Metal Church - Metal Church
Elektra Entertainment Group Inc.
Thrash
9 songs (41:50)
Release year: 1984
Metal Church, Elektra
Reviewed by Cory

Judas Priest’s Defenders of the Faith, Metallica’s Ride the Lightning, Iron Maiden’s Power Slave, Anthrax’s Fistful of Metal, Dio’s Last in Line, Mercyful Fate’s Don’t Break the Oath, Queensryche’s The Warning, Slayer’s Haunting The Chapel EP, and on and on and on. What do these albums all have in common? They were released in 1984, arguably the finest year that Heavy Metal has ever seen. No doubt this is merely scratching the surface, but fuck to be alive and rocking during that glorious time (I was too busy being born to participate). Notice, however, that I left one glaring omission from the list. What about Metal Church, who first broke onto the scene with their self-titled debut during this very year? Fuck me, your right! How could I forget one of the finest albums to emerge from the 80’s, this titan of all that is heavy fucking metal? Well fear not, because I am writing a review on it to finally give it the classic status it deserves!

Metal Church is that album in a bands discography that every other album they release is compared to. Though The Dark is arguably the better known and received work, I have yet to meet the individual that could utter the latter without bringing up the former in the same breath. The line-up was the finest the band would know, with the banshee vocals of David Wayne piercing your soul, Craig Well’s and Kurdt Vanderhoof’s phenomenal guitar mastery, Duke Erikson’s thundering bass, and Kirk Arrington keeping everyone in line on drums. Together, these gentlemen created a sound that was certainly thrash, but with a traditional melodic approach that separated them from the Metallica/Anthrax mold, and gave them breathing room as their own personal entity. In my opinion, Metal Church should have been as big, if not bigger, than any of the “Big Four”. Arguably better than Metallica (they were also the first to realize how sub-par a drummer Lars is by turning him away after a few rehearsals) and Anthrax, I would put them on a level playing field with both Slayer and Megadeth. While they received their fair share of success during the 80’s, backed by Elektra Records, constant line-up upheaval ultimately led to their break up in the early 90’s, leaving them yet another victim of the alternative rock and grunge movement.

Regardless of all that, the legacy of Metal Church is set in stone. Right off the bat you are nailed to the wall with what is, in my opinion, one of the best opening riffs of any metal song, ever. Beyond the Black is without question my favorite Metal Church song, and when North Korea or Iran finally fuck things up for everyone and start World War 3, I swear you will hear this song playing overhead as massive armies clash in bloody war. The atmosphere of death and despair that it creates is second to none, and the question of “will we make it back, beyond the black” is one that makes you think about humanities eternal need for war. The title track slows things down just a hair, following a cool bass line into a slow building riff that gradually works its way into a pounding force. Lyrically, this song is a Heavy Metal anthem the likes of which Manowar wish they could create. Whereas that band beats you over the head with a need to “kill false metal” and so on (and I will admit, Manowar is a guilty pleasure of mine), Metal Church drops all of that pretentious shit and just delivers a mammoth sound that gives you no choice but to drop to your knees and worship at their altar. Of course it also has the awesome line “the metal, churchhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!”. So what is next? Merciless Onslaught, a damn fine instrumental that wastes no time doing exactly what it advertises: beating you mercilessly within an inch of your life. Gods of Wrath pulls back substantially on the throttle, leaning on more somber guitar work rather than riffs to lead up to a sledgehammer of a chorus. Hitman is a good song, but I think it has a bit of a weak chorus. Remaining tracks In The Blood, (My Favorite) Nightmare, and Battalions are all high quality thrashers as well, but not as memorable as the first half of the album. Things end oddly with a cover of Deep Purple’s Highway Star, and this is the only part worth skipping. Metal Church does their best with it, but I have yet to hear a cover of this song that I felt was worth repeating, and this is no exception.

So what else needs to be said? Metal Church is a landmark album in a landmark year for metal. It contains some of the best written music the genre has ever seen, and its legacy will long survive its creators. Though Metal Church met their final end in 2009, these preachers of the metal faith left many fine sermons to keep us on the path they helped establish, and with this album they left us their Bible. If you don’t already own this album, why the hell not?

Killing Songs :
All except Highway Star cover
Cory quoted Classic
Other albums by Metal Church that we have reviewed:
Metal Church - Generation Nothing reviewed by Andy and quoted 82 / 100
Metal Church - Hanging In the Balance reviewed by Thomas and quoted 83 / 100
Metal Church - This Present Wasteland reviewed by Alex and quoted 85 / 100
Metal Church - A Light In The Dark reviewed by Mike and quoted 90 / 100
Metal Church - The Dark reviewed by Mike and quoted 95 / 100
To see all 7 reviews click here
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