Virgin Steele. A highly regarded name amongst plenty of Metal connoisseurs, but in retrospect seemed deemed to remain with its nose just above the underground surface of US Metal, in company with the likes of Jag Panzer and Chastain. In the band’s own words “we were born to defy”; its warrior induced themes only worked even more perfectly hand in hand with the underdog status. Over the course of the past year, several Virgin Steele titles have been re-mastered and made available again.
The band’s musical direction at the point in time for Noble Savage, it’s third full studio release, was still more in what could be called in conjunction what was considered mainstream Metal at the time, except, of course, Virgin Steele never really made it to the mainstream in terms of actual commercial success. The band's epic element was there already, but more so occasionally, rather than the dominant feature that would serve the storyline of later albums, such as The House of Atreus Part I and Part II. The epic stance would further be explored on the sophomore, though ill-fated Age of Consent release which turned out a more well-produced affair alltogether. Thus, for potential fans of today’s Virgin Steele that find parts of the band’s appeal but its wholesome all too grand in its gesture, the 80’s version is a recommendable pickup.
The comparisons to Manowar have always been more or less inevitable it could be argued, (or should that be the other way around? Compare Manowar’s “Demon’s Whip” to Virgin Steele’s “Serpent’s Kiss” the latter four years prior), although some would argue that the lesser known of the two would cut off its “premature” factor in the lyrics department considerably more as the careers of respective bands went on. Still, the presence of 80’s lack of "mature" lyrics certainly has its charm for us that choose to indulge in it, and here it is represented with the likes of “I'm On Fire” (how about "I'm on fire, sex desire" for cheesiness galore?) and “Evil in Her Eyes”.
Even the "lesser" Virgin Steele efforts were always considerably above average, but the production of Noble Savage puts a damper on the album’s occasional greater moments. Where is it? Caught in the mud! The likes of "The Angel of Light", and “Image Of A Faun At Twilight” that leads into the catchy title track would have worked so much better given a powerful treatment where the sound is concerned. There is not that much that could be done with a re-master, although the common feature is here; the bonus tracks. These are alternative mixes of “Fight Tooth and Nail” and the title track though, so not much there to harvest except for the collector. Still worth a pick up for the all round 80’s Metal fan and peeps looking into earlier incarnations of Virgin Steele, although the 1997 issue of Age of Consent would be more of a first hand recommendation for earlier Virgin Steele.