Menchen Menchen (Retroactive) 2008

1. "Train Crossing" (4:12)
2. "Noon Sun" (3:50)
3. "A Salt Mine" (4:04)
4. "Ashes and Dust" (3:34)
5. "Forty" (3:50)
6. "Shifting Sand" (3:41)
7. "Time to Ride" (3:51)
8. "Snowy Plain" (3:45)
9. "Wild Wind Blows" (3:44)
10. "Desert Rain" (3:24)

Retroactive Records is getting a lot of mileage out of master guitarist Bill Menchen. What with Titanic and The Seventh Power releases already in circulation, both of which are headed up by Menchen, we are now treated to a new project under his own name. As stated, Bill Menchen is a fantastic guitarist and Classic Metal riff writer. This time around he enlisted fretless bass monster Tony Franklin (Blue Murder, The Firm) and former His Witness vocalist Ken Redding along with long time cohort Robert Sweet (Stryper) on drums.

On a musical level, Menchen (the band) plays Classic Melodic Metal along the lines of early Dokken (albeit without the pop gloss) and Armored Saint. The performances turned in by the musicians are top shelf…solid and skillful. Franklin makes his presence known with lots of tasty bass fills and runs. The soloing is, as always, impressive and just flashy enough. Sweet proves his mettle as well by showing off a little more than he normally does in his own band (opening cut “Train Coming” has some cool double kick work). “Snowy Plain”, “Time To Ride”, “Noon Sun” and “Wild Wind Blows” all sport driving, head-banging riffs with the latter even adding a little Deep Purple styled organ for atmosphere. The nimble riffing & groove on “Ashes And Dust” is also quite cool. For his part, Redding is a good singer. He’s got a nice low-mid range tone and strong delivery. That said, though, he can be a little stiff at times and tends to overemphasize the posturing and vibrato here and there. But overall, he does a fine job.

As with all of Menchen’s projects, the lyrics take on a strong Christian slant. Admittedly, it’s a little overbearing at times. I feel like a little more creativity could come in here stylistically as they come off a little too basic and sterile. But, again, the songs and the playing here are all quite good and make for a fine Metal release. If you’re into 80s Metal, and the Christian message is either welcomed or not an issue, you’d do well to dig into it.

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