Nuclear Blast Records
Release Date: 25 March 2016
Review by Karl Lean
Thirty-two years after releasing their first album, Metal Church are back with studio recording number eleven, imaginatively titled, XI. Perhaps it’s the endless list of line-up changes, perhaps it’s the two times the band have announced they were ‘done’ – whatever the reason, Metal Church have never quite managed to break through. With, XI, despite being a solid effort, that’s probably not going to change.
This is definitely old school American metal. The album opens with, Reset, a nice little mover that sets the pace for what is to come. Second track, Killing Time, is better, and third track, No Tomorrow, really steps it up. From that point though, it all just starts to feel a bit lacking. A highlight like the track, Shadow, with its brooding feel, is let down by simplistic and tired numbers like, Signal Path.
There’s some decent attempts to vary the tempo of the album, they deserve credit for trying to not be one dimensional. Production is solid, perhaps the guitars are just a little too refined (or low in the mix) to really push the riffs the way they need or deserve. Vocalist Mike Howe is back after a 20-year absence, and delivers the goods. But overall it just doesn’t seem to demand to be listened to.
If you have any interest in bands like Accept, then it’s worth a listen. But it’s hard to get too excited by, XI.