If you ask a group of Virgin Steele fans what the headbangers' best albums are, chances are that the majority of them will name The Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Parts 1 and 2 or Age of Consent. Not many would name Guardians of the Flame, which was the band's second album and originally came out on LP in 1983. This album isn't nearly as well known as their late-'80s and -'90s output, nor is it as strong creatively. Nonetheless, Guardians of the Flame was a decent sophomore effort and an improvement over their self-titled debut album, which wasn't bad but was uneven and suffered from inferior production. In many respects, Guardians of the Flame was a creative step forward for the band -- better production, more consistent writing, and more confident vocals on the part of lead singer David Defeis. Think of it this way: If Virgin Steele made it to first base with its self-titled album and reached second base with Guardians of the Flame, the New York outfit hit some major home runs with Age of Consent and The Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Parts 1 and 2. Regrettably, Guardians of the Flame was out of print for a long time, which is why many of the fans who discovered Virgin Steele in the late '80s or '90s weren't aware of these recordings from the Long Islanders' pre-Edward Pursino period. But in 2002, Guardians of the Flame was finally reissued on CD thanks to Sanctuary, which added several bonus tracks (including material from the rare Wait for the Night EP). Although not essential, Guardians of the Flame is a respectable disc that hardcore Virgin Steele fans should be aware of.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson