Published on June 28th, 2020 | by Justin G.
Metal Church: The Elektra Years 1984-1989 (Hear No Evil, 2020)
At long last a reissue label – and a good one at that – has finally set their sights on the classic early Metal Church albums. The Hear No Evil label, who gave us such excellent Samson reissues lately, put the band’s first three albums – 1984’s Metal Church, 1986’s The Dark and 1989’s Blessing In Disguise – together in a deluxe 3-disc set titled (unimaginatively) The Elektra Years 1984-1989.
I’ll skip the history lesson and assume everyone is familiar with this classic American heavy/power/thrash metal band. You probably don’t need me to tell you that these three albums are absolute classics that belong in every serious metal fan’s collection. Here’s what you get in this set:
Disc 1 has the complete Metal Church album, newly remastered. No bonus tracks here, unfortunately.
Disc 2 has the complete The Dark album, newly remastered, plus an edit of “Watch The Children Pray.”
Disc 3 has the complete Blessing In Disguise album, newly remastered, plus edited versions of “Badlands” and “Fake Healer.”
Sound quality on these albums is really good, but it’s not one of those “night and day” remastering jobs like you get from Rock Candy. These are slightly louder and slightly cleaner, but the difference between these versions and the original CDs isn’t that striking. Likewise the bonus tracks aren’t anything special. Some early demos or vintage live recordings would have been a nice touch.
Packaging on The Elektra Years 1984-1989 is a bit unusual for the HNE label. I’m used to their clamshell boxes with cardboard sleeves and a thick booklet inside. This one is a not terribly sturdy fold-out digisleeve, with Metal Church and The Dark in their own cardboard sleeves, but Blessing In Disguise slotted in the middle with no sleeve. And the very minimal liner notes are on the reverse side of a fold out poster recreating a promo poster for The Dark. It’s the worst packaging I’ve seen so far from this label, and really does these albums a disservice. HNE usually treats their reissues with respect, but this one was given about as much thought as the average Wounded Bird reissue.
The saving grace here is the price point, which at the moment is less than $20.00. That’s a good value for three bona-fide classic heavy metal albums.
Subtle remastering, boring bonus tracks and lousy packaging…don’t everyone line up at once. If you already own these albums, sample the audio quality before you decide on an upgrade. Unless you have a really good ear for this kind of thing, it might not be worthwhile. Newcomers who are missing one or more/all of these albums should order this one right now. This is mandatory metal for fans of Vicious Rumors, Heretic, Reverend, Helstar, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest.
Summary: Classic albums that deserved a better reissue