Virgin Steele – Noble Savage
Written by Chris Foley
Virgin Steele’s Noble Savage is a magnificent release on many levels, although one that isn’t without its flaws. Following Guardians Of The Flame and the exodus of Jack Starr, the band added the superb Edward Pursino, whose guitar skills are nothing to sniff it. The guy is a riff master, and his leads are quite frankly godly. This, coupled with a step up in the song writing department, spawned what I feel is the first essential release from Virgin Steele.
One thing that will always remain brilliant about Noble Savage is the vocal lines, particularly on songs such as “We Rule The Night” or the title track which shows David DeFeis maturing and starting to really get a hold on his more aggressive delivery. These songs, among many others on the album, feature massive shout along choruses that are fun as hell to imitate, and catchier than an outbreak of the flu in a retirement home.
The band’s eighties metal styling still remains firmly intact here on Noble Savage, although it is also here where the Virgin Steele give us their first unadulterated glimpse into the epic monster they would soon become. The aforementioned title track shows this wonderfully, although it is in the closing “The Angel Of The Light” where my mind begins to crumble. The song is an absolute monster, and for nineteen bloody eighty five is all the more impressive. Way ahead of its time, “The Angel Of The Light” is an early example of the power metal epic, taking inspiration from the Rainbow epics and building on that foundation with cracking ideas and quality, fantastical musical themes. I can imagine a lot of band’s finding inspiration in this.
Those who enjoyed the band’s straight up metal crunchers will be happy for the likes of “Fight Tooth And Nail” and “I’m On Fire”, which boast riffs aplenty and furious lead guitars courtesy of Edward Pursino. If there’s anywhere the gang go wrong on Noble Savage it would be in the songs “Rock Me” and “Don’t Close Your Eyes” (the former of which wouldn’t sound out of place on a Winger album, and the latter is a throwaway ballad). Virgin Steele hadn’t quite mastered the art of the ballad at this point.
Performances and production across the board are quality here. Despite the keyboards sounding a little dated now, they’re still enjoyable and the piano sounds great. As I’ve mentioned, the addition of Edward Pursino was one of the best moves Virgin Steele ever made, and he really makes his presence felt. David DeFeis sounds great too, beginning to master not only the aforementioned more aggressive style, but also his banshee screaming and cooing. The rhythm section is ace, with stalwarts Joey Ayvazian and Joe O’Reilly doing what they did best.
All in all, Noble Savage puts forth some excellent ideas, some of which were ahead of their time and others more routed in the time of release. Despite two songs which don’t really stand up, the rest of the material is killer, and the strongest tracks on here can still hold their own with some of the band’s more modern, accomplished material. An essential piece of heavy and power metal history, this album should be a part of any self respecting power metal fan’s collection, if not for the songs themselves, then for their influence. Get a hold of this if you haven’t already.
4 // 5