Metal Church are a great metal band from Seattle, (yes, way before grunge.) Originally, Metal Church was formed in 1980 in San Francisco by Kurdt Vanderhoof and others. One of the drummers rejected was none other than Lars Ulrich in 1981! This lineup released a few demos but nothing else. In 1981, Kurdt moved to Washington State and found Craig, Duke, and for a while Tom Weber on drums. Tom was quickly replaced by Kirk Arrington and this lineup recorded an instrumental demo. After a few unsuccessful vocalist experiences, they found David Wayne, and released the "Four Hymns" demo which got them a recording deal. After their second album "The Dark" in 1986, Kurdt Vanderhoof left and was replaced temporarily by Mark Baker, and then by John Marshall as permanent guitarist. Kurdt remained heavily involved in the songwriting process of Metal Church however. For the next three albums ex-Heretic singer Mike Howe inherited the mic. The new band, in my opinion, was even better. David Wayne went on to form Reverend, with, ironically enough, some of the ex-members of Heretic. Metal Church never reached the level of success of label-mates Metallica, although they deserved to and in seemed as though they were headed for success. After only three more albums, Metal Church became discouraged and broke up. However, in 1998 they reformed with all the original members and released a live album from "The Dark" tour. In '99 they singed with Nuclear Blast and released a new studio album titled "Masterpeace". David Wayne then left the band to reform Reverend and release his solo album "Wayne". David Wayne passed away from complications after a car accident David Wayne on 5/11/2005.
Metal Church (Elektra) 1984
the Black" (6:21)
Metal Church's first appearance was on the 1984 Metal Massacre V with a song called "The Brave." This track was my favorite track on the compilation, second only to Fates Warning's "Soldier Boy." Almost two years later their first full length, self-titled album was finally released, and what a debut it was. Metal Church rode the line between thrash and power metal and had every bit the power and intensity of bands like Metallica, who were at that time opening for Metal Church. David Wayne's falsetto wail, on top of Kurt Vandehoof's heavy riffs, was a metalhead's dream. Metal Church is a genuine metal classic that has seen repeated spins in my CD player over the years! It is one of the defining albums of speed metal and thrash. The only real downside to the disc is that there were some production flaws, but at the time, heavy metal was not about clean production; it was about aggression, attitude, wailing vocals, crunchy guitars, blazin' solos, and memorable songwriting. Metal Church had all this and more. Found my copy for a $3.99, so I guess I got my money's worth! "Highway Star" is a Deep Purple song.
Metal Church - The Dark (Elektra) 1986
of Bricks" (3:00)
"The Dark" is simply one of the greatest heavy metal albums ever. As well, "Ton of Bricks" is one of the coolest speed metal songs ever written. This album also features the melodic, epic and emotional track "Watch the Children Pray". "The Dark" should be re-released as a double disc with the first album as they go together so well. These two albums are the very definition of power metal for me. In the 80's, power metal was that style of heavy metal that was too fast and furious to be considered traditional heavy metal, but didn't have that punk edge to make it quite thrash metal either. It wasn't until nearly a decade later that power metal became the dungeons and dragons, keyboard laced music that it is now called.
I'm not sure what happened but this was the last album for singer David Wayne, who I thought help give Metal Church their unique sound. However, better things were to come.
Kurdt Vanderfhoof co-produced a Heretic album called "Breaking Point" around this same time that featured one Mike Howe on vocals.
Ultimatum recorded a cover of "Ton of Bricks" on their "Lex Metalis" CD.
Metal Church's third album was their first with new vocalist Mike Howe (ex-Heretic) and their last album for Elektra Records. Ironically, former vocalist David Wayne went on to form Reverend with the remaining Heretic members. Also, guitarist John Marshall took over for guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof, who conintue to be a part of the band, despite not being an official member.
In my estimation, "Blessing in Disguise" is one of the finest American heavy metal albums ever to be released. The new socially conscious lyrics gets Metal Church tagged with the "thinking man's band" label. Straddling a fence between speed metal and classic heavy metal, I have always described this album as the very definition of "power metal."
Metal Church - The Human Factor (Epic) 1991
BRILLIANT! "The Human Factor: is simply a brilliant true metal album. Metal Church are the very definition of power metal. Why this release didn't send Metal Church soaring up the metal charts is a mystery to me. In any case the title track takes a stand against (c)rap music and the music industry in general. "Betrayed" takes a look at the affects of alcohol and alcoholism . "The Final Word," my favorite song lyrically, sheds some light on freedom of speech and how it could (should) be used. Great lyrics! The cover art is a bit weird.
Metal Church - Hanging in the Balance (Blackheart Records) 1993
1. "Intro / No Friend
of Mine" (4:21)
This "officially" released Japanese CD was recorded live on the band's 1995 Japan Tour. I'm not sure if this album was released with the band's permission or not. The band do not list it as part of their discography on their own web site. However, I can only assume it's an official release due to the fact that it was released on Blackheart Records and was distributed by Victor Entertainment. Unfortunately the sound quality is severely lacking here, despite the band playing great and having a good song selection. The overall sound is just muffled, sounding worse than some bootlegs I have heard. It's not completely unlistenable, but it is a little disappointing, considering what this CD could have been. "Live in Japan" captures the Mike Howe-era of Metal Church at the end of their last tour together. The line-up consisted of: Vocals : Mike Howe, Guitars : Craig Wells, Guitars : John Marshall, Bass : Duke Erikson, and Drums : Kirk Arrington. It is thus a great piece of metal history. It's just unfortunate that the sound isn't better.
Metal Church - Live (SPV) 1998
of Bricks" (2:51)
I acquired this when it was only available as a pricey import from Germany. Fortunately I have friends there who hooked me up for much less than I would have paid through an importer. Two years later Nuclear Blast America picked this disc up and re-released it in the U.S.. Good thing I didn't spend $30 on the import. The songs on this disc are from the first two albums. The performance isn't perfect, which goes to show they didn't do a lot of editing and fixes in the studio. Fine with me as this is the way a live album should be. Worth picking up if you are a fan of the band.
Metal Church - Masterpeace (Nuclear Blast) 1999
with Thunder" (6:01)
OK, the point is not to do something "new and fresh." I'm tired of reading bad reviews on this disc. The point was to make some REAL METAL. (as opposed to all the rap-crap they are calling metal in the late 1990's.) Frankly I think Metal Church sounds like a band that is once again charged and hungry, making an album that would have followed up perfectly "The Dark." As one of the members of Metal Church said in their Metal Maniacs interview, "Get your rap out of my metal!" Ordered this disc directly from Nuclear Blast America. Support REAL metal! Buy this CD! "Toys in the Attic" is an Aerosmith cover.
Many people were disappointed with Metal Church's "Masterpeace" a few years ago. I was not one of the disappointed, although I will admit it was not their finest hour. So it was with great anticipation I awaited this new CD. At the same time "Weight of the World" features a new vocalist and guitarist, so I was also a bit apprehensive about the band's sound. Original Metal Church members Kurt Vanderhoof & Kirk Arrington recruited former Rottweiller vocalist Ronny Monroe and former Malice guitarist Jay Reynolds for this release. I was hoping with that Metal Church would stick to their guns and continue to buck trends and put out yet another molten metal opus. Thankfully that is exactly what they did, even surpasing "Masterpeace". This is heavy metal. It's not ultra-heavy, downtuned modern garbage. Rather than tuning down their guitars to sound heavy, they just write heavy guitar riffs like any good metal band should do. The new vocalist is powerful and does this new material justice. His voice is unique as compared to Howe or Wayne, but at the same time there are some similarities that will work well with the classic material in a live setting. Ronnie seems to have this perfect combination of the band's former vocalists the Wayne high pitch scream and Mike Howe's mid range power. So to get right down to it, this is a good CD. I would not be so brash as to say it surpasses those classic discs Metal Church led the metal fight with in the 80's, but I will say that Metal Church delivers the goods with this 2004 release.
Metal Church - A Light in the Dark (SPV) 2006
1. "A Light in the
Ahhh yes, Metal Church are back with yet another brilliant slab of guitar driven, real heavy metal. I liked "Masterpeace", but it was a bit of a letdown. I thought "Weight Of The World" was a nice return to form. However, "Light in the Dark" is the true return to form. Every song on this one is solid as a rock. The opening riff to the title track should convince any skeptic. If that's not enough, tracks like "The Believer", "Son of the Son" and the epic "Temple of the Sea" will convince even the most skeptical. Even the re-recorded version of "Watch the Children Pray" included as a tribute to founding vocalist David Wayne is outstanding. Former Rottweiller vocalist Ronny Munroe now sits firmly in the seat formly held by two of metal's finest and does a fine job taming this metal beast. Munroe's low, gruff voice really works well with this batch of songs. At times I even see images of David Wayne on his early works with Metal Church. Lest I forget, this is the first album for new drummer Jeff Plate (Savatage) who makes his presence known throughout as well. If killer songs aren't enough, the production is punchy and heavy, without being overpolished or overprocessed. What more can I say! In the book of Metal Church "A Light In the Dark" is a glowing testament.
1. "In The Company Of Sorrow" (6:36)
And the Metal Church legacy continues with Kurdt Vanderhoof leading his metal pack through a new batch of molten metal songs. This band seems to go through member changes to Spinal Tap proportions, yet Kurdt being the glue that binds this band, their sounds stays fairly consistent. This Present Wasteland features the addition of guitarist Rick Van Zandt. Vocalist Ronny Munroe returns for his third CD.
Longtime fans know exactly what to expect from Metal Church. While they are a band that have many labels; some calling them thrash, power metal, classic metal. Really, I think that Metal Church embodies a bit of all this. They are most certainly a classic metal band. Their sound has been a catalyst for many other bands who followed them. "This Present Wasteland" is no exception. The album features superb musicianship, excellent guitar solos, catchy melodies and memorable song writing.
Probably the biggest complaint some long-time fans have about the current Metal Church is the vocals. Ronny Munroe does not sound like either of the band's old vocalists. For this fan, I find Munroe to be more than competent. He is a good singer with a raspy howl and a good range. On "This Present Wasteland" he offers up everything from a low pitched singing to ear splitting falsetto. In true metalhead fashion, "Ronny rules!"
"The Present Wasteland" is perhaps a bit more melodic than the band's thrashier days, but not really all that different than what the band has been doing ever since the mid-1980's with Mike Howe. With the exception of album opener "The Company of Sorrow" and possibly "Meet Your Maker", the tempo overall seems to have been dialed backl. I wouldn't have minded having a couple more up-tempo songs like "Meet Your Maker". However, this is a minor complaint as I find that overall, "This Present Wasteland" is another solid album in the Metal Church arsenal.