Metal Church rolled through Rochester, NY last Saturday (April 9th) and they’re the first band I’ve ever seen fill up this venue to the point where people had to be turned away at the door (and they even sold out of merch!). And man, I feel bad for those people who had to miss such a killer show. It was the last night of the tour, and both the band’s and the crowd’s energy were high.
I’ll be honest, it’s rare that I really like the opening band if I’m not familiar with them. I usually just bang my head a little bit, throw up the metal horns and call it a night- but I actually really enjoyed the opener on this show. They’re a band called Hatchet, and they play some seriously good thrash metal. You know they weren’t one of those openers that people wish they missed because I heard quite a few people (and the fact that they were inebriated had nothing to do with it) screaming “BAY AREA THRASH METAL!” over and over again. Hatchet was great, they never stopped moving and kept the crowd engaged for their whole set.
When it was time for Metal Church to come on each member came out individually, earning cheers and screams from the whole sold out crowd (who I believe was only about 300-350 people, but it felt like an arena). Metal Church opened with “Fake Healer”, a song off their third studio album which actually features Mike Howe on lead vocals originally. As I said in my album review, Howe’s voice hasn’t changed a bit. It sounded great on the album, but a live show is the true test of vocal quality and he surpassed my expectations. Even on songs where he wasn’t the original vocalist (“We Watch The Children Pray”, “Start The Fire”), he still managed to execute the vocals nearly flawlessly. His voice is very unique, somewhat of an eerie evil incarnate at times. They played some songs off the new record XI, to be specific I believe it was the first three songs- “Reset” “Killing Your Time” and “No Tomorrow” which are great on and off the album.
Focusing on the band minus Howe, they did a phenomenal job as well. Kurdt Vanderhoof has been the glue keeping things together for decades now, and having both him and Chris Caffery playing guitar on this tour created a powerful duo. Caffery had stepped in for Rick Van Zandt for the past three weeks and he fit the band well- great chemistry with the band and great crowd interaction as well. Jeff Plate never missed a beat and is seriously a monster on the drums; bassist Steve Unger stayed mainly on my side of the stage and on more than a few occasions I saw him and Caffery laughing at something and just having a great time. This is another band that just has a ton of fun on stage, and it’s clear to the audience that they’re having a great time playing. Metal Church is truly a band of great players and great guys- there’s not much about their performance that I would change or didn’t like.
Although this tour is over, I’m sure this is just the beginning and I would seriously recommend heading out to see Metal Church if they come anywhere near you! Follow the band on Twitter @metalchurchis1 to find out when they announce new dates or like them on Facebook by searching “Metal Church”.