Metal Church - This present wasteland 4/5

Reviewed: 10-24-08


1. The company of sorrow
2. The perfect crime
3. Deeds of a dead soul
4. Meet your maker
5. Monster
6. Crawling to extinction
7. A war never won
8. Mass hysteria
9. Breathe again
10. Congregation

Fans of Metal Church in general, and their last 2 CDs specifically, should know their latest CD offers more of the same, and is a very worthwhile slab of straight heavy metal that just isn’t that common these days, and which I delve into with instant and long-lasting enjoyment.

There once was a time long ago when music from Seattle was a great thing, and the classic Metal Church was a reason why. Bursting forth with tight, aggressive, Judas Priest style power, but not crossing into the thrash scene that lost some of the traditional metal songwriting, they walked a powerful road into the hearts of fans in the 80s. Despite conventional wisdom, their music never strayed very far from its roots or quality (although David Wayne’s return with 'Masterpeace' was probably its nadir) and while the band passed from snarling leather-lunged David Wayne (R.I.P. Metal Brother!), to higher-pitched leather-lunged Mike Howe, the overall feeling never changed. 2004's 'Weight of the world' with new singer Ronny Munroe represented a powerfully reborn Metal Church, followed by an equally strong 'Light in the dark' in 2006.

Not content to let the band’s ecclesiastic legacy grow dusty, we’re blessed with a new Metal Church, and it’s just exactly what you’d expect from the band’s long term and recent history, and that’s a good thing. The songs are tight, punchy, and dynamic, with plenty of catchy hooks, vocal lines, and none of them getting too long or drawn out, but, like a good commando raid, getting in fast, doing a lot of damage, and getting out. The one exception is the more epic “Deeds of a dead soul”, but with the fantastic “On broken wings he tries to sing his hateful lullaby...” bridge, I’ll gladly take it.

Ronny Munroe delivers a sensational vocal performance, again, bringing the leather lungs, but his style is to back them with strong, passionate mid-range vocals, a la David Defeis, Tony Martin, and similar singers, and he alternates nicely between the sharp grit and the rich tones. Kurt Vanderhoof is the only mainstay remaining in the band, with Steve Unger on bass returning for his 3rd CD, Jeff Plate on drums for his sophomore appearance, and new guitarist Rick Van Zandt (who had been in Munroe’s previous band Rottwieler) joining the band. Their work is great, without a big change from prior offerings.




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