METAL CHURCH “XI” review (by Maria Shchelkunova)

METAL CHURCH “XI” review (by Maria Shchelkunova)

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Metal Church - XI - Artwork

Nuclear Blast records

American band Metal Church was founded in San Francisco in the beginning of 80s. Later the band moved to Washington, but the unquestioning American origin of the Metal Church doesn’t bother the band to create qualitative heavy-metal in the best traditions of the British Metal-Gurus such as Dio, Black Sabbath and etc. Which is actually quite amusing, since the British rock music in a wide sense is characterized by a highly “classical” structure and a particularly academic way of playing the instruments.

Metal Church has concurred the love of listeners and admiration of critics right from the start. However, the band has survived through numerous changes for the 30 years of its existence: the vocalists came and went together with the guitarists and all the rest, actually… The only thing which remained unchanged was the style and the overall musical direction of the band. Neither the lineup changes, nor even the pop-fad of 90s could deter the Metal Church from pursuing the course. The course, by the way, lead through the road made of pure metal and highly decorated with all the traditional heavy-metal stuff, including loud motorcycles, busty girls in leather bikini (with the lashes, if you like) and fire-breathing dragons and bats (not sure if the last are also breathing fire). Mike Howe, the original lead-singer of the band, whose voice seems to be time-invariant, rejoined the band  in 2014. And that is when the Metal Church started to rock the hell out. I mean, they have been surely rocking and blowing out every time throughout all the ten previous albums, although, it seems, that at the moment when the initial vocals of the band has returned, the whole band decided to prove, that they can do much much better than just awesome.

The new 11th album by Metal Church, which is humbly named XI, catches the metal-fan and just the rock-lover from the beginning. Right from the very first sound the vigorous guitar-riff of the track “Reset” (quite representative title, don’t you think?) hooks the audience up and makes it to continue listening up to the very end. Every single part of this track is wonderful and deliberated: the traditional metal-riffs with the same-traditional solos covered with the crazy rhythm of drums. The whole structure seems to be meeting all the requirements of the real metal-music, while the uncommonly high voice fits perfectly the entire concept.

As for the rest ten tracks from the album, they all correspond to the preset tone. The pure metal rich in groovy rhythms and powerful riffs with the addition of the varying voice, brutality, aggression and fire-breathing headless bats. The music might have even been compared with the definitive creations of the bests, but it is certainly a useless thing to do. First of all, you will have to name every single one from this genre, secondly, after the third accurate simile, you start to notice, that actually Metal Church has taken all the excellent out of the metal-founders but remained true to itself. All the way through the XI album, like in every previous band’s work, the unique and detectable style is the golden thread of the whole record. Every single track is something absolutely disparate from the previous and the next compositions, but it remains the inalienable part of the mutual harmony.

At the same time I would like to mentioned the extraordinary usage of the instruments. Metal Church has step up from the only-metal guitars and sometimes uses a more-into-rock-solos. For example, the third track “No tomorrow” is opening with the voice of acoustic guitar. Soon everything is back to normal in such a way, that the acoustic sounds seems to have been a delusion, but no, they were not! The acoustic solo is back again in the middle, forcing the listener to compare two different styles (and choose the heavy one). Speaking of this track, by the moment the chorus begins, you are ready to join the singing and the decision to continue listening the whole album to its end is unbreakable.

In the end I wish to admit, that the whole album XI by Metal Church reveals the positive emotions even in the heart of classic-rock-lover, which is much more tender to music, while the real metal-kid will definitely enjoy this disk. Professionally crafted, recorded and played tracks are characterized by the exclusive diversity even of themselves. This album is interesting to listen to. It appears to be the album, which you want to listen up to the end just because you wish to know if you have guessed correctly what’s happening next (no, you haven’t).

(c) Maria Shchelkunova (

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