have some softer passages and has some subtle aesthetic differences from the rest of the album. While it's still triumphant and glorious, it has a more passive feeling than the rest of the album; rather than going out into battle to slay one's enemies, it has the feeling of being blessed by the gods after a long life of pride and glory. While I don't believe in any deities, I have to say, even without the lyrics, the song has a distinctively divine feeling to it, as though ascending to the peak of Mount Olympus to spend eternity there with Zeus and co. That being said, I find this song to be pretty inaccessible, especially for Virgin Steele, and I'm rarely in the mood to listen to it in its entirety; however, when I am in the mood for it, it's one of VS's greatest anthems. The next time you have 11 minutes to sit and do nothing but focus on the song, sit down and give it a listen - you won't be disappointed.

There are other, even subtler, differences in aesthetics throughout the album; "Invictus", "Through Blood and Fire", "Defiance", and "Dominion Day" focus more on bombast, while "Mind, Body, Spirit", "A Whisper of Death" and "Dust From the Burning" focus more on grit, falling in line more with traditional heavy metal, "A Shadow of Fear" has a more desperate, malicious feeling, and "Sword of the Gods" has a feeling of mystery and utmost importance. Musically, "Sword of the Gods" also has some singularity; the songwriting here is more ambitious than that of the other songs; it is less immediate and more immersive, and plays more like a sprawling epic in the vein of Manilla Road's "The Ninth Wave" than, for example, "Invictus". It's also one of the best songs here, with riffs that will tear you apart if you let them, solos that will make you forget what you're doing, and a chorus that's hard to keep from humming in your spare time.

Of the more bombastic songs, "Invictus" is far and away the best, with fantastic lyrics courtesy of William Ernest Henley's poem of the same title, punishingly fierce verses, and a chorus that surpasses everything else on the album in terms of pure catchiness and bombast. "Through Blood and Fire" is great, too, if not quite as catchy; "Defiance" is good rather than great, with excellent verses but a lackluster chorus, and "Dominion Day" ultimately falls into the category of "mediocre". Of the remaining songs, "Mind, Body, Spirit" is an excellent heavy/power anthem, as punishing as the title track with another infectious chorus and a welcome reprieve in the form of an acoustic section, while "A Whisper of Death" and "Dust From the Burning" are merely good; the former has sort of an urban feeling we've heard before on "Blood and Gasoline" and "Prometheus the Fallen One". "A Shadow of Fear" is fairly unique for VS in its atmosphere, living up to its name with increasing tension in the verses building up to a strange, uneasy chorus. Although the riffs could be better, the song structure as a whole is excellent, and this is definitely one of the better numbers here.

While more uneven than either its predecessor or its successor, Invictus is still an extremely solid album from these power metal giants. If you get the chance to listen to it, I highly recommend it if you're a fan of heavy metal, power metal, Virgin Steele, or Manowar. It will be worth your while for sure.

Rebellion in Steeleland - 93%

Bloody_Hell, September 17th, 2010

A few years after their abnormally awesome release Marriage of H&H Two, sir David and company decided that Virgin Steele shouldn't stick to just one particular style of music and should change their sound from a colorful 80's power metal style to a more modern heavy metal style often described as „Manowar heavy metal“. Telling you to stick a penis up your mouth would probably please all you Manowar fans, so I'll just say there is exactly ONE riff that sounds like it's made by Manowar and in this case it works well.

Manowar surely this album is not, not that Manowar's a bad band, mind you, they're just stuck so deeply up their own ass they can't be called a band anymore but a collection of musical fellatio upon their „tough“ image.

Ranting aside, Virgin Steele pushes their envelope further this time into a completely different, more dark and aggressive style of playing, surprisingly enough without losing any of their epic might and sheer awesomeness. This is the album where the little intros and instrumental pieces come by, there's also numbers of David simply going wild with his falsetto, but surprisingly enough it doesn't make you go „what the fuck“, rather it simply introduces softly another skullfucking number of destructive properties.

This is an album where you will not sing your favorite parts of the song out loud, or stand in a corner sulking at the sadness of it all, this is where Invictus will come by, fulminate your upper brain functions and make you bang as if up from the dead. And then some more. This is the album you play when you're ready to go on a murdering spree with a 2 meter long sword wearing black leather and spikes while stomping on kittens at the same time.

Invictus puts you into the boots of a pissed off Endiamon being sick of the rule of the gods who won't let him have his beloved Emalaith, and forever cursed with life on earth, he decides to lead humanity's revolt upon the Gods. Well, good luck I say!

After Invictus, it seems the gods and Endiamon bicker around a lot, while the rest of his crew goes around smashing fuck all, which works well for them by the end of the story. There's 10 songs here and some pretty good interludes, and let's just say 10 songs out of 10 are about complete and utter hatred and defilement of the Gods.

By Dust From The Burning you are beginning to wonder if there's anything gonna be left of the world when he's done with it, which translated to metal means there's 10 songs of sheer metal bowel raping and riff slaughtering and by song number 6 you're already bleeding out of all of your orifices.

A musical, lyrical and vocal metal fest is what you get in the end. There's tons of mankind's glory incorporated, there's not a single ballad included and it's one of the best albums Virgin Steele can deliver.

Defiance, Defiance, a God or a Man, I Challenge your Power, your Order, your Stand, I Fight for my People, my Home and my Land; Fighting is our Legacy on Earth!

All hail the kings of USPM! - 93%

WarriorsDawn, February 2nd, 2008

This is my second favourite VS album, right after The House of Atreus Act I. Musically, it's slightly inferior, but it still beats the pants off most Euro Power Metal. (Most of Blind Guardian's discography withstanding.)

One of the reasons this is not just a great album, but a great concept album is because it doesn't fall to the cardinal sin of concept albums. That being having the story as the main focus, sometimes where it gets to the point where you can't listen to the best songs by themselves, because when you listen to them out of order, it takes them out of the proper context and comes off as extremely awkward, which is something Ayreon needs to take lessons in. Or if a concept album focuses to much on the story part of it, that they have to write the music to fit, which isn't always a good idea, also something Ayreon needs to learn. (Not only that, maybe he just needs to learn what a fucking awesome vocalist David Defeis is. HE could make Ayreon interesting) So that is why this is a great concept album. The story isn't too obtuse and complex that it's impossible to follow, and the music doesn't take a backseat to the story.

Now, about the music. The title track is full of ownage and has a total winner of a chorus. DIE! FALL ON YOUR SWORD! FALL ON YOUR KNEES! DIE LIKE YOUR SON! NAILED TO HIS TREE! Sonata Arctica, take notes because THAT is how you write a chorus. Speaking of Sonata Arctica, there's nothing whiny to make this weak and powerless, like SA do. Actually, you know what? EVERY song on here has a winner of a chorus, with 'Dominion Day' being the lone exception, which I'll get to later. DUST FROM THE BURNING! *Riff riff riff riff riff* That is how you write power metal, goddammit.

The tour de force of this album comes in the last track. The climax of the album. From the solo that DEMANDS your absolute, undivided attention, and COMMANDS you to drop whatever you might be doing at the time, stand up and air guitar along to it. To the chorus. WE CAME! WE SAW! WE CONQUERED YOU ALL! Shit, I came the first time I heard that. Everything about this song is fucking awesome. Perfect in every way.

Some people might complain about the lack of any ballads, here, that said, I have a huge bias against ballads, unless they're written by Blind Guardian or W.A.S.P., so the absence is good imo. As for the bad. Well, there's really not much, but a couple notable things such as the instrumental section in 'A Whisper of Death.' The intro to 'Mind, Body, Spirit' is also kinda cheesy, and somewhat lol-worthy. Or the aforementioned chorus of 'Dominion Day.' I dunno, something about it just doesn't work.

What's the final verdict on this? WIN. Get it. If you have to order it, so be it, just get it.

A bit of a letdown, to be honest - 82%

L_H, April 14th, 2007

It would appear, both from the existing reviews here and numerous reviews and comments I have encountered on other sites that this is widely considered among the best of Virgin Steele's works. And, hard though it is for me to speak unfavorably of this band, I have to disagree on this point.

This is actually the band's first attempt at a concept album, and marks, in a way, the transgression from releases that, while driven by a constant theme, were still song-oriented to more comprehensive, continuous conceptual albums with an overarching storyline that the music fluently explores. Indeed, this album and the following two show very well how closely music and story are related on concept albums.

One thing you will no doubt notice upon reading the synopsis of the story given by the booklet is that, well, there isn't really a lot of it. This album revolves about the revolution, the insurgency of repressed mankind against the gods that seek to rule and repress men and women alike. The two heroes of the story learn of many previous lives challenging the gods, and decide to take up the fight again to end things once and for all. And they fight. And they fight. And they fight more. And then they win.

Yes, it does sound very simple, does it not? The story as such is for long parts rather monotonous. There are not a whole lot of changes and twists going on, of a multitude of characters displaying the various sides of their personalities, leaving none as black or white but rather as following their own understandable motivations that inevitably force them to clash in murderous conflict as one would see in the House of Atreus series. And this, unfortunately is mirrored by the music. David Defeis said that part of his motivation behind this release was anger and aggression on his part caused by "several people around me who are in urgent need of having their heads removed from their necks." Indeed, anger and aggression are by far the dominant emotions on this album. This is nowhere near the rollercoaster of emotions that is "House of Atreus Act One", constantly shifting between hate and love, anger and joy, fear and triumph in a manner so abrupt yet fluent at the same time that it leaves you with the profound question of "How the fuck are they doing that?"

No, instead, for the very largest part, this album seeks to continuously enforce the "aggression" theme without leaving room for much else. This is, for one thing, a weak spot because eventually, it gets rather old and repetitive. For another, the band does not always do a very good job at being aggressive and heavy. Sometimes, they do - the opener with its utterly powerful chorus or "Dust from the Burning" with its extremely heavy main riff come to mind. However, in other places, it drags out too long ("A Whisper of Death"), it doesn't really go anywhere ("Sword of the Gods") or suddenly crashes and burns from an awesome build-up into a lame, plodding, dragged-out chorus ("Mind, Body, Spirit" for the first four minutes). It is also hurt severely by the fact that the guitar work, by and large, is somewhat insufficient. More than a few times, the type of songs make you think that there really should be a riff present, but there isn't. Definitely not a good sign.

Another complaint is the „!“ approach to the vocals. In many parts Defeis goes into an unmelodious, overly rough snarling style of vocals that is both unpleasant, severely limited in range and completely belies a vocalist of his talent and skill. Combined with that is the worsening of a problem that had occasionally surfaced on the second „Marriage“ album: He simply does too many vocals, snarling, singing or screaming at unfitting moments, at times adding a „rrraaaah“ or „yeeaaaooow“ after the ordinary singing lines for no apparent reason, adding nothing to the music except for a sour aftertaste.

Now, bear in mind this is critique on a rather high level. We are talking about the band of David Defeis, one of the most innately talented composers metal was ever blessed with. Even while this album is by and large pretty monotonous for a Virgin Steele release, it nonetheless offers a variety in emotion and melody alike that is well above average amongst metal bands. While the aggression theme does bear heavily for the largest part of the album, there are notable exceptions that provide enough contrast to keep its status as a thoroughly enjoyable release. While sadly we are not given any true ballads from the almost-undisputed masters of that category (with only Blind Guardian and possibly Riot really having a veritable claim to such consistent balladry success as Virgin Steele portrayed on the past six albums), there a few moments for us fans of their softer moments to rejoice as there are the moments of triumph and happiness that this band is so skillful at including in their works. These are the true highlights of the release, from the last three minutes of melancholy at the end of the up until then largely plodding, wannabe-heavy „Mind, Body, Spirit“ over the little piano-and-vocals interlude „God of Our Sorrows“ to the more triumphant, joyous numbers „Dominion Day“ and „Veni, Vidi, Vici“ which close the album in a flash of glory while skillfully interspersing bridges that change the thematic focus into a more thoughtful, reflective direction, refusing to simply close the album with victory in battle and instead ending it on a questioning note, leaving one to wonder if the victors will be capable to follow destruction of their tyrants with creation of the beauty that was withheld from them or fail to realize their potential and dabble in the same territories their tyrants had dwelt in before.

So yes, this album most certainly has its moments. When Virgin Steele go for their more complex, reflective, high-art approach to European-styled, classical-influenced power metal, they still hit spot-on for the most part. Combined with the moments when the far more dominant aggressive approach does succeed, the overall result certainly makes this a very good album overall. While the weakest of their still ongoing „Golden Age“ period that was initiated by their crowning achievement „The Marriage of Heaven and Hell Part One“, I will not deny its qualities. It does make, overall, for their heaviest release, compared to both its predecessors and its successors. It manages to be more accessible to the uninitiated than the far more complex releases that would follow, being more straightforward, heavier and admittedly also more metal than the over-the-top, dominantly classical-influenced and highly balladic (and also, in my opinion, superior) „House of Atreus“ saga and „Visions of Eden“ . And, being an intermediate album of sorts between the two eras, it does try to be more of an „epic“ album than its predecessors did - not as in „there are epic songs“ but as in „the album as a whole provides a continuous, fluid piece of epic music“ rather than being mostly focused around individual songs.

No, it does not do this perfectly, but certainly with a degree of success considerable enough to make this an album well worth listening.

by the gods - 95%

TheStormIRide, February 6th, 2006

Virgin Steele has been in the metal scene for a very long time. They definitely show they know how to rock, especially for such an underrated and overlooked band. I, for one, believe that Virgin Steele deserve a much wider audience. They have all of the elements that make great bands, and they have that wonderful eighties vibe without sounding dated.

The production on this album is near perfect. It retains that eighties vibe and still sounds like a modern album. DeFeis’s vocals are excellent in the mix, the guitars are excellent in the mix, and the drums are excellent; everything is excellent. Virgin Steele has definitely found a production sound that works for them.

This album starts out with a really cool intro that really sets the tone for the album to follow, although it seems to have a darker undertone then the majestic styling of the rest of the tracks.

The album’s true kick off is “Invictus” which shows Virgin Steele at their best. DeFeis’s vocals are excellent, but when are they not. He seems to have a more lethal approach on this song, almost more angry than ever. The chorus has that almighty, angelic chanting in the background. The guitars are definitely in the speed metal arena for the most part. The band also shows that they are not afraid of slowing down with a nice piano slash power chord melody. The drums are the usual Steele style; fast double bass and rolls on the snare. And this is what you should expect from the rest of the album.

Instead of doing a song by song synopsis, I’ll just give the general flavor of this release. It definitely picks up where the Marriage albums left off; this being the conclusion. Everything Virgin Steele is known for is on this album. Stellar riffs, double bass drumming, wonderful keyboard and piano pieces, and DeFeis’s excellency on vocals.

This album is not dominated by any certain style, such as speed metal or ballads, but instead it is a mix of all that is Virgin Steele. The interludes they are known for are here, short musical pieces that keep the flow of the album interesting. That may just be the best point of this album: it doesn’t get boring. This is one of those albums that should be listened to from start to finish. All of the songs are great. There are no real filler tracks here. Excellent writing in both the lyrical and musical aspects. There are some really good solos on here, nothing too flashy but enough to get the blood pumping.

Overall, the song writing is excellent and the musicianship is excellent. The vocals, as always with Virgin Steele, are definitely a highlight. All of the songs are excellent, and that is hard to find on metal albums in this age of bands filling albums with eighty minutes of total crap. I can’t pick a favorite song off of this album because there is no filler! This album is recommended to all power metal and traditional metal fans, especially the Manowar fans out there. This is one of the best in the genre and should be heard, by the gods! Invictus!

In the year 1998, 1998... - 98%

Cup_Of_Tea, November 19th, 2005

"We are descendants of the Ancient Ones..." and we say, Virgin Steele is flawless...
This would be their nastiest album including blazing speed metal riffs, another allmighty vocal performance, double bass... oh yeah... double bass, glorious choruses, godly keyboard pieces, awesome solos, you know, the usual Virgin Steele material.
Oh yeah... the keyboards. Magnificent in every aspect, and a lot more combined together with the guitars. This would be the most Manowarish album here, just it's simply better than anything Manowar ever made, it's less tr00, and definetly more consistent.

The intro is quite good actually, it's more or less a 2 minute narration of things to come. But then it chops off your legs with Invictus. Listen to that riff dammit, listen to the falsetto too, and listen to the Manowarish riff done right. Worship that keyboard/guitar solo, then you listen to the amazing "Die, fall on your Sword, fall on your knees; Die like your Son nailed to his tree" chorus, and then dare to say this isn't the greatest heavy metal song of all time! God himself is the autor of here, and he's pretty proud of his work, and so is DeFeis, I'm sure.

Is it over? Hell no, Mind, Body, Spirit picks up where Invictus ended, and honestly, does the job very, very well. This is probably the only song where the rest of the song is simply better than the chorus, and the latter ain't nothing but great. Probably the best guitarwork can be found on here, especially the parts around the solo and the solo itself.
In The Arms Of The Death God is another pretty good intro to...Through Blood And Fire which starts with a jumpy keyboard piece followed by the guitar, and well... blows your brain in pieces afterwards. Great song, amazing songwriting, amazing chorus.

Sword Of The Gods is a little epic number. Needless to say it rules - it's simple, all songs over 7 minutes made by Virgin Steele are godly. This one sounds more a ballad, but has it's riffing charms, especially around around 1:30, and then around 6:12. Never get tired of this one.
Two little intro pieces follow, Vow Of Honour showing us how DeFeis can do the "holy shit" insane falsetto thing. And then Defiance follows. Another epic number, another winner, nothing much to add to that. Around 5:00 shows it's best glory moment, being yet another great song made by them. What can I say? This album is completely flawless, it's probably the best heavy metal album made. I can't help it.
Dust From The Burning is a more straightforward rocker, nothing fancy, simply well executed. Followed by A Whisper Of Death bring us a more epic heavy metal aspect simmilar to the previous song, and in my opinion a simple intro to the last 3 songs.
Dominion Day is the first of the 3 masterpieces. Half ballad half ballcrusher, stands as one of my favs by them. A Shadow Of Fear is pretty different than the rest, has a dark, nostalgic feeling to it. Brilliant vocal performance by DeFeis here.

And in the end... We came, We saw, We counqered you all. Ok... this song simply says: Forget about anything else but Virgin Steele. They crowned themselves kings, and we didn't deny it.

Well... if you ask me, this is the best heavy metal album ever made. Together with WASP's Crimson Idol it stands strong on my TOP 5. Probably taking the place #2.
If you don't own this, you're nothing, if you can't appreciate it... you're better off dead. You can't get more epic, powerful or amazing than this.

Fall on your sword, fall on your knees! - 91%

UltraBoris, December 17th, 2002

More amazing fucking power metal from the undisputed masters of the genre... this is an indispensable album, and is well worth picking up first for the uninitiated, as it is a bit more song-oriented than the superior House of Atreus Act I, and thus takes less getting into.

First song is a bit of an intro... totally setting the atmosphere, before we go into the amazing Invictus. Possibly the best song on here, with some great melodies offset with awesome riff and lead work by Edward Pursino. Ladies and gentlemen, your local guitar god. There is some perfect interplay here between the vocals and the guitars, pretty much on every song on this album but especially well on this track.

Next, a more thrashy number, 'Mind Body Spirit', which leads into the interlude 'In the Arms of the Death God'. Now these are not your usual stupid interludes that you can skip at will, these are absolute masterpieces. The type of stuff Yngwie wishes he could create when he titles his latest wankjob 'Opus Number 43789217490'.

'Through Blood and Fire' is a very melodic number that leads into 'The Sword of the Gods', which is another contender for greatest song on here... the main melody at the end must be one of David Defeis's favourites, since it appears again on House of Atreus Act I, most notably during the bridge of 'Agony and Shame'. Good continuity, it works here and it works there...

then, two interludes go into another main song, Defiance... more power metal to be found here, with especially cool verses. There really isn't a single weak moment on this album, it all is ownage from beginning to end. However, it is more possible to listen to this on a song by song basis than, say, Atreus I. 'Dust from the Burning' and 'A Whisper of Death' is more great stuff, all building up in emotional intensity to 'Dominion Day', 'Shadow of Fear', and finally the epic closer track, 'Veni Vidi Vici'. Eleven minutes of awesomeness... total self-glorification, and songs like this are why V.S. get compared to Manowar. "I crown us... KINGS!!!" (We are the kings of metal, anyone?) Then again, Manowar never quite succeeded at this level of making epic stuff that didn't sound overly pretentious. This just fucking WORKS.

No losers to be found here... an absolute masterpiece by Defeis, Pursino, and company. The best intro to Virgin Steele, get this one first.