Released on March 25, 2016 (Rat Pak Records)
Since the time I have starting working with Sleaze Roxx, I have had the great privilege to be exposed (or re-exposed as per my recent Flotsam & Jetsam album review) to a lot of fantastic groups/artists. Some of the bands I have never heard of or been exposed too include Diemonds, Striker, Shakra, The V, and countless others that I have known by name but never really checked out such as Saxon, The Last Vegas, Primal Fear and Metal Church.
When I got the opportunity to review the new album by Metal Church, I was really excited because I have always wanted to hear what these metal pioneers sounded like. Metal Church have been one of those bands I knew only by name and that they have been around since the early to mid-’80s, but since they were never a “hair/glam” band, they stayed off my radar. I didn’t start to listen to the “heavier, faster, and darker” music until Metallica released their Black/self-titled album in the early ’90s. That album opened my eyes and ears to a whole new level of music, and now I appreciate all things hard rock and heavy metal.
2016 has been a very productive year for Metal Church. Their new album XI saw the return of Mike Howe on vocals, was released on March 25, 2016 and reached #57 on the Billboard Top 200 (first album of theirs in 27 years to reach the Top 200). They have also received some recognition from Stone Sour, who did an excellent cover of “The Dark.” Touring for the new album started in February and they just finished a co-headline run with Armored Saint. Next month, they will be traveling overseas to start a tour for their international fans. Looks like there is no stopping this machine in 2016.
“Reset” is the lead off track for this trailblazing, riff heavy, guitar solo filled album from Metal Church. Howe sings, “Feeling good, feeling strong, didn’t think I would last this long, reaching deep, my soul to keep, praying every night for sleep, turn the page, in my old age, now I am at the final stage AGAIN!, now I hit the button to ‘Reset.’” I couldn’t find these words to be any truer. They know they are not getting any younger, but they also know that they can still deliver and kick some ass. Also, some people might think they should hang it up because they are getting older, but Howe is ready to hit the “Reset” button and start this ride all over again and prove any naysayers out there.
The next track “Killing Your Time” shows that after 21 years of being away from Metal Church, Howe still has a very strong and powerful voice. This song also showcases the talents of the rest of the band. Kurdt Vanderhoof and Rick Van Zandt show off their guitar riffs and killer solo skills. Steve Unger lays down the thick bass tracks and drummer Jeff Plate hits those drums hard and fast, all while keeping the rhythm with Unger.
“No Tomorrow” is the third track on XI, and it is one of my favorites. It starts off with an acoustic guitar riff that makes you feel like you are at a showdown in a western. It’s like both men are ready to draw their guns at any moment, and then all of a sudden, the drums kick with a similar beat and then the electric guitars come in for one kick ass song. This track has a little bit of everything — an intro, it’s heavy and fast, a catchy chorus, a breakdown with the intro riff again, and a killer solo.
The rest of the album is chocked full of blistering metal that is sure to please anyone who is a fan of the older and newer bands. “Sky Falls In” and “Soul Eating Machine” are filled with heavy doomy riffs and memorable chanting choruses that will have you singing along. “Needle & Suture” and “Blow Your Mind” both have an eerie and dark feeling with the music and lyrics. “Shadow” is a bass heavy track with another spine shivering feeling like someone is watching you. In all honesty, all of these songs can stand on their own. This is a great metal album and I am glad that I was exposed to this band. I am looking forward to hearing their previous albums. I have also read some reviews that Metal Church are fantastic live and I hope to find that out before the end of 2016.
02. Killing Your Time
03. No Tomorrow
04. Signal Path
05. Sky Falls In
06. Needle & Suture
08. Blow Your Mind
09. Soul Eating Machine
10. It Waits
11. Suffer Fools
Mike Howe – vocals
Kurdt Vanderhoof – guitar
Steve Unger – bass
Jeff Plate – drums
Rick Van Zandt – guitar
Produced and mastered by Kurdt Vanderhoof
Mixed by Kurdt Vanderhoof and Chris “Wizard” Collier
Reviewed by Metal Mike for Sleaze Roxx, June 2016
Metal Church‘s “No Tomorrow” video:
Metal Church‘s “Killing Your Time” lyric video:
Taken from ‘XI’. Killing five-and-a-half minutes of your time. The metal way! Get the album ‘XI’ here: http://nblast.de/MetalChurchXIThe new METAL CHURCH alb…