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Traditional heavy metal performed with passion - 75%

kluseba, December 14th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, CD, Nuclear Blast

Metal Church has only gotten my attention so far because of its terrible cover artworks but I've wanted to give the popular band a try for a long time. The cover artwork for Damned If You Do might be the band's greatest so far but one shouldn't judge a book by its cover. However, the music on the twelfth studio record of the American quintet is also quite decent. I'm glad I have finally given the band a chance and I am open to listen to more of their material.

Damned If You Do offers traditional heavy metal with a few minimal thrash metal inspirations here and there. The rough vocal work reminds a lot of Phil Lynott, Udo Dirkschneider, Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth and the likes. I once thought that vocal style was quite unique before I realized that many singers actually use this approach. This style blends in nicely with the gripping heavy metal riffs, occasional guitar solos, energetic bass guitar play and tight drum parts.

The record includes dynamic short upper mid-tempo heavy metal anthems like ''By the Numbers'' and ''Out of Balance''. The more melodic mid-paced tracks with slight hard rock influences like ''The Black Things'' and ''Revolution Underway'' sound even better though and add great atmosphere and harmony to the band sound. Another outstanding song is certainly the opening title track ''Damned If You Do'' as Hindu mantras complement uplifting heavy metal riffs and variable vocals crowned by an intense chorus.

Metal Church's Damned If You Do is a recommendable release for fans of traditional hard rock music of the late seventies, heavy metal anthems of the early eighties and maybe the early years of thrash metal in the mid-eighties. The band plays with conviction, energy and passion which makes this album sound convincing despite its somewhat dated stylistic approach. The album gets better with each spin and is overall a great traditional metal record despite a slightly weaker second half and the fact that this release certainly doesn't reinvent the genres it takes inspiration from.