Metal Church have decided to grace us with their presence again, after a second breakup in 2009, subsequent reformation in 2012, and a rather well-received appearance at this year’s 70,000 Tons of Metal event. The lineup is pretty much the same one that’s been together since 2006 with guitarist Kurt Vanderhoof running the show and Ronnie Munroe on vocals. Rick Van Zandt also came back to play guitar this year, and the rhythm section of bassist Steve Unger and drummer Jeff Plate have been in place since 2006 as well, so at least the band has some solidarity going for it. And the fruits of their labors will arrive October 22 in the form of Generation Nothing via RatPak Records.
Now in all honesty I haven’t been keeping abreast of all things Metal Church over the years. In fact, I was never much of a fan. I know a lot of people who swear by the first two to four albums, but they just never did it for me. I was very curious to see how things sounded in 2013 for some reason, which is why I agreed to give it a go. I’ll say this: it’s a pretty good album. It has its ups and downs, mostly ups, but that’s the case with a lot of records today. Ok, here we go!
The album opens in typical old school metal fashion with “Bulletproof”, guitars dipping their toes in the heavy end without going full thrash and retaining a late 80’s feel. Same thing with “Dead City”, which takes a page from the NWOBHM playbook and runs with it, Munroe sounding like a hybrid of Accept-era Udo and Blitz from Overkill on these and most of the other songs. The title track “Generation Nothing” has some chunky-style riffage and decent attitude, but at five minutes and change it gets a little repetitive, and the lyrics aren’t all that great, either.
One of two outstanding moments on this album comes next in the form of “Noises In the Wall”, an eight-minute epic that sounds like something out of a horror film. This time however, it’s Munroe doing his best Blitz impersonation. You’d think that would upset me, but it doesn’t for the simple reason that while the influence is heavy, it’s not a blatant rip-off or anything. Either way it’s a great song. “Jump the Gun” is another well-written track. The riffs are strong and the tempo is good. I also really liked the intro to “Suiciety”. The acoustic guitar blends nicely with the crunchy chords behind it, and when the band comes together it really fits.
The ghosts of Judas Priest’s “Painkiller” are all over “Scream” for much of the song, that’s for sure, but “Hits Keep Comin’” is the epitome of redundant. The disc ends with a pair of winners, though in “Close to the Bone” and my OTHER outstanding track “The Media Horse”. The first has those chugging riffs I do so love and the second is dark, moody, and just the perfect way to end a record. This is one I’ve been playing a lot. It even has a false ending before launching into the best solo out of all of them. So, judging Generation Nothing on its own merits I can say I definitely enjoyed it, and it’s sure to get some more spins here on A&GS Radio in future.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “The Media Horse”, “Noises In the Wall”, “Jump the Gun”, “Suiciety”, “Scream”