The latest album from musician Bill Menchen of Las Vegas NV, Power And Glory, is yet another powerful slab of metal with the twist of quite Biblical lyrics. Featuring several songs in the tuning of Drop A, which gives the guitars quite a low feel, and hosting Robert Sweet of Stryper’s relentless drumming, this album is quite a cool one. It was only in February that the third The Seventh Power album, Eternal Power, was released, and we already have some new music from Menchen.
But how does this album measure up to its predecessors and to the general Christian metal market? Production, as usual from Menchen, is a strong point, as the album is quite listenable. The riffs are still as heavy and crunchy as ever, the drumming still as crazy, the bass still as thumping. However, the lyrics follow in the vein of Eternal Power as they are lifted straight out of the Bible. While not a bad thing in some respects, I have a feeling some of the lyrics could be modified to make them flow better (kinda like the first two albums had as lyrics, that is, Christian lyrics with a bit of creative license). Vocals are solid, but an acquired taste, as fans will know, as the voice is kinda like Ozzy but with a mechanical/autotuned feel to it. Not bad, but some may find this to be a turn-off.
On to the music. Bill Menchen is a stellar guitar player and riff writer, as he has written some hundred songs over his career. Some songs feature a lower tuning that gives the package a fresh twist. No Other Name has a bit of guitar effects, for example, though it is in Drop C. As well, Look Into My Eyes is a powerful song “sung as if Jesus could sing [it] to you from the cross”, the lyrics of which I wish could’ve been a model for the rest of the album.
Track-by-track listing is as follows:
After The Image kicks in to rhythm guitar, the drums accent as the song pounds its way in. Good, but not remarkable. The following song, Blessed Is The Man, discusses several writings of the psalmists, with a super catchy “blessed… IS THE MAN!” lyric that is repeated at the beginning of each verse. The song grows tedious toward the end, but were it trimmed, it’d be excellent; as it is, pretty solid. Progressive structure as well.
Doom Has Come kicks in to a drum roll and a frenetic riff before tapering off to lyrics about God’s judgment on Israel. As mentioned, a bit of creative license in the lyrics could’ve made some of the phrasing a little less awkward. However, the breakdown at the end is super heavy and you could probably mosh to it. The next song, God Is Love, presents quite the lyrical contrast as it gives a message of hope, with the odd bass trombone blast during the chorus. The clean guitar parts are pretty mesmerizing too, as they’re something Bill Menchen doesn’t do often.
Similar to Doom Has Come but slower, In Thy Kingdom Come (once known as In The Prison House, featuring the story of Samson) is a decent track, while not a standout, with fast drumming and lightning-quick guitar. Personally, I don’t like this one as much, although I can see people liking it. However, the next track, Look Into My Eyes, is a fantastic, chilling track with creative lyrics from Jesus’s perspective. Cool riff as well. I like this song so much.
No Other Name uses lyrics from John 1 to speak upon the creation and divinity of Jesus. Simple structure, but effective, with a really good hook at that. I dig the pedal effect (phaser?) on the instrumental riff as well. Next, we have the title track featuring tons of effects and voiceovers, with a frankly monotonous feel. Could’ve been replaced with something a little more interesting, in my opinion.
Valley Of The Shadow is a reinterpretation of Psalm 23 (seems that all Christian artists reference this psalm at some point, eh?) that comes across uninteresting, as it kind of just drags on. Another piece that could’ve used some lyrical edits and some trimming as well. However, the album ends on a strong note with Wings As Eagles, opened and closed by clean guitar. The middle section, as powerful as In Thy Kingdom Come, features more sung/spoken lyrics stolen from the mouth of Isaiah, but the melody established by the clean guitars is frankly beautiful – only complaint is the abrupt ending to the song that leaves the listener going “huh? what happened?” instead of a fade out.
All in all, about half the songs are good to excellent, and half could’ve used a bit of refining. If you are a diehard Bill Menchen fan, get this, but this probably isn’t the best introduction to his work – I’d start with Menchen – Red Rock and The Seventh Power – Dominion And Power (arguably the most solid work from Bill and company).