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Metal Church: Damned If You Do

The return of singer Mike Howe to Metal Church was an unexpected reunion greeted with open arms. A band who had, in the eyes of many, taken their eyes off the prize as they’d undergone a whole myriad of line-up reshuffles and a realignment of their traditional US metal sound suddenly re-finding their form. The XI album undoubtedly redressed that balance; a hammer-smash of songs putting guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof and his band back in their rightful place. Damned If You Do goes a long way to ensuring it isn’t a one off. Expectations are maybe a little higher this time, as is the bar of quality they must vault, so that this second album since the singer’s return isn’t maybe quite up those lofty standards maybe shouldn’t be a complete surprise. And yet, that it’s still possibly the best album of its type to arrive all year should tell you that Metal Church are no longer mucking about. Literally opening with a ‘hummmmmm….. hummmmmm’ from Howe, the energetic title track crackles into life, (ex-WASP man) Stet Howland charging headlong into his drums with a galloping charge that is picked up and thrust forward by the gargantuan riff from Vanderhoof and Rick Van Zandt.And all the while bassist Steve Unger builds a massive base from which all this great work sprouts.

“The Black Things” adds a dirtier, nastier edge, while the howl of anguish that is “By The Numbers” shows that even when DIYD keeps things a little more simple, this band are certainly not taking it easy. “Revolution Underway” confirms that notion, a more considered but still bristling guitar attack given a harder hitting NWOBHM strut. However, the breakdown and guitar mid-song verge on being progressive as a tempo change and longer than expected instrumental passage offer up a welcome and clever change of focus. “Monkey Finger”does likewise but with a commercial swagger that you might not have expected to find and which subsequently creates a sing along, while “Into The Fold” is an explosion of mid-paced ferocity. However, even with that in mind it’s possibly the mid-album pairing of “Rot Away” with its mix of thundering drums and stinging guitar motifs, and the razor sharp staccato riffs of “Guillotine”, which are the heart Damned If You Do.

With Mike Howe still on top form, Kurdt Vanderhoof proving that he still has some stunningly memorable songs up his sleeve and the band’s backbone of Van Zandt, Unger and Howland utterly rock solid, Metal Church are back in safe hands. Thankfully the results are almost as dangerous as it gets!

See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!

Track Listing
1. Damned If You Do
2. The Black Things
3. By The Numbers
4. Revolution Underway
5. Guillotine
6. Rot Away
7. Into The Fold
8. Monkey Finger
9. Out Of Balance
10. The War Electric

Added: December 17th 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Metal Church online
Hits: 545
Language: english

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