"Start the Fire", "Watch the Children pray", "Ton of Bricks", "Hitman", "Beyond the Black", "Metal Church" ... what a setlist! When Metal Church, Seattle's finest (originally formed in 1981), recorded their "Live 1986" album, they were in full swing, having just released two of Metal's most classic records: "Metal Church" (1984) and the brilliant follow-up "The Dark" (1986). Those two platters are to this day considered to be the ultimate Metal Church records. A feat original guitarist Kurt Vanderhoof is not bothered by: "Not at all! To have anything that you have created to be considered a classic is very much an honour." Nevertheless, Metal Church never made it on a scale such as Metallica, Megadeth or even Slayer. What's the reason for this? "I believe that it was mainly due to the line-up changes. That ALWAYS hurts a band. We also had a lot of trouble in the business department and bad contracts etc." As a result, Metal Church is no more, as Kurt Vanderhoof explains: "It just became too difficult to keep it going in any kind of professional manner. It was just not fun anymore." A very sad end to a brilliant band.
However, Kurt is still playing music: "I'm putting all my energies into Presto Ballet. My Progressive rock band. We are getting ready to record our third album." When "Live 1986" was originally released on CD through SPV/CMM, promotion was very limited. "That seems to be the story of Metal Church", sighs Kurt Vanderhoof, one of the most underrated Metal guitarists ever. Can he still remember anything about the actual gig? "I just remember that we had been up all night the night before and I still can't figure out how the hell we played everything at 'light speed' like we did." Deep Purple's "Highway Star" closes this fantastic live gig, the one and only cover version Metal Church ever played in concert: "That was the only cover we ever did live. We did some stuff in the studio but nothing outside of that."
Although Metal Church played huge festivals like the Dynamo Open Air (when it still was strictly a Metal festival), the most memorable gig in Kurt Vanderhoof's career took place elsewhere: "For me it was the Hammersmith Odeon in London. It was the place that I always wanted to play. All my heroes had played there." With Metal Church not a recording entity any more, Kurt still owes the Metal world a history DVD, something he is working on at the time of writing: "A good friend of ours has been doing some documentary filming since the band got back together and we have a bunch of old footage from the early days that we are going to put together very soon."