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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

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 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.