Much like the English punk movement before it, the New Wave of British Heavy Metal invaded hundreds of American garages in the early '80s and launched countless bands across the nation. It is interesting to note, however, that while in major cities with thriving punk rock this phenomenon manifested itself in the form of thrash metal (for example, L.A.'s Metallica, New York's Anthrax), in secondary capitals, up-and-coming bands generally boasted a more mainstream metal approach. Such was the case with Phoenix's Armored Saint, Connecticut's Fates Warning, and Seattle's Queensryche, but Metal Church (also from Seattle) seemed determined to cover both angles on their powerful 1985 debut. But while the complex songwriting and aggressive riffing seen on trad metal epics like "Beyond the Black," "Gods of Wrath," and "Metal Church" are about as good as it gets, thrashier moments like "My Favorite Nightmare," "Battalions," and the appropriately named instrumental "Merciless Onslaught" still needed a little work. In fact, the band's incredibly tight musicianship is a highlight all on its own, and vocalist David Wayne's piercing screech (similar to Accept's Udo Dirkschneider) was considered very hip at the time, believe it or not. Concluding with a full-throttle cover of the Deep Purple standard "Highway Star," this album remains an overlooked classic of straight-ahead American-bred heavy metal.
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia