Metal Church - The Dark
Elektra Entertainment Group Inc.
Heavy Metal
10 songs (42:09)
Release year: 1986
Metal Church, Elektra
Reviewed by Mike
Archive review

While many will argue that their debut album is the best of the band, I'll differ from the pack somewhat and firmly state that The Dark is my favorite Metal Church album. Although I consider each album from the band to be outstanding at the very least, The Dark rises above the rest in my opinion. This is the second album of the band, and the last one Metal Church would record with David Wayne (R.I.P.) before his first separation from the band. Mike Howe would then come into the fold, and Metal Church would proceed to record three albums with Howe behind the mic. Meanwhile, Wayne recruited 2 members of Heretic (ironically, the band Howe left to join Metal Church) to form Reverend. Reverend recorded 2 full length albums, a live album, and an EP. In 1999, Metal Church reformed with David Wayne once again, and recorded Masterpeace. After this album, Kurdt Vanderhoof recorded a solo album, as did David Wayne. Both were very solid albums, although Vanderhoof's album was considerably different from Metal Church. David Wayne's solo album, "Wayne - Metal Church" infuriated his now former band as the album's title and artwork were a blatant play on the band Metal Church's name. Musically speaking, this album was an excellent slab of heavy metal, not far at all from the sound of Metal Church. After the release of Wayne's controversial solo album, Metal Church returned in 2004 with vocalist Ronny Munroe to record Weight of the World. Sadly, David Wayne died May 10, 2005 of injuries sustained in a car accident. Metal Church lives on, and the have recently released A Light in the Dark.

The Dark kicks off with three thunderous metal anthems that will demand to be played over and over again. Ton of Bricks, Start the Fire, and Method to Your Madness are textbook examples of what is meant by the term "American Power Metal." From the get go, you will notice that The Dark is a more restrained album, but still heavy unlike the full throttle explosion of guitar and wails that is the debut album. The Dark focuses more on songwriting than the debut, which is firmly grounded in sheer force and heaviness. The band keeps most of the heaviness for The Dark, but it is much more controlled. The guitar work found in these first three tracks is heavy, with explosive riffs and solos, but put together in such a way that the songs are incredibly catchy at the same time. David Wayne's scratchy, high octane voice gives the songs a unique character.

Following these three blistering cuts is the intense semi ballad, Watch the Children Pray. Back in the Days when MTV used to play real music, this track was a regular on Headbanger's Ball. This song starts as an acoustic, eerie track but builds up until a thunderous mid tempo riff hits your ears like a brick wall. The haunting harmony vocals used during the chorus lines combined with Wayne's occasional high pitched yelps really give this song an ominous, dark atmosphere. The persistent riff isn't of the galloping or speedy variety, but its forceful and heavy nature is enough to give this song some serious balls.

The rest of the album contains songs that aren't as instantly catchy or with the obvious melodies as the first few tracks, but that doesn't mean they're sub par by any means. Over My Dead Body is a speedy number that features some intricate riffing and some scorching shrieks from David Wayne. The title track is dark in nature (as the name would imply), similar to the tone of Watch The Children Pray. However, this song rocks harder than the aforementioned. Again, David Wayne unleashes some hellish shrieks, very much appropriate for the music at hand. Psycho is full out power metal that features some thrashy drum licks and some furious riffing. Once again, David Wayne adds some serious energy to this track with his appropriately place shrieks. Like Over My Dead Body, the guitar work on this song will keep you coming back time after time even though the obvious catchiness of a song like Ton of Bricks isn't really present here. The songwriting throughout the album is strong enough such that the band does not need to rely on obvious melodies to hook the listener. Line of Death is an aggressive piece that blends some Bay Area Thrash influence into their routine. Again, the guitar work really shines here, with some serious shreds and solos in the middle of the song. The rhythm section is very tight and precise as well. Burial at Sea slows things down a bit to the mid tempo heavy metal range, not too far from early 80's style Judas Priest. This track is very riff heavy with a lot of shredding added in along the way. David Wayne puts forth another charismatic performance that adds a lot of color to the song. Closing out this gem of an album is Western Alliance, another speedster of a track that has Bay Area Thrash attitude. Musically, it is grounded in the American Power Metal sound. The chorus line takes a few listens to really absorb, but you have to admire the sheer attitude and energy emanating from this song.

From start to finish, there's not a track to skip on The Dark. While some tracks feature a sense of catchiness and melodies that are driven into your head like a missile, the other tracks are well written and performed that they also demand repeated listens. The attitude, energy, and roaring guitars are a sonic force to be reckoned with. Even since I discovered this album in the early 90's it has received widespread playtime in my stereo. Even though David Wayne left the band after this album, Metal Church went on to release 3 excellent albums with him before disbanding again. If you enjoy pure heaviness and energy, you may like the debut album even more than The Dark. Without any doubt, the Metal Church discography belongs in any heavy, power, or thrash metal fan's collection. The Dark is a great place to start.

Killing Songs :
Mike quoted 95 / 100
Jeff quoted 86 / 100
Other albums by Metal Church that we have reviewed:
Metal Church - Generation Nothing reviewed by Andy and quoted 82 / 100
Metal Church - Metal Church reviewed by Cory and quoted Classic
Metal Church - Hanging In the Balance reviewed by Thomas and quoted 83 / 100
Metal Church - This Present Wasteland reviewed by Alex and quoted 85 / 100
Metal Church - A Light In The Dark reviewed by Mike and quoted 90 / 100
To see all 7 reviews click here
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