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Metal Church - This Present Wasteland (CD)

Metal Church
This Present Wasteland
by Grigoris Chronis at 19 September 2008, 2:36 PM

While the whole globe revolves around the multi-at-all-cost-anticipated latest METALLICA album, one of the most honest Metal bands of the last quarter of a century is set to unleash their most recent CD, entitled This Present Wasteland. Dunno what 'wasteland' may refer to (no lyrics, too…), but surely (again) it won't be a waste of time & money to test out this release; just wait till late September to decide if you're still/eventually/anyway/ever 'into' Metal music or not…
If you never were familiar to METAL CHURCH's music, then three are the main reason's this 'meeting' did not take place: i) you're not a Metal music fan, though you thought you are, ii) you live in one of the most abandoned places of this dejected planet, hence limited info could reach you (apart form the releases of 'major' Metal bands), iii) you're aged below 25. For all (or none) the reasons above, let's just say that METAL CHURCH is a band worth writing a hole mag about but will limit it up just to expose some facts:
- was one of the first bands to adopt the 'heavy/power/thrash' moniker (even if short of displaying the whole MC style)
- did sign to a 'big' label (Elektra) in 1984/1985, 'born' by Kurdt Vanderhoof in 1980 (Lars Ulrich played drums in a few rehearsals, circa 1981) and establishing a solid lineup in 1983
- stayed loyal to their music/lyrics beliefs when tempted to go for the big buck$ in the late 80s/early 90s
- the guitars' and rhythm section's sound is (and should be) next to the term 'Heavy Metal playing'
With a small tiny question regarding 1999's Masterpeace album (maybe the band was a little bit 'cold' in its comeback after six years), all METAL CHURCH releases are considered to be full of metallic passion, in-your-face songwriting and 'Metal fist' live uprising.
This Present Wasteland would not miss much of the METAL CHURCH we all love, only bearing in mind the gradual 'time channel'. The tempo and the PRIEST-based guitar riff in the opener, In The Company Of Sorrow, shall trap you under constant moving and shaking, with the vocals of newcomer singer Ronny Munroe (ROTTWEILLER, PALADIN) taking special credit from the very beginning: harsh, on-the-edge dramatic, he will remind you of a mix of mid-pitch Rob Halford, enough of 'German' Bruce Dickinson and some relentless Ronnie James Dio in due course. Perfect Crime goes mid-pace and total US Heavy/Power Metal; maybe the most representative song off the whole CD, with thrilling guitar licks and some wonderful 'heroic' singing by Munroe. The solo is also 'rusty' and quite a gem. And the ending shrieks…oh my…
Deeds Of A Dead Soul slows down things more, in some bang-along pounding rhythm and a narrative repertoire by the vocalist. A weird chords set in the pre-chorus paves the path for some SABBATH-like refrain 'dressed' in simple yet mystique keyboard touches. The 'epic' track of the album? In opposite, Meet Your Maker bursts out in full orgy, with some double bass pounding and demonic guitars/vocals in full hammering. As for its mild acoustic-mode intermezzo? Hell yeah, METAL CHURCH
Monster may sound modern; this is due to the pace and the complexity/coherence in the guitars' themes, bringing to mind some late Bruce Dickinson work/sound. Its ending is walking towards MEGADETH paths, on the other hand. A bizarre track, I confess (and with a devastating ending riff/lead machine gun). It's time to start Crawling To Extinction; up-tempo things have happened here, the blend goes 'bluesy' and 'doomy' Metal. Even Stoner Rock devotees will dig this one's corrosion.
The intro on War Never Torn may bring QUEENSRYCHE to mind, but then the track gets Euroean with some slow tempo DIO-mastered volume and Munroe going 'epic' again. The swap to acoustic parts just adds quality to the song itself, while the 'end track' burst will probably create a 'raise fist' reaction. Mass Hysteria, in contrast, shoves it up your ass! US/Canadian Metal a la VICIOUS RUMORS, ANNIHILATOR etc, a real bombarding of riffs and eventual headbanging.
Listening to Brathe Again for the first time, I did find it quite un-balanced, with a bizarre mix of heaviness and melody. Then, rolling on and on, it becomes a quite interesting track with some lurking personality. Congregation, on the other hand, does not need and further sanction: a lead theme in the beginning, then some retro Metal sentiment all the way, featuring a mild intermezzo you'll adore; pure 80s and 'British invasion' relevant.
The performance of the musicians is as needed: professional, 100% 'Metal', with a wise attitude and/but also much of concern for the songs' eventual dynamics. Jeff Plate (SAVATAGE) sits behind the kit for a second album in a row, and he delivers the best of what he's got. Rick Van Zandt (also from ROTTWEILLER) steps in, replacing ex-MALICE/MEGADETH axeman Jay Raynolds, and ties great with Vanderhoof (respect in everything!). I'd wish the drums' sound would be somehow more thunderous…
This Present Wasteland (and the predecessors, A Light In The Dark and The Weight Of The World, of course) is an album showing Metal music can sound fresh yet 'metallic'. METAL CHURCH is your Metal food, if you have the guts to taste it. Else, swollow the decadent ultra-promoted recipe…

4 Star Rating

In The Company Of Sorrow
Perfect Crime
Deeds Of A Dead Soul
Meet Your Maker
Crawling To Extinction
War Never Won
Mass Hysteria
Breathe Again
Ronny Munroe - Vocals
Kurdt Vanderhoof - Guitars
Rick van Zandt - Guitars
Steve Unger - Bass
Jeff Plate - Drums
Record Label: SPV


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