Ventura Theater; Ventura, CA; 12/09/04

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

I was a passing fan of Metal Church in the early days, but I hadn't given the band much thought until the release of their recent "Weight of the World" CD. That CD made the "Honorable Mention" of my "Best Of 2004" list and I was anxious to see the band live. I got that opportunity when "The Weight of the World" tour swung by the Ventura Theater.

Little did I know it would also be the night after Dimebag Darrell was shot and killed. It was with a heavy heart that I headed to the show but - as corny as it sounds - I knew that spending the evening with some of my heavy metal cronies would be good for the soul.

First off, let me apologize to most of the opening bands. I arrived very, very late (after being told on the phone that the doors opened at 7:00 PM but Metal Church didn't take the stage until 10:30 PM) so I missed most of the opening acts. As much as I like local and lesser-known bands, sitting through five sets before the main event just wasn't in the cards that night. I did catch Ammunition, a Ventura band with a huge aggressive sound who included in their set a couple of killer Death covers. Ammunition's set was like a controlled explosion. The band raged through the songs, with an aura of always being on the verge of losing control. I look forward to seeing Ammunition again.

When Metal Church finally took the stage, the Ventura Theater was, sadly, probably less than a third full. Hey, it was late and - even with only being a third full - it was still the most people the Theater had seen all night. In the end, this wound up being a bonus for those in attendance. For starters, the band delivered a performance that was energetic enough for a sold-out Los Angeles Forum rather than a 1/3 full Ventura Theater. To top things off, the band came to the lobby after the show and signed CDs and t-shirts for the loyal fans who stuck around.

What was most fun about the Metal Church show was the pure celebration of heavy metal music. Even with the memory of the death of Dimebag fresh in our minds (or perhaps because of it), those at the theater really got into the music that night, including the band. I was pressed up against the stage right in front of Kurdt Vanderhoof for most of the show and it was like partying with a friend the entire evening. Vanderhoof kept throwing up the "metal fingers," coming to the edge of the stage and talking to audience members, and playing his guitar with a fiery vengeance. Lead vocalist Ronny Munroe also gave the evening a perfect metal edge, screaming with the lungs of a banshee and giving every Metal Church song - both classic and from the new CD - a spine-tinglingly fresh and metal sound.

It was the most fun I've had at a metal show in years. And it's awakened my interest in Metal Church. I can't think of a better compliment to pay a live show.

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Copyright 2004 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:17 -0400.