Metal Church

The Dark

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Metal Church's excellent debut had impressed critics and fans alike with its ferocious blend of classic metal and thrash. But by the time they released its follow-up, 1986's The Dark, the band seemed to be struggling with their direction and wrestling with internal problems. The fact that they were collectively one of the most unattractive bands ever (even by heavy metal standards) didn't help matters either, especially in image-conscious America, so it was no surprise when the band's appeal remained firmly confined to the metal underground. Which is too bad, since The Dark's first half contained some of the group's best material, including the brutal intensity of "Start the Fire" and "Method To Your Madness," as well as what was probably their best-known song, the astoundingly heavy epic "Watch the Children Play." Extensive touring with Elektra labelmates Metallica had also motivated the band to develop their thrashier inclinations, resulting in vicious moshers like "Ton of Bricks" and "Over My Dead Body." Too bad they couldn't maintain this clip for the album's second half, which pretty much stalls after the moderately interesting title track. And sadly, there would be no shot at redemption, as Metal Church would soon have to deal with a number of career-crippling lineup changes which would splinter the original group for almost 15 years.

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