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Virgin Steele

The House of Atreus Act II

Noise

Whoa. Seriously, that’s about all I can muster when daunted with the unenviable task of digesting Virgin Steele’s The House of Atreus Act II for review. Rivaling the loopy ambition of Frank Zappa (RIP), Steele warrior David “The Lion” DeFeis renders metallic readings of ancient Greek tragedies with all the exacting detail and goshdarnit gusto of a man well versed in such studies. The follow-up to 1999’s The House of Atreus, Act II concludes the story of the post-Trojan War life of King Agamemnon and his wife, Klytemnestra, and all the ins, outs, and arounds of their time together – heady stuff, and almost akin to assimilating an Ayn Rand novel into one’s mental fibers (well, not that difficult – or pointless, I guess). Yet, despite the concept being crafted between Act II’s two discs, there exists a wealth of great tunes among their combined 23 tracks, ones that stand firmly outside the record’s context, particularly the throttling-heavenward “Resurrection Day (The Finale)” and “The Wine of Violence” (yum!). So, power metal, power ballads, power rockers: All penumbra of metal’s “power” are represented here, and well, this particular concept album proving to be surprisingly enjoyable and quite a wild ride. File next to Savatage, Helloween’s 10-plus-minute marathons, and perhaps select Fates Warning.

Noise, 12358 Ventura Blvd., Suite 386, Studio City, CA 91604, http://www.us.noiserecords.com)