It’s been five years since I finally came to my senses and learned to truly appreciate the greatness that is METAL CHURCH. Starting with Generation Nothing and continuing with XI, as well as taking a lengthy and fun journey through the back catalog, I have truly come to appreciate this band not only in its current incarnation, but across their entire body of work. So of course I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into the new record Damned If You Do (December 7, Rat Pak Records). And I sure as shit was NOT disappointed. Mike Howe’s commanding vocals are front and center on opener and title track “Damned If You Do,” another one that is destined to be a live staple for years to come.
Speaking of songs that I bet will kick ass live, the guitar duo of Kurdt Vanderhoof and Rick Van Zandt anchors “The Black Things” and “By the Numbers.” Tell me these don’t sound like vintage METAL CHURCH and I will call you a damn liar to your face. The solo on “Black Things” is particularly tasty, while the riffage on “Numbers” is razor sharp. So we’re three for three so far, and I’m loving every minute of it. “Revolution Underway” is one of my two favorites, though. The whole band sounds terrific, plus you can hear how locked in bassist Steve Unger and newest member Stet Howland (drums) are. Howland has plugged right into the group and he’s playing like a monster, especially here.
“Guillotine” has a healthy dose of Thrash Metal riffs and grooves, and “Rot Away” is an all-out fucking attack that continues in the same vein. This was another winner for me from jump. Oh, and speaking of winners, man alive wait till you guys hear “Into the Fold.” It continues to amaze me that Mike Howe is still singing like a man 30 years younger in 2018. A deal with the Devil, perhaps? Who cares, as long as he keeps killing it vocally, I say! And once again we get some killer guitar soloing on this track. “Out of Balance” would be the other runaway favorite on this disc, with an unrelenting assault guaranteed to wreck your necks while you listen. Goddamn, they better do this one on tour in 2019!
The record closes with “The War Electric,” another one that goes for the jugular and never lets go. You can feel the Thrash elements mixed with a bit of the Punk Rock, believe it or not. Listen, at the end of the day METAL CHURCH have delivered one of the finest albums of their career. Damned If You Do is right up there with Blessing In Disguise, XI, Generation Nothing, and A Light In the Dark as one of my favorites. And I for one cannot wait for this fucking tour, because I will be there screaming my head off from beginning to end. Oh please, like you won’t? Here’s to a job well done, gentlemen. A toast…to many, many more years of METAL CHURCH!! What are you waiting for? Go get your copy ASAP!!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Out of Balance”, “Revolution Underway”, “By the Numbers”, “Into the Fold”, “Rot Away”