Metal Church: Damned If You Do album review

San Francisco’s metal stalwarts Metal Church fail to refuel with Damned If You Do

Metal Church album cover

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Since the early 80s, when they were hanging out in a flat they called ‘the metal church’ with buddies who went on to form Metallica, Kurt Vanderhoof’s persistent quintet have steered a frustratingly inconsistent course between exuberant, cutting-edge tech-metal and humdrum mediocrity. 

2016’s XI benefited from the return of Mike Howe’s expressive snarl, triumphantly rejuvenating the band after a couple of low-point albums. Damned If You Do starts well, but flirts with danger by naming a song By The Numbers, and indeed much of this LP feels a bit overly familiar and simplistic. 

Quality-wise, it’s a mixed bag, from savvy, red-blooded headbangers like Rot Away and The Black Things to some of the most vapid, bog-standard fillers this band ever put out. Ultimately, Damned If You Do is one of those solid but inessential offerings.

For Fans Of: Judas Priest, Overkill, Metallica

Chris Chantler

Chris has been writing about heavy metal since 2000, specialising in true/cult/epic/power/trad/NWOBHM and doom metal at now-defunct extreme music magazine Terrorizer. Since joining the Metal Hammer famileh in 2010 he developed a parallel career in kids' TV, winning a Writer's Guild of Great Britain Award for BBC1 series Little Howard's Big Question as well as writing episodes of Danger Mouse, Horrible Histories, Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed and The Furchester Hotel. His hobbies include drumming (slowly), exploring ancient woodland and watching ancient sitcoms.