Metal Church has graced its fans with Damned If You Do(Nuclear Blast/Rat Pak Records). It’s refreshing to listen to new, pure unadulterated Heavy Metal. Some music doesn’t need bells and whistles and Metal Church creates such music. Vocalist Mike Howe still sounds amazing – I, for one, was well chuffed at his return for 2016’s XI – and he shines again on this, the twelfth full-length Metal Church album. Kurdt Vanderhoof and Rick Van Zandt are twin guitar aces and added to this headbanging mixture is the rhythm section of Stet Howland on drums and Steve Unger on bass. Well, this is a win-win for all involved.
Damned If You Do starts out strong – the title track is smooth like buttah. I credit Mr. Howe’s vocals and the drumming and guitar playing is top-notch. ‘The Black Things’ has movement courtesy of Van Zandt, Vanderhoof, and Unger; it’s like a slick car race on silky black pavement. The solid drumming has a grounding effect on the song that makes it seem “faster” than the actual tempo. It’s my favourite song on the album.
There is a wonderful break at the 2:30 mark of ‘Revolution Underway’ that is part guitar solo, part prelude to a change in time signature. A minute later, the melody is joined by a delightful blended guitar solo. It’s quite a break down that reminds me of the seventies Prog Rock solos. ‘Guillotine’ has a manic urgency that is infectious and there is no way to sit still either during this track or the following ‘Rot Away’. ‘Out of Balance’ is my second fave. The guitar runs perfectly punctuate the rule of thirds. I for one would love to see the music written out as a score as I bet it’s as beautiful to look at as it is to listen to.
All of the songs on Metal Church’s Damned If You Do have similar qualities. They are all very well put together. They all are solid songs, perfectly and proficiently constructed and there is a variety of time signatures within each song that keep them interesting. However, this does not detract from the overall theme, it only enhances it. Heavy Metal purists will be well pleased with the album and for those who have never heard of Metal Church or heard a Metal Church album, I am confident that you will enjoy Damned If You Do.