Metal Church return with their 13th album "Congregation of
Annihilation" on Friday, May 26, 2023 via Rat Pak Records in America
and Reaper Entertainment in Europe. This is the first album since the
sudden passing of vocalist Mike Howe. For their latest release, Metal
Church have brought in Marc Lopes (Ross the Boss/Let Us Prey) to
handle vocal duties. Produced by founding Metal Church guitarist,
Kurdt Vanderhoof, Congregation of Annihilation contains 11 tracks that
takes us back to the band’s early releases in the mid-late 80’s.
Opening track "Another Judgement Day" kicks off the album with a
brutal and thrashy riff and instantly shows off the vocal prowess of
Lopes, as he hits all the highs and lows in his vocal range. The moment I
heard this track, my mind was completely blown.
Track 2 is the title track "Congregation of Annihilation". This track has
more of a groove to it. The riffs are still there, but the rhythm section
really holds this one together, in my opinion.
"Pick A God and Prey" thrashes it’s way in as the third track on the
album. Palm-muted riffs and bone-crushing beats accompany Lopes’
stellar vocal performance on this track. It features a shredding solo,
followed by a massive bridge/breakdown.
Next up is "Children of the Lie". With each track, this album keeps getting
better. Old school Metal Church with fresh blood on the mic. This song
absolutely rips and includes one of the best solos I have heard in quite
some time. The outro to the song is a pleasant change of pace with a steady beat, crisp bass, and yet another beautiful and melodic solo. I absolutely love this song.
A hauntingly clean intro kicks off "Me The Nothing", followed by
traditional, power metal riffs. Lopes’ vocals shine throughout this track.
Those high notes send chills up and down my spine. The bridge section
of the song goes back to the hauntingly clean guitar, killing drum fills,
smooth bass runs, and amazing vocal phrasings. The track ends with
chilling piano that would fit perfectly in a classic horror movie. Love it.
A groovy intro kicks off "Making Monsters" before it’s transforms into a
thrashy riff. The rhythm section shines once again with some stellar
bass riffage and a killer beat. Up to this point, this is my favorite track
from the album. That bass line though \m/\m/.
"Say a Prayer With 7 Bullets" is fittingly the 7th track on the record. I
could say so much about this song, but I’ll keep it short and sweet. Killer
riffs. Killer beats. Killer bass. Killer vocals. The perfect mix.
"These Violent Thrills" is an absolute masterpiece. It’s fast and thrashy
with bone crushing drums. Vocally, Lopes again hits what seems like
every octave on the register. Again, mind blown.
Thrashy, yet groovy riffs kick off "All That We Destroy". Yet again, the
entire band shines on this track. This song, along with the rest of the
album is so tight musically. I can’t praise it enough. Have I mention how
Lopes’ vocals send chills up and down my spine?
Bonus track time. "My Favorite Sin" has that groove that would have any
rock/metal fan banging their heads with the horns thrown up in the air.
It just grooves from start to finish. Definite earworm here.
Closing out the album is another bonus track titled "Salvation". Metal
Church saved the best for last, in my opinion. This song has the perfect
blend of thrash, power, melody, groove, and grit. How is this a bonus
track? Mind blown. AGAIN!
What can I say? "Congregation of Annihilation" is a metal masterpiece.
What better way could I spend my Sunday than to listen to and write
about Metal Church? Album of the year considerations for sure.
Comeback of the year? Most definitely. Kudos guys. Mike is smiling
somewhere listening to this. Hope to see you on the road soon.