Sunday evening seemed like an appropriate occasion to host a show headlined by the 1980s band, Metal Church. The congregation came dressed in leather with horns raised, filling the Crafthouse Stage & Grill from stage to the merchandsie table in the rear.
The show began around 7pm with a brief set by local metal band Vermithax A.D., which was initially forged in the Steel City back in 2012 by vocalist Chris “Croy” Roy (Reading Zero, Emancipation Syndicate) and drummer J.R. Jameson (Nunslaughter, Icarus Witch, Mercenary). While clear that the band has continued to evolve through line-up changes along with a slight variation to the original Vermithax band name, they have continued to revive the aggressive power metal reminiscent of the mid-’80s thrash scene.
Truckstop rolled in on the road from Indiana and entered in direct support of Metal Church. The band formed in 2020 during the pandemic in Parkersburg, West Virginia by guitarist Jerry Larew, bassist Justin Ewing and frontman Nash Morris. The trio of roommates had already been playing music together, but decided to create something with more thrash-based roots, writing while they were stuck inside.
They began practicing with drummer Austin Erb over video calls, and when the restrictions lifted they were able to finalize their debut album Bloodwitch which was produced by Dave Hillis former guitarist from the band Mace at The Vault Recording Studio and The Meat Locker Recording Studio. His credits include the likes of Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Temple of the Dog, Blind Melon and more.
Listing eclectic influences that include Metallica and Overkill, The Misfits, Jason Bieber, and Blue Man Group, they have a unique style and aren’t afraid of some old-school grass roots promotion efforts, which included a meet-n-greet with fans the afternoon of the show at a local Sheetz gas station!
They first caught our eye performing at King Of Clubs in Columbus, Ohio last year in support of Resist & Bite, and we were excited to catch their entire energetic show this time. I especially loved the bold move to cover Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” at a thrash metal show! You can check them out on Spotify and watch their first music videos on YouTube and catch them on the road regionally.
Metal Church hit the stage with a warm welcome from the congregation, and I was very thankful to have access to a photo pit at the Crafthouse as there was little room to move about the floor.
The band’s current lineup includes founding member Kurdt Vanderhoof alongside bassist Steve Unger, lead guitarist Rick Van Zandt, drummer Stet Howland, and vocalist Marc Lopes, who joined the band earlier this year prior to the release of their new album Congregation of Annihilation on Rat Pak Records.
Their set included “Pick a God and Prey” and the title track from the new album as well as some deep cuts like “Burial at Sea” from The Dark album, and anticipated classics like “Watch the Children” and “Fake Healer,” which gave even the casual fan a chance to sing along. Before they closed out their set we enjoyed chanting along to “Beyond the Black” and their namesake “Metal Church.” But, that wasn’t the end of the evening…the band offered a free meet-n-greet at their mercy table featuring the entire band, who were available to sign autographs (so we couldn’t help but buy a couple posters commemorating the new album for our walls).
While Metal Church has wrapped up this leg of their tour here in the ‘Burgh, they are jetting off to Anaheim, CA and then onto tour Australia in December to close out the year strong. More captures and coverage on social now @ThePureRockShop.
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Live Photos by Editor and founder Kara Marie Uhrlen for The Pure Rock Shop. Posted on 11/13/2023.