Metal Church - Weight Of The World 2004 SPV Records - reviewed by: EC
Track Listing1. Leave Them Behind 2. Weight Of The World 3. Hero's Soul 4. Madman's Overture 5. Sunless Sky 6. Cradle To Grave 7. Wings Of Tomorrow 8. Time Will Tell 9. Bomb To Drop 10. Blood Money
When one thinks of Metal Church, memories of raspy throat God David Wayne come to mind. With his haunting words, "Beyond The Black" echoing through metal minds like a ghost rider from the night, the band has found itself hard pressed to follow-up the landmark success of it's classic debut. It is really hard for fans, myself included, to put that vivid image of the swampy guitar tombstone away. That album was mesmerizing, with thrashing cruisers like "Hitman", "Gods Of Wrath", and "Battalions" leading the way for another promising Seattle sensation (keep in mind Queensryche emerged in '83). But just like other notable Seattle natives, Fifth Angel and Sanctuary, Metal Church never really got established enough to create much of a wave. Tours with Metallica helped gain the band exposure, but after the group's lackluster sophomore effort, "The Dark", David Wayne split from the group.
Ex-Heretic shouter Mike Howe stepped in for three albums, running the band middle of the road through the 90s. David Wayne came back for the reunion record "Masterpeace", which by all accounts seems to be the worst record of the group's entire discography. It seemed to miss the main ingredients; production, songwriting, and performance. Many fans were completely turned off by this point, and the album only seemed to alienate the band from it's core audience. Rumors were abound regarding internal conflict and legal issues, and Nuclear Blast Records saw such terrible sales results that the group were soon dropped from the roster. Wayne also split again, leaving the group to form the band Wayne, which released one record oddly enough called "Metal Church".
In late '03 it was announced that drummer Kirk Arrington had recruited an all new lineup, featuring Kurdt Vanderhoof, who is joining a Wayneless 'Church lineup for the first time. Arrington filled the vocal slot with Seattle native Ronny Munroe, who sang for underground act Rottweiler. Ex-Malice guitarist Jay Reynolds came on board to plug a second guitar in, and a new bassist was hired, Steve Unger. This millenium lineup is a new venture for the band, with 3/5 of the members completely new to Metal Church fans. Now the group unveil their lab results, "Weight Of The World", courtesy of SPV Records.
Produced by Vanderhoof, and recorded in Washington, "Weight Of The World" takes the group back in the direction of its earlier material. While Metal Church version 1.0 was deeply rooted in 80s power thrash, version 2.0 seems to be inspired by late 70s/early 80s new wave. Just look at the NWOBHM antics on the title track, or the mid-era Maiden frolic on scorching opener "Leave Them Behind". Even Thin Lizzy leaves its mark on the record, inspiring the bouncy number "Hero's Soul". New vocalist Ronny Munroe is indeed capable of leading his downtrodden troops, bringing new life to Arrington and Vanderhoof's vision of the perfect place of worship, THE Metal Church.
From the opening number, you can hear the deep melody blazing from Vanderhoof, who teams up with veteran Jay Reynolds to create some of the finest twin guitar galloping I've heard in some time. Just look at their lethal combination on "Wings Of Tomorrow", which just screams Seattle (Fifth Angel, Queensryche) with a catchy twin hook and Munroe's "take charge" vocal authority as he rights a sinking ship and turns all sails into the wind. In fact I would say a lot of this album's character is Munroe. His vocals are very catchy, sometimes bringing a falsetto delivery, but always very smooth. At times he reminds me of Blaze, with Metal Church's musical numbers very much in line with Maiden. Perhaps that is why I like this album so much, because I was such a huge fan of the Blaze era Maiden. Other worthy cuts here are the slower numbers "Madman's Overture" and "Sunless Sky" which harken back to the days of "Watch The Children Pray".
I love the grooves on "Bomb To Drop" and "Blood Money", but don't think this is a groovy record. Instead of just simply chug-chug-chugging along, Metal Church absorb tons of melody into these chops. Every song here has a nice timing change mid-way through, which helps to keep it interesting, along with the catchy chorus parts. At times the tracks can go from mid-tempo to fast thrash riffs circa '84, which helps to elevate the sound a bit, and keep the listener on their toes. Indeed it is a pleasure to see Munroe work out so finely with this new group, in fact all of the new members (Munroe, Reynolds, Unger) seem to collaborate well. David Wayne isn't missed at all here, and if the fans will give these guys another try, they will find this album to be some of the best material the band has ever released.
Cheers to third chances!!
About this Writer: Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has served as senior editor for MaximumMetal.com for nearly 10 years and is the author of the heavy metal book series--Denim & Letters. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia.
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