November 13, 2017

Metal Church - Hanging In The Balance (1993)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Heavy Metal
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© 1993 Blackheart Records
Reviewed by "Thomas" for Metal
"What. The. Hell." were the three words coming out of my mouth when I unwrapped the fresh pile of recieved mail-orders, and the absolutely horrendous cover art on Hanging the Balance unveiled itself before my shocked eyes. Hanging In the Balance was released in 1994, grunge was at its peak and the band changed their sound. They received a lot of shit for it, and this turned out rather unsucsessful.
Hanging In the Balance was indeed ahead of its time. This was a departure from their earlier straight-forward style of heavy metal. Their influences vary between classic rock, earlier heavy metal, more progressive and diverse stuff, and even some folk. No band has yet released a folk metal track at the same level as End of the Age. An almost Bob Dylan-ish feeling sneaks into my soul in the very beginning of the song. With soft accoustic plodding and silent, beautiful vocal lines by Mike Howe, the song grabs your attention and keeps it at base. The tempo picks up after a while, as quality heavy metal riffs become dominant. However, It stops as suddenly as it started and the compelling folk melodies are back. Truly amazing song. The folk influences are pretty apparent overall here actually, A Subtle War's main riff could very well have been recorded by bands such as Falconer nowadays. As far as the rest of the album is concerned, this is solid and more complex than Metal Church's earlier releases. However, this is not hard to access. With catchy, headbangable tracks such as and the intense rocker Conductor, this should provide a more than enjoyable listen for most metalheads. The guitar-work here is different, but damn solid. The riffs are solid and catchy, and the leads are as entertaining as ever. The dominant guitar-work on the Judas Priest-like Down to the River and on all the other tracks here adds the required ammount of excitement along with Mike Howe's unmistakable vocals. One of the highlights of the album is definitely Little Boy. The 8-minute epic about one of the nuclear bombs dropped over Japan during the second world war, creates a dark atmosphere with temposhifts, mid-paced riffs and contrast-filled lyrics.
This is more or less a fairly underrated release by Metal Church. The band got much criticism for exploring new directions, and were also suffering from the grunge movement and their labels incompitability to promote the album. This isn't as good as their previous releases, but is on the other hand something new and tasteful with many quality tracks. So, ignore the terrifying cover art, and go listen.

tags: metal church, hanging in the balance, 1993, flac,


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