Alcatraz Line up: 2016, 2019
Originally formed in 1980, Metal Church is widely regarded as one of the pioneers of thrash metal and their self-titled debut from 1984 is a genre classic. They disbanded in 1995 but returned in the original line-up in 1999 with ‘Masterpeace’. Personnel changes were still frequent, with Kurdt Vanderhoof as the only founding member to date. The continued absence of a stable line-up finally took its toll and they called it quits for the second time before eventually reforming in 2012. Despite being a formative influence on the emerging thrash scene in the early eighties, Metal Church never truly enjoyed the status they deserved, a fact illustrated by their memorable performance at AMF2016. The band’s eleventh album, suitably titled ‘XI’ (2016), is the first since ‘Hanging in the Balance’ (1993) to feature vocalist Mike Howe. Reminiscent of ‘Blessing in Disguise’ (1989) and ‘The Human Factor’ (1991) in its relentless drive, the album is a masterclass in how to walk the line between neck-snapping metal and commercial viability. Just last year they unleashed ‘Damned If You Do’, once again with tracks that hearken back to the stellar stuff they put out in the late 80s and early 90s. Just this once we’ll be taking communion with a smile.