Virgin Steele – The Marriage Of Heaven & Hell: Part I

August 14, 2013 in Artist Rewind, Reviews by Chris Foley

Marriage 1

Virgin Steele – The Marriage Of Heaven & Hell: Part I (1994)
Written by: Christopher Foley

Wow, just wow. There aren’t many albums that can consistently floor me like Virgin Steele’s Marriage albums. Up for inspection today is the first one, which hit the unsuspecting power metal world in 1994 with a stunning, articulate release boasting some of the finest music the genre had, and likely will ever see.

What makes The Marriage Of Heaven & Hell: Part I so incredible is the sum of its individual parts. For starters, the song writing is as good as it gets. David DeFeis and Edward Pursino channeled a well of genius that would see them through the next four or five albums (depending on how you feel about Visions Of Eden). Each song feels meticulously crafted, with triumphant guitar hooks, majestic vocal lines, and superb subject matter. Further still, the lyrics are incredible, poignant, romantic; really striking and transferred wonderfully into each respective song to be memorable and thematic.

It’s really hard to peg down exactly what happened to Virgin Steele between the song writing sessions from Life Among The Ruins and The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell. I do feel some elements are carried over from Life Among The Ruins. Particularly in the instrumental interludes and even songs like “Crown Of Thorns”, they aren’t too far away from what they were doing here. Of course this sound has been hinted at throughout the band’s entire career, although at the time I can’t imagine anyone would have seen this coming. The fusion of traditional heavy metal values with classic, romantic, and operatic themes conveyed via the vocals, keyboards, pianos, and even the guitars is incredible, and really made The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell a defining release for the band.

Regardless of how they got there, this is a release I can’t praise enough. From the excellent production values to the painstaking attention to detail in writing each and every song, this is fantastic. It really goes to show what a band can do when they channel a vein of creativity and write for themselves. As a result, Virgin Steele sounds proud across the release, displaying a burning intensity through rip-roaring stompers like “I Wake Up Screaming” or gorgeous musical segments like “The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell”. If you recall my review for Life Among The Ruins, you’ll remember me mentioning how well the ballads had come along, and if they had nearly perfected them there, then here on The Marriage Of Heaven & Hell: Part I they had mastered the art of the ballad.

If you’ve yet to hear this album, then I urge you to pick it up at the next available opportunity. It might not click from the get-go, but I can assure you that the more time you invest will garner greater reward. I rarely throw around phrases like “one of the best metal albums ever”, but then again I rarely hear albums that can match the intimidating amount of quality displayed on The Marriage Of Heaven & Hell: Part I. I won’t lie; on more than one occasion this album has brought a tear to my eye. I can’t recommend this enough, buy it now.

 5 // 5