Virgin Steele - 'Life Among The Ruins' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     August 29, 2012    
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A damn fine slab of simmering hard rock.

Proud champions at the very forefront of the US metal explosion triggered by the NWOBHM at the dawn of the 80s, Virgin Steele are one of those bands most people either seem to get or just don’t ... for some peculiar reason there appears to be no middle ground. Personally speaking I’ve been hooked since I first heard the acerbic ‘Danger Zone’ (from their ‘Virgin Steele 1’ debut) on Tommy Vance’s show way back when, and it has to be said they’ve come an awful long way since then.

Expanding on the exuberant proto metal style of their first couple of albums, the Virgin Steele we know and love today really came into their own with 1985s ‘Noble Savage’ opus, a near perfect union of crunching riff strewn angst and epic melodrama. Of course they’ve continued to develop and refine that style over the years with varying degrees of success, often indulging their penchant for lyrics imbued with tales of heroism inspired by the ancients, in the process creating something unique that they themselves like to describe as ‘Barbaric Romanticism’.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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Having said all that, ‘Life Among The Ruins’ is about as far removed from the generally held image of Virgin Steele as it’s possible to get. Originally released back in 1993 after a lengthy hiatus (it’s predecessor ‘Age Of Consent’, itself reissued by SPV last autumn, emerged some five years earlier), ‘Life Among The Ruins’ was a bluesy, smouldering hard rock affair that could’ve held its own with the best of ‘em had it only seen the light of day before miserable expressions, tuneless songs and lumberjack shirts became the new black.

The real reasons as to why main man David Defeis and the rest of the band risked accusations of ‘selling out’ from their hardcore fan base (especially as traditional hard rock was dead in the water anyway by then) will perhaps always remain a mystery, but for those who haven’t heard it (and I suspect many haven’t), ‘Life Among The Ruins’ will actually come as a bit of a revelation. Having more in common with the likes of Whitesnake and Tesla than anything else, sassy low slung hard boiled rockers such as the smouldering ‘Never Believed In Goodbye’, brooding ‘Snakeskin Voodoo Man’, and swaggering opener ‘Sex Religion Machine’ are ‘lost’ classics in search of an audience ... I kid you not!

Reissued as a deluxe 2 CD set (just like ‘Age Of Consent’) with masses of bonus material (there’s nearly 40 tracks in all), I wouldn’t say this was particularly representative of the band per sé, but it is (and was back then) a damn fine slab of simmering hard rock!

Dave Cockett

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