On Friday December 4th, The First Heavy Metal Church of Christ brought their first major metal show to the stage at Grafton Kennedy Elementary School. The first of many to come they hope. The uprising group that hold services in the gymnasium are making a name for themselves by welcoming sinners, outcasts and those looking for a fresh, new spiritual alternative. Those who feel tainted, judged and bored with traditional church are welcome to come as they are and feel the power of heavy metal, the Lords way.
All Changes Apply, Four Star Revival and Able Danger joined the inaugural event with headliners The Letter Black to bring the heavy and loud Run and Gun Tour to the congregation, from kids to adults. The event was MC’d by Jason Rockhill of Rockhill Productions.
Lima’s All Changes Apply opened bringing the Chevelle; Breaking Benjamin inspired energy early, rocking the walls. They dedicated “Signature” to anyone ‘searching’ for the right path. “Hurt Like Me” brought the heavy rock and groove. “All or Nothing” ended with rock out contemplation’s and throw down logic. The official lineup and magic began in 2010. They DIY’d their demo and recorded a debut EP along with two singles and have shared stages with Disciple, Ashes Remain, Remedy Drive, Spoken, Creating Constellations and The Protest.
The ‘heaviest Christian band in Dayton’ was next. Four Star Revival led by leather lunged Jack Emrick brought Godsmack, Layne Staley, Judas Priest and Ripper Owens with a little bit of horned Dio into God’s arena and TFHMCOC’s gymnasium. It was a massive metal schooling on the word of God via the masters of metal. “This is War” started out bellowing and declaring the eternal battle over mortal souls. They called out the foul and filthy spirits of darkness and their soothsaying BS on “Liar.” They faced temptation and prevailed in “The Garden of Good and Evil.” Metals already in the blood, but we still bleed “Red,” as the Judas Priest engine roared off riffs and Emrick belted out some killer Ripper vocals. Benny Bodine ripped and shredded on guitar as they scorched the stage standing in God’s loud grace.
On the opposite side of the musical spectrum Dayton’s Able Danger came out changing the mood from thrash and thunder to a gothic club scene with classical progressive notes and an 80s vibe with the unique, beautiful delivery of vocalist/keyboardist Nikki Luttrell. Her Stevie Nicks fronting Evanescence with Grace Slick delivery rose and fell with the cascading, shimmering spotlights and lasers creating an emotional glow. A classical mix of rock and pop with the mysterious, siren lungs of Luttrell singed the songs like telling tales of myth and lore with an air of breathed warning.
“Chaos” opened with a bedazzlement of light and color. “Let Go” sent shivers up the spine as searing, whale like echoes emerged from guitars adding a dreamlike effect. Luttrell took short segments between key strokes to walk the stage and interact with the crowd. Luttrells voice echoed empowerment and despair. The music’s evolution and atmosphere created could not have been possible without the talents of Chris Stewart, Ben Willis, and Jason Winner. They ended with new tunes “Triumph” and “Parallel.”
The Letter Black from Uniondale PA, is a mix of Skillet, Flyleaf and Evanescence with a nice blended range of pop, hard rock and metal with classical elements. They broke the anticipation and silence arriving with crowd stomper “All I Want.” The crowd breathed in Sarah Anthony’s opening screaming/singing vocals. Two songs in and they were dancing and jumping like the “Devil on Your Back” as Mark Anthony tore up the evening on guitar. They described the best way to deal with an uncompromising relationship of egos on “Fire with Fire.” “Break Out” sounded off on a personal message of empowerment, freedom of appearance and expression. “Branded” said go ahead and label me without a second look, I’m not part of your storybook or scarlet letter. Anthony let the pipes out on “Invisible.”
“My Disease” told the all too familiar story of letting the wrong person into your heart. “Best of Me” broke out the praise and worship raising hands and voice to the Almighty. They slowed it down keeping it loud on “Wounded.” She let the pipes shine again burning the past on “Up from the Ashes.”
They went classical and dramatic pulling out the Evanescence playbook on “Believe,” encouraging souls to believe in the unknown and have faith in the Trinity’s mysteries. They killed some pain, in the name of love, killing pain in the looking glass watching the dark masquerade.
They finished hard and strong on “Stand.”
Some house light confusion led to a delayed demand for an encore.
They returned finishing with “Hanging by a Thread” and left an impression with the crowd blaster “Sick Charade.”
The First Heavy Metal Church of Christ is basically a church that goes after people that would more than likely never step foot in a traditional church building. We are a Trojan Horse. We preach the same Bible but ours is wrapped in a leather chrome studded book cover. We fly Maltese Crosses and use an Iron Maiden font to reach the rockers and misfits of the world. We are an outreach church plain and simple.
-Pastor Brian Smith
Images by Mike Ritchie