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Metal Church – This Present Wasteland

Label: SPV
Format: CD
Released: 2008
Reviewed By: Rich Catino


The reformed Metal Church are back with El Toro third vocalist Ronny Munroe behind the mic and third album since 2004’s “The Weight of the World”. One of the few bands from metal’s golden years in the 80s that for the most part consistently releases solid records. “This Present Wasteland” sees Metal Church following their metal hearts with lead off galloping romper “The Company of Sorrow” (nice scream as always Ronny) properly opening the Church’s iron gates for another day of headbanging worship. Guitarist Kurt Vanderhoof is the lone original member in the band and serves as the only songwriter with Ronny penning the majority of the lyrics.
 
Metal Church in the new millennium has much more in common with the Mike Howe years (and the albums “Blessing In Disguise”, “The Human Factor”, and “Hanging In The Balance”) than that with David Wayne singing. Unlike the first two Wayne albums (“Metal Church” and ‘The Dark”) where the songs were based more in heavy aggressive riffing and driving arrangements, the music here is more melodic and really just not as heavy clearly based around dynamics and melody lines heard in tracks like “Deeds Of A Dead Soul” complete with those accenting keys. Not a bad thing.

“Monster” gets its start with Ronny’s opening vocal followed by Kurt’s more progressive riffing and Jeff Plate’s (Savatage) stead fast drumming. Good tune. “Meet Your Maker” and “Mass Hysteria” is the Metal Church I love. For “Maker”, Ronny’s vocal has more gravel and a bigger bark, the riffs, bass and drums come at the listener with more force and have a similar energy to earlier Church. The breakdown section, around the halfway mark, I might add incorporates an unexpected change in contrast to how the song’s been delivered so far and includes some clean guitars then returning to the initial piece. And I love when Ronny hits those high parts for “Now meet you maker”!

“This Present Wasteland” is a strong I’d say compliment to “A light In The Dark”, an album I really thought was Metal Church back in their zone, reenergized and ready to deliver like a ton of bricks. It also included a fantastic re recording of the classic “Watch The Children Pray”. I think with this reformed Metal Church, while very capable of staying relevant today, is in a place that needs to reconnect more with their past. A suggestion, I think Kurt needs to base more songs on strong heavy riffs than those melody lines. I think the production could be crunchier also. The Church always had melodic elements and chorus’ but I am still looking for someone to “start the fire” again.
 
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