Virgin Steele – Nocturnes of Hellfire and Damnation (2015)

Artist: Virgin Steele

Album: Nocturnes of Hellfire and Damnation

Label: SPV GmbH

Author: Ryan

Virgin Steele in the long run are a bit of a curiosity. At their height they were one of the most criminally underrated metal bands out there, gaining only a fraction of the acclaim they rightly deserved. At their lows they got any attention at all out of name recognition alone. The latest chapters of a career marked by the highest highs and some dismal lows have been mostly the latter, with the band tripping all over its own grand visions in an effort to be more and more “epic.” Frontman David DeFeis promised a return to the heavier, more song-oriented stylings of the 1980s with Nocturnes of Hellfire and Damnation, but to the album’s detriment it feels much more like a natural continuation from The Black Light Bacchanalia. Continue reading

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Sorcerer – In The Shadow Of The Inverted Cross (2015)

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Artist: Sorcerer

Release: In The Shadow Of The Inverted Cross

Label: Metal Blade

Reviewer: Ryan

It’s now 2015, 23 years since famed Swedish doomers Sorcerer released the second of their two demos, their only output aside from some compilations until now. Their demo material has already made them among the most widely acclaimed names in epic doom metal, and I was at once excited and a bit concerned to find that they were recording new material. I was glad there would be more Sorcerer, but far too many comeback albums are only shadows of former glory. Ultimately my mixed feelings leading up to this album’s release were mostly met with pleasant surprise; In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross is a fine album, but at times it does not capture the epic, mystical formula that made classic Sorcerer classic.
In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross has some big shoes to fill following demos with such a legacy. Returning from the lineup that recorded the venerated self-titled demo are vocalist Anders Engberg and bassist Johnny Hagel, now accompanied by drummer Robert Iversen and guitarists Kristian Niemann and Peter Hallgreen. Losing more than half of the band might have been a bad sign, but the whole lineup offers a solid performance. The most immediately striking performance is Engberg’s vocal work. He has plenty of range and power and uses it to his fullest, bringing to mind Rob Lowe and other soaring doom vocalists; his voice was effective on the demos and it is here.

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