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Metal Church

Masterpeace

Nuclear Blast

If the much-heralded resurgence of power metal isn't enough to lure closet heshers out of the work-a-day world, along comes the newly reformed Metal Church, after a six-year hibernation, with a new album, Masterpeace . Raging like it was still 1986, original vocalist David Wayne and company resurrect the long-deceased Bay Area thrash idiom (Testament, Exodus, early Metallica, et. al.) with a fervor that's so refreshing, so precise , that it becomes as stale as a fossil, wholly invoking visions of a time when poofy, white hi-tops and spandex-fit black jeans was the uniform of the day.

   Wayne -- who abruptly left after the 1987 release of the band's masterwerk, The Dark , to belt the out pipes for Reverend -- surprisingly sounds in top form, that of which being a more sober Bon Scott (bless his soul) without a chili pepper stuck up his ass. And the rest of the band, likewise, sounds a bit less alcohol-fueled as they did during said apex, tempering the tech a bit, upping the prog overtones, and summarily focusing on a speed-metal axis that is nonetheless so convincing of a throwback to a lost era that you'll be checking your calendar after each song (hell, even the album's cover art screams Pre-Nirvana Budget-Bin Filler!). But Masterpeace could have been crustier: Most now-fossilized thrash bands saved their albums' title track for their most epic, most modus operandi -fulfilling moment (anyone remember Annihilator's Never Neverland ?), whereas Metal Church saves their most recent one for an endearingly sentimental instrumental. Still, Masterpeace is proof enough that it's a great time to be able to remember the past -- drink up while you can.

Nuclear Blast America, P.O. Box 43618, Philadelphia, PA 19106; http://www.nuclearblast-usa.com

--Nathan T. Birk