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A very complex, layered Prog opus. - 92%

Empyreal, July 26th, 2008

This is not one of your easy-listening pop metal albums.

This is not an album that you will like on the first spin.

Now, if you can't handle an album like that, then I suggest you click the Back button on your browser and go read a review for Dream Evil or Iced Earth, because this album is not for you.

With that said, this is Virgin Steele, and while I am not familiar with all of their albums, the ones I do have are epic, bombastic, muscular, innovative and intelligent, all slabs of brilliance wrapped up in their classy, stylish metal coatings. Visions of Eden is the newest record the band has done to date, and it is nothing like anything they have ever done before and may ever do again. While they previously played an epic, riffy style of Traditional/Power Metal with choirs, galloping leads and other such things, this album is an entirely different - but equally as brilliant - beast. This is a delicate, moving album that utilizes lush, romantic pianos as its main mode of discourse. It is a slow album, ranging from a sweeping, dreamlike balladesque style to a menacing stomp on a few songs. The guitars are there, but the riffs are not so much the focus of the album as they may have been on previous albums. Visions of Eden's main strength are its intense, driving melodies and the soft, menacing vocals of frontman David deFeis, which often build up into a coarse, steely scream that will send shivers down your spine.

Speaking of deFeis, he has written all of the lyrics as well as the music here. It's a concept album about Lilith, the first wife of Adam at the dawn of humanity, and the lyrics here are amazingly well written and dramatic. Take this bit from "Black Light on Black":

"From out of the North Black Evil Breaks Forth"

I should have killed you where you stood
Brother when I had the chance
Underneath these signs of Love
I pronounce you both Accursed!
Grief is...Knowing there was Time...
Hell is hoping to Believe and a Crime
Under Sullen Skies of Fire
I will leave you with this Black Poem...

Fuck you Adam,
Fuck you Eve
Fuck your God and his Infernal needs
Fuck your Children Poison seed
Like a cancer you'll conceive


And from "God Above God":

Why should I become the Dark Queen
And how shall I become this Black thing
My Holy Blood turned to bitterness
Before the first Oceans... or the Mountains were born
I stood beside Your with Wisdom Adorned
Our Sacred Vows made Earth's Kingdom rise...

I am the trees woven in through the sky
I am the Law of the Love that can't die
Caressed by the Clouds I walk with Wind & Stars

I ordered the paths of the Black Sun & the Moon
But Now I am vanquished oh... raped, ravaged & ruined
Wild and Untamed I roamed the Earth free
Your Virgin Mary is only a Shadow of me

Is this your Will... oh... my Violation?
Nature betrayed Love's Immolation


Rest assured, all of the lyrics here are good. Just trust me on that one.

As I stated, this isn't an album you'll enjoy right away, with multiple layers that need un-peeling and multiple dimensions. It is a very long album, even longer than their opus The House of Atreus - Act I, filled with long, detailed songs that go through several time changes and moods, always remaining intriguing and mystical and dazzling. The piano melodies stack on top of one another and on top of the guitar riffs for a highly memorable effect - these melodies are catchy as Hell! Just one listen to "Adorned with the Rising Cobra," and you won't be able to pry it out of your head all week.

For standout tracks...well, the whole album is a standout. From the triumphant opener "Immortal I Stand (The Birth of Adam)," the music never fails to captivate, and then you get more gems like the epochal "Adorned with the Rising Cobra," which uncoils in a truly glorious manner, the intelligent, pounding "The Ineffable Name," the furious "Black Light on Black," the poignant "God Above God," and the propulsive, moving title track. There are a few songs that aren't as memorable, but they all offer something worth listening to. Even then, I'm still not sure I fully understand this album, so if you ask me again in a few months, I might tell you something completely different.

This music is both complex and memorable, making Visions of Eden a masterclass in every way. The drum sound is a bit weak, and the album goes on a tad long toward the end, but don't let that deter you; just go listen to this now if you want to hear some truly great Progressive Metal.

Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com