The Norwegian band ARTCH got their start in the early part of the 80’s but they didn’t get much attention until 1988 when they put out their first full-length “Another Return”.
Metal Blade picked up the album at that time but in my opinion they found themselves in Metal purgatory. By 1988 bands like Bon Jovi and Poison were ruling the airwaves. The underground thrash scene was rising like a raging beast at the same time. ARTCH was really neither of those, too heavy for radio or regular MTV airplay, but not heavy enough to hang with the Metallica/Slayer/Megadeth crowd. They also weren’t quite progressive enough to fit in with the Queensryche/Fates Warning crowd.
In reality, they were a killer Heavy Metal band who sang about deeper subjects that fast cars and fast women (not that there’s anything wrong with that). They did have songs like “Metal Life” that were a bit more light in the lyrics, but “Another Return To Church Hill” was a classic that avoided the cliché stuff that was popular at the time.
The band is super tight and very talented, frontman Eric Hawk has range AND power. For 1988 the album was pretty heavy, after all, Metal Blade didn’t carry anything soft. The production was really exceptional for the time too, it’s more gritty and the band and drums really pound. In many ways they were way ahead of their time.
I classify this one as a lost classic for sure. Over the years it’s gained a cult following at ARTCH has continued to be a band in one form another even to present day.
Ironically, this one has been remastered recently too, check that out at https://hammerheartstore.com/
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