Metal Church - 1986 The Dark

edited August 2 in year-1986


ARTIST: Metal Church
ALBUM: The Dark
LABEL: Elektra
SERIAL: 60493-1 (LP), 9 60493-2 (CD)
YEAR: 1986


LINEUP: David Wayne - vocals * Kurdt Vanderhoof - guitar * Craig Wells - guitar * Duke Erickson - bass * Kirk Arrington - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Town Of Bricks * 02 Start The Fire * 03 Method To Your Madness * 04 Watch The Children Pray * 05 Over My Dead Body * 06 The Dark * 07 Pyscho * 08 Line Of Death * 09 Burial At Sea * 10 Western Alliance


Often here at Glory Daze I'll mention second division metal, usually bands that noticeable notch below the obvious leaders and greats of the genre. Metal Church were undoubtedly one of the leaders of the second tier, but in retrospect how did they not make it? With a sound as polished as Metallica and most importantly as heavy, their eventual failure was one of metal's most baffling and unwarranted. With a history dating as far back as 1980, the Seattle band saw a host of lineup and name changes before the lineup that appeared on this and their 1984 self titled debut. Pioneers of thrash without question, their debut became legendary in metal circles and saw Elektra pick them up. This follow up is perhaps their defining moment, a slab of thrash excellence, that like Exodus, didn't break the same way as a Megadeth or Anthrax.

The Songs

Nothing held back here, the bands youthful aggression leaving a permanent mark in metal history. I'm disgusted with myself for taking years to hear it, as this is the type of speed driven metal that you immediately recognise as timeless. The riffs define the practice of shredding, but unfortunately for the band the 'big four' in 1986 were just that one step ahead of them, production wise and vocally, with Wayne's vocals noticeably more high pitched and at times overblown, which is one aspect perhaps to the drawbacks for Metal Church. But the music is unsurpassed, and whether it be slower, ominous cuts like 'Start The Fire' or flat out thrash like 'Ton Of Bricks', the heaviness is genuine and twenty years later still raises the hair on my arms as only something special is capable of doing. They utilise near ballads like most of their brethren, 'Watch The Children Play' one such example, but this is obliterated by the cracking speed of 'Over My Dead Body', Psycho', 'Line Of Death' and 'Western Alliance', some of the most energetic metal one is likely to hear. At odd moments the sound is similar to bay area legends Exodus, but to Metal Church's credit they owned a unique sound that does not easily draw immediate links to fellow speed merchants. The tracks are melodic also, which separated the contenders from the pretenders in that age of metal.

In Summary

The band blundered by letting Wayne go in 1988 and replacing him with Mike Howe. Wayne despite his shrieking was the archetypal thrash/speed metal frontman and dealt Metal Church a blow which would never heal fully. A further host of lineup changes hindered the band into the 90's, but there has been some worthwhile music in between and the band continues today, naturally in a much different guise. Sadly Wayne passed away in 2005 at age 47 after being involved in a car crash, which preceded his death. Prior to this he had been involved with the band again. A sad blow for the metal world, but fortunately his presence on this adds to a metal classic for the ages, which is a necessary listen for fans of any ages.

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