Metal Church rocked The Toke Lounge on March 30th along with Hatchet, Tyrant, and Acoustic Hell in a night of pure heavy metal madness.

Opening the night was Acoustic Hell. This group is an assortment of extremely talented musicians brought together by vocalist Brian Thomas of Halloween. Thomas joked about an acoustic band opening for a heavy metal show, but it was a perfect fit. They took huge hits like Alice Cooper’s “Eighteen,” Scorpion’s “The Zoo,” and Nevermore’s “Believe in Nothing,” making it something completely new and beautiful to the ear.

Thomas’ haunting voice was perfectly accompanied by everyone’s backing vocals. Put together with the amazing guitar skills of these musicians; it was a great show to witness.

They ended their set with a mashup of Metallica’s “Sanitarium” and Halloween’s own “What A Nice Place”, turning it into one of the coolest acoustic ballads you’ve ever heard. They play shows all over the Metro Detroit area, and believe me; you won’t want to miss them play.

This Detroit-favorite acoustic band consists of Brian Thomas (lead vocals), Shelly Morasco-Gibbish (backing vocals), Matt Yoder (guitar), Dan Feig (guitar/ backing vocals), Tonya Feig (guitar/ backing vocals), Jimmy Sharp (guitar/ backing vocals), and Adam Kaifesh-Cruz (guitar/ backing vocals).

Tyrant hit the stage next in a high octane whirlwind. This young band began in late 2011 and had been hard at work ever since. The power trio spent 2015 touring heavily around the region, sharing the stage with bands like Diamond Plate, Battlecross, Psychostick, and Starkill.

Philip Winters’ vocals were raw and full of power, but it was in their instruments where they truly shined. Creager on bass was superb, the heavy grooves hitting you in your core and driving you to rock even harder. Philip Winters’ guitar work that was so intense your adrenaline could barely keep up. And Andrew Winters’ drums packed the punch that pulled the crowd into a frenzy.

This band brings thrash metal back to its purest, crazy form. They are full of more energy than a packed mosh pit and have the talent to bring in the crowds.

Celebrating the release of their new album Black Hand, they have been playing shows all over Metro Detroit. This band is rocketing off into something big, and we all need to pay attention.

This heavy metal band hails from Lansing, Michigan and consists of Philip Winters (guitars/vocals), Andrew Winters (drums), and Anderson Creager (bass).

Their new album Black Hand is available now at their online store.

Hatchet came up next. Formed in 2007, this is reincarnated thrash and metal straight from the ’80s. Hatchet erupted on the music scene with their debut album. Awaiting Evil, which critics and fans loved. Since then, with a second fantastic album, Dawn of the End, and multiple line-up changes, they have only gotten better.

This band is pure, thrashing fun; they are an onslaught of heart-pounding tunes. In classic thrash metal style, their set was pure adrenaline. Ramos hyped the crowd with passionate and snarling vocals, Smith lays down the pummeling beat on drums, Cagle’s guitar work was dizzying played a flurry of power chords, and Reiche was a powerhouse on bass as the driving groove of the band.

It’s hard sometimes to tell who the frontman is because each band member is such a big personality. Hatchet exudes energy, with their stage presence and music; being in that crowd immediately fills you with adrenaline and gets your head banging.

Many fans put that adrenaline to good use in a mosh pit during the band’s finale. It’s a dazzlingly fantastic show that pumps you up and makes you want to rock your heart out.

This thrash metal band from San Francisco, California consists of Julz Ramos (vocals/guitar), Clayton Cagle (guitar), Ben Smith (drums), and Devin Reiche (bass).

Their new album, Fear Beyond Lunacy, is available now at their online store.

The crowd packed in as curtains were finally opened, revealing Metal Church, who immediately launched into “Fake Healer.” The legendary band has been touring with their new album, XI, marking the return of renowned vocalist and frontman Mike Howe. Their energy was relentless, and the fans fed off of it. It is one of those shows where every member of the audience is smiling and celebrating.

Mike Howe was fantastic, a tornado of energy and passion as he sang; just as good, if not better than before. He is a born frontman. Kurdt Vanderhoof was in his element, unleashing explosive riffs along with the incredibly talented Chris Caffery. Jeff Plate’s thundering drums were exhilarating. Steve Unger’s heavy bass grooves tied everything together in a fantastic medley of the amazing sound of Metal Church.

Shelling out hits like “Date With Poverty”, “No Tomorrow”, “Killing Your Time”, “Beyond the Black” and more. These guys were having an incredible time; you could see the joy they had being on stage. Their energy reverberates from the band to the crowd and back again.

By the time they hit their finale with “Badlands” and “Human Factor,” the crowd was crazy. It was an amazing night celebrating good old heavy metal.

Metal Church is Mike Howe (vocals), Kurdt Vanderhoof (guitar), Chris Caffery (filling in for Rick Van Zandt on guitar), Jeff Plate (drums), and Steve Unger (bass).

Their new album XI is available now at their online store and Amazon.

Metal Church
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Hatchet
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Tyrant
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Acoustic Hell
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The Token Lounge
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About The Author

Calling Detroit, Michigan home, Sami has been photographing for many years. In the last few years, she was introduced to the local music scene and began photographing shows. She works freelance contributing to National Rock Review as well as being the owner of Sami Lipp Photography. Capturing the excitement of live music and the passion of musicians is something she lives for. She looks forward to expanding her career in music photography.

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