Tag Archives: 2010

Virgin Steele – The Black Light Bacchanalia (Review)


Wrrrow! Look out! Eeee eeee… From the top of the mountain, yeah! Yow! Fire! Owww. Ruff. Oooh… Look out! Rowf! Yeah! Oooh yeah!

And so David DeFeis kicks off Virgin Steele’s 13th album The Black Light Bacchanalia with every vocal exclamation known to man.

He sounds excited and so he should: the opening track By the Hammer of Zeus (and the Wrecking Ball of Thor) is pure awesomeness. It delivers on the promise of its ridiculously mighty title. I’ve become obsessed with this song and have been listening to it thrice daily for many moons now. Ruff!

From the top of the mountain, yeah!
From the top of the mountain, yeah!

Unfortunately, the rest of the album isn’t as instantly appealing . Exclamations aside, DeFeis spends most of The Black Light Bacchanalia singing in an oddly soft voice. It’s an interesting experiment, making it seem like he’s whispering sweet nothings into your ear or he’s inside your head. Look out! But it doesn’t do much for the album’s dynamics, especially when many of the songs are meandering and forgettable.

But my hopeless addiction to that opening track keeps me coming back for more and moments of greatness keeping popping out with each listen. Weirdly, considering the laid-back vocals on the heavier tracks, DeFeis sings the excellent piano-ballad The Tortures of the Damned with raging passion. Fire! And the softer vocal approach works dreamily on To Crown Them With Halos (Parts 1 & 2) and Necropolis (He Answers Them With Death), bringing out all the drama and the melody. I’m finding that there’s nothing in my collection quite like this so I’m seduced into giving it another spin. It’s flawed but fascinating. And even if it doesn’t quite live up to its exclamatory opening there’s still plenty to get excited about here. Ooohh yeah!

HMO Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Look out!
Look out!

[Virgin Steele – By the Hammer of Zeus (and the Wrecking Ball of Thor)]

Anathema – We’re Here Because We’re Here

You can do it!

Modern Anathema albums require supension of disbelief. I’d normally be calling shenanigans on this kind of stuff. “Been listening to Radiohead much?” I’d ask. Oh, here’s the “ump ump ump” drumbeat… this must be the euphoric bit! “Only you can heal your life…” thanks for that, Louise Hay. Got any more positive affirmations for us? Maybe call your next album “Money’s going to rain down on you today. You’re a tiger! Rarrr”?

But, full credit to the Liverpudlians, We’re Here Because We’re Here is so beautifully, crescenduously affecting that none of those criticisms occur to me when it’s on… even though they all apply. It’s risky territory and treads a fine line between the sublime and the mawkish. It’s a line the band are starting to increasingly trip over but on this 2010 album they get the balance just right. And what you get is one of the best albums of the last ten years: a testament to the band’s heartfelt belief and delivery and their excellent way with spiritual, uplifting harmony.

[Anathema – Dreaming Light]