METAL CHURCH emerged in the early 80’s and quickly became one of major forces in Thrash Metal. They may not have had the success as Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer or Anthrax, but they have certainly left their mark on the industry.
They also have the distinction of having two of their lead singers die way before their time. Original lead singer David Wayne in 2005 and more recently Mike Howe in 2021. Things were looking great for the band when Mike Howe joined them around 2015, they had some great momentum going before Covid and tragedy struck.
Now, it’s 2023 and instead of folding, guitarist Kurt Vanderhoof and the boys decide to start a new chapter with possibly the best guy I could think of for the job, Marc Lopes. Not a household name, but not a stranger either to the Metal scene. He was in Meliah Rage for a few years but I first heard him with ROSS THE BOSS. And on the 2020 album “Born In Fire” I thought his performance was one of the best I have ever heard in the Power Metal genre.
Lopes can sing clean or more of the Thrash style. He’s closer to David Wayne than Mike Howe in his delivery but I could totally hear him nailing the classics from the catalogue. As much as I LOVE boy Wayne and Howe, having Lopes is not a setback in any way shape or form.
Some may wonder, “What about Ronny Monroe?”, he sang on four consecutive albums in the 2000’s. I like Ronny as a singer, but I personally wasn’t’ has pleased with his work in Metal Church, those albums never resonated as well we me.
So what about the new album “Congregation Of Annihilation” (finally). It’s got Metal Church written all over it. It’s fast, technical, heavy and full of great hooks. It reminded mostly of “The Human Factor”, even the production had a similar feel. Having said that, there’s elements of every era, while adding a few news ones thanks to Lopes. They implement some interesting stuff with the vocals using effects and layering that really adds another dimension to the songs.
The production is thick and heavy, almost an analog feel to it. Everything sounds “heavy”, like a Black Sabbath album. Yeah, it’s not anywhere near the intensity of Death or Black Metal, but Metal Church has always kept some Classic Rock and Metal elements in the music.
There literally wasn’t a song I didn’t like on the album. Some are more epic and longer, some are more to the point but they are all powerhouse cuts. I am giving this a strong 8.5 “Flaming Fists” and I hope this is just the first of many chapters of the Marc Lopes era of Metal Church.