David DeFeis - Virgin Steele
By The Godz, Virgin Steele have triumphantly returned! Very soon these noble, savage New Yorkers will release their new album called 'The Black Light Bacchanalia'. By the Hammer Of Zeus and the Wrecking Ball Of Thor, given my average consent, this very well may be their best release since 'Invictus'.
Hailing from the metal city with visions of even more mystical mayhem, championing his burning hymns of victory, the Master Of Mystery - Dave DeFeis - himself, telephoned me to discuss the new album, and all things pertaining to the sacred guardians of the flame. For those well versed in his rich history, mettle initiates will also enjoy his comments on some other enticing tidbits from his well exorcised life among the ancient ruins.
MettleAngel: I am well, and very excited to be speaking with you. I was raised Catholic, and as an honoured tradition, today is the celebration for the "Feast Of Guardian Angels". I assume given your love of Antiquity, you would also find this most propitious.
MettleAngel: It is a true honour to speak with such a noble messenger of Metal and Mystery. Am I pronouncing your name correctly (Da Fay)?
MettleAngel: It was not until I purchased the remastered version of 'Guardians Of The Flame' with the bonus interview track that I heard your name pronounced correctly. I have been playing your new album, and I am very impressed. The lion's roar is back with your voice, and the music has a much more 'Noble Savage' meets 'Age Of Consent' feel. Why has it been so long since the release of 'Visions Of Eden'?
MettleAngel: I noticed that Dockyard did reissue a bunch of the rare classic albums like the two 'Marriage Of Heaven And Hell' albums. I tried to find those, but they are already difficult to track down. I did get all the other remasters on Noise in the '90s.
MettleAngel: This is ironic, as my original copy of 'Noble Savage' was on Steamhammer / SPV Records. I understand you plan to reissue the whole back catalogue again next year through SPV.
MettleAngel: I know last year SPV bit off more than they could chew and swallow, and they lost many of their great artists like Alice Cooper, Whitesnake, Blackmore's Night, etc. Now that they have legally dealt with their insolvency issues, they have regrouped and are working with acts like yourself, Helloween, Freedom Call, and Sodom. I assume you are always writing and creating, so what made you come up with the concept for the new album?
MettleAngel: I really tried to get into that album, but it was so boring. I have been a fan of Virgin Steele ever since I heard the song "Metal City" on Metal Shop in 1983. I felt that most of your albums from 'Invictus' on became too Manowarish. Honestly, I prefer the Jack Starr material. Funny thing, is now his band Burning Starr have now also fallen into that vein, when they were once also Traditional Metal, and not so epic.
MettleAngel: That is awesome! Even if the music does not always move me, I love your appreciation for the Classics. Would you consider yourself to be a gnostic?
MettleAngel: I tell people that I have a mettle voracity for veracity. You have a great new song on the album called "Pagan Heart", so technically you also have an insane pagan heart.
MettleAngel: I have a mettle heart, but I am always fascinated with how you approach religion, mythology, and history.
MettleAngel: On 'Visions', you dealt with the Sumerian legend of Lilith, and the conceptual suppression of women in religion.
MettleAngel: Given the title of the new album, I assume it deals with the Roman God Bacchus.
MettleAngel: I can see that, as well as a suggestion of the "Divine Dichotomy" Hell, even fans of the HBO vampire show "True Blood", if they followed the second season, which was the best, will understand the mythical Maenad, and how these voracious females who followed Dionysius (The Greek version of Bacchus), were frantic females who would rip a corpse apart limb from limb, in a mystical frenzy.
MettleAngel: That show is all over the places with fairies, vampires, werewolves. etc. If you truly appreciate Greek Mythology, as much as I do, avoid the remake of "Clash Of The Titans", at all cost!
MettleAngel: Neither did I as a kid, based on the syncretism of myth, but the new one is just awful!. When referring to the Maenads, in his play "The Bacchae", Euripides uses the Greek term "sarkazo" which is where we get the word sarcasm, which literally means to sever flesh.
MettleAngel: All this deals with the misconstruing of myth, and the misunderstanding by the masses. People do not even realize that in Antiquity Socrates channeled his good daimon, and this term eudaimonos is where the term happiness originates.
MettleAngel: I do like the cover art for the digipak version. It seems so authentic, and similar to what one would have witnessed at a Bachanailia Festival.
MettleAngel: I am curious about yours and Edward Pursino's involvement with the band Exorcist, and the album 'Nightmare Theater'.
MettleAngel: Well, for one, the album has never existed legally on CD. For another, that album was so unique, and experimental. It has more in common with Imapler and Death SS, than it would with Virgin Steele. So, is it true that Exorcist is made up of members of Virgin Steele from that period?
MettleAngel: So the affiliation with such a cult release is there? What about Pile Driver? I have to admit, that when I first heard the song " The Fire God" off the album 'The House Of Atreus Act I', I thought you were covering the Pile Driver song from 'Stay Ugly'.
MettleAngel: 'Stay Ugly' is a very thrashy album. This demonstrates how versatile Edward is on guitar. Pile Driver is also another very unique act. Since I am on a roll, I must act you what is your connection with Joey Buttafuoco and Amy Fisher?
MettleAngel: I recall back in the early '90s when Metal was not strong in the US, seeing an episode of "Hard Copy" where they mentioned Virgin Steele in the Amy Fisher case.
MettleAngel: That VHS features Joey on the cover. Most of the songs like "Love Is Pain" are taken from the album "Life Among The Ruins'. The US version of that features the song "Snakeskin Voodoo Man". I have not heard this track, but I assume it about Joey.
MettleAngel: Many fans do not like that 'Ruins' album too much. They feel it it is too much like Whitesnake, and not representative of the "barbaric romanticism" which you promote.
MettleAngel: I have not seen any of those movies of the week, from back then. I even avoided the whole O.J. trial. I do not like Drew Barrymore, but I would be willing to watch "Casualties of Love: The Long Island Lolita Story".
MettleAngel: Thankfully, you followed the 'Ruins' albums with the amazing 'Marriage' releases. I am very impressed with Crystal Viper's cover of "Blood And Gasoline". Their new album 'Legends' is excellent.
MettleAngel: They also do a great verion of "Obsession (It Burns For You)". Tell me about this Virgin Steele tribute called "By The Gods, A Noble Tribute To Virgin Steele".
MettleAngel: It was my understanding that Wizard and Iron Fire were also contributing.
MettleAngel: I find the title "By The Gods..." to be a bit pretentious, and the whole name to be tautological.
MettleAngel: It reminds me again of the saying by Socrates "Nai Ma Dia", which is roughly translated as "Oh My God". Dave thank you for taking the time to bring me up to date with everything in the VS camp.
MettleAngel: I would love to catch you live. My friend gave me a DVD which featured your Prog. Power performance. I have never had a chance to see you in a live setting.
MettleAngel: Indeed I would, and to meet you face to face. Dave, congratulations on a great new album, and keep up all the good work.
MettleAngel: We are both very loquacious, so this was a noble idea. I have really enjoyed getting to know you. All the best.