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Written by  Zak DeFreze

Metal Church, the iconic American heavy metal band, returns with their highly anticipated 13th album, Congregation of Annihilation. With a career spanning decades, Metal Church has consistently delivered hard-hitting and relentless music, and this latest offering is no exception. Congregation of Annihilation showcases the band's unwavering commitment to heavy metal roots, along with a few surprises along the way culminates into just under 50 minutes of metalhead bliss.

Right from the opening track “Another Judgement Day,” Metal Church unleashes a sonic assault of punchy riffs, thunderous double kicks, and killer solos that doesn’t let up until after completing the roughly 50-minute tracklist. Nowhere is that more apparent than with tracks like, “Congregation of Annihilation,” or in this instance, “Pick a God and Prey” where breakneck tempo lines up perfectly with new front man Marc Lopes’ nihilistic lyricism to create a true standout.

Although this is Metal Church’s 13th studio record, it marks the first since the tragic passing of legendary front man Mike Howe who passed in July of 2021. Howe’s passing left quite a big hole needing to be filled that would be a tall task for anyone, and Marc Lopes does so with flying colors. His range and versatility shine throughout the album, effortlessly transitioning from melodic verses to bone-chilling screams all while delving into thought-provoking themes of societal issues and deep personal struggles with an unapologetic intensity that Metal Church is known for.

While staying true to Metal Church's classic sound from the 80’s for much of the album, the band adds some much-needed palate cleansers that are welcomed additions like “Me the Nothing” and “Making Monsters.” The former of which seeing the gas being let off the pedal just ever so slightly, for one of the more personal tracks on the album, and the latter pushing the pedal back down but this time with an infectious bassline that you can’t help but bounce your head to. It’s small little steps like these showing the groups willingness to switch things up and take a bit of risk when it comes to exploring the possibilities of the metal genre.

Congregation of Annihilation is a triumphant return for Metal Church, solidifying their status as one of the pioneers of American heavy metal. Relentless energy, impeccable musicianship, and Lopes’ dynamic lyricism establish this record as one dedicated to the craft, and to the legacy of Metal Church and the late Mike Howe. Although the lineup of Metal Church has changed, the music certainly hasn’t, as this 13th record packs just as much punch as their self-titled did back in ’84, and it’s one I recommend any metalhead to check out for themselves on May 26th, 2023.



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