The Saturday Metal Review

Metal Church

Blessing in Disguise

Elektra Records

Released Feb 7 1989

Metal Church has always been unsung heroes in the American metal scene of the 80’s. Some have compared them to other great thrash bands of the time period, often lumping them in with Bay Area bands like Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth. In fact some even include their sophomore effort (The Dark) from 1986 as a seminal thrash classic, but they had a style that blended thrash, power and traditional metal. If anything they seemed to get lost in the shuffle a bit, when you consider how many important thrash albums were released in the mid to late 80’s. One such release was their 1989 follow-up Blessing in Disguise which should have lifted Metal Church to stardom, but in fact it dwarfed them when you think about albums like Metallica’s Justice and Flotz’s No Place for Disgrace; both released slightly before this follow-up.

But still, Metal Church was a formidable act when you consider the full-bodied sound of the guitars, coupled with the strength of incoming Heretic Vocalist Mike Howe (stepping in to replace David Wayne). Even former Metallica guitar tech John Marshall was added to the roster to help bolster their sound, but something was still missing. The tracks were all solid efforts and this was the band’s highest charting release and best-selling album, so all wasn’t lost as some might make it seem to be.

According to some experts, producer Terry Date’s production of the album is very thin and sounding dated by today’s standards, but there is no mistaking the bestial roar of opening track “Fake Healer”. Even tracks like “Rest in Pieces” and “The Spell Can’t Be Broken” display muscular riffs and give way to a certain dynamic playing to keep the listener transfixed. Personally, epic tracks like “Anthem to the Estranged” and “Badlands” proves the band had more in the kitty then given credit for and the group also supplies a competent instrumental track “It’s A Secret” to boot. There’s much to like with this release and it needs a good re-mastering to rival today’s standards.

Best tracks on this release are: “Fake Healer”, “Rest in Pieces (April 15, 1912)”, “Anthem to the Estranged” and “Badlands”. I’m giving this album a solid 7 out of 10.

 

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