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Old 01-29-2016, 04:45 AM   #1051 (permalink)
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09. Virgin Steele Noble Savage 1986 (Noise)
Power Metal

We're destined to rule the realms of the ancients.

The Lowdown

Noble Savage would be the breakthrough album from Virgin Steele towards finally consolidating their own unique sound. This New York band would become one of the premier Amercian power metal bands around this time as well, largely thanks to the incorporation of guitarist Edward Pursino an old friend of vocalist and principal songwriter David DeFeis. The Virgin Steele sound was a brand of power metal firmly entrenched between traditional heavy metal and epic rock in the vein of Dio era Rainbow. Blended into their overall sound were touches of symphonic rock, further enhanced by the use of medieval and jazz influences which certainly gives Virgin Steele the metal diversity label with a capital D and this sound would be explored more fully over ensuing albums. The band’s compositions at times were often complex in their arrangements and the band seemed to have no problems in filling out their albums with consistently strong tracks, that drift between muscle style metal efforts and those searching your soul type of track listens that band’s like Queensryche would also excel in. In fact the Queensryche comparison is somewhat interesting as both band’s some years earlier had been tipped for metal stardom some year’s earlier, but up until this moment only Queensryche had hinted at this expectation. Noble Savage would demonstrate a lot of these traits, but by and large its execution is more of a predictable outcome with the band relying on a lot on their own metal influences on a number of the tracks, but of course there are some Virgin Steele nuggets tucked away here. The album cover for Noble Savage could easily be mistaken for something that could’ve adorned a Manowar album, but given that Virgin Streele as a band were pretty much entrenched in Greek mythology the album cover is perfectly acceptable here. The high and mighty starts with “We Rule the Night” which feels like a galloping Iron Maiden track meets Manowar and David DeFeis could easily be mistaken for Bruce Dickinson here as well. “I’m on Fire” with its Van Halen style guitar intro quickly kicks into an Armoured Saint rhythm which means it sounds pretty cool. Rocking staples include the title track “Noble Savage” which is a track I really dig a lot and it’s probably the most ambitious effort on the album. The band showed that they know how to write a catchy metal sounding single with the excellent "The Evil in Her Eyes" which title wise sounds like a nod to Dio era Rainbow and I just love David DeFeis's vocals on this song and everything here works much better than the following "Don't Close Your Eyes". The album closes on the glorious "Angel of Light" a more typical track from the band, despite having some dated keyboard dabblings in places and the searching your soul efforts here come in the brevity of the instrumental “Image of a Faun at Twilight”. A re-issue of the album comes with six bonus tracks which really increases the listening time of the album quite a bit and there are some worthy tracks here as well. Across the album the vocal range of David DeFeis is credible to say the least especially if you’re into that gruffer Bruce Dickinson vocal style and this powerhouse screamer was also a talented artist that played keyboards and piano, was album producer and he was also responsible for writing the lion’s share of the material on the album. Noble Savage remains an important piece in any power metal collection and one of those crucial building bricks of the power metal legacy despite having disparities in its make-up. Despite being a rated album in general, a number of fan reviews for the album rate it as being a flawed effort and not to the height of some of the band’s later releases. Personally I find Noble Savage a credible album whose only drawback might be its references to other artists, which are not always disguised that well. Noble Savage might not fit into a lot of top 10’s in 1986 but it gets into mine because of the band’s importance to the power metal sub-genre.

David DeFeis- Vocals/Keyboards
Edward Pursino- Guitar
Josh Block- Bass
Frank Gilchriest- Drums

Production- David DeFeis

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Pounding Decibels- A Hard and Heavy History

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Old 02-08-2016, 10:55 AM   #1052 (permalink)
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08. Metal Church The Dark 1986 (Elektra)
Power Metal

Time is running short and the Devil takes his due.
The Lowdown
Despite being one of those bands that neatly fitted into ‘the thrash metal boom’ Metal Church were certainly a perfect example of a band that straddled the line between thrash metal and power metal. At this time there was still a thin line between thrash metal and North American power metal in terms of musical approach and Metal Church captured that fusion perfectly, which makes a lot of their early releases prime metal material. The thrash connection with the band was always going to be strong anyway, especially since the band had prime touring companions in a certain Anthrax and Metallica who of course would shatter the boundaries of heavy metal in 1986 with Master of Puppets. The Band’s second album The Dark would crack the US Billboard 100 chart and also continue with the band’s tacky thrash looking album covers, this one was certainly less in the eye candy department than the debut imo but has a similar approach. The early Metal Church line-up is often cited as their classic and top dogs here David Wayne and the big man Kurdt Vanderhoof dominate the writing credits with a selection of consistently strong offerings. The album would be produced by Mark Dodson whose production work over the years would pretty much cover the heavy metal spectrum. The album quickly gets down to business with the frantic drumming intro of “Ton of Bricks” and then quickly goes into the ruthless sounding vocals of David Wayne and the speed metal riffs of Kurdt Vanderhoof and Craig Wells. This song then leads into the bad ass licks of “Start the Fire” and as I’ve often said numerous times on this journal, this is just the kind of metal I really dig and this track has some tongue-in-cheek nods to Metallica in its execution, and often cited as a fan favourite to boot as well. The title track “The Dark” is suitably brutish in its execution to be a title track and is interestingly placed on about the halfway point of the album. Songs like “Method to Your Madness” come across as more disjointed in their approach and I’m certain this is where critics attack the band’s musical direction at this time. Then there are tracks like “Over My Dead Body” and “Psycho” which are fairly routine thrash type offerings, while “Line of Death” is without doubt the best of these type of tracks. The album is rounded of with “Burial at Sea” a deep and more interesting track than some of the band’s more thrash orientated tracks on the album and album closer “Western Alliance” follows in much the same mold. The most epic track on the album is “Watch the Children Pray” with its acoustic intro that gradually enters into a grandiose power metal sound, with some pretty heavy sections being applied to it and it’s a track that really shows how great Metal Church were at grinding out these kind of compositions when they wanted to and imo showed that they had more depth than just offering thrash type numbers. The Dark would be the final album without dynamic vocalist David Wayne, who I once described on a previous review as a cross between Savatage’s Jon Oliva and Accepts’s Udo Dirkscheneider in the vocal department, he would sadly leave the band due to drug issues and Mike Howe would finally take over. The Dark is a worthy entry onto Rock Hard’s ‘The 500 Greatest Rock & Metal Albums of All Time’ and pretty essential listening from this period as well for anybody into thrash metal meets traditional heavy metal, and the album is also cited as an influence on a number of bay area thrash bands around this time as well, so it’s well worth the listen.

David Wayne- Vocals
Kurdt Vanderhoof- Guitar
Craig Wells- Guitar
Duke Ericksson- Bass
Kirk Arrington- Drums

Production- Mark Dodson

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Metal Wars

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Pounding Decibels- A Hard and Heavy History
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Old 08-10-2016, 12:52 AM   #1053 (permalink)
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So whatever happened to this. You have at least got to go to 1990-92 my Unknown Soldier.
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Old 08-10-2016, 05:44 PM   #1054 (permalink)
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So whatever happened to this. You have at least got to go to 1990-92 my Unknown Soldier.
He hasn't been around for months. No idea why.
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Old 08-11-2016, 03:38 PM   #1055 (permalink)
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A: dammit power metal's too good.
B: I forgot about Soldier.
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Old 08-11-2016, 07:26 PM   #1056 (permalink)
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He hasn't been around for months. No idea why.
It's your fault.
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Old 08-12-2016, 12:52 AM   #1057 (permalink)
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He hasn't been around for months. No idea why.
Well maybe it's for the better, he likes all that cheesy Y & T rock opera sounding stuff.

I mean he snubbed Highway to Hell for the Scorpions, I can understand if say the album was Love at First Sting...but cmon. In fact he leaves a lot of good rocking straight up riff bands out.

Take that UN
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Old 08-12-2016, 12:13 PM   #1058 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by William_the_Bloody View Post
Well maybe it's for the better, he likes all that cheesy Y & T rock opera sounding stuff.

I mean he snubbed Highway to Hell for the Scorpions, I can understand if say the album was Love at First Sting...but cmon. In fact he leaves a lot of good rocking straight up riff bands out.

Take that UN
Good point. I just wish he'd left before we had to read about every single ****ty Scorpions album ever made.
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