VIRGIN STEELE has set "Hymns To Damnation" as the title of its new album, due in March/April 2015 via SPV/Steamhammer.
Comments VIRGIN STEELE singer David DeFeis: "The new album is a roaring collection of metal tracks that work very well together and were recorded in a very straightforward, organic manner. It is full of passion, power, blood, fire, love, lust, death and drama."
An interview with David about the new VIRGIN STEELE album:
Q: So the title of the new VIRGIN STEELE album is going to be "Hymns To Damnation". Where does that title come from?
DeFeis: Well…There actually is a song on the album with that title, and even though this album is not really a concept album, recently when I took a careful look back at all the lyrics, I found that a lot of the lyrics do deal with relationship issues and all the various ways in which humans can entangle themselves, or destroy themselves… so the title essentially encompasses what the vibe of the whole work is about. The title expresses the album in the way that the title "Noble Savage" or "Age Of Consent" expressed each of those particular works. The title provides a framework and perhaps connective tissue, but each song is really its own thing. As I said it isn't a concept album, but there is a certain kind of connection regardless.
Q: Musically, what can we expect for that song as well as the whole album?
DeFeis: That particular song is definitely barbaric-romantic…it is full of pathos, and has both the tender dark side of what we do, along with that over the top bombastic heaviness that we are about. And…well… to go along with the kinds of lyrics I just mentioned, the music is definitely heavy… dark… at times melancholy, and also aggressive or angry sounding, and alternately raw and grandiose. The overarching theme that comes to mind when I think about the album or listen to it is passion…raw passion. There are big monolithic riffs, moody chord changes, "classical"-type bits. It retains the VIRGIN STEELE signature, but it adds new dimensions to it.
Q: Lyrically, is it a completely negative trip?
DeFeis: No, not at all. There are tracks that celebrate life and lust and the beauty of the full experience of what one goes through in their time on the planet. It is empowering and it also has a sense of humor. The lyrics should make you think a bit… I hope. And as regards what I just said a moment ago about relationships, the album mainly concerns connections, connections between all sorts of beings and by that I don't only mean worldly human beings… but also gods and goddesses, spirits, elements, or whatever, plus various creatures, animal, vegetable and or mineral, but largely it is about connections between people. People and their belief systems, people and their gods or goddesses…people and their life philosophies and also the various substances we invest or inject into our daily or nightly rituals and our worldview, and all the complexities of what drives us, makes us who we are and takes us where we may… or may not be going.
Q: That sounds epic! Awhile back I know you had mentioned another song recorded for the album called "Lucifer's Hammer". What is that one like?
DeFeis: Well… It is not necessarily about Lucifer, or hammers! It is a really aggressive song that opens the album, and starts everything off in high gear. It is both raw and "classical"-sounding at the same time. It's very high energy, very kick-ass!
Q: Well, then what do the lyrics for that song concern?
DeFeis: It can be viewed from several different angles, as that is a feature of how I write songs, but you, my friend, would probably say that it is about drugs…
Q: Pro or con?
DeFeis: That would depend on one's own perspective and proclivities.
Q: Do you have anything else planned for 2015?
DeFeis: Yes, about 7 months after the new album comes out, we will finally issue the box set that I discussed a whole lot over the past year.
Q: What will be in that box set?
DeFeis: It will contain the re-issues of both "The Book Of Burning" and "Hymns To Victory", and finally the bonus new work, "Ghost Harvest (The Spectral Vintage Sessions)". We hope to have that package out in October. It has already been discussed between the label and I and it is a go. That "Ghost Harvest" bonus album has new material, plus rewritten and rearranged covers of various things we like or rehearse from time to time.
Q: Great! I am looking forward to the new "Hymns To Damnation" album and then later the box-set. In all the re-issues you did over the past two years you managed to put in tons of bonus material, and the recently reissued "Invictus" CD has an almost 60-minute bonus album called "Fire Spirits", featuring acoustic versions of some VIRGIN STEELE classics, as well as some new material. How do you manage to make all that come together?
DeFeis: I am glad you noticed. Not everyone does. Yes, we have tried to make each reissue as special as we can, and we have gone out of our way to add as much as possible. That particular "Fire Spirits" album came about because I wanted to add something that was intense but unlike the actual "Invictus" album…and we began recording live and really liking what we were hearing back, so we thought, why not?… Those tracks have the intensity of the full band and the listener can get a sense of the interplay between the voice and the instruments, and also a sense of the ingredients of the songs… what makes them tick. We are always working, so there is always material, and I am happy to unleash it in whatever form it takes… hence… all these extra tracks on the reissues.
Q: Getting back to "Hymns To Damnation", how long is that album going to be?
DeFeis: I am not quite sure yet, as we are still deciding on which tracks will ultimately end up being included on there. It will be fairly long, but probably not necessarily 80 minutes. We shall see. Check back with me in a few weeks.
Q: And a last question, David, about the studio methods. I know you mentioned that you went back to some earlier styles of recording. What did you mean by that?
DeFeis: I meant that we started using some of the original analog gear that we used to use, and we even did some things on analog tape. I think it has made the album, as I said earlier, more natural- or organic-sounding. It has that classic "we recorded it live in a large room" kind of sound that we really like. It has been nice to approach the album this way, and we think that it really suits the material.