Metal Church - The Camden Underworld, Camden, London, 20th June, 2017

Set List: Fake Healer/In Mourning/Needle & Suture (with Fake Healer reprise)/Start The Fire/Reset/Gods Of Second Chance/Date With Poverty/No Tomorrow/Watch The Children Pray/No Friend of Mine (with Rick Van Zandt Guitar Solo)/Killing Your Time/Beyond The Black.

Encore: Badlands/The Human Factor.

It's a boiling hot day in London, the hottest for 40 years so its appropriate that this gig is hosted at The Underworld; Hades itself couldn’t be much hotter today.

For their second gig inside a year Metal Church are back in UK, riding the wave of success from latest album" XI" with returned singer Mike Howe back in the fold things are looking good.
Opening up with the ear drum killer ‘Fake Healer’ - a baptism of fire for new drummer, Stet Howland who replaces Jeff Plate who left suddenly earlier this year.

The crunching riff from long time guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof is unforgettable. Mike Howe is all energy and passion - a man reborn it seems with a smile a mile wide; he fist pumps towards his heart to show he appreciates the fans love as  they chant ‘ME-TAL CHURCH.. ME-TAL CHURCH’. Steam rolling into ‘In Mourning’ followed by ‘Needle and Suture’ got the mosh pit going before the band lapsed back into ‘Fake Healer’ to finish to loud cheers.

The interplay between Howe and guitarist, Vanderhoof is playful and their long running partnership is often referenced. A favourite album of mine is 1993's ‘Hanging In The Balance’ and it wasn’t long before a familiar bass guitar melody courtesy of Steve Unger gave way to more crunching riffs and ‘Gods Of Second Chance’ began with Mike Howe going all Jesus Christ pose howling the chorus, his voice as strong as it was 25 years ago, his crazy wide eyed look stares down the front row, he really lives the track.

Rick Van Zandt stands shoulder to shoulder with Kurt as they power out the dual guitar work and Stet Howland beats the skins in impressive fashion. Fabulous! Only two tracks from this fine album were played tonight, ‘No Friend Of Mine’ being the second which was disappointing but can’t please everyone since they are still promoting the new album.

Rick Van Zandt also got to show off his lead guitar chops with a guitar solo spot prior to ‘No Friend Of Mine’ that was as far as the 80s throwback went as the pace pummelled on with more thrash classics from their back catalogue.

It was time for pure thrash next as ‘Date With Poverty’ is followed by another track from ‘XI’ – ‘No Tomorrow’ -  another favourite with the moshers! My first experience of hearing Metal Church was on ‘Watch The Children Pray’ which followed and despite it being a David Wayne vocal, Mike Howe did superb. Slowing down briefly for the first encore, with the song that threw Mike Howe into the MTV spotlight"Badlands" and finishing a powerful set with ‘Human Factor’.

After the show the band came out to sign autographs, do selfies and chat with fans with no extra payment needed, proving that we were all VIPS - a class act indeed.

9/10

By John Mather