Metal Church live in Athens 2017

Well, it wasn’t a first, by all means their first time here as the band did perform in what seems to be an eternity ago, back in 1994 along with Vicious Rumors, Zodiac Mindwrap and PD’s Killers, but it had been way too long and in the meantime, a gazillion things had happened… since from the band breaking up and reuniting to their original vocalist dying and so on and so forth, but such is life and Metal Church have never really given up, despite the odd time they took off, to figure out what to do next.
Metal Church Athens 2017 poster

So, like real troopers of metal, the guys graced again the Greek stages, first in Salonica and then in Athens, with people heeding their gospel, not as massively as one would have hoped, but on the other hand, any Summer non weekend show runs that danger, I think.
Solitary Sabred opened the show a little later than eight, but I only managed to witness part of the show thanks to some minor traffic jam along the Mesogeion roadworks! Their style was a rather eccentric heavy metal with a rather theatrical vocalist, who did howl quite a bit, giving the ending of each verse a rather spectacular crescendo, which at first I thought was impressive, but in the long term, I found quite tiresome as it did take the focus away from the rest of their songs. They stayed on the stage for about three quarters of an hour and then after a brief change of backline it was time for Desert Near The End to take the stage with their thrashing Heavy Metal, which if you closed your eyes brought to your mind mid-era Iced Earth, with their vocalist pulling of a pretty decent “Barlow” vocal impersonation. Compared to the Americans they lack none in ferocity, but composition wise they seem to rely a bit too much on the dynamics, with the songs lacking a bit in focus and chorus(es) at least to make them stand out in a big way – but still I’d consider their performance pretty professional…
Lastly and while I’d gone out to get some “clean air”, since the 40+ degrees had really made all of us Athenians quite drowsy and sweaty – I had to rush inside a little past 22.15 for the main course… an almost two hour performance from the band that one or two songs in, started firing on all six as soon as Mike Howe got warmed up… the duo of the riffmaster Vanderhoof + Van Zandt sounded incredibly tight and at least partly in tune (as Kurdt joked when his guitar went off for a bit), while Steve Unger and Stet Howland did provide a solid rhythm base on which Howe howled like a man possessed in his slightly bizarre way of delivery of almost waving back and forth kind of like jumping and thrashing around, but in a way controlled enough so as to be able to sing at the same time. Entertaining by all means, but kinda annoying if you’re trying to snap a photo! (Haha)
Their set, was mostly “Howe” era based and started with “Fake Healer” and “In Mourning” before going for something from the latest album with “Needle and Suture”, which did bode in quite well with the rest of the program. Only “Start the Fire” and “Watch the Children Pray” were aired form “The Dark” and “Beyond the Black” from the debut, which felt like a little misrepresentation of the Wayne era, with songs like the eponymous one or “Hitman” and “Ton of Bricks” not getting an airing, but even “Anthem to the Estranged”, one of the better Howe tunes, was omitted, so in that respect a few numbers could have been picked a little differently; the rest tried to be a good pick n mix with “Reset”, “Gods of a Second Chance”, “Date with Poverty”, “No Tomorrow” as well as “Killing Your Time” doing a 1-2 or rather a 2-1 from the “XI”, “No Friend of Mine” as well as “Badlands” and “The Human Factor” as encore completing a very cool night that could have only been a little better, with some of the more popular “hits” aired. However, I do respect the band’s choice of setlist and with the performance they put on, I can’t find a single fault, as they were really tight and seemed genuinely happy to be there, a fact that they reinforced by staying out for nearly one and a half hours after the show to sign stuff and take photos with fans.
Metal Church might have never made it to the major league, like the Metallica’s of this world, which is a damn shame and I may be an atheist, but damn it, this congregation is one I’d join in a hurry. Amen!
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