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Released: 1999, Nuclear Blast Records
Reviewer: Nathan Robinson
I never thought we'd see the return of Metal Church! It seemed as thought their last studio album, 1993's Hanging in the Balance, fell upon deaf ears. Their dissolution was expected. And it was expected to last forever. Be we have been proven wrong! With the news out about the reformation of the (almost) original lineup, Metal Church were quick to release a live album and assured us a new album was on its way. It is surprising Masterpeace came out so quickly, given that the live album is still new to our ears.
The reformed lineup contains four out of the five original members: Kirk Arrington, Duke Erickson, David Wayne and Kurdt Vanderhoof. Taking the place of original guitarist Craig Wells is John Marshall, from the latter days of Metal Church. I know your main question about this album is "does it thrash!?!" Well, no...but it does rock! The new album resembles the rocky mid-paced styles of The Human Factor and Hanging in the Balance. So you won't be hearing those brutal, complex beats coupled with speed/thrash riffs, as featured on the Church's first three albums. This doesn't bother me too much. But David's vocals do. Based on the first two Metal Church albums and on David's Reverend material, I expected his vocals to be the usual raspy, screamy type. Yet on Masterpeace he sings with a much cleaner voice. He does so extremely well, but I prefer the old style! But regardless, the album is totally non-trendy heavy metal! Double bass, crunchy guitars, and lots of solos by Kurdt! Not to mention an album cover that only Metal Church could have. And besides, their logo hasn't changed, so it's just got to be metal! The album could have been heavier, but what the hell...at least they've come back to help kick America in the ass. Vanderhoof wrote basically all of the music, which I think accounts for it being more rocky (you may be familiar with his solo album, which is more rock than metal). And because they're relatively simple songs, they are quite memorable after a couple listens. Yet, I wish the other guys would have pitched in towards the writing of the album (although Wayne did write most of the lyrics).
Thanks to Nuclear Blast for signing them also. Although Masterpeace will not win Metal Church any new fans, diehard Church fans should check it out, as well as their live album. Now...if only Death Angel would reform...
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