When: Wed., Feb. 26, 7 p.m. 2014
This well-worn band is American (it’s been based in the Bay Area and Washington State), but ever since its 1984 full-length debut, it’s had a NWOBHM sensibility as well—expressed as a devotion to crisp, streamlined proto-thrash riffing and piercing, gymnastic vocals. This is fail-safe, accessible metal, but these guys don’t stick to the tried-and-true because they don’t have the chops or the imagination to play artsy shit—guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof, Metal Church’s only remaining founding member, gets that out of his system in his prog band Presto Ballet. This accessibility is a double-edged sword, though: last year’s Generation Nothing (Body of Work) could actually benefit from a little more risk taking, and the banality of the title track’s lyrics is hard to excuse given the strength of the imagery in “Noises in the Wall.” But this is Metal Church’s first album in five years, created after Vanderhoof reconstituted the band from a pool of 2000s members to play the 2013 installment of the 70000 Tons of Metal cruise (the only reason I’d ever be tempted to risk aggressive digestive disorder on one of those ships). Under the circumstances, it seems churlish to act too disappointed with it—when these guys are on, they’re really great (that solo in “Suiciety” is nice), and they’re never embarrassingly off. —Monica Kendrick Wrath, Screamking, and Ironfinger open.