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Metal Church- Live In Japan- 1995
This was Metal Church’s first attempt at making an official live record, and let me tell you, the energy is there, but the sound is lacking. The drums are WAY out in front drowning out the guitars. It sounds as of the producer must have been high, or drunk or something because the sound is just awful. It is even worse than some bootlegs that I have heard, seeing that this was most likely recorded off of a soundboard. Despite the sound, this live record is THE only recording featuring selected songs from the highly underrated 1994 epic “Hanging In The Balance” as well as classics such as “Watch The Children Pray” sung with master vocalist Mike Howe, formerly of LA thrash band “Heretic” from 1987 until their uneventful demise in 1988, when Howe joined Metal Church. Ironically, former singer David Wayne took the remaining members of Heretic and formed his own band “Reverend”, named for his stage moniker back in the Metal Church days.
The disc contains ripping live versions of classic tracks such as the aforementioned “Watch The Children Pray” the 1989 single “Badlands” and the popular 1986 single “Start The Fire”. Despite the number of good songs, I still think that it could have included the epic “End Of The Age” or the Vicious “A Subtle War” or the amazing David Wayne era track “Method To Your Madness”, in place of “Start The Fire” or even “Hypnotized”. The set was good, but the band could have improved upon it by doing what most bands do, record it at a number of venues and choose the tracks you want, and blend them together. Somewhat like a tour retrospect in the vein of “Flight 666: The Soundtrack” by Iron Maiden. The venue, judging by the sound quality, sounds like it was done at a small club like Blondie’s in Detroit (for those of you who do not know, it housed about 200 people at the legal capacity).
Seeing that this was done in Japan, the crowd is real strange. A real memorable moment is at the beginning of Badlands, the crowd sounds like they gasp in shock, then it goes silent. Then they start cheering again. Or you hear the faint sound of cheering, and then it stops, like they all just sat down and are watching the show. I thought the crowd at shows in Michigan (Iron Maiden Detroit 2000 bootleg, I was there, Cheap Trick Harpo’s 1986 bootleg) were lazy and weird, but Japan, by far takes the lead for the strangest crowd. Just go and look at the Queensryche Japan 1984 bootleg. The crowd just fades out suddenly.
Overall the record has its ups and downs. The sound defiantly blows chunks, but all that matters is that the energy is there. The band sounds as if they are playing their hearts out in this high energy performance. This is a rare, Japan only CD that MC doesn’t even list as a part of their discography, so pick it up while you still can. I believe that it was initially released in limited numbers, making the record so rare. The record is not completely unlistenable, but the sound just irks me a tad. K.G