It was way back in 1984 that Metal Church released their debut album. At the time they were lumped in with the burgeoning thrash bandwagon, something that was a tad unfair on them, as they had considerably more depth and melody than that, as best displayed on their second album The Dark. However, they never had a settled line up, with vocalist David Wayne being replaced by Mike Howe in 1989, and they split in 1993.
Five years later they were back with David Wayne resuming vocal duties before he departed again in 2003 (sadly passing away in 2005) to be replaced by Ronny Munroe who has been with them ever since. This is his third and Metal Church's ninth studio album. Last time out on A Light In The Dark, Metal Church blasted everyone with a stunning album that topped everything that they'd done before. Sadly, this album doesn't match it.
It's a good, solid album, but one that owes more to Munroes first outing with the band, Weight Of The World, than its successor. There just isn't enough light and shade for the album to work as a whole, despite the fact that, "Monster" excepted, there isn't a bad song on the album. Individually, tunes like "The Perfect Crime", "Meet Your Maker" and "Crawling To Extinction" are excellent, but it's too samey over the length of a whole album.
Weight Of The World was really a left over Kurdt Vanderhoof solo album, so after A Light In The Dark, I had really high hopes for this one. But they seem to have drifted away from the path of metal with too many mid-paced songs and not enough killer riffs. Maybe Vanderhoof has been spending too much time with his prog outfit Presto Ballet. The band themselves put in good performances and Ronny Munroes voice has grown on me over the years, as demonstrated to full effect on "A War Never Won". When the guitars do let fly, then Kurdt Vanderhoof and Rick Van Zandt work well together, but there just isn't enough of it.
There are definitely songs here that fans should hear with the opening "The Company of Sorrow", which harks back to their early days and the powerful and bleak "Deeds of a Dead Soul" as good as anything they've done. Newcomers to the band would be better off trying The Dark (Wayne era), The Human Factor (Howe era) and A Light In The Dark for the Munroe era.
It's actually a 3.5 out of 5
on 30 October 2008
In 2008, Metal Church has just released their ninth studio album `This present Wasteland' to add to their rather expansive discography. I have followed this band since their conception, which is nearing three decades now and during this time, they have released some quality music,by leaving an indelible mark with metal fans around the globe. As Metal Church has had three very different vocalists over their career, I feel the best way to describe their music would be to divide the band into three sectors, as each vocalist brought something unique and special to the sound of the band.
Original vocalist, David Wayne (RIP- 2005) had a powerful, yet slightly raspy voice that was a great accompaniment to the music of Metal Church and is still revered by many fans as the voice of Metal Church. My favourite vocalist was Mike Howe, who took over duties from Wayne and he possessed a smoother, more controlled vocal register that epitomises just what I so love in a metal vocalist. The man just breathed emotion and heartfelt passion into his performance. Ronnie Munroe replaced Howe and his vocal style is a cross between Wayne and AC/DC 's Brian Johnson in places.
Which leads me to his vocals, as I am not a fan of his vocal style whatsoever, but before I paint a negative picture he does have a few redeeming qualities to those that like him - however he isn't in the same league as Howe or Wayne in my opinion. What do I think of `This present Wasteland'? To be brutally honest, I'm a bit of a `fence sitter' with this album as I do like in places, but I believe it just doesn't have the staying power like some of their earlier releases had. Getting back to basics here, the song writing on this album is where the problem is and just isn't on a par with the likes of the mighty `Blessing in Disguise' or "The Human Factor' or even the two previous albums that Munroe released with the band.
There are few standout tracks worth a vague mention like the catchy and melodic like `Monster' and `Crawling to Extinction' the semi ballad `A war never Won' with some pleasant riffing during some of the harder segments. The rest of the band do a sterling with new guitarist in the form of Rick Van Zandt and founding member Kurdt Vanderhoof, who between them fire off plenty of riffs. I did find Jeff Plates drumming a tad unimaginative and boring in places, which surprises me as he certainly left an impression when he played with Savatage. From a personal perspective, this album might just be a grower for me, but for now it certainly has dodged well under my radar.
Any ardent Metal Church fan will appreciate this album and lap it up as it does have the usual signature sound that has made Metal Church so recognisable from other artists. Offering a comparison to this album would be similar to, `A light in the Dark' or perhaps `The weight of the World', but sadly not as uplifting and memorable as these two albums. For new fans being acquainted with the band, should check out some of the earlier releases first as this is where the band have truly left their mark. If you are a fan of the vocals of the sadly departed David Wayne then check out his post Metal Church band, Reverend, as this comes highly recommended from this scribe!
on 5 November 2008
I'm absolutely staggered at how bad this album is. I'm a long time Metal Church fan and while the late, great David Wayne will always be the voice of Metal Church, Mike Howe's contribution to the band should never be understated.
At first, I wasn't keen on Ronny's vocals on "Weight Of The World" or "Light In The Dark" but both albums grew on me. I admit to hovering my hand over our household' 'Church collection and playing "The Dark" or "Human Factor" but would occasionally go for the Ronny albums. However, I cannot see this album getting much play at all. The band seem to be at odds with themselves, the album sounds forced and to be straight, Ronny sounds out of his depth here. The sound is flat and monotone, Vanderhoof is an amazing guitarist who is Mr Metal Church, even when he was on the sidelines but even I am thinking that his considerable talents should be used elsewhere. This album has no teeth whatsoever.
I've always stood up for bands from metal's past and I've been loyal in buying albums because of past quality. There are some bands that will stay with me forever, Metal Church being one of them but they should hang it up or at least have a re-think.