This Present Wasteland by Metal Church
Release date : September 2008
Reviewed by Eric Stephens
In late February 2008, This Present Wasteland was revealed to be the title of Metal Church's ninth studio album. Artwork submissions in support of the album's front cover were accepted via email worldwide. In early April, Germany's Rainer Kalwitz was announced as the MySpace competition winner, with several other artwork submissions incorporated into the booklet's inner sleeve. Within Kalwitz's artwork, a cross lies in a field, though the shadow it casts is that of a Metal Church guitar cross. Upon the album, several themes form the lyrical basis of specific numbers. “Crawling to Extinction” warrants no explanation, whereas “Deeds of a Dead Soul” documents the fact that a once living entity who was unadulterated evil leaves that ill upon Earth. On the other hand, “Mass Hysteria” touches upon the world's end, whilst “Monster” explores the computer age.
This Present Wasteland additionally sports a new lineup. Malice's Jay Reynolds left the fold in February, with Rick Van Zandt (who boasts stints with the likes of The End, Rottweiler, and The Ronny Munroe Band) being declared as Metal Church's new guitarist during mid April. Guest solo slots were contributed by Chris Caffery (Savatage / Trans-Siberian Orchestra), Angus Clark (Trans-Siberian Orchestra / Trouble Club) and Matt Leff. In mid June, the full length's track listing was revealed, as well as news of its planned late September issue. Via the group's official MySpace page, several audio samples surfaced during mid August.
To plug the album, vocalist Ronny Munroe guested upon several radio shows, more specifically; Maximum Threshold at 9.30 p.m. EST on April 12th, MorningShowCentral.com's Projeckt X alongside Chris Caffery from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on May 1st, and The Classic Metal Show alongside Tesla guitarist Dave Rude on August 23rd.
Ten classic Metal ballads collectively form This Present Wasteland; whilst certain tunes exploit a slower pacing, other songs opt in favour of Thrash stylings. Upon listening to Metal Church's latter day material, a notable facet emerges in the guise of Ronny Munroe. Within each subsequent composition, Munroe possesses the capability to change his vocal style. Munroe's potent chords remain faithful to Metal's earlier days, comparable to the likes of Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson within one specific track, yet redolent of Judas Priest's Rob Halford in another. Within this Metal subgenre, Munroe's stylings are certainly appropriate. “The Company of Sorrow” inaugurates the album, and it's immediately audible as to where a group like Metallica may have felt inspired. Thrash riffs, teamed alongside Power riffs, are prevalent. A smooth, intricate production clearly fails to garner Metal Church's interest, who much prefer production values akin to 1984. This approach is particularly evident upon “The Perfect Crime”, a cut which would draw a smile from Ronnie James Dio even. A classic vibe is adopted, and greatly interpreted via modern renditions - numbers such as “Crawling to Extinction”, and “Monster”, form prime examples. The respective styles of both Vanderhoof and Van Zandt extremely compliment one another, exhibiting a genuinely fluid approach that usually exists between musicians who've performed alongside one another for many years. The troubles which seem to plague veteran groups can be successfully fought, and This Present Wasteland is a fine example of this. Furthermore, the album shows that veteran groups can pen quality material which lend the new generation a glimpse into what song types helped in shaping 2008's Metal scene.
Whilst comparisons may be drawn towards fellow eighties Metal groups, it's likely safe to state that several of these fellow acts actually drew inspiration from Metal Church. In terms of musical inspiration and the initial desire to perform Heavy Metal, Metal Church has been cited during innumerable interviews. The group isn't aiming towards pretension, or a fresh demeanour. Conversely, Metal Church maintains a straightforward approach; certain instances witness the execution of melodic Power ballads, whereas others favour Thrash Metal. Vocally powerful, Munroe proves why his voice belongs within this Metal subgenre. Metal Church continually pen material of this calibre, so it isn't difficult to understand why time hasn't weathered the outfit.