Metal Church ‘XI’ (2016): Kickin’ off a new-old era

Metal Church, one of the most promising American metal acts of the 1980s, released its eleventh studio album, XI, on March 25, 2016, through Rat Pak Records. And, – drum-roll – the album marks the return of vocalist Mike Howe after 23 years.

Yes, XI is one of the most anticipated metal records of 2016, and yes, Metal Church and Mike Howe joining forces again made the metal world sit up straight and listen up more carefully about what’s going on in the metal church.

I have only had the pleasure to follow the last couple of years of the Metal Church-Howe era when I was a kid. Due to the fact that grunge pushed aside metal on the radio, in our small record shops and the media, we simply couldn’t get much infos on certain bands anymore, and Metal Church was one of them. Fast-forward 20 years. There I am, reading about Mike Howe joining Metal Church again and I dig up all the old records I had forgotten about or newer one’s that I had never listen to, and boy did I get into Metal Church again before XI hit the shelves.

XI didn’t need many spins before I could virtually mark it as a high-frequency playing album in my metal-drawer. This album brings me back to the first Mike Howe-era with its mood and feel, and even though the sound is contemporary, it stays true to the 80s and 90s metal. My favourite songs are No Tomorrow – an instant classic!–, Needle & Suture, and Suffer Fools. However, I’d go as far as to state that there are no fillers on this album, as far as I’m concerned.

My opinion on Metal Church’s new album is short and sweet: XI is the logic sequel to the band’s 1993 album with Mike Howe on vocals, Hanging in the Balance. It transports the listener back in time, but provides a modern heavy metal production. The songwriting is strong and the arrangements give me a ‘vintage metal’ feel, for lack of better words. And I mean that as a compliment. I’m extremely satisfied with this phenomenal Metal Church album. Welcome home Mike Howe.

“XI kicks off right where the band left off with Hanging In The Balance with the killer “Reset” and doesn’t let up the whole way through. This album is exactly what an old school fan would want.” – Andrew Johann Datoush,

“XI is the best and most consistent Metal Church album since Hanging in the Balance and a welcome return to ass kicking form. Hell, they even managed to continue their unbroken run of truly awful album covers! If you love the older material, this should be a win, but any fan of traditional metal will appreciate what’s going on here. Welcome back from beyond the black!” – Steel Druhm,

“With contempories such as Accept producing great albums there is no reason why Metal Church cannot force their way into the leading pack and if you have never previously worshipped at the altar of Metal Church then 2016 would be a good time to start.” – Donnie Kemp,

“Metal Church have a winner with XI. It’s not just a throwback to a more traditional sound, it’s a statement that shows that they are still relevant and ready to take on the world!” – Jason Z,

“This album is 100% Metal Church, this album is metal, this album can compete with the early classics and this album needs to be part of all serious metal collections.” – Markus’ Heavy Music Blog,

Sebastiano Mereu

YouTuber + host of the #FHTZ online music show with co-producer @simonkurt + marketing & digital content producer + university lecturer