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Metal Church are back! Though it has only been three years since the release of Generation Nothing, the band’s future hung in the balance when on-and-off singer Ronny Munroe left the group in 2014. Making a surprise return was singer Mike Howe, who will now be appearing on his fourth record with the band, titled XI with the Roman numerals serving as an indicator of the band’s studio output. Out March 26 on Rat Park Records, the disc boasts the single, “No Tomorrow,” which can be heard above.
Starting with a low, buzzing buildup over a minute, a series of marching snare hits breaks the air before another one of Kurdt Vanderhoof’s riffs sends the band into a full neck-wrecking fury. Mike Howe hasn’t lost a step, which had been strongly hinted at with the re-recording of the Metal Church classic “Badlands” last year. “No Tomorrow” wouldn’t sound out of place on Blessing in Disguise, with drummer Jeff Plate propelling the track with the same raw feel and energy of the band’s best work.
A short acoustic bridge invokes the hopeless feeling the lyrics of “No Tomorrow” brings, but the moment is cut short as Vanderhoof tears into his solo. Returning the the pre-chorus following the shredding, Metal Church capitalize on their catchier elements before playing themselves off with some more pummeling of the drums and savage riffing.
Howe came to rejoin the band after jamming with Vanderhoof and Saxon drummer Nigel Glockler with the intent of forming a new project. “At first I struggled with the decision to come back, but after hearing the riffs that Kurdt was writing, I just couldn’t resist, the music called to me and I wanted to be part of it,” commented the singer. Equally surprised yet grateful, Vanderhoof added, “Sometimes I still can’t believe it myself, no one would have ever thought Mike would return after his departure almost two decades ago.”
Performing on three albums previously, Blessing in Disguise, The Human Factor and Hanging in the Balance, Howe filled the void left by departed vocalist David Wayne. The band split up in 1994, reforming again four years later with Wayne making a return. He was replaced by Ronny Munroe after one record and the singer went on to record four albums with Metal Church before pursuing his own ventures in 2014.
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