Metal Church at Grizzly Hall, Austin, 2/21/2017

“Turn it up that chainsaw sound!”

Yeah!!!  That is a heavy metal lyric if there ever was one.

“Please sign this affidavit so my insurance won’t go up!”

Um, yeah??  Whatever.  The song in which that lyric pops up in is so badass that I don’t even care that it involves insurance premiums.

Both lines come from Metal Church, an almost forgotten thrash gem from the lovely state of Washington.  Long before the advent of grunge, there was Metal Fucking Church.  Dammit.  I really have to say that I had kind of forgotten how badass these guys are and what a large chunk of my high school soundtrack they composed.  There isn’t a clunker in any of their first five albums.  The last time I saw them perform was the summer before my senior year in high school in 1989.  Metal Church opened up for Accept and W.A.S.P. at the old Austin Opry House.  This was the first of many shows where I was way more excited to see the opener than I was about the headliner (even though W.A.S.P. did put on a pretty damn good show this night as I remember…The Headless Children Tour…best album they ever put out).  As a dorky and giddy 17 year old, I remember rushing up front as soon as the doors opened and claimed my spot on the barricade just left of center stage.  It absolutely made my summer when lead singer Mike Howe rushed on stage to start their set and proceeded to give me a serious high five.  I just felt cool.  I probably haven’t felt that cool since.

Metal Church kind of entered the wastelands after releasing 1993 album Hanging in the Balance.  Lead singer Mike Howe called it quits after poor sales.  Metal Church continued on. They released four albums with a new singer, but these albums never captured the magic of their early years.  Last year, Mike Howe re-joined the band and they released the very solid XI album.  Last night’s show was a celebration of the classic era Church with a sprinkling of songs off the new album

It really felt as if these guys never left.  The songs sounded fresh and the band sounded completely on top of their game.  Howe hasn’t lost a damn thing off of his trademark soaring vocals.  Kurt Vanderhoof just solidified himself in my mind as one of the great composers of 80’s era classic thrash riffs.  Plus, he’s aged into a damn near doppelgänger of David Simon, creator of The Wire and Homicide: Life on the Street.  I’d like to think that they are the same person.  It would make sense that the creator of the riffs in Start the Fire, Beyond the Black and The Badlands is the same guy to create characters like Jimmy McNulty, Stringer Bell and Omar.  Sorry, I digress.  All this shit was going on in my head during the show last night.

Anyhoo.  Here are some sample clips.  I hope you enjoy.

Fake Healer

Start the Fire

Beyond the Black



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