Metal Church is an American heavy metal band from Aberdeen, Washington. The group has nine studio albums and a live album between 1984 and 2008, and announced the cessation of its activities on July 7, 2009 by a statement on its official website. In 2016, a new album titled XI with the return of singer Mike Howe is released.
Based in San Francisco, Kurdt Vanderhoof formed the group in 1980 with several musicians. Auditions see musicians such as Metallica's future drummer, Lars Ulrich>. The three-part instrumental demo Red Skies was released in 1981, with Vanderhoof, guitarist Rick Condrin, bassist Steve Hott, and drummer Aaron Zimpel.
Vanderhoof returns home to Aberdeen in 1981 and launches a new band, Shrapnel, with Craig Wells, Duke Erickson, drummer Tom Weber, and singer Mike Murphy. Murphy leaves before the release of their next demo, recorded without vocals, then Weber leaves shortly thereafter. The recruitment of Kirk Arrington and David Wayne completes the formation of the group. They publish the Four Hymns demo and spend the next few years shooting and improving, taking over the name of Metal Church in 1983.
In 1984, they released their first homonymous studio album, which included three songs from the Four Hymns demo and a cover of Deep Purple's song Highway Star. According to Wayne, Ulrich and James Hetfield of Metallica sign with Elektra before other labels do>. At this time, Metal Church released his second album, The Dark , in 1986, and toured with Metallica. The Dark is a commercial hit, thanks in part to the music video of the popular Watch the Children Pray song on MTV. Shortly after the release of the album, however, they face a new training change: Vanderhoof leaves the band in 1986, and is briefly replaced by Mark Baker, then longer by John Marshall. Vanderhoof continues to compose within the group. Wayne by so soon after and is replaced by the singer of the band Heretic, Mike Howe.