Virgin Steele - Visions of Eden 3.5/5
1. Immortal I stand (The birth of Adam)
2. Adorned with the rising cobra
3. The ineffable name
4. Black light on black
6. Angel of death
7. God above God
8. The hidden God
10. When dusk fell
11. Visions of Eden
Even though Virgin Steele has been around since the early 80s, it wasn't until the 90s that I discovered them. They then became one of the bands that aided in catapulting me into power metal, as their unique brand of epic heavy/power metal made them stand out from the rest and, to me, they were always special. It's been 6 long years since they last brought us a full-length CD ('The house of atreus/act ll'), so their new CD 'Visions of Eden' is surely one that's caught the interest of many and I'm most certainly a part of that list. Rest assured, David DeFeis has once again taken control of the songwriting and his instantly-recognizable vocals (which range from soothing to high-pitched/screaming, as usual) emanate the signature Virgin Steele sound that we've all grown to love.
'Visions of Eden' is a CD the will leave many fans with mixed feelings however, as the CD fluctuates a bit between very satisfying and slightly disappointing. As for the positives, the thing that stands out the most is that a good portion of the CD contains speed and superb songwriting. Opener "Immortal I stand", the CD's best song, has a terrific fast pace, is melodic, and has a few short but awesome guitar solos. Track 2 "Adorned with the rising cobra", track 3 "The ineffable name" and track 4 "Black light on black" also have plenty of speed, solos, and David's vocals are excellent. Although track 5 "Bonedust" doesn't start out very well, it smooths out at the chorus and is an overall good song as well. Really, the first half of the CD is quite upbeat and will definitely satisfy long-time Virgin Steele fans.
The CD then slows down a great deal, as track 6 "Angel of death", track 8 "The hidden God" and track 10 "When dusk fell" are all of the slow variety (for the most part) and they fail to keep me excited. Even though it to is slow, I do like the ballad-type track 7 "God above God", as it's a nice and memorable song that brings back memories of some of Virgin Steele's best slow songs. Track 9 "Childslayer" is great too, as it picks up the pace a lot, recalling the first half of the CD. I also like the final song "Visions of Eden", as its main melody and overall dramatic feeling leaves a lasting impression.
Still, the 2nd half of the CD is much too slow and I think if a few songs from the 2nd half had been eliminated and the CD's running time had been brought down to a more normal length (as the CD is well over 70 minutes), I'd like it a lot more. I know that the 2 'The house of atreus' CDs aren't known for being speedy, but their slow songs are much more memorable than those found on 'Visions of Eden'. The other thing that hurts this CD is the production, specifically the volume/heaviness of the guitars. Although I really like the constant-existing piano, it's much more upfront in the mix and the guitars are barely heard throughout much of the CD. Admittedly, the guitars are fine during some songs, but some parts make Skylark look (sound) like Nevermore.
So 'Vision of Eden' has a few flaws, like most CDs do. But any new Virgin Steele CD is going to bring in a fresh sound (when compared to all other bands) and if I was asked what I thought of the CD, my response would definitely be "I like it a lot." It's just Virgin Steele has provided magnificant CDs in the past (the 2 'The marriage of heaven and hell' CDs and the monster 'Invictus'), so expectations are, maybe unfairly, quite high. Still, Virgin Steele fans should be more than pleased with the majority of what 'Vision of Eden' has to offer and I'm glad the band's familiar sound remains intact after all these years.
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