It is 1984. Every band is new to the thrash metal game and seeking to break into the next big thing in the burgeoning metal genre. Two bands in particular, Metallica and Slayer, have released game changing debuts. Along comes this tight speed metal record from a band little known today to the mainstream crowd, straight from the Elektra thrash stable. It does well, and Metal Church is a player – except for the fact that they never really made it to the top. In hindsight, they could, nah, they should have been big. Pray, tell me, in what way is this album not superior to 75% of the music on Kill ‘em All and Show No Mercy? The instruments are handled in a much more mature fashion by everyone involved and the song writing, while linear and cyclic, has considerable depth and the solos are freaking fantastic, the highlights of the record.
The points that go against them: the vocals mostly. The vocalist has this irritating high pitched whine (or vibrato as it is commonly called), and his battle rousing cries end up sounding laughably weak. (see “Battalion” for instance) The best point for the vocals is the chorus of the terrific anthem “Hitman”. Riffs are triumphant and desperate, all at the same time. The phrasal repetition of solid metal riffs with difference in expression and pacing achieves the goal i.e. head banging heaven. In fact, they don’t stop at that, but succeed in sounding epic. By this, I mean non-trivial, i.e. the opposite of pop music. Though cyclic in nature, like most of the thrash before and after it, they achieve greatness through the crushing and coherent feel of the music. The guitar solos follow the trend of the chugga chugga rhythms by being extremely to the point, with a strong Iron Maiden/classical music influence in parts. Blast this in your living room, loud and proud. Metal enthusiasts looking for good old school thrash metal would be well advised to listen to this classic, this is a touch above Tier II bands like Testament, Exodus, Kreator, Overkill etc. This is short, to the point, and aside from a few missteps, a perfectly good, fist thumping, chest beating, virtuoso speed metal album.
Recommended Tracks – Beyond the Black, Metal Church