Sad news for the heavy metal world today, as Mike Howe, vocalist for the bands Metal Church and Heretic, has died. He was 55 years old.
The news was confirmed by Metal Church themselves, who wrote on social media, “It is with our deepest regrets that we must announce the passing of our brother, our friend and true legend of heavy metal music. Mike Howe passed away this morning at his home in Eureka, California. We are devastated and at a loss for words. Please respect our privacy and the Howe family’s privacy during this most difficult time.”
No cause of death has been revealed at this time, though Metal Church’s post on the matter suggests that Howe was sick in some way, to have died at home.
Howe began his career in Detroit with the band Hellion, eventually moving on to the band Heretic. Heretic released a single album, Breaking Point, in 1986 on Metal Blade, before Howe joined Metal Church and the band broke up. With Howe at the forefront, Metal Church began to explore topics like political unrest and ongoing social issues, which connected with audiences in the late ’80s looking for something a little more substantial than tracks about girls and the Devil.
Howe did two runs with Metal Church — in the ’80s, where he appeared on 1989’s Blessing In Disguise, 1991’s The Human Factor, and 1993’s Hanging In The Balance; and in the late 2010s, when Howe appeared on 2016’s XI and 2018’s Damned If You Do. After the former stint, the band broke up; Howe provided guest vocals on such albums as Hall Aflame’s 1991 album Guaranteed Forever and Megora’s 1997 EP Illusions, but didn’t record for another band full-time.
Everyone at The Pit sends their heart out to Mike’s family, friends, fans and collaborators during this difficult time.
Words by Chris Krovatin