Metal Church - 2018 Damned If You Do

ARTIST: Metal Church
ALBUM: Damned If You Do
LABEL: Ratpak Records
YEAR: 2018


LINEUP: Mike Howe - vocals * Kurdt Vanderhoof - guitars * Rick Van Zandt - guitars * Steve Unger - bass * Stet Howland - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Damned If You Do * 02 The Black Things * 03 By The Numbers * 04 Revolution Underway * 05 Guillotine * 06 Rot Away * 07 Into The Fold * 08 Monkey Finger * 09 Out Of Balance * 10 The War Electric


WEBLINK: Site Link


Following on from the recent Presto Ballet release, we see the latest Metal Church effort featuring guitar axis Kurdt Vanderhoof.

Of course the Church is more than just about Kurt's involvement, the band being around as long as many of the established superstars of the American metal scene going back to the hazy days of the early 80's decade.

Let's not forget that the band were first forged in the furnace of thrash metal back in their origins, and even some thirty years on, thrash is still there or thereabouts though tempered by less of the 'manic' and more of the 'power'. Bands like Anvil have also followed a similar path to the 'heavier is better' realm.

Metal Church bandpic

The Songs

So what does the latest offering have to reveal about these guys? Definitely the template is in place and the songs read off the page like a reliable script. But as to be expected on just about any album by anybody these days, some things work, some don't.

Mike Howe precedes the intro to the title track 'Damned If You Do' with a series of deep-seated tibetan like vocal chants. The song turns up the heat. Listening to this I am reminded of another great U.S metal act called Attacker who also started life off at the same time as the Church.

'The Black Things' quickly surges into gear after a brief mellow entrance. Mike Howe reminds me of Graham Bonnet, a middle aged normal looking Joe who belies his presence with a vicious lead vocal performance.

The video for 'By The Numbers' is shown below. Howe again delivers another menacing vocal in the vein of Blackie Lawless, and lyrically, one gets the impression that this is a indictment on today's 21'st century society.

The band lay off the power and intensity for a moment on 'Revolution Underway', and though the tempo is upbeat, this is quite a melodic affair that in terms of Metal Church's own admission, is on the lighter side.

'Gulliotine' returns the band to sonic overload and is in keeping with the style they are best remembered by. Great stuff!

I like the intent for 'Rot Away', it chugs away mercilessly without ever hitting true thrash levels (not even close), and that's something which sits more comfortably with me than your typical 80's thrash merchants.

'Into The Fold' is a highlight for me, a relentless backbeat generated by Stet Howland, while the rest of the song sits well within the U.S metal framework both past and present.

The odd-man out song on the album would be 'Monkey Finger'. The tempo is noticeably less than usual, but in saying that, it easily sits within a metal style easily appreciated by most of the GDM audience I'd suggest, with bluesy licks and solos to boot.

'Out Of Balance' returns Metal Church to a double bass drum led attack that drives this song along at a good clip.

The album finale 'The War Electric' also continues to drive hard to the end though I think by this stage the end the album concludes at just the right time.

In Summary

In their long and storied career, Metal Church have delivered the occasional slab of excellence. A couple of reviews on this site is testament to that.

While I wouldn't put 'Damned If You Do' at the top pinnacle of their discography, it does sit somewhere in the mid-range. The team still can deliver the goods, and while the energy and the commitment is still there, we can expect to see and hear more from the 80's veterans into the future.


Metal Church - 2018 Damned If You Do

Metal Church - 2018 By The Numbers

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gdazegod February 04 2019 88 reads 0 comments Print


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