METAL CHURCH
Traditional heavy metal / US Power Metal • United States

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Metal Church was an American heavy metal band from Aberdeen, Washington, USA. They were formed as Shrapnel in 1980 at the San Fransisco Bay Area by band leader guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof. Initially playing an abrasive and fast rendition of the NWOBHM sound, they released a few demos which sounded not too dissimilar to what Metallica will later popularize as thrash metal (Lars Ulrich even played several rehearsals with Metal Church before he formed Metallica, but was never a real member of the band). However, nothing came out except for a few demos (which in hindsight were groundbreaking material at the time).

Kurdt dissolved the band and moved to Washington, where he found a lineup that would record the first few Metal Church albums. Along with the move from the Bay Area, the band's sound also changed to a more melodic, power metal sound, although retaining many thrash elements. Their
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Classic LiveClassic Live
Extra tracks
Rat Pak Records 2017
Audio CD$8.61
$10.74 (used)
Metal ChurchMetal Church
Elektra / Wea 1990
Audio CD$6.93
$4.63 (used)
The DarkThe Dark
Elektra / Wea / Asylum 1990
Audio CD$6.60
$4.95 (used)
XIXI
Rat Pak Records 2016
Audio CD$6.99
$9.49 (used)
Blessing in DisguiseBlessing in Disguise
Elektra / Asylum 1990
Audio CD$9.02
$3.39 (used)
A Light In The DarkA Light In The Dark
Import
Steamhammer 2006
Audio CD$7.20
$7.12 (used)
The Human FactorThe Human Factor
Epic/Sony 1991
Audio CD$25.96 (used)
Generation NothingGeneration Nothing
Rat Pak Records 2013
Audio CD$14.94
$5.14 (used)
Weight Of The WorldWeight Of The World
Import
Steamhammer 2004
Audio CD$7.28
$3.81 (used)
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METAL CHURCH Discography

METAL CHURCH albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 4.40 | 30 ratings
Metal Church
US Power Metal 1984
.. Album Cover 4.39 | 39 ratings
The Dark
US Power Metal 1986
.. Album Cover 4.38 | 25 ratings
Blessing in Disguise
US Power Metal 1989
.. Album Cover 4.13 | 17 ratings
The Human Factor
Traditional heavy metal 1991
.. Album Cover 3.78 | 16 ratings
Hanging in the Balance
Traditional heavy metal 1993
.. Album Cover 3.76 | 11 ratings
Masterpeace
Traditional heavy metal 1999
.. Album Cover 3.80 | 10 ratings
The Weight of the World
Traditional heavy metal 2004
.. Album Cover 3.74 | 13 ratings
A Light in the Dark
Traditional heavy metal 2006
.. Album Cover 3.82 | 11 ratings
This Present Wasteland
Traditional heavy metal 2008
.. Album Cover 3.89 | 8 ratings
Generation Nothing
Traditional heavy metal 2013
.. Album Cover 4.25 | 10 ratings
XI
Traditional heavy metal 2016

METAL CHURCH EPs & splits

METAL CHURCH live albums

.. Album Cover 5.00 | 1 ratings
Live
Traditional heavy metal 1998
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Classic Live
US Power Metal 2017

METAL CHURCH demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

.. Album Cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Red Skies
US Power Metal 1981
.. Album Cover 2.00 | 1 ratings
Hitman
US Power Metal 1982
.. Album Cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Four Hymns
US Power Metal 1982

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METAL CHURCH Reviews

METAL CHURCH Metal Church

Album · 1984 · US Power Metal
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siLLy puPPy
After three demos of fully developed heavy metal heaven and a different band name Shrapnel, METAL CHURCH was ready for prime time and originally released their eponymous debut album independently on the Ground Zero label when it first came out in 1984. The album sold 70,000 albums and caught the attention of Electra albums who would sign them (due to James Hetfield coaxing them to do so) and then re-release it the following year. The band had gone through a series of lineup changes during the demo years but found a somewhat stable lineup for a while at least. On this debut all the elements the band had been developing had come together in perfect form and METAL CHURCH was one of the heaviest releases of 1984 rivaling Metallica’s “Kill Em All.” Musically they fall somewhere between the NWOBHM and the more powerful thrash that was in its nascent form. The name METAL CHURCH actually came from a nickname that Vanderhoof gave to his apartment in San Francisco before they moved to Aberdeen, WA and then changed their name.

The album kicks off with the thunderous attack of “Beyond The Black” which shows a distinct strain of Judas Priest bleeding though in heavy metal guitar riffs alongside a galloping bass and energetic percussive workout. David Wayne proves he’s the right man for the job on vocal duties as he has the range of a Rob Halford and the dirty metal grit of a James Hetfield mixing and melding the two styles freely throughout the album’s run. Lead guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof took the reigns as the primary songwriter and cranked out one satisfying track after another with killer fuckin’ lead guitar that tears the roof off the house. After the shit quality of the demos, the debut album sounds excellent as every instrument shines through delivering their powerful sounds that conspire to create a very unique metal album for the early year of 1984.

Everything about this album is almost perfect with heavy hitting metal tracks churning out riff after riff with brilliant ways of changing it up inserting guitar solos and alternating between the NWOBHM and thrash metal worlds. The tracks alternate from on fire feistiness heard on “Merciless Onslaught” to the slower clean guitar introduction of the mythic “Gods Of Wrath” which quickly changes into a crusty crunchy metal powerhouse and it’s not hard to hear how METAL CHURCH would influence other US power metal acts such as Crimson Glory along with fellow Washingtonians Queensryche although MC incorporated more thrash elements than any of their successors. This debut is super heavy and extremely catchy for a metal album of this era. It’s instantly addictive and despite not having the best production job in the world adds a little dirty metal grit to the overall sound. Not a bad track on the album but it does have a couple weaker tracks towards the ends but livens up again as the final closing track which is a super energetic cover of Deep Purple’s “Highway Star” picks up steam and sizzles its way to finish the album. A mandatory metal addition to any collection.

METAL CHURCH Four Hymns

Demo · 1982 · US Power Metal
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siLLy puPPy
FOUR HYMNS was the third demo from METAL CHURCH before the release of their eponymous debut album in 1984. While the first two were entirely instrumental, on this one they added a fifth member vocalist David Wayne who would appear on the first two MC albums and then comeback for a couple more in the 90s before dying in a car crash in 2005. While the production quality is still quite shoddy at this point, the rampaging metal musicianship is on full fire and it was inevitable that the band would find a record deal at this point as they rivaled anyone else in the metal universe at this point with super speed induced guitar riffs, pummeling bass line and a healthy dose of drum attack.

Wayne was the perfect vocalist for the job as he was obviously steeped in NWOBHM influences with Rob Halford being the most obvious however Wayne had a dirtier and gritty vocal attack. It’s also true that the compositions themselves emanate from the British influences of the day with some Priest-ish and Maiden-esque riffs in the music.

Of the four tracks on FOUR HYMNS, only “Gods Of Wrath” and “Battalions” would find a home on the debut album but while the others are decently done they don’t match the beauty of the first few full albums. The production is still crap at this point and actually sounds worse than the previous demo but FOUR HYMNS remains a compelling listen at least once for historical value as the music is absolutely on fire and it’s apparent the musical mojo is steaming hot and ready to make its mark on the world. Far from essential but quite the speed metal attack for 1982.

METAL CHURCH Hitman

Demo · 1982 · US Power Metal
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siLLy puPPy
The second of three demos before the 1984 eponymous debut release. HITMAN was released independently and was another all instrumental release on cassette only with three tracks. The title track would go on to be featured on the debut album while the other two wouldn’t. These tracks aren’t as fast and furious as the “Red Skies” but the production has gotten much better although it still lies somewhere between NWOBHM and early proto-thrash. It’s obvious at this point the band is ready for a vocalist and talented enough to hang with the big boyz of the early 80s metal scene. Kurdt Vanderhoof has quite the unique style of lead guitar and the band while clearly influenced by many of the greats holds their own. This one isn’t as satisfying as the debut demo and could really use some vocals at this point. Still though not bad.

METAL CHURCH Red Skies

Demo · 1981 · US Power Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Before moving to their better known Aberdeen, WA a year later, METAL CHURCH was actually founded in San Francisco, CA as the band Shrapnel but soon changed it soon after the move to the more familiar name which founder and lead guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof took from a nickname he gave his apartment while living in SF. The band released three demos before their landmark debut eponymous album in 1984 and this first demo RED SKIES was the independent cassette release that them noticed fairly quickly due to the high quality musicianship on board. This was a totally different band at this point with members coming and going before finally releasing the first album with only Vanderhoof sticking around to see the band blossom into an early 80s metal powerhouse.

RED SKIES is a short three track demo where two tracks would never be released and only “Merciless Onslaught” finding a home on the debut album. This is all instrumental and sounds like a practice session for vocalists to practice. This is the typical early demo quality with crappy production and horrible mixing but what makes this shine despite irritating audiophiles is that the music is top notch even at this stage and the four musicians were more than ready for prime time as the riffs galloped only faster than anything short of Venom at this point in 1981 and straddles somewhere between NWOBHM and early thrash. Before you know it the short demo is over but it’s a satisfying historical reference to check out. I would hardly call this essential but it’s so well played despite the awful muddy recording that i have to give it at least 3 stars.

METAL CHURCH XI

Album · 2016 · Traditional heavy metal
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Following the exit of singer Ronny Munroe in 2014 after four albums, the long but on/off running heavy/power/thrash metallers Metal Church once again found themselves without a frontman. In a move that has shades of their earlier reunion with the late David Wayne, Metal Church have been able to bring back singer Mike Howe to the band. Howe had been out of Metal Church since 1994 and previously recorded three albums with the group, the last being Hanging in the Balance (1993), which up until this point seems to also be the last Howe was heard of in the metal scene at all. XI (2016) is the ninth Metal Church album. Aside from Howe it features the same line-up as previous album, Generation Nothing (2013).

It's clear right from the opener Reset that Mike Howe has lost nothing as a vocalist in the last twenty odd years. I have to confess that the most recent Metal Church album I've heard prior to XI was A Light in the Dark (2006) so I'm unable to compare how XI stands up to either This Present Wasteland (2008) or Generation Nothing, but it seems to me that Howe's return has breathed new life into this classic band. It's not a return to the USPM of their early days but rather a traditional heavy metal record with some thrash metal influences (such as the track Needle & Suture) which I'd say is typical of later Metal Church. Most importantly it's one hell of an album. The first three tracks, Reset, Killing Your Time and No Tomorrow are all particularly excellent. Not every song packs the same punch, but there aren't any fillers either, just a classic band continuing to give it their all and be successful at it.

The only real downside as I hear it is that XI doesn't have as much of a lasting impact as it initially had me believing. It's be a real monster of an album if all the tracks were on the level as the first three, but it's lacking that something that made Metal Church's early work so special. Even so XI is still a very satisfactory release from them and with the reunion with Howe now firmly established I expect there'll be more great things to come from Metal Church.

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