Review: Metal Church – XI
Rat Pak Records (2016)
Reviewer: Dan Mann
Okay I’ll start by saying from the off that I was really looking forward to hearing this album. I’ve been a fan of Metal Church since the release of their self titled album, and to once again hear Mike Howe on vocal duties was a cocktail worth savouring.
And from the opening bars of ‘Reset‘ I knew instantly I wasn’t going to be left wanting.
Mike Howe has lost none of his distinctive vocal sound, it’s like travelling back to Blessing In Disguise, but with a growth and maturity in sound which was never quite reached after that release in my humble opinion.
‘Killing Your Time‘ is certainly a track which could easily of been found on Blessing In Disguise while ‘No Tomorrow‘ just ramps it to another level with the frenetic drumming of Jeff Plate and the twin axe attack of Kurdt Vanderhoof and Rick Van Zandt.
‘Signal Path‘ at 7.12 in length is one of those tracks that drags you in the more you listen to it. A great piece of song writing. Following that is another 7 minute plus track, ‘Sky Falls In‘. Leaning more towards progressive metal, it shows the band aren’t afraid to push matters in slightly different directions. ‘Needle & Suture‘ soon pulls you back into speed metal territory and I found myself turning the volume up & up and to hell with the neighbours!
Again we twist and turn in direction as we launch into ‘Shadow‘. Mike’s vocals again just showing what he’s capable of. I thought for a minute we were heading into Watch The Children Prey as the intro to ‘Blow Your Mind‘ started. A haunting, atmospheric start reinforced a minute and a half in by the engine room combo of drummer Jeff Plate and bassist Steve Unger. Such a tight powerful sound, helped by great production.
‘Soul Eating Machine‘ is another Blessing era sounding track, very enjoyable. I thought for one awful second I was about to hear a drum solo as ‘It Waits‘ started. But fear not, it was just leading me into another very atmospheric track, Mike’s vocals being given a few sound tweaks, and I’ve got to say it’s becoming one of my favourite tracks on the album.
You just have to love the guitar sound that is synonymous with the band, amply demonstrated on the second to last track ‘Suffer Fools‘. And so we reach the last track of the album. ‘Fan The Fire‘ is a fine way to round things off, proving that there isn’t one weak track on XI.
To sum up, if you like me are a Metal Church fan and you’ve not yet bought XI, then what the hell are you waiting for?? They are back in all their glory and heres hoping they continue to release such great material.