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Metal Church by David Wayne, Craig Stephen Wells and Kurdt Vanderhoof. Song Critique

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Metal Church is an American heavy metal band. In its formative years this band moved from its native San Fransisco, Carlifornia in the 1980 where it had been formed and relocated in 1981 to Aberdeen, Washington where for a brief moment it went by the name ‘Shrapnel. The band, preferred to embrace a new eclectic form of heavy metal. During their development as a musical power house, they are lauded as one of the pioneers of the thrash/speed metal genre in continental America. This was a subgenre of heavy metal music which had sprung from new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM). The band is well known for the role they played in social commentary through the philosophical poignancy of their lyrics.

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According to the Entertainment Weekly (February 6, 2012 ) ,Metal Church, initially consisted of vocalist David Wayne, guitarists Kurdt Vanderhoof (groups composer from 1986) and Craig Wells, bassist Duke Erickson, and drummer Kirk Arrington(p40). However, the band really hit its stride when Wayne left and was replaced by Mike Howe on 1989’s ‘Blessing In Disguise’; Vanderhoof left after the album due to his dislike of touring and was replaced by Metallica guitar tech John Marshall. Lars Ulrich (Metallica) also played in the band in 1981 on a few rehearsals but didn’t make it into the band. The current members of the band include Kurdt Vanderhoof – guitar ; co-composer),Mike Howe – lead vocals, Steve Unger – bass , Jeff Plate – drums , Rick Van Zandt – guitar .

In this essay, the analysis will be on their song titled ‘Metal Church’ off their 1985 album going by the same name and released independently by Ground Zero in 1982. The song was written by David Wayne Craig Stephen Wells and Kurdt Vanderhoof and starts with the sound of winds blowing past, then joined by the typical metal quarter note. The howling winds, drums rattle, brooding bass and shredding guitars, thus starts the essential hymn ‘Metal Church’ drum beat and powerful electric guitar riffs with distortion with an eerie laugh from David Wayne. In the Iron Fist Magazine (21/3/2016) in the ‘There is No Expiration Date On Us Old Rockers’ (p32) What we have here is basic metal tending to speed on one hand and thrash on the other. The rumbling bass, crunchy drums, raw guitars and the ‘evil vocals’ of David Wayne (which are piercingly screeched) convey the message.

The lyrics of the song are four verse song are very deep and mainly pays tribute to Metallic rock. There is talk of a ‘Metal Site’ in the end of the second verse where a congregation is to meet and pay homage to Oberon (king of the fairies in Medieval and Renaissance literature) as they love the evil things they do. The lyrics are laded heavily with imagery and talk of a Metal Church that is coming to save souls and which ostensibly knows where we all are and cannot hide from it.

The bands dress code mainly includes denim pants or leather vests with band patches and logos, t-shirts with band names, spiked wristbands. Sporting long hair, silver chains, dark aviator eyewear and leather jackets are also a common feature

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