The day had come. After months and months of waiting I was finally going to experience METAL CHURCH live for the first time thanks to my new friend Tim the tour manager (Thanks, Tim!). Now I was not a fan back in the day, but hearing longtime vocalist Ronny Munroe really made them a different band to me, and new album Generation Nothing was an out of nowhere pleasant surprise. And what better place for my first METAL CHURCH gig than Trees, right? With a packed house full of metalheads ready to rage, this was sure to be an awesome night.
Regarding the openers I’ll say this: There was VOLUME DEALER who I really enjoyed. They have a sound rooted in the past but with a fresh take. It seems like a lot of these local bands want to be PANTERA, which drives me nuts because I hate them (I don’t care what you say, they’re overrated!). VOLUME DEALER doesn’t fall into that trap. Sure, some of their riffs and tones have that sound, but not in a bad way, and singer Jesse Herringer is definitely NOT a clone of anybody. He’s also a really nice guy, and I procured two CDs and a band t-shirt from him. The band was high energy, their songs were well-done, and they are one that I will definitely be seeing more of. I didn’t care for LITTLE GREEN MEN or CREEPER, so I’ll just leave it at that.
At 10:30 the lights dimmed and it was time for METAL CHURCH to give us what we came for: 90 minutes of powerhouse riff-tastic fucking METAL!! The crowd was insatiable right from the opening strains of “Ton of Bricks” and “Start the Fire” and through new album’s title track “Generation Nothing”. One thing is certain, and this is with no disrespect to Mike Howe or the late David Wayne. Ronny Munroe is THE best vocalist this band has ever had, past, present, and future. Hearing him tear up old songs like “The Dark:”, “Fake Healer”, and “Badlands” makes me wish they’d go in the studio and re-record all the old albums. Judging by the crowd response, I’m not alone in that regard. “Fake Healer” was without a doubt my favorite tune of the night, drummer Jeff Plate and bassist Steve Unger holding down the rhythms while guitarists Kurdt Vanderhoof and Rick Van Zandt laid down the cover fire of riffage. Both of them soloed equally well, too.
“Gods of Wrath” from 1984’s self-titled debut record definitely had the metalheads rockin’ and new song “Dead City”, one of the best from Generation Nothing, was met with just as much enthusiasm. METAL CHURCH fans know their stuff. I kept looking over at one guy who was singing every single word to every single song. Clearly, this is a fan’s band, and the fans love them. The feeling is mutual, because as heavy and dark as their music is, both Ronny and Kurdt were smiling at fans all night long. Now growing up, one of my least favorite songs was “Watch the Children Pray”; I just hated the vocal on it. If hearing it redone on the A Light In the Dark record (well represented by the title track and “Mirror of Lies” on this night) made me a fan, this live version turned me into a MEGAFAN! It’s been in my head almost non-stop since.
By the way, “Mirror of Lies” is another all-time favorite from METAL CHURCH for me, and live it fucking shreds. It’s pure speed and balls with some vicious lead breakdowns that Rick and Kurdt had a field day with, much to my delight. It was back to the old days with the one-two punch of “Beyond the Black” and “Metal Church” to close out the regular set, but they weren’t done by a long shot. After maybe two minutes the boys came back for a closing volley of “The Human Factor” off the 1991 album of the same name and their “must be on steroids” cover of DEEP PURPLE’S “Highway Star”. I honestly think they could have played for another hour and no one would have budged.
When the show was over the band quickly made their way to the merch table to take pictures with fans and sign everything put in front of them. It was absolute madness, and I was able to quickly get my CD signed for Mini-Amps and get out of the throng. Rabid doesn’t begin to describe METAL CHURCH fans. And after seeing them live for myself, it’s pretty clear why. As of this writing there are 14 shows left on the tour. You’d be crazy to miss this one, guys!
LIVE Photos By Larry Petro/Petrofyed Photography