Nuclear Blast Records
‘XI’ marks the return of singer Mike Howe who left the band after the 1993 album ‘Hanging In The Balance’. Former singer Ronnie Munroe left Metal Church after the release of ‘Generation Nothing’ to ‘pursue other interests’. Band leader Kurdt Vanderhoof bumped into Howe while working on a project and soon after Howe decided to return after he heard what kind of music Vanderhoof was writing and planning for Metal Church. It is remarkable that Kurdt Vanderhoof has been able to keep the sound of Metal Church so full of vitality. In a way the band has created a new invigorated (but still familiar) sound on ‘XI’, because Howe is a different singer than Munroe. Mike’s voice is a little bit more high pitched, but is still aggressive and fits in well within the Metal Church style, even after been away for more than twenty years. Together with guitarist Rick Van Zandt, drummer Jeff Plate and bassist Steve Unger, Howe and Vanderhoof still produce powerful melodic heavy metal with the necessary speed. Especially the first half of ‘XI’ sounds strong and convincing with the tracks ,,No Tomorrow’’, ,,Shadow” and ,,Killing Your Time”. Vintage Metal Church. That strong level is not completely continued over the whole CD (,,It Waits” is not a fantastic track) but all in all the band has stayed true to its roots. Okay, the level of a classic like ‘The Dark’ may not be reached with ‘XI’, but this CD is still characteristic for one of the most important metal bands the world has even seen. There is still a future for this band, although with Vanderhoof you never know what will be next. Metal Church has already been dismantled a couple of times only to rise up again. We shall see.