Great Metal Albums of 1986: Metal Church- The Dark

Crimson Glory may have failed to impress me when I saw them live in February, 1987, but the next band of the evening, Metal Church, totally blew me away. On the other hand, it would have been very difficult for them not have blown me away because their 1986 album, “The Dark” was on my listening rotation at the time. It was one of those albums which ended my 1986 on the right note and propelled me into 1987.

Some critics have accused “The Dark” of having lost its teeth in comparison to the more thrash induced self titled debut album. They went on to say that Metal Church was confused about which direction they were heading. What do critics know? All I knew was that I loved the album and continue to do so. Yes, some of the songs aren’t as fast and take on a more straight-forward metal approach but there is still some good speed metal to mosh to. The album opener does what it says in the song title, it hits you like a “Ton of Bricks.” It’s a throat grabber, guaranteed to fill a mosh pit anywhere and the next track, “Start With Fire,” would keep that mosh pit going.

It’s with the third track, “Method to Your Madness,” where some critics may point to an abandonment of the thrash sound. What I know is that while it has more of a melody, that melody is very catching and with the crashing guitars and thumping bass, it’s one to get you headbanging along to. Plus, the chorus is good to sing along to. Then we come to my favourite song on the album and one of my favourite Metal Church tunes of all time, “Watch the Children Pray.” This song has a great doom metal type intro and this was many years before anyone coined the phrase. It’s impending doom feeling has you gripped until the guitars come crashing down around you. It’s probably the closest Metal Church comes to having a ballad. What I didn’t know at the time was that it was dedicated to Metallica’s Cliff Burton who died nine days before it’s release. I think Cliff would be happy with this choice of song.

Another criticism slung at the album is that after the tracks “Over My Dead Body” and the title cut, which are both pure thrash tunes and I love how the chorus is sung on the title cut, the album takes a nosedive as the remaining tracks are filler. I disagree with that, totally. While, I might prefer the first half of the album, the remaining songs aren’t in anyway, filler. Not to these ears! “Pyscho” and “Line of Death” carry on the thrash party, if anything, the ferocity increases with these two tracks, although “Line of Death” does slow down for a breather in the middle of it. “Burial at Sea” may not be thrash but there is some very powerful chords to assault your delicate ears and a couple of good lead guitar hooks. In fact, if I were to hurl any criticism of this album, I think that “Burial at Sea” should have been the closer as the actual closer, “Western Alliance,” is more of a thrash song and would have been better before “Burial at Sea.” While maybe not the best choice for closer, it’s still a great mosh tune and fits in better with the four songs which precede it. Other than that, “The Dark” is still a great album.

Track Listing:

  1. Ton of Bricks
  2. Start the Fire
  3. Method to Your Madness
  4. Watch the Children Pray
  5. Over My Dead Body
  6. The Dark
  7. Psycho
  8. Line of Death
  9. Burial at Sea
  10. Western Alliance
Metal Church

David Wayne- vocals

Kurdt Vanderhoof- guitar

Craig Wells- guitar

Duke Erickson- bass

Kirk Arrington- drums

Unfortunately, after this fantastic album, things would stall in the Metal Church camp. Personnel changes meant that they would not put out another album for nearly three years but that’s a story for another day. For with “The Dark,” they definitely stamped their name on 1986.

Next post: Killer Dwarfs- Stand Tall

To buy Rock and Roll Children, email me at:

15 Responses to “Great Metal Albums of 1986: Metal Church- The Dark”

  1. Children Play is my favourite too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Apart from swapping Children for Bricks as favourite, I echo your every thought about this, you nailed it 👌

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Metal Church! \\m// For me, this is one of those bands that only got better with age. But The Dark is classic.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. metalstoic Says:

    I dunno… seeing Crimson Glory and Metal Church on the same bill would’ve been amazing!

    “The Dark” absolutely rips! Great record!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I heard Metallica’s Until It Sleeps welded to Sanitarium in that intro.

    Great tune though!

    Liked by 1 person

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