20 years after the release of their first album, Metal Church is back once more with another slice of terrific heavy metal that is bound to become a staple in every metalhead's collection. With new guitarist, Rick Van Zandt, the band seems to have found a new spark plug to make the engine fire on all cylinders. This Present Wasteland is nothing short of a masterful blend of old school rock and fiery thrash metal that is as potent today as when these guys first opened the doors to the congregation.
Metal Church has always been an amazing band musically and they do not disappoint their fans this time around. With some of the most catchy riff- filled songs to grace your ears, these guys give you an album that is guaranteed to cause whiplash and most likely hearing loss from the extreme headbanging and volume that this music demands.
Few groups can boast of an album that is this strong from start to finish. When Ronny Munroe lets loose with his bone rattling scream to open the first song "The Company Of Sorrow", he is preaching to the masses that Metal Church is back! The church doors are open and those who enter had better hold on because you are going to be taken for one helluva ride!
Ronny and company have a lot to say about the state of affairs in today's world on this album. From the questionable actions of our leaders to the dependency on computers, Ronny's lyrics depict a world from which this album draws its name. They have never been shy about speaking their mind and at the same time try and get the masses to take a look at what is happening around them. This is one of the things that make this album unique. It is not the usual lyrical fare of sex, drugs and rock & roll; it actually has some redeeming social commentary.
But it is still about the music. That is what you are going to buy this album for and there is no disappointment. They deliver some of the most addicting melodies ever from this band. The song "The Perfect Crime" has been rattling around in my head for days now and I just can't seem to shake it! Another piece that will get locked into your mental music library is the tune "Breathe Again". This one reminds me of later day Uriah Heep. It has that old school charm with Ronny giving a dynamite vocal performance. He is a much underrated singer and this album should help to put him into the upper ranks of metal vocalists.
As if the band doesn't give you enough already, there is a special treat for the fans. Some of their closest friends lend their talents to the disc. Angus Clark, who worked with drummer Jeff Plate in that little other band called Trans Siberian Orchestra, gives the guys some amazing guitar work on the song "Monster". This is not surprising as Angus told me that he has always been a big fan of the band and remembered listening to songs such as "Watch The Children Pray" and "Gods of Wrath" when he was in college. As far as his part he said "It was great fun as the performances of the band were already so strong that I could just build off what was there".
Matt Leff, who is also friends through that band called TSO, gives a hand on the song "Congregation". He has been friends with Jeff for over 20 years and said to me that he was honored when Kurdt Vandrhoof asked him to play. His brilliant guitar work is a highlight on this disc.
I guess we know what denomination TSO is, as Chris Caffery also makes an appearance here. The song "Mass Hysteria" gets some help from one of the truly gifted guitar players around today. With his schedule, Chris still found time to add a wicked guitar solo to an already great song. He told me that it was an extreme pleasure doing the solo for the band. It must have been a real treat as Chris gives a dynamite performance.
Metal Church has done it once again. This album is as good as any work in this genre. For pure enjoyment of the heavy metal kind, you don't have to look any further. I have been a fan for a long time and this is just another in a long series of very good releases from the Church. It is hard not to like these guys. They do everything so well and have been doing it for a very long time. This is one of those cases where you can compare their work to fine wine. It just keeps getting better with age!
I think that the best description of what Metal Church has meant to the world of music comes from a guy who has given so much himself. Nothing says more to me about the group than when Chris Caffery simply stated to me…"I LOVE THIS BAND". Me too Chris!
1. In the Company of Sorrow
2. Perfect Crime
3. Deeds of a Dead Soul
4. Meet Your Maker
6. Crawling to Extinction
7. War Never Won
8. Mass Hysteria
9. Breathe Again