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Review: Metal Church - XI
Metal Church

Label: Rat Pak Records
Year released: 2016
Duration: 1:02:11
Tracks: 12
Genre: Heavy Metal

Rating: 4/5

Review online: July 16, 2016
Reviewed by: Bruno Medeiros
Readers Rating

Rated 4.07/5 (81.43%) (14 Votes)

Metal Church is back three years after an OK album in Generation Nothing, this time with the return of beloved frontman Mike Howe. I've been waiting for this release since the announcement was made back in 2015, Howe being my favorite Metal Church singer, and I was hoping to hear at least a glimpse of the quality seen in Blessing in Disguise, The Human Factor and Hanging in the Balance.

So, you see, I had high hopes for this one. Although I was not completely blown away by what could have been the greatest Metal Church album in more than a decade (which it is), I was not disappointed either. Listening to XI a few times, I could trace a parallel with the same situation that Queensrÿche is in: a once great band tries to find inspiration in their heydays, and while not completely getting back to form, is definitely on the right track to do so.

Songs like "Reset", "Killing Your Time" and "Shadow" show that the band really tried to get back in touch with their 90s selves, while having modern approaches to a classic sound.

Howe's voice is, of course, a little weaker than before, but his good vocal techniques more than make up for the loss of range over the years, making him sound more aggressive and rawer than before. Jeff Plate does yet another great job at the drums providing surgical precision and good power to the songs, and Kurdt Vanderhoof made good choices in the riff department, delivering leads that, if not memorable, are at least above average. The tracks are well diversified and make for a great mix between lead-driven, faster tunes and mid-tempo, more cadenced songs. My complaint is that the album drags on a little in the final section, especially in "It Waits" and "Suffer Fools". Don't get me wrong, these are actually good songs, but not as inspired as the tracks displayed in the first half.

All in all, XI is not a spectacular work, but has many standout tracks and should match your hopes for Howe's comeback album. It also stands as a good Heavy Metal release for 2016 and is definitely worth checking out.

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Review: A Light in the Dark (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
Review: Blessing in Disguise (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Damned If You Do (reviewed by Bruno Medeiros)
Review: Hanging in the Balance (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
Review: Masterpeace (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
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Interview with guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof on July 13, 2014 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)
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