Released: 2004, SPV America
Talk about anticipation … I’ve been eagerly waiting the next Metal Church album ever since the highly enjoyable MASTERPEACE album dropped into my lap in 1999. Quick plug here, if you’ve somehow let Metal Church slip under the radar all these years get off of your ass now and get into them. Classic 80s heavy metal founded on quality riffs with elements of speed and thrash thrown in for good measure in the early years and lyrics that are often thought-provoking and socially conscious in the latter years. Without a doubt one of the best metal bands to ever walk the planet.
THE WEIGHT OF THE WORLD (WOTW) brings some changes to the Metal Church fold, first and foremost being the addition of lead vocalist Ronny Munroe. Munroe earned his metal stripes as the frontman for another Seattle band, Rottweiler. Also entering into the fold is former Malice guitarist Jay Reynolds, whose brief flirtation with Megadeth is now the stuff of legend. Rounding out the new additions is bassist Steve Unger. Despite a change to 3/5 of the lineup what really matters is that the driving force behind the band hasn’t gone anywhere. Indeed, Kurt Vanderhoof is back and ready to law down the metal gospel. Praise the metal gods that Vanderhoof still knows a thing or two about song structure and riffs, while Kirk Arrington still provides quality drumming.
There are several encouraging things to be said about WOTW. Foremost is that it’s a solid album and a strong return after a five year absence. Munroe does a more than competent job handling the vocals with a slightly scratchy voice that prior Church vocalists have had. While he’s no David Wayne by any stretch, he does sound like a nice mixture of Wayne and Mike Howe while still maintaining his own vocal identity. In a nutshell, his voice is just right for the Metal Church sound.
The album kicks off with two of the better songs on the album, “Leave Them Behind” and the title track. Fans of the classic Metal Church sound will no doubt enjoy both, since they are charged with Vanderhoof’s unmistakable style. “Weight of the World” has an intro that’s eerily similar to the intro to “Gods of Second Chance” from HANGING IN THE BALANCE, though from there the similarities end. Like much of the album it’s a solid mid-tempo metal track. “The Hero’s Soul” serves as an anthem to staring life’s challenges dead in the eye and standing up for who you are. Nice little number, again in that classic Church mold. “Madman’s Overture” clocks in at more than eight minutes and tells the story of a crazed man who’s convinced he’s got prophetic abilities. Sounds like a good idea, but it ends up being the only skippable track on the album. The rest of the album includes a bevy of very listenable songs that fit more into the mid-era Church mold than speedier songs like “Leave Them Behind”, “The Hero’s Soul” and “Cradle To The Grave” do. And I gotta add, there’s just something about the soft guitar intros that Vanderhoof employs that never seems to get old. He uses them throughout the album, much to my delight.
WEIGHT OF THE WORLD is just a solid metal album with a classic 80s metal feel to it. Vanderhoof and company certainly have nothing to be ashamed of and fans will be quite satisfied. WOTW fits nicely around the middle of the pack of Metal Church albums in terms of quality, though it doesn’t have nearly the punch it takes to stand up next to classics like METAL CHURCH, THE DARK and HANGING IN THE BALANCE. Here’s hoping success finds the band and that Vanderhoof’s creative drive continues so that the world will once again be privileged to kneel at the altar of the Metal Church.
Highlights: Leave Them Behind, Weight Of The World, Time Will Tell
Genre References: Traditional Heavy Metal