GIG REVIEW: METAL CHURCH Live at The Token Lounge, Westland, MI
The metal faithful gathered to worship at the altar of all that is heavy with the legendary Metal Church at the Token Lounge in Westland, Michigan.
The evening services began with a local band called Acoustic Hell. They played an intriguing set of heavy metal songs using only acoustic guitars and vocals. Their set included classics such as “The Zoo” by the Scorpions and “Diamonds and Rust” by Judas Priest (originally written by Joan Baez). They also played a nice conglomeration of Metallica’s “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” merging into Halloween’s “What a Nice Place”.
Next up to preach the metal gospel was Tyrant, hailing from Lansing, Michigan. This young band played with fierce determination and true grit. Their sound mines deep into the rich caverns of heavy metal that made Judas Priest and Motorhead famous. It was a bit surprising to see how much stage presence these guys had considering their youth. Their energy was infectious and they engaged the growing crowd at the Token with fists full of metal.
Offering up communion in thrashing glory were Hatchet. These beasts from the San Francisco Bay area tore into their set with the fury of the angel of death. The twin guitars of Juiz Ramos and Clayton Cagle reigned fire as the earth shook beneath the terrible thunder created by Ben Smith on drums and Devin Reiche on bass. They served up raging slabs of metal from their new album ‘Fear Beyond Lunacy’ including “Living In Extinction” and “The World Beyond”. These guys provided the perfect liturgy for the coming Sabbath of Metal.
Cheers erupted from the packed house as the curtains in front of the stage parted and the triumphant opening notes of “Fake Healer” announced that Metal Church was now in session. Mike Howe set the hairs on my arms on end with his searing vocal delivery. The fans welcomed Mike back to his hometown of Detroit with open arms and screams of “Howe! Howe! Howe!”
Touring with Metal Church on guitar was Chris Caffery of Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Savatage fame. His fretwork was amazing on such songs as “In Mourning” and “No Friend of Mine”, the latter of which included a dazzling extended guitar solo. Chris fit right in with the master of the mighty riff, Kurdt Vanderhoof, as the pair ripped into the new songs “Reset”, “No Tomorrow”, and “Killing Your Time” from the outstanding new album ‘XI’.
Jeff Plate put on a drum clinic of sorts with his powerful and skilled playing. The union of Jeff’s drums and the low-end might of bassist Steve Unger created the perfect platform to propel each song with the majestic force you expect from Metal Church. The crowd devoured each song with ravenous delight and showed their appreciation with deafening cheers.
Metal Church brought their sermon to a close with “Beyond the Black” from their self-titled debut album. The audience was far from ready to call it an evening and the band came back to play an encore of “Badlands” and “Human Factor”. The look on the face of each band member clearly showed that they enjoyed the enthusiastic reception that their Detroit fans had given them.
After the show, the guys in Metal Church came out to meet fans, sign treasured keepsakes, and take pictures. This was a great treat that exemplified the power of metal music to bring people together in the shared love of this wonderful art form.
Check out our Photo Gallery of the gig here!