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Virgin Steele - 'Age Of Consent' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/35/42/31/2354_VirginSteeleAgeOfConsent_1339870345.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     June 16, 2012    
 
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Beautifully packaged and adoringly assembled re-issue.

Originally released back in 1988, Virgin Steele’s fourth album has undergone a couple of transformations over the years. The original ten-track LP was completely re-sequenced and bolstered by a clutch of bonus tracks for its first CD release in 1997, and now it’s been lovingly repackaged by SPV and, as with its predecessor ‘Noble Savage’, it comes with a bonus disc of related odds ‘n’ ends.

For an album originally recorded under difficult circumstances – it would be their last offering for five years – ‘Age Of Consent’ is a remarkably strong collection of music, albeit one that, if you programme in just the original tracks, proclaims its late-Eighties origin with perhaps too much of a fanfare. For those who found MTV an annoying intervention in metal’s history, ‘Tragedy’ is a dismissible slice of synth-driven pop-metal, ‘Seventeen’ (the song from which, ironically, the album derives its title) sounds like an out-take from the very worst of Whitesnake, the cover of ‘Stay On Top’ from Uriah Heep’s abominable ‘Head First’ album is of little consequence and ‘Cry Forever’ is a pale imitation of the band’s own glorious ballad ‘A Cry In The Night’. But such errors of judgment are easily redeemed by the eight-minute workout that is ‘Serpent’s Kiss’, the heads-down ‘Lion In Winter’ in which the band attempt to out-Manowar the Kings Of Metal, the melancholic ‘Perfect Mansions (Mountains Of The Sun)’ or ‘The Burning Of Rome (Cry For Pompeii)’ where they pull out all the stops and deliver an epic which has both memorable hooks and a heart of pure metal. And as the album winds down just listen out for the guitar solo in ‘We Are Eternal’ and then pick your jaw off the floor once it’s over.

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The bonus cuts on the second disc are a joy to discover. Amongst the seven tracks on offer are interesting takes on Priest’s ‘Screaming For Vengeance’ (‘Desert Plains’ appears as an additional track on the first CD but unlike it ‘Screaming…’ remained unreleased till now), Bloodrock’s ‘Breach Of Lease’ and Neil Young’s ‘Down By The River’ as well as some raw ‘n’ unpolished gems: the best of the bunch are probably the thrash ‘n’ burn of ‘The Curse’ – time-keeping be damned, let’s just go for it! – the delightful acoustic take on ‘Noble Savage’ (retitled ‘A Changeling Dawn’) and the more structured and lyrically epic ‘Another Nail In The Cross’.

‘Age Of Consent’ received little promotion at the time, leading to David DeFies – Mr Virgin Steele to you and me – to refer to it as “the one that got away”: hopefully this beautifully packaged and adoringly assembled re-issue will go some way to rectifying this.

John Tucker

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