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Metal Church/ Hatchet

Date: 3/28/16
Venue: BB King Blues Club, Manhattan, NYC
Report By: Rich Catino


If you like the resurgence of 80s thrash (I know I do), Hatchet fit nicely with the rest and could be the sister band to Havok given their approach to constructing a song and in the vocals. With three full length albums under their belt, the latest “Fear Beyond Lunacy” released in 2015, these guys got a nice opportunity opening for Metal Church. Hatchet taught themselves well how to write classic thrash incorporating all important riff with rhythmic changes swirling around tasty leads, solos, a chorus, and melody. See ‘Fall From Grace’ for example, or ‘Living Extinction’ off the new album.

The only shortcoming unfortunately is most of these bands from the new generation is the singers sound too similar. The voice is a mix of a I’d say Mille from Kreator with Zetro from Exodus, a little Vio-Lence. So it’s more harsh, lacks melody and identity, but, and with Hatchet often the annunciation and delivery of some lyrics does have personality. Hetfield (Metallica), Mustaine (Megadeth), Joey from Anthrax, or the unmistakable uniqueness of Overkill’s Bobby Blitz, they all had distinct voices, and were singers. Other than that, musically Hatchet got the goods.

With the return of Mike Howe on vocals, and a new album “XI” just released receiving excellent reviews from fans and press, Metal Church timed this tour perfectly. Joining the Church’s longest standing original member, Kurdt Vanderhoof (who oddly enough was not in the band, but credited as a writer for the first three albums Howe sang on from !989-1993), are Steve Unger – bass, Jeff Plate on drums, and Chris Caffery (Savatage/TSO) on second guitar filling in for Rick Van Zandt for the tour. Naturally, the set was heavy on Howe era songs, kicking things off with the solid pounder ‘Fake Healer’ off the excellent album “Blessing In Disguise” followed by ‘In Mourning’ from “The Human Factor”. Coming back from a couple year hiatus, the boys sounded as if they never took the break. Evident on the headbanging classic ‘Start The Fire”, with Vanderhoof and Caffery laying down the law with those riffs backed by the punchy rhythm, the Church meant business. And yes, Mr. Mike Howe’s voice still has its distinct wicked tone and he looked happy as hell to be back in the band.

Three were played from “XI”, ‘Reset’, ‘No Tomorrow’, and ‘Killing Your Time’…all fashioned in the band’s rich history with a speed metal delivery and attention to dynamics and melody. Regardless of being new music the crowd seemed to know the songs pretty well already. The rest of the set was of course made up of classics, and included even two from the lesser known album “Hanging In The Balance”, ‘Gods Of Second Chance’ and ‘No Friend Of Mine’. While solid songs, with only three played from the first two David Wayne albums, ‘Beyond The Black’, ‘Start The Fire’, and ‘Watch The Children Pray’, think those two could have been left out making more room for two more classics. Aside from that, great show, band was tight and it’s great to have Metal Church active again.

Hatchet Setlist:
Living in Extinction
Fall from Grace
In Fear We Trust
The World Beyond
Tearing Into Hell
Dawn of the End
Vanishing Point

Metal Church Setlist:
Fake Healer
In Mourning
Start the Fire
Gods of Second Chance
Date with Poverty
No Tomorrow
Watch the Children Pray
No Friend of Mine
Killing Your Time
Beyond the Black
The Human Factor


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