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Let’s not waste any time and recognize that there is absolutely nothing wrong with this latest release from Metal Church. If anything, I would say everything is right and will hit home for many of you fans out there.  From front to back, From The Vault delivers everything that you want in a killer thrash metal album.  Kicking things off in the early 80's, Metal Church helped lay the ground for bands like Anthrax, Slayer, and Metallica to persevere.  Taking a break for what seemed like forever between 1991 and their miraculous return in 2013, they have continued to stay relevant by keeping the genre alive and well.  That being said, let’s dive into this album consisting b-side and unreleased tracks throughout the Mike Howe era. 

Given my minimal experience with the thrash metal genre, I will say that I am pretty impressed with how well the album flows. Getting things started with “Dead on the Vine”, I got major “Fuel” by Metallica vibes with the rolling double bass on the drums.  It’s like they didn’t want you to skip a beat at all.  Like seriously, the drums didn’t let up the whole time in the first track of the album.  Something I really liked was in the song “The Conductor” was the super chilled out guitar tones in the middle of the song that ramp up to an emotional riff that keeps you hooked wanting to hear more.

It’s worth noting that everyone in the Metal Church is firing on all cylinders throughout the entire album.  Mike Howe really has a way of adding so much grit to the sound of the band with his unmistakable voice. It really says a lot about a band by how the vocalist performs and he did such a great job on this record keeping things raw.  I’m impressed that he can keep his tone consistent through each song, as well as being able to hit some pretty hard notes.  He keeps it entertaining for sure and am sure it isn’t easy being the lead singer of a thrash metal band, but Mike kills it!

With the advancement of modern technology, taking a thrash metal band like Metal Church into the studio compared to back in the 80's is such an upgrade to what their capacity can be when it comes to production value.  They are able to be much fuller in their sound which allows for a way better listening experience for us fans.  You can tell on this album that they did not skip out on the quality they were trying to achieve.

And we can’t forget to recognize their insane cover of “Black Betty”, originally by Ram Jam.  Man do they do a number on that one.  Never had I heard a rendition like that, and they couldn’t have chosen a better song to cover. The riffs and solos were stunning and not to mention the funky breakdown towards the middle and technical drum fills.  Very impressed by that one for sure.

The rest of the album closes out with a few live recordings of “Agent Green” and “Anthem to the Estranged”.  Nothing is better (to me at least) when a live performance is so well executed and included on an album.  Some of my favorite songs are live performances (Metallica being one of those who execute it so well).  In this instance, Metal Church made a good choice including them on the album. And it gets better with a few bonus tracks at the end.

Overall, I would say Metal Church outdid themselves with this release.  From the Vault checks off all the boxes and provides long time fans and new ones like me some incredibly engaging metal that showcases just how special a band like this is.  40 years in the making, these San Francisco natives have withstood the test of time and continues to churn out amazing new music that stands on its own along side thrash metal icons such as  Anthrax, Slater, and Metallica.  From the Vault is just such an album and you'll have this one on permanent 'repeat' after your first spin.  All Hail Metal Church!


As always, rock on my friends!     Hunnypot Approved!     Overall Rating:  9.5 out of 10

Artist:  Metal Church,  LPFrom the Vault  Release Date: April 10th, 2020,   Label: Rat Pak Records

James Coffman

Photojournalist - Dallas

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