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4.21 | 40 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 1984


1. Beyond the Black (6:20)
2. Metal Church (5:02)
3. Merciless Onslaught (2:56)
4. Gods of Wrath (6:41)
5. Hitman (4:35)
6. In the Blood (3:31)
7. (My Favorite) Nightmare (3:11)
8. Battalions (4:55)
9. Highway Star (4:36)

Total Time: 41:49


- Kurdt Vanderhoof / Guitar
- David Wayne / Vocals
- Craig Wells / Guitar
- Duke Erickson / Bass
- Kirk Arrington / Drums

About this release

Label: Ground Zero Records
Release Date: July 1984

First press includes a t shirt.

Tracks 1, 2, 4, 6, and 7 by Wayne, Wells, & Vanderhoof
Track 3 by Vanderhoof
Track 5 by Wayne & Vanderhoof
Track 8 by Wells & Vanderhoof
Track 9 by Blackmore, Gillan, Lord, Glover, and Paice

Self-released in 1984. Re-issued on Elektra Records in 1985.

The original European vinyl version of this album (SPV/Steamhammer pressing) contains the bonus track "Big Guns" (03:19). This song is NOT available anywhere else. Metal Massacre V has "The Brave", not "Big Guns".

Recorded at Steve Lawson Productions, Seattle, USA.

Thanks to rushfan4, adg211288, Unitron, UMUR for the updates


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The year is 1984, the place is Seattle, the producer is Terry Date and the label is Ground Zero (later reissued on Elektra at Metallica frontman James Hetfield’s insistence). Five young intrepid musicians make a unique spins on the various Heavy Metal styles of the time. Not quite the Thrashiest album, not quite the proto-prog developing with the likes of fellow Seattle band Queensryche at the time, not quite US-Power Metal either, this is one heavy metal album that defies categorisation. Compared to some of the band’s following albums, the sound is a bit primitive and direct, not their most musically accomplished or adventurous work, but all the key ingredients are in place; the speed, the power, the melody, the mood, the atmosphere. The record doesn’t outstay its welcome, but it leaves a very good impression. Sure, the production is a bit reverby and the lyrics aren’t as clever as later releases, but its full of charm and that counts for a lot. The iconic artwork completes the package perfectly. The late David Wayne isn’t my personal favourite Metal Church singer to date, but he’s got the attitude and suits the material. There are some great balls out speed metal moments, like “Hitman” and the Cold War-themed “Battalions.” There are some stompy, attitude-filled gems like “Beyond The Black” and the title-track. There’s also a brief instrumental in “Merciless Onslaught” and even a decent Deep Purple cover (“Highway Star”). Metal Church is a fine debut from a fine band. Highly recommended to anyone who likes 1980’s Heavy Metal of any variety.
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.
A blistering onslaught of thrash-leaning traditional heavy metal, Metal Church's debut album particularly benefits from David Wayne's vocal abilities, which show a versatility comparable to the likes of Rob Halford or King Diamond. With a sound reminiscent at points of a substantially less theatrical and more down-to-earth Mercyful Fate, the band offers up a brace of great original tracks and an incredible high-energy cover version of Deep Purple's Highway Star in a set which doesn't have a single dull track. The compositions might bleed together a little, but they certainly don't outstay their welcome or fail to live up to their potential.

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