Metal Church – XI (Nuclear Blast)

Genre: Heavy Metal

The first Metal Church album in 23 years to feature vocalist Mike Howe demands attention. And within minutes it’s clear this is no lame bid to cash in on the band’s ‘classic era’ – XI is fast, furious, focused and every bit as good as Blessing In Disguise and The Human Factor.

The irony runs deep throughout No Tomorrow but it’s here where the debate surrounding Metal Church’s thrash credentials is reopened. Back in 1984 the band was credited with helping to create the thrash metal genre but their style was always more a US-take on NWOBHM. Three tracks into XI and the lines remain blurred – but brilliantly so.

If Howe occasionally sounds like Blackie Lawless – and Metal Church, as a result, can come across as a heavier W.A.S.P. – there’s no doubt his voice remains as convincing as ever. The perfect foil for Kurt Vanderhoof’s expert riffage, one of the finest metal singers on the planet has delivered a career high.

Exodus’ recent run of UK live shows, Death Angel’s decade-long purple patch and For All Kings – Anthrax’s best album since Among The Living – proves US metal has never been in such rude health. Listen to bona fide ear bleeders Blow Your Mind or Suffer Fools and it’s clear Metal Church can play a full part in a welcome revival.

RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Church Of Noise