Metal Church – XI

I am not really interested in churches, but there is one exception: Metal Church. I have been under their spell since their debut album released in 1984. Still I think that there isn’t a song with such mighty riffs and such a great opening as the song “Metal Church”. After one of the best debut albums in metal history, their next album ‘The Dark’ was another hammer. After those two albums David Wayne (R.I.P) left the band and was replaced by another great vocalist Mike Howe. Two other good albums followed, but somehow the real break through of the band didn’t happen. Due to the grunge hype and a bad contract their album ‘Hanging In the Balance’ (1993) didn’t make a chance either. A year later the band quit, but in 1998 there was a sign of life releasing a live album with vocalist David Wayne followed by the new album ‘Masterpeace’ in 1999.

After that it became quiet again around the band and meanwhile Mike left. The third vocalist Ronny Munroe joined in 2004 and another three albums followed. Between 2009 and 2012 the band was on hold again, to pick up the instruments to record ‘Generation Nothing’ in 2013. Just when the band thought things were going o.k. Ronny Munroe left, leaving the band behind depressed. Metal Church was very close throwing the towel, but sometimes negative things have to happen to create something nice. Being away in the metal scene for more than 20 years Mike Howe joined the band again. With this new album simply called ‘XI’ as result.

The first questions that came up were: “Is Mike still the great singer he was, or did time have influence on his  voice?” and: “Is Metal Church able to write songs of the same quality as their first albums?” Well, the first question can be answered with yes! Time didn’t have influence, he still is the same great singer with the raw edged voice. He probably looks more like a family man instead of a metal head, but his vocals are metal!

Opener “Reset” is a real old school sounding song, mixing NWOBHM with U.S. metal in a typical for Metal Church rhytmn. The next track could have been written back in the ‘Blessing’ days and is a real hammer. The same can be said about “No Tomorrow”, a song that reminds a bit of their first album, with the typical hi-hat drumming sounds. The first three songs are of a very high level and perhaps that is why the average track “Signal Path” can’t really impress me. After that the dark and threatening rather slow and softer epic song “Sky Falls In” is a fine resting point, but also misses some quality. “Needle & Suture” follows with an out-of-this-world hypnotic riff. With a real old school melodic heavy metal track carried by a nice bass line called “Shadow” the journey continues. Two nice, but not of the same high quality as the first three tracks follow.

Fortunately the last two songs are again great, otherwise the album would have ended a bit like a night candle blown out in the wind. The first part of “It Waits” is rather calm and the threatening singing style of Mike adds a dark and spooky atmosphere. Up-tempo song “Suffer Fools” is a worthy last item. Final conclusion is that Metal Church released a good album, not as good as the first three releases, but better than their last four. There are at least 4 tracks that can compete with the older material, but due to a few average songs not the entire album.

Tracklist:

01. Reset
02. Killing Your Time
03. No Tomorrow
04. Signal Path
05. Sky Falls In
06. Needle & Suture
07. Shadow
08. Blow Your Mind
09. Soul Eating Machine
10. It Waits
11. Suffer Fools

 

Playing time: 58:00

Release date: 25 March 2016

Label: Nuclear Blast

Website: www.metalchurchofficial.com

Reinier de Vries
About Reinier de Vries 382 Articles
Once a metal head, always a metalhead. My parents thought it would only be a period, but they were wrong. I quit to explain the beauty of metal music to others that are not into metal, because it is something you can't tell in words... It is like explaining to a teetotaller why a cold beer is so nice on a hot day... I started with bands like Accept, Metal Church, Iron Maiden and Metallica in the eighties and I think I will still listen to them when I'm stone deaf and old...

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