METAL CHURCH, Blessings In Disguise, LP USED

Seattle didn’t just give Hendrix and the Wilson sisters of Heart a home, not to mention tons of grunge outfits – Metal Church, one of the most reliable and consistently heavy metal bands out there and have been at it for decades now surviving on the strength of their albums and enough devoted fans to keep them in business.
Perhaps their first two albums with original vocalist David Wayne, RIP, got more notice in their day and rightfully so, with the theme song “Metal Church” being a stone cold metal masterpiece, easily in the same league as “Master Of Puppets”, the heaviest Judas Priest and all the thrashers out there unfairly pitched against the Big Four, and with the exception perhaps of Slayer, making better music for a lot longer period with no bum albums to mar their recording legacy. “Ton Of Bricks” from the follow-up “The Dark” was a thrasher’s wet dream, and when Wayne left to form Reverend and main songwriter and now again leader Kurdt Vanderhoof taking some time off but still writing the tunes, the band enlisted guitarist John Marshall and singer Mike Howe, and delivered an album that burns faster and hotter than they ever did. “Blessing In Disguise” is one of those metal albums where, in 1988 when it was released, was a no bullshit straight ahead pure metal masterpiece.
After the opening salvo of “Fake Healer”, as good a song against crooked preachers as any out there, the album kicks into high gear and deftly combines some more mid-paced tunes with the full fury of the best thrash of its day, and it still holds up mightily 21 years after its release.
Mike Howe was a very good replacement for David Wayne, with an expressive voice that was as powerful as it was firmly grounded in the Rob Halford school of excellent metal vocalizing. From topics such as the Titanic disaster, probably the heaviest song ever dedicated to that infamous shipwreck to protesting societal ills, the riffs and leads are razor sharp and the jackhammers are firing on all cylinders that show Metal Church could do pretty much whatever they wanted stylistically.
“Blessing In Disguise” is regarded as probably their greatest album, and while I may be slightly partial to the debut self titled album because of the tune “Metal Church” and a scalding version of Deep Purple’s “Highway Star”, itself a proto-thrash tune if you prefer to hear it that way, this album is indispensable for all who love their metal straight and heavy with no frills and chasers. In a perfect metal world, the real biggies would not include Metallica after ” . . . and Justice For All”, since nothing since is metal at all, plus their selling out for big bucks, the unneeded goofiness and revolving door and album quality legacy of Anthrax, and the very uneven and sometimes terrible Megadeth. Rather, Exodus, Metal Church, Overkill, Testament and Slayer would have been far better bands to be considered worthy of the throne of metal from those days. Metal Church is enjoying a resurgence, and good for them.


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