Metal Church is one of the first metal bands I can honestly say I fell in love with. A pre-cursor to the thrash movement, Metal Church boasted an innovative style that combined both power and speed. The first two releases, Metal Church (1984) and The Dark (1986) are considered classic albums today, capturing the origins of thrash while still exemplifying a modern interpretation of the NWOBHM movement.
One time label mates with Metallica, Metal Church was on the way to superstardom when the unthinkable happened. Inner strife within the group resulted in the departure of vocalist David Wayne. I was crushed, the Reverend was a powerhouse, could Metal Church continue?
I was familiar with Mike Howe as the vocalist of Heretic (Breaking Point – 1988) but I never could have imagined his atypical vocals would deliver the metal classic Blessing in Disguise (1989). Metal Church was back on track but their reign was unfortunately short lived; losing steam with The Human Factor (1991), finally petering out with Hanging in the Balance (1993). Often considered another causality of the ‘grunge movement’, Metal Church broke up and has basically teased us ever since…
In 1999 David Wayne returned briefly resulting in the album Masterpeace. He left the band shortly after a tour supporting the recording. Then he unexpectedly passed away from injuries resulting from a car accident in 2005, closing that chapter of the Metal Church legacy forever.
Remnants of the band recruited Ronnie Munroe to helm the vocals. Although these albums are all solid metal records, they don’t have the magic of Metal Church. The trademark sound was lost…
Then the rumor mill started to turn: An unlikely set of circumstances have brought Mike Howe and Kurt Vanderhoof back together! Howe has re-joined Metal Church! There’s going to be a new album!
I was excited but concerned when hearing about the XI release. Did Mike Howe still have the vocal ability to pull an album like this off? The guy’s been away from metal for a long time. A solid riff isn’t shit if you don’t have a strong melody to support it. Metal Church vocals have always been the ultimate enhancement, the spear point of the band’s attack.
I threw the album on, closed my eyes and crossed my fingers… Howe is back! He sounds fantastic! Metal Church has finally been properly resurrected and the timing couldn’t have been more right.
XI is a blending of musical styles and approaches. It is the classic metal attack re-tooled within today’s standards. The songs are all standalone with the ‘build the sound’ mentality Metal Church is known for. Highlight tracks for me are: “Reset”, “Killing Your Time”, “No Tomorrow”, “Signal Path” and “Shadow”.
Now that Metal Church has delivered a quality album, we know ‘The Church’ will hit the road. It’s time to attend mass in person. This is a group and album worthy of your support, check out this amazing release! \m/
2. Killing Your Time
3. No Tomorrow
4. Signal Path
5. Sky Falls In
6. Needle & Suture
8. Blow Your Mind
9. Soul Eating Machine
10. It Waits
11. Suffer Fools
Metal Church are:
Mike Howe – Vocals
Kurdt Vanderhoof – Guitars
Rick Van Zandt – Guitars
Jeff Plate – Drums
Steve Unger – Bass