I’ve been a big Metal Church fan since the release of their first self titled album way back in 1984. When I first heard them I was in total aw, at least when listening to the first side of the vinyl all those years ago. Those of you familiar with the band will now realize that I prefer the more suggestive side of Metal Church rather than their still very good straight ahead bone crushing kind of speed metal.
When the original singer Dave Wayne left the band after only two albums a lot of fans where skeptic but most of us were equally amazed by his replacement Mike Howe, personally I actually preferred him. The band made three more fantastic albums before sadly calling it quits.
After a couple of years Metal Church reformed again. First with Dave Wayne for one album and then with Ronny Munroe on lead vocals, who stayed on for four albums. Even though these albums were all very good they could never match the five first albums. So when in 2014 it was announced that Mike Howe would return to Metal Church, something fans had been hoping for since he first left, I was very exited.
The first album after Howes return was “XI” released in 2016 . In my opinion it was a very good album that put the band back on the right track even though it wasn’t quite as amazing as the first three Howe albums.
So now it’s time for “Damned if you do”, the second album after Mike Howes return. Since the last album former Savatage drummer Jeff Plate has left the band replaced by former W.A.S.P drummer Stet Howland. The rest of the line up is the same, with guitarists Kurdt Vanderhoof and Rick Van Zandt as well as long time bass player Steve Unger.
The album is definitely an improvement on its predecessor. I have listened to it quite a bit this last couple of weeks and I dare say that it matches the three first Howe albums even though it’s not trying to repeat what once was. The album is quite diverse witch in my book is a good thing. It features ten songs that should make any fan of the band very pleased. In my opinion it’s also a very even album where we get four very good songs, two great songs and four amazing songs. My favorites are of course the more suggestive songs like “The Black Numbers”, my absolute favorite track on the album, “Revolution Underway” and “Into The Fold”. The album opener and title track “Damned If You Do“ is equally great, even though it’s perhaps not as suggestive but just as heavy.
I feel that with this album Metal Church have reinvented itself with one foot in the best parts of it’s history and the other expanding into new territory that fits the band perfectly, still in the Metal Church spectrum. The album is also a grower and in my opinion one of the bands top five albums. I’m impressed, but not surprised.
Band: Metal Church
Title: Damned If You Do
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Date of release: 7/12-18
Stand out tracks: The Black Numbers, Revolution Underway and Into The Fold