7/15/2016 - Review by: Eric Compton
Never finds its stride for me personally
This band is 36 years old! In that time its past and present members number nearly 20. Yet somehow metal fans that aren't sitting on the "church" pews religiously can probably only tell you that Metal Church toured with Metallica early on. It's a sad state of affairs when you think of the band's legacy, 10 albums of American red, white and bruise done with as much precision and perfection as other "messy" acts like Anthrax, Exodus and Overkill. If that isn't depressing enough the band's best work came long after "Metal Church was cool" – 2004 through 2013.
Ex-Rottweiller singer Ronny Munroe joined Metal Church in 2003 and helped Kurt and the boys off the ground with arguably their finest moment, 2004's 'The Weight of the World'. The band followed 2 years later with 'A Light in the Dark' before realizing the money wasn't like the old days. The group soldiered on with 'This Present Wasteland' in 2008, ending a five year run with three of their best studio efforts and not a dime to show for it. The band disbanded for a short time citing poor record sales but reunited once more for the stout, energized, kick-ass 'Generation Nothing' in 2013 before Munroe left the band and Metal Church took a long stare in the mirror.
Enter former vocalist Mike Howe, a fan favorite who performed on Metal Church records 'Blessing in Disguise', 'The Human Factor' and 'Hanging in the Balance' between 1988 and 1994. The band re-hired Howe to front the band in 2015 and this new album, 'XI', for Rat Pak Records. Already this new album is the highest charting band release to date, entering Billboard's 200 at a whopping 57. The fans have clamored for a Howe reunion and have shown their satisfaction with paid receipts. It's a very good thing for metal and a phenomenal turn-around for Metal Church.
But is the album any good?
It might be that I was a Ronnie fan or that I never really cared for 'The Human Factor'. Whatever the reason this album just never finds its stride for me personally. Opener "Reset" and "Killing Your Time" hit the ground running with great riffs and even better production. But the song writing and arrangement is just yawn central. Track 3 has the most simplistic chorus with the "No Tomorrow" chant done worse than a Maiden sing-along done to death. This same plague affects the songwriting for "Suffer Fools"...the songs just go nowhere. It's the same issue I had with the new Flotsam.
Maybe I am just getting too old for this stuff. 'XI' is average Metal Church at best. Regardless of how I feel, I am tickled to death that Metal Church fans are buying their records. The band has already landed a support gig for Armored Saint, charted well and is probably already writing and recording the follow-up for us to buy into. That's a church I don't mind giving too. Pass me the offering plate...but I'm gonna ask for change.
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