Saturday, June 10, 2006

Metal Church-The dark, 1986

To close out Underrated band week here is my review of Metal Church's The dark.

Background-Metal Church started up in Seattle in the early 80's. They eventually released their debut in 1984, but they quickly signed by Elektra and the debut was re-released in 1985. The Dark was their second album and it came out in 1986.

First Impression-I bought this on cassette in the fall of 1986 and it was the first release I had heard by them. I bought it just based on reviews and I wasn't dissapointed. I thought it was heavy and very direct, but very organized. I listened to this a lot throughout the rest of the 80's, but got away from it through most of the 90's. I did rediscover it again maybe three years ago.

I am putting in the cd to see if this album still holds up or not.

Ton of bricks- Nothing like a good intro to build up interest in a song. We have a simple, but solid drum beat and the guitar sounds like it's warming up. Then they tear into the song and it hits well, like the like song title. Nice opener that sets the tone.
Start the fire- Not one of my favorites 20 years ago, but now it sounds fresher. It's a good example of the band's ability to control the pace and get the most out of a simple song.
Method to the madness- A little bit different for them. David Wayne trying to sing more than growl and it works overall. Not great, but perhaps a good change of pace at this point in the album
Watch the children pray-Their big hit, well not exactly yet the video did get played during the day occasionaly as well as being a Headbanger's Ball staple in 86-87. David Wayne at his best, pulling and addding life to a strong, plodding song.
Over my dead body- A fairly fast track to compensate for the slow song that came before it I guess. I enjoyed it, but not all that memorable compared to the majority of the other songs on the album.
The dark- Wow, even better than I remember it being. Very crunchy and heavy and there is one part after a chorus where everything comes to a head and you just know you have to bang your head.
Psycho- This to me was always one of the best one, two punches I can remember from 1986 with the title track being one and this song being two. I have never seen them live, but can just imagine that it would have been to play this after The dark. Much faster than the previous song, but a similar heavy feel. Really aggressive for this band.
Line of death- Another fast song, but unlike
Over my dead body this one has quite a bit more force behind it. They really plow into it and don't let up. Well done.
Burial at sea- Another slow, heavy song but it has mixed results. It's heavy, but a little too slow as I feel like I am having to force myself to pay attention at times. Not bad, but could have been a little tighter.
Western Alliance-
The last track comes on fairly fast, but it's perhaps a little lighter in tone than some of the other fast songs on this album. I like it and it works, but more good than great.

Overall I think this album holds up very well after 20 years. I think that Metal Church played solid metal with no gimmicks and it worked. There are a few spots with the production is a little too smooth and that may give this album a slightly lighter feel than the debut. However, that's really a minor point. In 1986 I think this didn't quite make my top ten list and I not sure it will make the list when I re-do at the end of this year. Yet I think it's closer to making the list now than it was 20 years ago which says something about how this album has held up.
I think even today people are not exactly sure how to categorize Metal Church. In 85-86 they were often lumped in with speed metal because of their look and the type of bands they toured with. I don't think that's entirely accurate just because they didn't have enough fast songs to really be seen as speed metal. Power Metal was not a label that was used much back then and some people use it to describe Metal Church, but largely it's used more for European bands like Helloween and Hammerfall which are different than Metal Church. I almost feel like they are more like a classic metal sound. Although they are heavier than say Maiden and Priest, I think they are a little closer to that sound than some other sub-genre. No matter what the label that you slao on them is, they are heavy and solid. I used the label thing also to show that perhaps this is part of the reason as to why they slipped through the cracks to some extent and ended up being a little underrated.

Next month's 20 year old album review will be Cinderella's Night Songs.


Anonymous Barbara said...

Cinderlla's album is 20 years old? I feel ancient right now. Ugh.

11:12 AM  
Blogger Metal Mark said...

barbara-Yes, it is hard to believe. Cinderella and Poison are touring together this summer to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their debut albums.

I listened to Metal Church's the Dark in it's entirety last year when I learned that fomrer vocalist David Wayne had passed away.

12:06 PM  
Blogger Sgt Fluffy said...

Metal Church has a new album due out this month or next. Good review though, The Dark is one of my favorite Metal Albums of all time.

1:56 PM  
Blogger Sgt Fluffy said...

Forgot to add this, the have a MYSPACE account

1:58 PM  
Blogger David Amulet said...

Metal Church is one of the more underrated metal bands of the 80s, in my opinion. Nice review ... I'm looking forward to the Cinderella one!

-- david

2:21 PM  
Blogger Metal Mark said...

Sgt. Fluffy-Thanks. I knew they had a new album due out, but I believe Kurt is the only original member left.

David-Thanks. They were underrated, but they were probably at their peak with the Dark. Then they had internal problems and David Wayne quit. It was two and a half years in between the Dark and Blessing in disguise and they lost a lot of momentum by waiting that long.

8:23 PM  

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