Sound — 9
Id first like to mention the amazing versatility of David Wayne's voice on this album. For most of the album, he stays with his signature wail, but when he ventures to clean vocals (eg. Gods of Wrath), he can also hold his own. The duel guitar work of Kurdt Vanderhoof and Craig Wells is also worth noting. I love the crisp, almost Megadeth-like distortion used. It was this lead and rhythm work that set Metal Church apart from the other bands in the overcrowded thrash scene of the mid eighties. The only thing i could really fault about the album is that there weren't more clean tracks like gods of wrath. If i had to remove a track from this album, i think it would be the Deep Purple cover: Highway Star. It just felt like filler to me. The bass was also quite prominent and well played by Erickson at parts, which i always look for in a band. Kirk Arrington's drum work also helped to push this album from good to excellent. His drumming was always skillful and interesting, but never got in the way of the song. All in all it was a great metal album!!
Lyrics — 10
There were some memorable lyrics throughout the album, helped along by Wayne's ever strong delivery. My personal favorite song in a lyrical sense was the title track: "Many, many years ago on a distant shore Men did gather secretly beyond a hidden door" Not only were the lyrics individual, but the delivery fitted in perfectly with the heavily palm muted riff below, making the track one of my personal Metal Church favorites. Battalions was also good in that sense, with an original melody to the vocals throughout the chorus and verses.
Overall Impression — 9
Although many people have not heard of them, in my opinion Metal Church were one of the best thrash acts to survive the 80's. Maybe they weren't up there with metallica or sepultura, but none the less they know how to write and produce a great record. The single best song I think is the title track, but not far behind are Beyond the Black, Gods of Wrath and Battalion's. If this album was stolen, I would not hesitate to buy another copy, although it took some time to find it in the first place due to the fact that it is slightly more obscure than their later releases. In my opinion this is a metal classic and anyone who considers themselves a headbanger should look into this record.