Review Summary: High energy and intense performances coupled with good musicianship and many different musical styles keep things interesting.
Metal church was an American heavy metal band hailing from San Francisco California. The band was formed in 1980 and their brand of music was typically of the thrash metal genre; however they did occasionally draw from the wells of more traditional styles, even incorporating power metal into some of their performances. The band is often credited as an influential early pioneer of thrash, due mainly to their self-titled debut which is considered a classic among fans of the genre.
There are a few different styles of metal to be found here, so the music varies and does not become stagnant. This is mainly due to the very catchy guitar riffs of the thrash, power, and traditional metal genres. The songs flow well together and despite the different genres and styles present, each track adheres to the bands own signature style of metal. There are also a few carefully placed melodic guitar parts spread throughout the album that add some needed variation to the guitar. The band is very talented, and the guitar, drums and vocals all seem to cleverly and coolly show this off in a compelling fashion. High energy and intense performances coupled with musical bravado and many different musical styles keep things interesting. The vocals even show some variation in pitch and style; offering metal shrieks and clean vocals simultaneously, however they may not be everyone’s cup of tea due to the high pitched style of David Wayne. As always and not surprisingly, the bass takes a back seat on the album, with little emphasis given to it, however it is still audible and can be heard playing along with the rest of the band, and the tight drumming and clever guitar work more than make up for this. The album also boasts surprisingly good production for a record of the early 80’s courtesy of famed producer Terry Date, with clean and clear audio presenting the band in a very listenable fashion.
Despite all the positive aspects going for it, the album did wilt in a couple places. A few tracks can fall flat and become boring after a couple listens, with the second half of the record showcasing a couple negative aspects to the album. Songs such as the very Judas Priest influenced “In the blood” stops some of the momentum that had been building and things can become yawn inducing after a minute or so into the song, and the cover song “Highway Star” is in my humble opinion very rushed and not very interesting. The band seems to be at their best when playing their thrash and power metal driven material, and seem at their worst when going for more traditional styles. I any case, the tracks do at least show variation, unlike so many other metal bands from that time.
The dramatic and intense feel of the record is not so surprising when considering some of the subject matter, with bleak topics such as war, nuclear holocaust, and religion being at the forefront of the material. Musically and lyrically the album feels tense and anxious, with the often confrontational lyrics and aggressive playing resulting in a volatile mix of emotions that can take a hold you and encourage you to listen to this truly compelling and rousing material over and over.
Every once in a while there comes an album that I struggle to rate, and when I heard this album it was no exception. There are SO many things I liked about this record, but the few negative aspects made the rating fairly hard to gage. After thinking about it for a while I finally came to the conclusion that most bands only dream of making a debut of this caliber, and this most likely still stands as Metal Church’s finest hour for obvious reasons. This isn’t merely a great thrash record, no; this is a classic metal record that stands the testament of time, a record that should be heard by all fortunate enough to know of its existence.
- Beyond the Black
- Metal Church