Metal Church are an American hard rock band formed in San Fransisco in 1980 that has been credited as a formative influence on the thrash scene. Over their years of existence, Metal Church has experienced several membership changes including founding guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof relegating himself to only a composition role for a while and vocalist changes in David Wayne, Mike Howe, and Ronny Munroe all fronting the band at one time. With 10 fantastic previous albums, that if you’ve not heard I recommend you revisit, this is another band on my “must own” radar. For this eleventh album issue, XI, vocalist Mike Howe has returned to Metal Church.
So onto the album review; XI opens up with “Reset”, and it’s straight into the balls to the wall guitars and drums with piercing vocals from Mike Howe. “Killing Your Time” has some more brilliant and fierce guitar work with sing-along gang chorus. “No Tomorrow” starts subtly then blasts right into another bludgeoning heavy riff. Mike Howe‘s vocals on this album are fantastic as is the work of all the other musicians. “Signal Path” is an epic number with a fantastic bridge, another instant classic. In back to back 7+ minute songs “Sky Falls In” follows, but this one is a different vein. “Sky Falls In” is a slower number and as close as these guys would come to a ballad, but still a million miles away from one. “Needle & Suture” kicks things back into high gear with one of my favourites including some great extended vocals with lovely crunchy guitars, a real winner. “Shadow” slows down the pace a little again but builds up around the chorus, great solo work on this one. “Blow Your Mind” starts off it’s 6:29 runtime a little strangely in a spooky way then unfolds into a doomy sounding track, holding its spookiness throughout. “Soul Eating Machine” again puts the foot down and we are all systems go with fists pumping. “It Waits” tapers back the assault mildly, but nothing stops “Suffer Fools”. “Suffer Fools” is a typical Metal Church song, a really solid number that needs be cranked up to 11 for maximum headbanging. We finish the album with “Fan the Fire” another slightly slower track which again builds for the chorus.
On the whole a brilliant effort from this band with some brilliant musicianship and vocal work. XI is a must for all Metal Church fans!
Mark 8 out of 10