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METAL CHURCH In New Bedford, MA

By Jay Roberts, Massachusetts Contributor
Tuesday, June 27, 2023 @ 7:53 AM


At The Vault Friday, June 23rd, With Openers ALL SINNERS And DAMN YOUR EYES

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What better way to follow up writing about the outstanding new METAL CHURCH album Congregation of Annihilation (Review on KNAC.COM HERE) could there be than to go see them in concert on their aptly titled "US Annihilation" tour?

While METAL CHURCH was set to play a two night stand at The Vault in New Bedford, MA (the hometown of new singer Marc Lopes) this past week, they were actually in town at least a day early because they had an in-store signing event scheduled for Thursday June 22nd at Purchase Street Records, the local shop owned by a friend of mine. You know I couldn't miss out on the chance to meet the band, so I went for the meet & greet and got a bunch of stuff signed. And a photo taken with the band as well.

(PLEASE NOTE: My review covers just the first night of the two shows METAL CHURCH was playing at The Vault. The second night featured openers LIVING WRECKAGE and GOREALITY but I wasn't there. Apparently METAL CHURCH changed up the set list on Night 2 adding "Congregation of Annihilation" and "Me The Nothing" from the new album.)

When I got to The Vault on Friday night, comedian Don Jamieson (former co-host of That Metal Show) was on stage doing a set while serving as the emcee for the night.

After his set, the local band ALL SINNERS opened up the night's musical slate. I'm friends with the drummer Roger Chouinard but this was the first time I'd had a chance to see the band live. They'd released a fantastic 4-song EP at the end of 2022 and I was looking forward to seeing them in concert at long last. Given that in the audience there were a number of people wearing ALL SINNERS t-shirts, you had to figure the band would go over well.

And man, did they ever! Seriously, I really enjoyed their 8-song set a lot. The mixture of songs from the EP, some new tracks and a rather fantastic cover of the GRIM REAPER song "See You In Hell" helped ALL SINNERS capture the already enthusiastic audience from start to finish. Singer/rhythm guitarist Mike Golarz is pretty damn incredible but combine in guitarist Nick Testone, Roger and bassist Bruce Morrison and you have the makings for just a damn good band, one that I hope to see live again soon.

ALL SINNERS Set List

  • "Rise Up"
  • "Buried Alive"
  • "Into The Flames"
  • "Deaf From The Echoes"
  • "Believer"
  • "Dead To Rights"
  • "See You In Hell" (GRIM REAPER cover)
  • "The Hunted"
You can check out ALL SINNERS via their Facebook page HERE

Now, as much as I knew about ALL SINNERS going in to the concert, that's how much I didn't know about the New York-based band DAMN YOUR EYES. In fact, given that there didn't seem to be any mention of them on any of the show hype that I saw before the concert, I didn't even know they were on the bill until I showed up to the venue.

According to the band's social media, they are what's billed as a "crushing hybrid metal band". It is certainly an apt description of what I witnessed during their set. However, because I wasn't the least bit familiar with their with their material, I'm not sure I got as much out of their set as others in the audience did.

I will say that there was some interesting stuff musically, but for my own personal tastes, I wasn't taken with the vocals. But hey, that's just me. As I said the audience seemed to really enjoy the band's set. I did think the song "Sonic God" was pretty good though.

You can check out the band HERE

Of course, the openers served as the appetizer for the ravenous metal audience but everyone was there for the main course, the metal machine that is METAL CHURCH!

Everyone knows what the band has been through the last couple of years and while the band was surely rocked to their core by those developments, they have bounced back strong and are thriving with the new blood and energy provided by new singer Marc Lopes.

In front of that hometown crowd that included his parents, Lopes, guitarists Kurdt Vanderhoof and Rick Van Zandt, bassist Steve Unger and drummer Stet Howland (another area local legend) kicked off their set with the aptly titled "Ton of Bricks". I say aptly titled because that pretty much describes how heavy and relentless the band sounded on the night.

While there were some technical issues in the early part of the set that threatened to throw things off, the band powered through a set filled with any number of classic METAL CHURCH songs that seemed to fit the bill for the leather-lunged vocal capabilities of Marc Lopes.

There were times I found myself thinking, "Holy S**t, how does he pull that off without blowing up his vocal chords?" There was also some fun stage banter between the band members during the set, some of which was audible to the crowd.

But first and foremost was the music. I've been following the band since The Dark album so I've been a fan for quite a few decades. But man, the show was just something to behold. The band hit you hard, they hit you fast. Essentially, they did, as the line in "Ton of Bricks" goes, rip it out, kick it out and certainly let the (in this case, metaphorical) blood begin to flow as they laid it all out in front of the audience.

After playing "Badlands", Kurdt Vanderhoof took to the mic and acknowledged the passing of former drummer Kirk Arrington and of course, Mike Howe.

The band's set list focused primarily on the first half of their career. In fact, other than performing "Pick a God And Prey" from the new album (see that performance BELOW), there wasn't any material past Mike Howe's first stint with the band. And yet, you certainly didn't feel cheated by the set list either. In fact, for me, this was the first time I'd seen some of these songs in a live setting ever. I mean, it's not like I was expecting to hear any song from the sadly ignored Ronny Munroe era (YES, I love the four albums he did with the band!).

Marc Lopes even said in the lead up to the song "Gods of Wrath" that he himself had been requesting the band do the song "about a million times". And it lived up to the anticipation because the band killed it on that song. You can check out a clip of that song BELOW!

And though it initially was skipped over in the set list from where it usually was performed, I was especially psyched to see METAL CHURCH perform "Burial At Sea" which is a personal favorite from The Dark album.

METAL CHURCH played a 13-song set on the night. It was enough to fill you up but still leave you wanting so much more at the same time. I find it difficult to believe anyone would go home unhappy after watching the band rock The Vault on a late June night. Because it was one blazingly hot and fiery relentless show that those who worship at the altar of the METAL CHURCH won't soon forget.

METAL CHURCH Set List

  • "Ton of Bricks"
  • "Start The Fire"
  • "Battalions"
  • "Gods of Wrath"
  • "Hitman"
  • "Pick a God and Prey"
  • "Psycho"
  • "Watch The Children Prey"
  • "Burial at Sea"
  • "Badlands"
  • "Fake Healer"
  • "Beyond The Black"
  • "Metal Church"
CONCERT NOTES: The band did another meet and greet after this show and it was packed with fans. Also, for those who may want to know this, their concert T-shirts were priced at a very affordable $25 bucks.

You can check out more about METAL CHURCH HERE


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