METAL CHURCH

Heavy Metal / US Power Metal / Rap 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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METAL CHURCH Discography

METAL CHURCH albums / top albums

METAL CHURCH Metal Church album cover 4.20 | 37 ratings
Metal Church
US Power Metal 1984
METAL CHURCH The Dark album cover 4.32 | 44 ratings
The Dark
US Power Metal 1986
METAL CHURCH Blessing in Disguise album cover 3.79 | 29 ratings
Blessing in Disguise
US Power Metal 1989
METAL CHURCH The Human Factor album cover 3.65 | 23 ratings
The Human Factor
Heavy Metal 1991
METAL CHURCH Hanging in the Balance album cover 3.98 | 19 ratings
Hanging in the Balance
Heavy Metal 1993
METAL CHURCH Masterpeace album cover 3.27 | 13 ratings
Masterpeace
Heavy Metal 1999
METAL CHURCH The Weight of the World album cover 3.67 | 12 ratings
The Weight of the World
Heavy Metal 2004
METAL CHURCH A Light in the Dark album cover 3.59 | 16 ratings
A Light in the Dark
Heavy Metal 2006
METAL CHURCH This Present Wasteland album cover 3.39 | 13 ratings
This Present Wasteland
Heavy Metal 2008
METAL CHURCH Generation Nothing album cover 3.65 | 10 ratings
Generation Nothing
Heavy Metal 2013
METAL CHURCH XI album cover 4.06 | 13 ratings
XI
Heavy Metal 2016
METAL CHURCH Damned If You Do album cover 4.21 | 8 ratings
Damned If You Do
Heavy Metal 2018

METAL CHURCH EPs & splits

METAL CHURCH Iron Man (With Sir Mix-a-Lot) album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Iron Man (With Sir Mix-a-Lot)
Rap Metal 1989

METAL CHURCH live albums

METAL CHURCH Live album cover 5.00 | 1 ratings
Live
Heavy Metal 1998
METAL CHURCH Classic Live album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Classic Live
US Power Metal 2017

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

METAL CHURCH Red Skies album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Red Skies
US Power Metal 1981
METAL CHURCH Hitman album cover 2.00 | 1 ratings
Hitman
US Power Metal 1982
METAL CHURCH Four Hymns album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Four Hymns
US Power Metal 1982

METAL CHURCH re-issues & compilations

METAL CHURCH singles (0)

METAL CHURCH movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

METAL CHURCH Reviews

METAL CHURCH The Human Factor

Album · 1991 · Heavy Metal
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Kingcrimsonprog
eattle’s Metal Church are an interesting band, hard to place. They can sound like a mixture between (fellow Seattle band) Queensryche and early Savatage at times, basically writing Thrash Metal at other times and writing big ‘80s Power Ballads at other times.

The previous album was a bit more serious and proggy. The one before that was their thrashiest of the early records and the one after this goes a bit stripped down. They cover a lot of ground, but I like all of their solid and diverse first five albums more or less equally.

Well, with one exception. Their fourth album, 1991’s The Human Factor is by far and away my favourite. This album is an absolute stand out. I don’t know what happened here, if it is the production, the song writing, or the performance, but this album just utterly smokes.

The album is consistent from beginning to end in a way that makes it hard to choose highlights. There is the ridiculously catchy hard rock single ‘Date With Poverty’ with memorable guitar hooks, there is the furious blood pumping Thrash attack of ‘The Final Word,’ ‘The Fight Song’ and ‘Flee From Reality.’ The opener ‘Human Factor’ has the same confidence of Symbol Of Salvation era Armored Saint.

Lyrically the album is really interesting too. ‘In Mourning’ is similar to Sacred Reich’s ‘Who’s To Blame?’ in the Metal-doesn’t-cause-suicide theme. ‘The Final Word’ seems to be a patriotic song about the good sides of America, ‘Date With Poverty’ is a socially aware track.

Musically, the album is utterly bombastic. The Marshall/Wells guitar team fill the album with a barrage of riffs and solos. The Erickson/Arrington rhythm section is on point. But the real star here are Mike Howe’s incredible vocals. The man has ‘some serious lungs on him’ as they say, an utter superstar vocal performance that elevates the record far above the competition. I mean as much as I have been big-ing up the album’s heavier moments, on ‘Agent Green’ (which seems to be an attempt to improve upon the popular ‘Watch The Children Play’ from the previous album) he sounds almost like Geddy Lee at times.

Overall; this album is great album in every way. It sounds great. The songs are great and the performances are particularly great. I would absolutely recommend this to any fan of Hard Rock, Metal.

METAL CHURCH Hanging in the Balance

Album · 1993 · Heavy Metal
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Kingcrimsonprog
I’m sure in 1993 after Badmotorfinger, Ten and Nevermind, this may not have been the most popular album out of Seattle, but looking back at this objectively through 2020 goggles it is a damn fine follow-up to their excellent Human Factor album.

This isn’t the album that makes it into all the top-metal album lists, like their earlier work, but it is a fine addition to the discography and one not to be overlooked. It has a fantastic production, partially from Paul O’Neill who was involved in many of the best Savatage albums. Mike Howe’s powerful vocal work is simply superb (shame he would leave after this record). The lead guitar work is very entertaining, a bit bluesier than their earlier albums. The lyrics are quite interesting too, ranging from topics of racism, nuclear bombs, alcoholism, politics and change.

Stylistically; like all Metal Church albums, it sounds different from the last one, but caries something over. They really never make the same album twice. This album doesn’t have the early-Queensryche meets early-Savatage similarities of the self-titled debut, or indeed the Thrash tinges of The Dark; but what it does have is a huge upswing in the level of Rush influence. Little guitar lines here and there, vocal melodies, even a whole vibe of a song (‘Waiting For A Savior’). There’s lots and lots of Rush inspiration coming out at all angles. Its arguably the least heavy and most melodic of their pre-breakup albums. There’s a real good acoustic/electric dynamic going on a lot of the time.

That’s not to say its all Rush all the time. Tracks like ‘Conductor’ & ‘Down To The River’ are still metallic and energetic, while ‘Losers In The Game’ even goes as far as to borrow a few vocal patterns from Judas Priest’s ‘Breaking The Law.’ On the other side of the spectrum, ‘Hypnotized’ seems to be attempting a tip of the hat to Alice In Chains. Speaking of which, Jerry Cantrell provides some guest guitar work on the opening track!

If I was to make a critique of the album, I would propose that it is a tad overlong, and could do with being maybe two tracks shorter, or having a minute shaved off a few of the songs instead to tighten it up a bit, but that’s just nit-picking.

Ps. If there has ever been a case for ‘’don’t judge a book by its cover’’ then this is it. If you didn’t know about this band and saw this ridiculous album art, well, it wouldn’t inspire you just to buy it on spec, now would it? Luckily, whatever they loose in artwork taste, they make up for in musical taste.

METAL CHURCH Damned If You Do

Album · 2018 · Heavy Metal
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Kev Rowland
With Mike Howe back in the band, there has been a renewed sense of purpose and vigour and following on from a live album in 2017 the band came back in 2018 with another studio release. There has been a change in the ranks, as the band parted ways with drummer Jeff Plate who felt he could no longer commit the time required, and after touring with Stet Howland (ex-WASP) behind the kit he is now a full-time member of the band. He has slotted right in and this is in many ways a straightforward continuation from ‘XI’. I still have problems coming to grips with the fact that Mike Howe wasn’t involved with the scene for so long, as he has a great voice and it really feels as if he has never been away.

This is a even more basic album than the previous one, just straightforward heavy metal designed to cure all dandruff, and they continually hit the bottom end as if they are the logical successor to Judas Priest. It is hard to imagine they didn’t grow up in the steel factory environment of Birmingham which had such an impact on the likes of Priest and Sabbath, and there is little American here in terms of sound, straightforward crank it up and hit it hard metal. There may be more polish than one would hear from a NWOBHM band, but there is no doubting these guys have a massive affinity with the genre. It really is like going back in time before the metal scene splintered in so many different directions, comforting and fun. Five guys doing what they do, turning it up and belting it out, and there is no doubt at all that Metal Church are well and truly back in the groove.

METAL CHURCH XI

Album · 2016 · Heavy Metal
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Kev Rowland
When Metal Church entered the studio to record their eleventh album the line-up was the same it had been for some years, except that frontman Ronny Munroe had decided to step down after ten years in the band. Kurdt Vanderhoof wasn’t sure if wanted to continue with Metal Church at this point, but then wondered if Mike Howe may be interested in picking up where he had left off twenty years before. Mike was in the band from 1988 to 1995, singing on three albums, and once he had heard the material he was back. What is unusual, is that apart from singing with Heretic prior to joining Metal Church, Howe has rarely recorded or performed, so he was coming back into the pit some twenty years on from leaving it, yet it sounds as if he has been performing with the band for years.

Howe has one of the strongest and finest voices in metal, while Vanderhoof has been providing metallic riffs in this band for nearly forty years (apparently a young Lars Ulrich even auditioned at one point), and having Howe back has given him a new sense of purpose and energised everyone involved. This is classic metal, nothing fancy or genre breaking here, just guys playing good old fashioned heavy metal with strong hooks, riffs, load of leather and denim. I can smell the sweat coming out of the speakers, as this is the music I grew up, horribly hot halls with way too many people and far too much testosterone, speakers blasting and an audience wanting to be blown away by what was happening on stage and a band surrounded by Marshalls prepared to do just that. Music like this is a comfort blanket, nothing weird is going to happen, it is metal nothing more and nothing less. Yes, there are some acoustic guitars here and there, but don’t worry, they are just to provide emphasis to the electric ones, which are the ones that really matter. Superb.

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.

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