Metal Church - The Present Wasteland
The music industry has changed dramatically over the years when it comes to finding and supporting young talent. Back in the 80s, all a band had to do was to record a demo, post it to as many labels as possible and then pray that the PR guy would choose theirs in the pile, whereas nowadays many bands are forced to record their own albums prior to attracting any attention. That is exactly what happened with the Bavarian Heavy Metal quartet Diabolos Dust. It was only after a copy of their self-financed debut album “Ruins Of Mankind” found its way to the hands of the PR person in Massacre Records that the label decided to offer them a contract and, the first ‘seed’ of this collaboration is the world-wide distribution of that very album – one that, apart from featuring the label’s name on the back cover, has also been given new artwork.

It is funny how, in some cases, you can understand what a band is all about simply by looking at the album cover of its latest release. The amateur-crafted image of the Grim Ripper holding a bunch of heads in his right hand while walking down a scorched landscape was screaming old-school Metal from a mile and that is exactly what these lads from south Germany are playing, which would not be a bad thing at all, providing that the end result was sonically pleasing. Unfortunately, though, the occasions where I felt that I was being truly entertained by this album were very few, with the majority of the compositions sounding, at the best of times, like well-recorded rehearsal takes of a band that knows how to play their instruments but who need a fair amount of work prior to being capable of creating compositions that are both memorable and technically challenging.

The simply-riffed, Metallica-influenced “Ruins Of Mankind” provided a very hopeful start for this eleven track album, but it wasn’t long before the first few ‘dark clouds’ began to gather, as the main melodic theme of “Fading Away” sounds like a bad copy of Iced Earth’s classic “Watching Over Me” and the guitar solo is simply out of place. In “Blood Red Sky” the band decides to go groovy and the result is quite impressive, while the simply-crafted “Judgement Day” does well in keeping the momentum going. Sadly, things take another dive towards mediocrity with “Creatures” and even the deadly groovy themes of “Slave” were not enough to erase the bad memories of the Goth-sounding “Out Of Time” which is one of the worst compositions that I have heard in years. The follow up defender is not bad but has nothing worth remembering, especially when compared to “In Vain” whose Hetfield-like vocals are one of the highlights of the album. The last two compositions of the album, namely “The Mirror” and “Never Surrender”, are both decent Heavy Metal tunes which, unfortunately, came too little too late to salvage this project.

It took quite a few spins prior to me deciding how to rate this album and that is simply because, had I done so straight away, my evaluation would have been pretty condemning. My patience enabled me to see that there is some skill in this outfit, skill that hopefully will flourish in future releases, however the fact remains that in “Ruins Of Mankind” you have an album that’s a product of a band still in the process of finding the ground under its feet – not one that’s capable of competing with the hundreds, if not thousands, of other outfits out there who are willing to fight for better exposure and recognition. If you are a fan of classic Heavy Metal who is willing to devote plenty of your free time to a project that cannot guarantee any positive results then go for it – otherwise, give it a miss.

John Stefanis