Virgin Steele

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The House Of Atreus: Act II

Virgin Steele - The House Of Atreus: Act II ©2000 Noise
CD one:
1. Wings Of Vengeance
2. Hymn To The Gods Of Night
3. Fire Of Ecstasy
4. The Oracle Of Apollo
5. The Voice As Weapon
6. Moira
7. Nemesis
8. The Wine Of Violence
9. A Token Of My Hatred
10. Summoning The Powers
CD two:
11. Flames Of Thy Power (From Blood They Rise)
12. Arms Of Mercury
13. By The Gods
14. Areopagos
15. The Judgment Of The Son
16. Hammer The Winds
17. Guilt Or Innocence
18. The Fields Of Asphodel
19. When The Legends Die
20. Anemone (Withered Hopes . . . Forsaken)
21. The Waters Of Acheron
22. Fantasy And Fugue In D Minor (The Death Of Orestes)
23. Resurrection Day (The Finale)

Virgin Steele have finished their latest musical endeavors. This disc has a concept behind it that would undo many lesser bands, but these veteran rockers have stepped up to the challenge in every way. This disc is very nearly on the scale of something you'd find from Ayreon in the depth of its story and the cast of characters represented in the music. Do they pull it off? Do they ever!

Virgin Steel have been experimenting with broad sweeping themes for some years now. The two Marriage of Heaven and Hell discs can be taken along with Inviticus as a trilogy of sorts that explore the same thing from differing viewpoints. The music and story offered on the The House of Atreus discs is much more story focused than anything Virgin Steele has offered us in the past. The scope of this effort is commendable regardless of how one receives the discs.

I found this double disc to be immensely satisfying. The music is huge. I love epic concept discs, and this one gives 'epic' a new definition by shattering the barriers of the one-disc concept. This story sweeps across the first disc (Act I) and these two discs that comprise Act II. The thing I found most amazing is that there don't appear to be any guest musicians or vocalists. Given the enormity of some of the tracks on the second disc and the orchestration that is evident throughout the music, this is stunning. There are places you'd swear a full orchestra was playing or that a choir had joined the band. It may be that I just missed it in the credits, but this is a magnum opus, herculean achievement for these three musicians.

The concept is played out in Greek mythology and the pantheon of gods found therein. The story deals with some far reaching ideas centering on the theme of justice. There is a lot of intrigue and plotting going on. There is a lot of passion and emotion conveyed in the singing and play. The music serves as a very effective vehicle to carry the story along.

The music is multifaceted. There are moments of sheer, screaming metal fury. There are introspective acoustic and classical interludes. The way they blend together and segue one into another is seamless. There is some much attention paid to the structure of these songs that the result is a flowing composition that carries the listener from one end to the other in sweeping, breath-taking grandeur. The music is filled with lush keyboard passages, orchestral movements, chopping, crunchy guitar and spacious atmosphere galore. There are no dull moments on the disc. It keeps moving, weaving through the story and driving toward its conclusion. This is tightly focused and well aimed music from start to finish. I am certain this release will be seen on many "best of" and "must have" lists this year. What an absolutely stellar effort from Virgin Steele!

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 03/2001

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