How did Cherry Red come up with the splendid idea of a three CD collection of Metal Church’s years at Elektra Records? They must have a Metal Guru on their payroll?
Disc one is Metal Church astonishing self-titled 1984 debut. Hugely influential, no less another Metal Guru than Fenriz of Darkthrone has stated emphatically that he would play the opening track of this album ‘Beyond the Black’ to anyone who wanted to know what heavy metal is and indeed should be. A splendid fellow: such is the way of the Metal Guru!
Every track on ‘Metal Church’ is a stone-cold classic, they even make Deep Purple’s highway Star’ their own.
All self-respecting metal fans should buy this collection for ‘Metal Church alone. Truer than true. Heavier than a very heavy thing. And hugely influential on the thrash metal genre.
Disc 2 is 1986’s ‘The Dark’. Now at the time, it suffered somewhat in comparison to bands Metal Church had influenced ironically, who had pushed the speed factor up. But time has been kind to ‘The Dark’, opener ‘Ton of Bricks’ is equal to anything on the debut. ‘Start the Fire’ shows the kind of groove Pantera would make famous, and ‘Watch the Children Pray’ is a superb ballad’.
Disc Three features 1989’s ‘Blessing in Disguise’, which, despite a change in vocalist from David Wayne to Mike Howe, is superb, displaying some truly mature song-writing, such as the savage ‘Fake Healer’ and the moving ‘Anthem to The Estranged’.
It would have been nice to have included their legendary ‘Four Hymns’ demo and some live performances (maybe on a separate ‘bootleg’ style release?), but overall this is a superb collection, essential for any Metal Head.
(Cherry Red Records)
Eleven out of Ten (not a misprint!)