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Metal Church
XI
Type: CD
Company: Rat Pak
Release: 2016
Genre: Thrash
Reviewer: Eric Compton
Published: 7/15/2016
Never finds its stride for me personally
This band is 36 years old! In that time its past and present members number nearly 20. Yet somehow metal fans that aren't sitting on the "church" pews religiously can probably only tell you that Metal Church toured with Metallica early on. It's a sad state of affairs when you think of the band's legacy, 10 albums of American red, white and bruise done with as much precision and perfection as other "messy" acts like Anthrax, Exodus and Overkill. If that isn't depressing enough the band's best work came long after "Metal Church was cool" 2004 through 2013.

Ex-Rottweiller singer Ronny Munroe joined Metal Church in 2003 and helped Kurt and the boys off the ground with arguably their finest moment, 2004's 'The Weight of the World'. The band followed 2 years later with 'A Light in the Dark' before realizing the money wasn't like the old days. The group soldiered on with 'This Present Wasteland' in 2008, ending a five year run with three of their best studio efforts and not a dime to show for it. The band disbanded for a short time citing poor record sales but reunited once more for the stout, energized, kick-ass 'Generation Nothing' in 2013 before Munroe left the band and Metal Church took a long stare in the mirror.

Enter former vocalist Mike Howe, a fan favorite who performed on Metal Church records 'Blessing in Disguise', 'The Human Factor' and 'Hanging in the Balance' between 1988 and 1994. The band re-hired Howe to front the band in 2015 and this new album, 'XI', for Rat Pak Records. Already this new album is the highest charting band release to date, entering Billboard's 200 at a whopping 57. The fans have clamored for a Howe reunion and have shown their satisfaction with paid receipts. It's a very good thing for metal and a phenomenal turn-around for Metal Church.

But is the album any good?

It might be that I was a Ronnie fan or that I never really cared for 'The Human Factor'. Whatever the reason this album just never finds its stride for me personally. Opener "Reset" and "Killing Your Time" hit the ground running with great riffs and even better production. But the song writing and arrangement is just yawn central. Track 3 has the most simplistic chorus with the "No Tomorrow" chant done worse than a Maiden sing-along done to death. This same plague affects the songwriting for "Suffer Fools"...the songs just go nowhere. It's the same issue I had with the new Flotsam.

Maybe I am just getting too old for this stuff. 'XI' is average Metal Church at best. Regardless of how I feel, I am tickled to death that Metal Church fans are buying their records. The band has already landed a support gig for Armored Saint, charted well and is probably already writing and recording the follow-up for us to buy into. That's a church I don't mind giving too. Pass me the offering plate...but I'm gonna ask for change.
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.

Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.



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