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Metal Church - 2008 This Present Wasteland
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ARTIST: Metal Church
ALBUM: This Present Wasteland
LABEL: SPV
SERIAL: SPV 98142 CD
YEAR: 2008

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Kurdt Vanderhoof - guitars * Ronny Munroe - vocals * Steve Unger - bass * Jeff Plate - drums * Rick Van Zandt - guitars

TRACK LISTING: 01 In The Company Of Sorrow * 02 Pefect Crime * 03 Deeds Of A Dead Soul * 04 Meet Your Maker * 05 Monster * 06 Crawling To Extinction * 07 War Never Won * 08 Mass Hysteria * 09 Breathe Again * 10 Congregation

RATING:

WEBLINKS: www.metalchurchmusic.com


Background
Two years back we reviewed Metal Church's then latest album 'A Light In The Dark'. Since then, by their own admission, the boys have been very quiet, the only notable event that occurred was the departure of co lead guitarist Jay Reynolds. His departure in 2007 being filled only recently by Pacific Northwest resident six stringer Rick Van Zandt. With just the one new addition, the band have come back to life again with 'This Present Wasteland', again, for their same label SPV. The last album review we talked about MC keeping true to an old school style of metal, but they were stuck in between what we called 'traditional 80's metal' and 'speed/thrash metal', without ever having owned a car parking space in either camp! This is still true even with this new album. With ''A Light In The Dark', I found that to be reasonably enjoyable, but without much change to the MC identity two years later, this latest album isn't quite up to the mark, but a handful of songs are rather quite good.


The Songs
Things start out well enough with the old school metal of 'In The Company Of Sorrow', where Munroe's vocals are deep, angry and phlegm inducing! The band find it hard to get out of mid-tempo mode with 'Perfect Crime', Munroe reeling off a few Ronnie James Dio inspired moments. MC dip into Black Sabbath territory for the doom laden metal of 'Deeds Of A Dead Soul', something different for the band - at least. Both Vanderhoof and Van Zandt blast out a few chugga chugga riffs on 'Meet Your Maker', a harder hitting effort which borders thrash metal, particularly on the choruses. The split guitars (in the mix) are apparent on 'Monster', a track which is a typical of the traditional MC sound, as is the next track 'Crawling To Extinction'. The power ballad 'War Never Won' is one of the better tracks here, purely because of the melodic content found within. 'Mass Hysteria' is a return to that fast riff-happy early 80's metal, a la Vicious Rumors, Armored Saint, and certainly blows the cobwebs off the MC compositions that we've heard thus far. Even heavier sounding with the tempo kept up to racing speed is 'Breathe Again'. Duelling guitars provide the intro to the closer 'Congregation', as MC head down a raw riffing direction a la AC/DC but without the energy of the Angus and co. Still, this one knows when to canter and when to gallop, noticeable between verses and choruses.


In Summary
Metal Church to my ears sound much better when they rock out hard and fast. I don't think they have the subtlety to carry off heavier mid-tempo excursions as well as other bands. I would summarise this by saying that 'A Light In The Dark' is a much better album all round, but this new one has a few good moments to offer too - you just have to sift through the album to find them. Now that this review is out of the way, I can now segue my way onto the new Presto Ballet album from Mr Vanderhoof.. Hmmm.. one wonders what that one has to offer (he says rubbing his hands with glee!).


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