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Virgin Steele - Biography





Virgin Steele hail from Long Island, New York. In their more than 20-year old history, they have forged a distinct form of 'barbaric-romantic' metal, with one of the closest fusions of power metal and classical music found in the metal world. Virgin Steele music is driven by classical arrangements and David DeFeis's ever-present piano, floating on a layer of Edward Pursino's guitar riffs and Frank Gilchriest's double-bass drumming.

Here is a description of the music from the ingenious David DeFeis himself: "From a whisper to a scream, barbaric, romantic, bombastic, yet subtle, grandiose, yet earthy. A call, a shout, an invocation to Freedom and the continual awakening to the awareness that every moment of life is lived to its fullest potential. It is a force, a sacred quest which drives Virgin Steele on."

David DeFeis stems from a very artistic family, his father being a Shakespearean actor and his sister Doreen a professional opera singer. David started playing the piano at age eight and studied music and composition in college. Auditioning for a gig as a singer, David met guitarist Jack Starr and in October 1981, with the help of bassist Joe O'Reilly, they self-released 'Virgin Steele One:' Virgin Steele was born.

Shortly after their second album, 'Guardians of the Flame,' David and Jack had reached the end of the road in terms of their partnership. Enter David's old friend, Edward Pursino, a classically trained guitarist who had made a name for himself performing the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. With new energy from Edward, the band released 'Noble Savage' in 1986. In 1987, Virgin Steele toured Europe with their idols Manowar and Black Sabbath. 'Age of Consent' was released in 1988. In the years until 1992, Virgin Steele was confronted with a cluster of problems, including difficulties with their management and the departure of bassist Joe O'Reilly. David made use of the time by completing his bachelor's degree in music and composition. The year 1993 saw the release of 'Life among the Ruins' Shortly thereafter, the double album 'The Marriage of Heaven and Hell' was completed. Part II of this album includes three tracks with new drummer Frank 'The Baron' Gilchriest. Frank, being a former jazz and also thrash-metal drummer, contributed immensely to the uniqueness of the Virgin Steele sound, which they had now made their very own.

The year 1996 saw the re-release of the 'Noble Savage' album, including 6 bonus tracks. One year later, 'Age of Consent' along with 4 bonus tracks was also re-released. The third part of the Marriage Saga, 'Invictus,' was released in 1998 and it is regarded by many as their best album to date. Arguably, the following releases, a metal opera in two acts, 'The House of Atreus Act I and Act II' represent the culmination of Virgin Steele's development and musical maturity. With their creativity soaring, Virgin Steele even squeezed in an EP between the releases of Act I and Act II, entitled 'Magick Fire Music,' which contains, among other jewels, a wonderful acoustic version of 'The Gate of Kings.'

Always on the hunt for new challenges to expand his artistic horizon, David set out to turn 'The House of Atreus' into a theater stage production. The story was picked up by the Landestheater Schwaben in Memmingen, Germany, and under David's direction, his metal opera premiered on June 1, 1999 under the name of 'Klytaimnestra - der Fluch der Artriden,' and later, on other stages in southern Germany.

January 2002 saw the release of two compilations, 'The Book of Burning' and 'Hymns to Victory.' Both albums contain remastered, classic Virgin Steele music as well as previously unreleased material. In September 2002, Virgin Steele will re-release their first two albums, 'Virgin Steele One' and 'Guardians of the Flame,' both including previously unpublished material, such as a piano composition David wrote when he was 17 years old.

To date, Virgin Steele remains a grotesquely underrated and under-appreciated band. With their largest fan base in Germany and Italy, Virgin Steele are well-known only to a selected few in their home country. Notwithstanding, these three excellent musicians are determined to create the music that feels right to them, regardless of the 'flavor-of-the-month-attitude' of musical trends.

Again, let's hear it from David himself:

"We were born to defy, we were born to heed our own heart´s call and our own voice. Amidst a sea of lame excuses, mediocrity, conformist rhetoric, and other bland sentiments that pass for ROCK MUSIC these days, we stand as an Island, a Fortress, a Bastion, a Haven for the Foundation of what we consider to be the True METAL Faith and perhaps the CLASSICAL MUSIC of the 21st CENTURY. A Testament to the Power of the Will, exploration and self expression. An alternative to the ever present corporate menace that passes for Popular Music."

Biography by Emalaith