– Hello, thank you so much for answering our interview, it’s always a pleasure to talk with VIRGIN STEELE. How is the band currently doing with the release of the new album?


ANSWER: Cheers & Greetings Paco! It is my pleasure to speak with you! We are currently doing well thanks for asking. I hope all is Glorious in your World! At the moment I am deep into the various interviews and promotion for this forthcoming new album, and I am having a blast speaking with all you Noble Journalists! Thanks for your questions!


– This album is entitled «Nocturnes of Hellfire & Damnation». Tell us a little bit the meaning and reason behind both the title and the cover artwork.
ANSWER: OK…Let me start with the cover artwork, because that will explain the title. We didn’t specifically set out to have 3 different covers. That developed over time. Let me back up a minute…Whenever we are in the process of making an album, I always want the artwork to strongly connect with the music contained within the album, and to be totally natural or organic to my life, to our lives as a Group, and to what the new Work is trying to express so… I always look around my place, my house, and property… to see if I might have anything that will leap out at me and scream out loudly “hey that looks like how the album sounds”. I used that process with THE HOUSE OF ATREUS album, and found that shield that makes up the ACT 1 and ACT 2 covers, I did that with INVICTUS…etc., and upon looking all around this time my eyes paused and focused on that stone gargoyle…and my ears heard GLAMOUR, PERSEPHONE…LUCIFER’S HAMMER, THE PLAGUE & THE FIRE…etc.…so…I picked the gargoyle up took him out back and photographed him in this autumnal setting…I had also done several winter scene photos out there and wanted to use them as well. Our art/graphic guy Jens Reinhold, had a photo he had taken, of a stone “angel” from a cemetery nearby where he lives and he combined that with my winter scene photo…I loved it and I also loved the gargoyle, so now one gets a grinning DEVIL, an ANGEL and …the autumn, dark dead tree look and the snow bound blizzard winter scene, and in addition to those images…once I had spoken further to Jens and explained to him what the new album was all about, he became very inspired to draw some bits and pieces, and he came up with the “bone-flute” and bone-harp guys…. It just kind of escalated from there… These covers capture the melancholy and torment of the lyrics, as well as the Barbaric-Romantic vibe or attitude of the Group, and reflect the mood…the atmosphere, the core of all that is going on lyrically and musically…A Nocturne is a “night song”…and these are dark night songs full of the fires of Hell or Hades, and the wails, moans and cries and The Torture’s Of The Damned. Therefore…NOCTURNES OF HELLFIRE & DAMNATION.


– Is there any concept in this record or are separate stories? What does VIRGIN STEELE deal with in this opus?
ANSWER: It isn’t a concept album with a song by song linear plot that you have to follow from point A all the way to point Z, like THE HOUSE OF ATREUS album was, it is more a collection of songs that work together well musically and atmospherically, and have a connection or through line virgin steele defeiswhich connects and supports most of the tracks. The album largely concerns itself with relationship issues and what happens when one person comes into contact with another person’s trip, lifestyle, chemistry, sphere…aura…that kind of thing…It also concerns itself with the connection we have with ourselves…all our loves and hates….our desires, passions, and obsessions….. In addition to what I just mentioned, the album is also about the connections between entities…. as in all sorts of beings, not necessarily human beings…but things like Gods & Goddesses, as in songs like PERSEPHONE & DEVILHEAD for example, also Spirits, Elements, etc. But to be brief the album is mostly about connections between people. People and their various belief systems, people and their Gods or Goddesses…and by that I don’t only mean their Spirituality…but you know…their desires and again…obsessions…people and their life philosophies and also the various substances both chemical and otherwise that we inject into our daily & nightly rituals. In short it’s about all the complexities of what drives us on, makes us who we are and who we aren’t…and which take us where we may…or may not be going. To sum it up this album is about…. the dark night of the soul and all the various ways in which we humans entangle ourselves, or destroy ourselves…so the album’s title essentially encompasses what the vibe of the whole Work is about. The title relates to the album in the way that the title “NOBLE SAVAGE”, or “AGE OF CONSENT”, expressed each of those Works. The title provides a framework and connective tissue, but each song is really its own unique thing. The overall message is…beware…


– Listening to the album I notice once more that, as with your latest releases, the album follows that intimate, melodic and symphonic vibe. Are you pleased with the final outcome?
ANSWER: Yes I am pretty happy with the final outcome. I have never been 100% satisfied with any of our releases…and by that I mean the overall mix, and this album is no exception, but I will say that on this album I am pretty close to being completely happy with the mix. I am definitely more than 100% satisfied with the performances and the songs. I think everyone played really well on the album.

– Anyway the album also has your usual heavy epic, good riffs and solos, even certain Prog moment. Have you been the main songwriter or were there ideas from all members?
ANSWER: I have always been the main songwriter for the Group. On this album I again did the bulk of the writing, but there are also several songs that I wrote together with Edward, which turned out really nicely, and there is even one song that I wrote together with Josh. That was a nice first for us, and I hope more will come in the future.

– In this album the surprise if the cover for «Black Mass», by EXORCIST, which was also released back in its day in «The House of Atreus», under the name of «Fire of Ecstasy». How did the recording on this song arise?
virgin steele 3ANSWER: No BLACK MASS was not on the HOUSE OF ATREUS. The song you are referring to is CALL FOR THE EXORCIST. That one I re-wrote as FIRE OF ECSTASY. BLACK MASS…again from the EXORCIST album, I re-wrote here as BLACK SUN-BLACK MASS. I was jamming on the track with Edward one day and we really liked how it was sounding, so I decided that we should re-do it, and I began coming up with all those new sections it now contains. It came together very quickly and rather magically, so we knew that it had to be included in the new album.

– In a lengthy chat we had a few years ago, and which was one of the best I did due o your enlightening answers, I mentioned if EXORCIS were you guys and you told me you weren’t, but that’s one of those Metal anecdotes that are always there. Forgive me again for asking, but people keeps telling me to ask you so, as you told me, you wrote the album along with Edward, right?
ANSWER: I wrote the songs on the EXORCIST album together with Edward. There are a few that I wrote alone, but yes…mainly we wrote the album together.
– Will you re-record more songs by EXORCIST in the future?
ANSWER: We really love the material, so it could be possible.
– Coming back to the album itself, will there be any special releases? And about yours and such, how’s everything like? Any dates already booked?
ANSWER: There will be the normal jewel-case version, the 2 disc digi-pak, and there will be a 2 Lp vinyl version that will also contain the CD. Yes we have booked Athens, Greece already, and more dates will follow.

– Why has it taken you so long to record since your last album came out? What you been up to during these last years?
ANSWER: Since we signed with SPV in 2010, we have been on a busy campaign to re-issue the entire VS Catalogue, because if you change labels several times…as we have done over the years, once the albums are sold out, then new fans wouldn’t be able to get them, so we decided to make sure that they are currently still available to those who wish to have them. We have been doing each of them in a very systematic and timely virgin steele 4manner. Each one of the re-releases we did contained a massive amount of bonus material. Some of the bonus tracks on those re-issues were specifically written for each of those re-issued albums, and other bonus material we included was re-arranged or re-written covers of songs by other people that we enjoy, or live tracks. All that music took time to do in addition to actually re-mastering all of the album’s original contents. If you really look at all those re-issues, you will find that there is at least a full-length album of new material in there…. Unfortunately most people do not know about or realize this. It is my hope that now due to the new album being released shortly…our audience will then catch up with what we put out on those other recordings. I mean for example on the INVICTUS re-issue we had a really cool full length live acoustic album included in there with it called, FIRE SPIRITS. Edward & Josh & I really think that’s an incredible record and want people to know about it. So whenever I am asked why it took 5 years to make the record…. my answer is…it really didn’t, once we decided that this was to be it…it actually took just a few months. But jumping back a bit, in addition to all that material I just mentioned, we have already begun recording what will be the next 2 VIRGIN STEELE albums to follow this “NOCTURNES” album. We have not been on holiday…we have been working in the studio constantly these past several years, which is why this new NOCTURNES OF HELLFIRE & DAMNATION album has 29 songs on it…(I am referring to the 2 disc digi-pak version of course). I hope what I said made sense and I hope I explained that clearly…even I get confused by all that activity sometimes…


– And on a view to the future, what are your plans? What would you like to do (musically) that you haven’t done yet?
ANSWER: The soundtrack to a movie. I have done 3 METAL-OPERA’S, but a film score would definitely be cool. Future plans are more new albums, new videos, live shows and eventually a DVD from the historical perspective!


– In line with the previoius question, lately a lot of legendary bands use to play shows playing full classic albums of their career; have you ever considered doing so? What album would you like to play live?
ANSWER: We thought about it. THE HOUSE OF ATREUS would be a logical choice as that flows like an Opera and we could stage it accordingly…but I guess we could also do that with the MARRIAGE/INVICTUS Saga or the VISIONS/BACCHANALIA Tale…but all those concerts would be very long! I prefer doing a cross-section of material from all the Works…but who knows it could happen.
– And when a live album by the band? It should be at least triple, right? Have you ever thought doing a live album?
ANSWER: Yes a triple! I would love to do it. We actually do have several nice recordings of shows that we could issue already…It will happen.
– And finally, anything to add to your Hispanic fans?
– That’s all from our side. Just wanted to thank you for that interview we did years ago for which you were so kind talking about your whole career, and for the photos we took last time you were in Barcelona. It’s a pleasure for me talking with one of my idols and hope to see you soon again in Spain. All the best.
Hail and Thanks very much Paco for all your kindness, your sincerity, your questions and all the conversation…and your belief…I look forward to seeing you again someday in Barcelona…and having a nice chat….

David DeFeis June 12, 2015


Paco Gómez

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