Review Summary: The Metal Church's grand re-opening has finally arrived!
Much like the spokesperson of any religion, Kurdt Vanderhoof is a brilliant man with a different way of thinking from the norm, and in order to make his vision come to life, he built the foundation of his ideology known as the Metal Church. However, this was no ordinary church for you did not go there to worship a higher power; you went there to embrace and enjoy well-crafted music blending the wit of British metal and the muscle of American metal, and no matter what pastor led the mass, they uplifted the timeless formula of Metal Church’s music in their own way. David Wayne brought a sense of power and passion to the music with his piercing screams and dynamics, Mike Howe’s versatility allowed them to try new things and make deep political statements, and Ronny Munroe did a solid job at imitating his predecessors, but change was necessary. The Church was closed from the public for a short while in search of another pastor, but then the unexpected happened; Mike Howe was back!? Taking note of his 20+ year retirement from music, it was a shock to fans, but it sparked a lot of excitement and anticipation at the same time. After a few teases and updates, Metal Church finally re-opened their doors, kindly welcomed everyone inside, and hosted their newest mass in the form of XI, and by displaying their most refreshing riff work and vocals in over 20 years, They certainly have restored our faith in them!
Mike Howe - Vocals
Kurdt Vanderhoof - Guitar
Rick Van Zandt - Guitar
Steve Unger - Bass
Jeff Plate - Drums
Upon stepping inside the Metal Church, the sleek interior immediately caught my attention. The subliminal artwork of Generation Nothing was gone, and a more familiar paint job consisting of red, black, and haze created a more welcoming vibe, and right in the middle of the altar stood the legendary Cruciform Gibson Explorer! T’was a sight to behold, and thankfully, they removed the horrific statue of an obese tightrope walker. We were then escorted to our seats awaiting what would come next. I could see the band in the corner by the altar ready to play the opening hymn, but where was Mike Howe? That’s when the magic began. At the microphone, Mr. Handerhoof said, “We will begin today’s service with our opening hymn “Reset.” Once the opening riff ripped through the speakers, I knew I was in for a treat. No gimmicks. Just a fresh sounding riff, sharp and heavy as it should be, then after the drums kick in, Mike Howe burst through the doors, making a strong impression on the aisle, frantically approaching the altar. The audience cheered him on as he spit out his vocal lines, and telling by his bodily gestures, you could see the passion pouring out. He even came close to an audience as he sung the line “Now I hit the button to reset!” The song was brilliant, exciting, and would set the tone for the rest of the mass.The song then ended as he stood before us on the altar, and as everyone cheered on, he thanked us for coming, looked over in the corner and thanked his crew for bringing him back, and thanked us for showing our support and enthusiasm throughout the years. He then proceeded with a reflection of what was going on in his life being inactive from music, recited the meaning of the opening track, and the mass continued on.
Throughout my experience that day, the mass never let up, and several things about it stood out to me. Right off the bat was Mike Howe’s performance...and his short hair. The man’s voice has aged well, belting out gruff vocals while also being very melodic with his impressive pipes, and of course, the church’s founder himself put on a great show with his muscular riffing, face-melting solos, and often clever lyrics such as the ones found in the track “No Tomorrow”(Losing your mind is like losing your soul, something you’re fighting while losing control). Their rhythm section consisting of drummer Jeff Plate and bassist Steve Unger didn’t perform unnoticed either, laying down strong drum beats and prominent bass lines. Several songs such as “No Tomorrow” with a main riff that reminds me of the second half of “Beyond The Black,” “Signal Path” with its similar pace and build-up to “Badlands” and the eerie-vibed “Shadow” are choice cuts that wouldn’t be out of place on any Metal Church album, and the lack of filler sets the mass apart from Ronny Munroe’s exhibitions with the church.
Once the final song “Suffer Fools” was over, the service ended as the audience roared with excitement, clapping, fist-pumping, headbanging, and screaming at the top of their lungs for more. Pastor Howe then announced how blessed he was to host the service today and will proudly hold more in the future. It was then that we joined hands, gave thanks for his return, and left feeling refreshed and satisfied. From the immaculate color schemes, familiar decor, and charming vibe to the newfound sense of energy from the music, Metal Church once again delivered a ceremony to remember. By bringing back pastor Howe, they have also brought back the charisma and power that made their late 80’s and early 90’s endeavors distinctive from other artists of the time. The Metal Church is back folks, and they haven’t sounded this good in over 20 years! Make sure you pick up a weekly bulletin and show up for the next exciting service at: