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MARK TAYLOR'S BIG CITY NIGHTS
VIRGIN STEELE: 'AGE OF CONSENT'
It's been thirty years since American Power Metal legends Virgin Steele unleashed their 'Barbaric romantic creations' with their eponymous debut which was the first very release on the Music For Nations label, a place that would later be home to Metallica, Anthrax, Mercyful Fate and even Poison.
Whilst those bands went on to become household names in the world of Metal, the career of Virgin Steele took on a few twists and turns but the band kept on plunging the sword through the very heart of Metal and refusing to die building up a loyal following around the world.
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'Age Of Consent' was the fourth full length album from Virgin Steele and was originally released way back in 1988 without any advertising, poor distribution and became a commercial failure.
Lead singer and classically trained pianist David DeFeis states this album is "the one that got away" and you could say that this is an understatement because what is on offer here is of a high quality with symphonic operatic sounds that would later influence many sounds coming out of the European Metal scene this last decade and when you consider that Virgin Steele actually supported Manowar in Europe prior to this release, you can't help but think that Joey and the boys took the vision of DeFeis for their own good on later day Manowar albums.
'Age Of Consent' has been re-mastered and has a much longer running time and order from it's original release with some of the extra tracks being far superior than those on the original release. It's the epic tracks on here that really stand out. Opener 'The Burning Of Rome (Cry For Pompeli)' starts off in immaculate pompous fashion and would make contestants on the X-Factor run for their lives.
Rome wasn't built in a day but if you play this little number on full volume then it would most certainly be destroyed in a day without the use of fire.
'Perfect Mansions (Mountains Of The Sun)' and 'Serpent's Kiss' are two more majestic epics that show the prowess of David DeFeis not only on the keys but also his high octave scale that can shatter glass. If only there wasn't an Eric Adams in the world then DeFeis would be the man everyone would be praising.
There are also hints at the band going in a commercial sounding direction which lets this album down just a shade. 'Seventeen' is hair Metal at it's worst and using an outside writer on 'Stay On Top' may have been record company interference at the time as this song was also recorded without success by Uriah Heep on their 'Head First' album five years earlier. There's also a brave stab at 'Desert Plains', originally done by Judas Priest.
With an extra disc, 'Under The Graveyard Moon', this is a neat package that would even please fans new to the band. Now how about a return to the UK Mr DeFeis?