Virgin Steele

The House Of Atreus Act II

"Wings Of Vengeance"

A Barbaric-Romantic Opera

Promo CD Provided By Noise Records

Release Date: Oct 16, 2000

Label: T & T

Synopsis Of The Album:


The action of ACT II begins with the Erinyes and Apollo fighting to gain control over the sleeping Orestes thoughts, hopes and dreams, (WINGS OF VENGEANCE). Orestes strange prophetic dreams include his sister Elektra and the slave women that he knew in his youth. Apollo, Elektra and the Women wish for Orestes to come home and avenge his Father Agamemnons death; by killing his Mother Klytemnestra, and her lover Aigisthos, the usurper. The Erinyes wish to avert such a heinous action. Orestes awakes and does indeed return home from his exile determined to avenge his father and regain his rightful inheritance.

The first half of our Drama is set around the grave of Agamemnon. Like Orestes, Klytemnestra has been awakened by her own ominous and prophetic dream. In this dream she has given birth to a serpent wrapped in swaddling-clothes like a human child. She gives it her breast to nurse, and it produces fangs which wound her and make her blood mix with her milk. Klytemnestra divines that this is the work of the angry Spirits of Agamemnon and his Gods. She wishes to bring appeasing offerings to her husbands grave in order to propitiate his Spirit. However, she fears to do this herself and thus sends her daughter Elektra and some foreign slave women to bear her libations. These slave women/libation bearers, quickly persuade Elektra to change the meaning and purpose of these offerings and they begin to pray instead for Vengeance on the murderers of Agamemnon! These prayers are answered, (HYMN TO THE GODS OF NIGHT), and a passionate reunion occurs between Elektra & Orestes. An intense scene of lamentation and invocation follows in sight of the dead king's tomb; to gain the support of Agamemnon's Spirit and his Gods for their attempt to overthrow the false usurping regime of Klytemnestra and Aigisthos (FIRE OF ECSTASY). Orestes recounts to his sister the words of (THE ORACLE OF APOLLO), and instructs her in what could happen if they should not be true in their cause. Elektra really needs no convincing and is actually the one who bolsters up her brother when he has a moment of weakness before committing to the final murdering action. Elektra, Apollo and the Slave Women continue to hammer the point home to Orestes that he must kill, he must avenge his father, and... he must regain his kingdom. The result is that all thoughts of pity or compassion are swept aside and Orestes choice, course and resolve become firm and true. (THE VOICE AS WEAPON)

The next scene of our drama is set in front of THE HOUSE OF ATREUS. Orestes is at first refused admission to the house and an audience with the Royal pair by a Servant. He is later welcomed in by Klytemnestra herself, when he claims to bring news of Orestes death!!! An in-tense, emotional scene is then played out between mother and son, full of raw, bruised and anguished feelings. (MOIRA) Klytemnestra sends a message to Aigisthos who is away at this time, to hurry home with his bodyguards and question the stranger. Klytemnestra's messenger turns out to be Orestes old Nurse, who is grief stricken by the news of 'Oreste's death', and bearing no love for her rulers, is easily persuaded by the Slave women to change this message. Thus Aigisthos arrives home alone and the women lure him into the house and his death. (NEMESIS) Aigisthos shrieks his death-cry and the Servant runs in calling for Klytemnestra who rears up in true regal fashion to fight for her life with all the charms and skills she possesses; but for her... it is too late. Face to face with Orestes who after a moments hesitation impassively rebuts all her pleas to be spared, even when she threatens him with the pursuit of a Mothers Furies/Erinyes, she has no chance. He remembers all too well the Oracle of Apollo, and so he sets the blade to the flesh that gave him birth!!! (THE WINE OF VIOLENCE). A celebration of Victory ensues. Orestes thanks the Gods that gave him strength as the Slave Women shout their joy and re- joice in their new freedom. Orestes feels that he has come to the end of his struggles and can rest comfortable in his regained Kingdom/House, and...that all will be well. He remembers the slain Priestess/Prophetess Kassandra, (his Fathers concubine) at this time, and sheds a tear for her, as well as for his Father, and his own suffering. (A TOKEN OF MY HATRED) This moment of jubilation is short lived. The Slave Women & Elektra suddenly stand transfixed at the sight of Orestes, bloody sword in hand, standing over the bodies of the slain Klytemnestra & Aigisthos. This sight recalls the earlier killings of a Man and Woman,(Agamemnon & Kassandra), a debilitating Fear of the Daimon of the House overtakes them. Orestes attempts to justify his actions, as madness descends upon him in a swirling storm of paralyzing Fear!!! He is pursued by his Mothers Furies, the Erinyes who are visible only to him at this time, and he runs screaming in absolute horror from the House!(SUMMONING THE POWERS)


Here we find Orestes pursued by the Erinyes, seeking sanctuary in the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. Remember, this is the God who convinc-ed him of the righteousness of his crime in the first place. The Erinyes are implacable forces of Nature, who continue to pursue Orestes be-cause no living avenger will take revenge for his crime on Klytemnestra's behalf. Apollo overcomes the Furies by trickery and allows Agamemnon's son to escape. The God promises Orestes release from his pain and suffering if he can make it to Athens. A wraith-like dream image of Klytemnestra arises and stirs the Erinyes to awaken and resume their pursuit of her murderous son. (FLAMES OF THY POWER) Orestes reaches Athens ahead of the Erinyes, and in supplication he grasps the sacred image of Athena pleading with her to appear and grant him sanctuary. The frightful aspects of the Erinyes then arrive and quickly surround him. (ARMS OF MERCURY) Athena materializes in answer to Orestes prayer and questions both sides regarding this dispute. She quickly realizes that the outcome of their conflict has ex- tremely serious consequences for Athens, whether she grants Orestes sanctuary or delivers him to the Erinyes who will devour him. The concept of what is more important the crime of Matricide or Patricide, or the Life of a Man or a Woman, weigh heavily on the minds and hearts of the Citizens and all the Deities concerned. Athena devises a brilliant strategy and founds a court in which she and eleven of her wisest Citizens may judge the case. This is the first trial before the Areopagos (the rock of Ares). Apollo appears and a highly charged cross-examination/confrontation begins. Orestes is made keenly aware of what he has done and he is in great fear as to the out-come of this trial and his Fate! (THE BY THE GODS SUITE) At the conclusion of these proceedings the juror's votes are an exact tie! This outcome finds Athena cast in the role of the deciding vote. She grants Orestes the benefit of the deadlock and he is set free. The Erinyes are of course not happy with this verdict. They are older female deities who feel that they have been abused and lorded over by these younger, upstart Olympian Gods & Goddesses. Apollo departs and Orestes much chastened and much wiser for his troubles gives a speech of thanks and sets out on the road back to Argos. Meanwhile Athena and the jurors are left behind to face the anger of Klytemnestra's Furies. The Goddess of Wisdom manages to persuade them that they really have not been beaten down and this verdict has done them no injustice. In return for their cooperation and for the slight that they feel, she offers them an Honoured place in Athens. The Erinyes will dwell in the city and in return for offerings they will provide many blessings to Athens and her citizens. Athena, the jurors, and all the women of Athens, clothe these Solemn Goddesses (the Erinyes original name), in new garments; divine ceremonial robes, and escort them to their new home below the Earth. (RESURRECTION DAY) But this is jumping ahead. For meanwhile although Orestes may have been granted his freedom and been forgiven, he cannot really seem to forgive himself. On his journey back to his home, he questions all the concepts that he once held dear and lived by for his entire life. He begins to doubt his father's justification both for the murder of his sister Iphigenia, and for the war in Troy. He questions Elektra's fanatical blind devotion to Agamemnon. He questions his own motivation for the crime he has committed, and the actions of his mother and Aigisthos. And... he questions and begins to doubt and lose faith in the words of Apollo, the Erinyes, and... all Gods and Goddesses. He concludes that all have behaved badly, horribly, reprehensibly, and decides that he can't rule the House of Atreus in Agamemnon's stead. Orestes resolves to kill himself to atone for his and all his Family's long History of sins and crimes. Only in this way he concludes, can the Daimon of the House be eradicated, and his home, city, state and land be cleansed and purified once more!!! He takes his ancestral blade and plunges it savagely into the deepest recess of his heart... (THE FIELDS OF ASPHODEL and WHEN THE LEGENDS DIE). Athena seeing this implores Zeus to take action to stop this final desperate act, and to shoulder some of the blame for these proceedings himself. (ANEMONE-WITHERED HOPES...FORSAKEN) The God leaves Orestes to his choice and Fate... The Spirit of Orestes, or the idea of the sacrifice which he represents; returns again in RESURRECTION DAY to climax and revel in the Union of all our opposing concepts: Matricide versus Patricide, Man versus Woman, the Elder Erinyes versus the Younger Olympians, and the Ancient argument of New Blood shed for Old Bloodshed, and the Law of the Sword. The Sins of the House are purged by this final death, and a Divine New Vision and Order Arises from the Blood of the Victim like a Beneficent Fury, an Angel of Mercy, embracing the Wounds of the World!!!!!!!!!!!

......And so ends our Tale....... BY THE HAMMER & THE NINE LET VICTORY BE THINE!!! Cheers and Thanks again Ever Faithful, Eternal Metal Listener!!! Through Fire and Water, Wind, Wrath, Pain, Rage, Blood, Tears & Love, we will meet again...

David Defeis (2000)

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S-B-S thanks Noise Records for the promo CD.