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Complicated. - 79%

UltraBoris, December 17th, 2002

Another in the series of absolute fucking winners for Virgin Steele. Though this one is not quite as strong as Invictus or Atreus I, it is still very very solid in its own right, and probably the most epic of their works.

It's two CDs, 90 minutes long... and all of it totally fucking owns. Atreus I left off at a very low point in the story, as illustrated by the song The Gate of Kings, so one may expect the album to pick up with a similar style, but no, it rockets out of the gate with the speedy Wings of Vengeance. There are a LOT of random interludes here that are all indispensable, but I cannot really remember them by title. So I'll go through the main features of the album only. "Fire of Ecstacy" is very cool as well, with some of Defeis's best vocals, and of course an eye-exploding solo by Edward Pursino. Yes, this guy is a total guitar god. "The Voice is Weapon" is a live setlist staple, as is "The Wine of Violence" - all of these are very strong songs, that manage to sound different and interesting, and in the context of the theme album, express a variety of emotions... it's absolutely incredible how Defeis and Pursino can come up with this stuff, time and time again - what is this, the FIFTH epic power metal album they've written in the past five years or so, and it all sounds fresh and exciting.

Disc two begins with "Flames of thy Power". This is one of the heavier songs on this disc, and this one tends to be a bit more balladic, due to the nature of what's going on in the story. If you've ever got a few hours, go through and read the lyrics, for there is a lot going on and the album can really appreciated on another few levels if you do so. "By the Gods" and "The Judgement of the Son" are more classic songs, and then we have the epic "When the Legends Die", with some of the best guitar work to be found on the entire album... this is another total furious banger... "WAR!!!"

We close with "Resurrection Day", which ends the story in glorious fashion - see "Veni Vidi Vici" for a comparison. While not quite as good, this is still incredibly solid.

Warning: the album may take a few listens to really understand - probably more than any other Virgin Steele release. It's probably not worth getting as the first VS album of your collection. But, if you liked Atreus I, or any of their other modern stuff, this is definitely worthy of that standard.