Metal Church

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Metal Church
Metal Church- Wacken Open Air 2016-AL3427.jpg
Metal Church performing at Wacken Open Air in 2016
Background information
Also known asShrapnel
Origin San Francisco, California, U.S.
Years active
  • 1980–1995
  • 1998–2009
  • 2012–present
Associated acts
Members Kurdt Vanderhoof
Mike Howe
Steve Unger
Rick Van Zandt
Stet Howland
Past membersSee members section

Metal Church is an American heavy metal band. They originally formed in San Francisco, California in 1980 before relocating to Aberdeen, Washington the following year and briefly using the name Shrapnel. Their self titled debut album was released in 1984, and their latest, Damned If You Do , was released on December 7, 2018. [1]

Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom. With roots in blues rock, psychedelic rock, and acid rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. The genre's lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.

San Francisco Consolidated city-county in California, US

San Francisco, officially the City and County of San Francisco, is a city in, and the cultural, commercial, and financial center of, Northern California. San Francisco is the 13th-most populous city in the United States, and the fourth-most populous in California, with 883,305 residents as of 2018. It covers an area of about 46.89 square miles (121.4 km2), mostly at the north end of the San Francisco Peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area, making it the second-most densely populated large US city, and the fifth-most densely populated U.S. county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs. San Francisco is also part of the fifth-most populous primary statistical area in the United States, the San Jose–San Francisco–Oakland, CA Combined Statistical Area.

California State of the United States of America

California is a state in the Pacific Region of the United States. With 39.6 million residents, California is the most populous U.S. state and the third-largest by area. The state capital is Sacramento. The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second- and fifth-most populous urban regions, with 18.7 million and 9.7 million residents respectively. Los Angeles is California's most populous city, and the country's second-most populous, after New York City. California also has the nation's most populous county, Los Angeles County, and its largest county by area, San Bernardino County. The City and County of San Francisco is both the country's second-most densely populated major city after New York City and the fifth-most densely populated county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs.


Metal Church is credited as a formative influence on the thrash metal subgenre, [2] melding the aesthetics of the new wave of British heavy metal and American hard rock with "incredibly tight musicianship" and "piercingly screeched" vocals. [3] [4] They are also known for their association with the 1980s and early 1990s Seattle hard rock and heavy metal scene, which also spawned bands such as Mother Love Bone, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Queensrÿche, Fifth Angel, TKO, Culprit, Rail, Sanctuary, Forced Entry and Q5. [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] The band's early lyrical topics such as conflict and paranoia later expanded into philosophical and social commentary.

Thrash metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music characterized by its overall aggression and often fast tempo. The songs usually use fast percussive beats and low-register guitar riffs, overlaid with shredding-style lead guitar work. The lyrical subject matter often deals with criticisms of The Establishment, and at times shares a disdain for Christian dogma resembling that of their black metal counterparts. The language is typically quite direct and denunciatory, an approach borrowed from hardcore punk.

The new wave of British heavy metal was a nationwide musical movement that started in the United Kingdom in the late 1970s and achieved international attention by the early 1980s. Journalist Geoff Barton coined the term in a May 1979 issue of the British music newspaper Sounds to describe the emergence of new heavy metal bands in the mid to late 1970s, during the period of punk rock's decline and the dominance of new wave music.

Mother Love Bone American rock band

Mother Love Bone was an American rock band that formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1987. The band was active from 1987 to 1990. Frontman Andrew Wood's personality and lyrics helped to catapult the group to the top of the burgeoning late 1980s/early 1990s Seattle music scene. Wood died only days before the scheduled release of the band's debut album, Apple, thus ending the group's hopes of success. The album was finally released a few months later.

Founding guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof remained the group's sole consistent creative force throughout its career, despite reducing his role strictly to composition in 1986 after tiring of performing. Vanderhoof, vocalist David Wayne, guitarist Craig Wells, bassist Duke Erickson, and drummer Kirk Arrington composed the classic Metal Church lineup featured on its first two records, while vocalist Mike Howe and guitarist John Marshall later contributed to the group's sound. It was during this period that Metal Church had achieved mainstream popularity, with two of their albums— The Dark (1986) and Blessing in Disguise (1989)—entering the Top 100 on the Billboard 200 chart. [10] Their 1991 album The Human Factor and its 1993 follow-up Hanging in the Balance also received critical praise, but did not match the success of the group's 1980s material.

Kurdt Vanderhoof American musician

Kurdt Vanderhoof is an American guitarist, best known as the rhythm guitarist and founding member of the American heavy metal band Metal Church. As early as 1976, in Aberdeen, Vanderhoof was ardently networking with local musicians and had formed a band called Tyr, which included Kirk Arrington on drums and Vanderhoof on rhythm guitar. In 1978 Vanderhoof joined Seattle hardcore punk band The Lewd adopting the stage name Blobbo on bass guitar, switching instruments to guitar the following year. The Lewd relocated from Seattle to San Francisco in 1980. Following Vanderhoof's departure from The Lewd he formed Metal Church, named after a nickname given to his San Francisco apartment. Vanderhoof moved back to his hometown, Aberdeen, Washington, with a vinyl single of Trash Can Baby as proof of his interlude with the Lewd. In the summer of 1982, he formed a heavy metal cover band named Shrapnel. It consisted of Tom Weber on drums, Duke Erickson on bass, Mike Murphey and a guitar player Vanderhoof had jammed with in high school(Aberdeen). Shrapnel played four events to warm up, including a frat party at Pacific Lutheran University, after which the other guitar player quit, having had a religious experience, unwilling to cover The Number of The Beast by Iron Maiden. His part was replaced by Craig Wells of Aberdeen, and Tom was eventually replaced by Kirk Arrington on drums. When Mike Murphy left the band, they recruited David Wayne for vocal duties. By 1983, Shrapnel had renamed itself to Vanderhoof's original band name, Metal Church.

Mike Howe American musician

Mike Howe is an American heavy metal singer from Taylor, Michigan who currently performs with Metal Church.

John Marshall is a former guitarist for the thrash metal band Metal Church. He was the guitar tech for Metallica's lead guitarist Kirk Hammett. Marshall also became the fill-in rhythm guitarist for James Hetfield in 1986 while Hetfield's wrist was broken due to a skateboarding accident, and again in 1992 when Hetfield was recovering from pyrotechnics burn injuries stemming from a concert with Guns N' Roses in Montreal during the Guns N' Roses/Metallica Stadium Tour. He also briefly played in progressive thrashers Blind Illusion.

After their first break up in 1995, Metal Church reformed in 1998 with most of their classic lineup, including Vanderhoof's return to performance, resulting in the Masterpeace album. They endured numerous lineup changes thereafter, releasing three further studio albums while fronted by Ronny Munroe before disbanding once again in July 2009. The group reunited for the second time in October 2012, and released their tenth studio album Generation Nothing a year later. Following Munroe's departure in the fall of 2014, Howe rejoined Metal Church in April 2015 at Vanderhoof's request, [11] and recorded their eleventh studio album XI (2016). Another lineup change took place in March 2017 when longtime drummer Jeff Plate left Metal Church and was subsequently replaced by former W.A.S.P. drummer Stet Howland.

<i>Masterpeace</i> 1999 studio album by Metal Church

Masterpeace is the sixth studio album of heavy metal band Metal Church. This album features the return of David Wayne, absent since The Dark. All original members recorded on Masterpeace except guitarist Craig Wells and drummer Kirk Arrington. Jeff Wade filled in for Arrington on the album and on tour. This was the second Metal Church album to feature the cruciform Gibson Explorer on a cover, the first being the band's 1984 debut.

Ronny Munroe is an American heavy metal singer, most noted as the lead vocalist of the heavy metal band Metal Church from 2004 until the band broke up in 2009. His second tenure with the band lasted from 2012 when the group reunited until 2014, where he left to "pursue other interests". He also had a brief stint as the vocalist for Lillian Axe. He was also the lead singer of progressive rock band Presto Ballet. In October 2011 Munroe joined the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, as a vocalist.

<i>Generation Nothing</i> 2013 studio album by Metal Church

Generation Nothing is the tenth studio album from American heavy metal band Metal Church. The album is their first after their late 2012 reunion, and their fourth and last to feature vocalist Ronny Munroe.


Formative years (1980–1984)

Then based in San Francisco, Kurdt Vanderhoof formed the band in 1980 with various musicians. This era included a brief audition period with future Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich. [12] The three-song, instrumental Red Skies demo appeared in 1981, featuring Vanderhoof, guitarist Rick Condrin, bassist Steve Hott, and drummer Aaron Zimpel.

Metallica American heavy metal band

Metallica is an American heavy metal band. The band was formed in 1981 in Los Angeles, California, by drummer Lars Ulrich and vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield, and has been based in San Francisco, California for most of its career. The group's fast tempos, instrumentals and aggressive musicianship made them one of the founding "big four" bands of thrash metal, alongside Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer. Metallica's current lineup comprises founding members Hetfield and Ulrich, longtime lead guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo. Guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassists Ron McGovney, Cliff Burton and Jason Newsted are former members of the band.

Lars Ulrich Danish musician

Lars Ulrich is a Danish musician, songwriter, actor, and record producer. He is best known as the drummer and co-founder of the American heavy metal band Metallica. The son of tennis player Torben Ulrich and grandson of tennis player Einer Ulrich, he also played tennis in his youth and moved to Los Angeles at age 16 to train professionally. However, rather than playing tennis, Ulrich began playing drums. After publishing an advertisement in The Recycler, Ulrich met vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield and formed Metallica.

Vanderhoof returned to his hometown of Aberdeen in 1981 and began the new group Shrapnel with Craig Wells, Duke Erickson, drummer Tom Weber, and vocalist Mike Murphy. Murphy departed before their next demo, which was recorded without vocals, and Weber departed shortly thereafter. The enlistment of Kirk Arrington and David Wayne completed the group's classic lineup. They released the demo Four Hymns and spent following years touring and accruing material, readopting the Metal Church moniker in 1983. The song "Death Wish" is featured on the compilation album Northwest Metalfest .

<i>Northwest Metalfest</i> 1984 compilation album by various artists

Northwest Metalfest is a compilation album of songs by ten different Seattle-area metal bands, first released in 1984 by Ground Zero Records in the U.S. and Steamhammer Records in Germany.

First two records and commercial success (1984–1988)

In 1984, they released their self-titled debut album, which included three songs from the Four Hymns demo and a cover of Deep Purple's "Highway Star". They sold 70,000 copies of the album independently before signing to Elektra.[ citation needed ] According to Wayne, Ulrich and Metallica bandmate James Hetfield urged Elektra to sign the band before another label did. [13]

By the time Metal Church released their second studio album, The Dark , in 1986, they were touring with high-profile acts like Metallica. The Dark was a commercial success, helped by the fact that the band's first music video, "Watch the Children Pray", received frequent airplay on MTV. As a result, the album managed to enter the Billboard 200, [10] and saw Metal Church perform at clubs, arenas and theaters with the likes of King Diamond, Celtic Frost, Testament, Overkill and the Big Four of thrash metal (Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax). [14]

Shortly after the album's release, however, they were plagued by lineup changes: Vanderhoof ceased performing with the group in 1986, to be replaced briefly by Mark Baker and more extensively by John Marshall. Vanderhoof nonetheless continued to work with the group in composing thereafter, co-writing much of their subsequent material. Wayne also departed shortly thereafter and was replaced by former Heretic singer Mike Howe. Wayne teamed up with the remaining members of Heretic to form Reverend.

Further albums and first breakup (1989–1995)

With Howe and Marshall, Metal Church released their third studio album, Blessing in Disguise , in 1989. Critics responded favorably, including some assertions that the record was the group's strongest effort. [15] Blessing in Disguise was even more successful than its predecessors, peaking at number 75 on the Billboard 200; this was Metal Church's highest chart position, until it was surpassed 27 years later by XI . [10] Despite touring well behind the album throughout 1989 and 1990 (with bands such as Metallica, W.A.S.P., Accept, Fates Warning, Saxon, Celtic Frost and Meliah Rage), [14] they were dropped from Elektra.

Metal Church released its fourth studio album, The Human Factor , on Epic Records in 1991. Critics applauded the group for transitioning to a major label and successfully retaining the vitality of their sound, [16] while also releasing a record with conceptual accessibility beyond the heavy metal genre. [4] Unlike their previous two albums, however, The Human Factor failed to chart on the Billboard 200.

The band followed with their fifth studio album, 1993's Hanging in the Balance on Mercury Records, but disbanded two years later, [17] [18] citing management problems and poor record sales as factors. [19]

Reunion of classic lineup and Masterpeace (1998–2001)

Founding guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof began performing with the group for the first time in 12 years for their 1998 reformation. Kurdt Vanderhoof Live.jpg
Founding guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof began performing with the group for the first time in 12 years for their 1998 reformation.

The members of Metal Church began compiling their first live album in 1998, Live , which featured songs from their first two records performed by their classic lineup. During the production of Live, Wayne, Vanderhoof, Wells, Arrington, and Erickson decided to reform the band and began work on a new studio album. Wells was forced to depart the band due to familial obligations, [13] however, and was replaced by the returning Marshall. The live album Live in Japan (recorded on the band's 1995 Japanese tour) was also released in 1998, [20] only in Japan.

The resulting album, Masterpeace , was released in 1999 on Nuclear Blast Records. Critics responded positively, hailing it as a focused product that increased the energy over previous releases, despite it ultimately failing to break new ground. [21] Arrington and Erickson were unable to tour behind the record, so the band enlisted members of Vanderhoof's side projects, bassist Brian Lake and drummer Jeff Wade, for live performances later that year.

Wayne expressed regret regarding the record, which influenced his musical output that followed. [13] He again departed in 2001 due to personal and creative differences, forming the group Wayne with Wells and releasing the curiously titled debut album Metal Church thereafter. Vanderhoof objected to the album's name and cover art; according to Wayne, the purpose of the album's name was to alert the audience of his involvement. [13] Erickson and Marshall also ceased involvement with Metal Church after Wayne's departure.

Munroe-led lineup, Wayne's death, and second breakup (2004–2009)

Vanderhoof's eponymous band released A Blur in Time in 2002, and he began working on new material for Metal Church's next album thereafter. In 2004, he and Arrington recruited singer Ronny Munroe, ex-Malice guitarist Jay Reynolds, and bassist Steve Unger to form a new lineup of Metal Church. They released the band's seventh studio album later that year, The Weight of the World . Critics generally reacted to the record with a lukewarm response, recognizing its accomplishments while noting its lack of consistency and innovation. [22]

On May 10, 2005, David Wayne died of complications from injuries sustained in a car accident that occurred months before. He was 47 years old.

In 2006, Arrington left the band due to health complications with diabetes. His replacement was Jeff Plate, who previously worked with Savatage, Chris Caffery and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. [23] Later that year, the band released their eighth studio album, A Light in the Dark , which featured a re-recording of "Watch the Children Pray" as a tribute to Wayne. Vanderhoof said that the tribute was a way of showing fans that he harbored no ill will towards Wayne despite the contentious situation that existed between them before Wayne's death. [24]

Reynolds left the group in 2008 and was replaced by Rick Van Zandt. [25] The band's ninth studio album, This Present Wasteland , followed in 2008, which was hailed generally as an effective release consistent with their previous material. [12] After subsequent touring, the band took a hiatus from performing due to Vanderhoof's back problems. They nonetheless continued studio work, while Munroe and Vanderhoof also completed the former's solo album. [26]

After Vanderhoof's health improved, they returned to performing and composing new material. On July 7, 2009, however, the group announced unexpectedly that they were disbanding following a final performance at Rocklahoma two days later, cancelling numerous further live dates. They cited industry frustrations as a major factor influencing the decision. Several former members remained musically active, including Munroe and Vanderhoof in Presto Ballet [27] and Plate in Machines of Grace.

Second reformation and Generation Nothing (2012–2013)

In October 2012, the band announced resumption of activity around a lineup featuring Vanderhoof, Munroe, Unger, Reynolds (soon replaced by Van Zandt), and Plate. Their first performances came the following January during the 70,000 Tons of Metal event, a heavy metal cruise. During one of these two shows, the band performed their debut album, Metal Church , in its entirety. [28] Shortly thereafter, Vanderhoof told Music Life Radio that Metal Church had been working on a new album. [29] In order to promote their tenth studio album, the band played festivals in the summer of 2013. [30] The album, Generation Nothing , was released in October.

Reunion with Mike Howe (2014–present)

Munroe left the band in September 2014 to "pursue other interests". The band announced its plans to continue nonetheless. [31] On April 30, 2015, Metal Church announced on their Facebook page that former singer Mike Howe had rejoined the band, some 20 years after first leaving the band.

Howe commented on his return: "Kurdt Vanderhoof got ahold of me in August of 2014, and he proposed [me] coming back to the band. He said Ronny [Munroe] left the band and he didn't really wanna carry on with Metal Church unless maybe I would consider coming back. So I said, 'Well, I don't know. I'm open to it. But let's see what kind of music we can come up with.' So Kurdt went back to the studio and started writing songs in the vein of 'Hanging In The Balance', where we left off twenty years ago, and he sent them to me over the Internet. And I was, like, 'Damn! The guy still has it and he's doing great work.' So he sent me another batch, and that batch was just as good [as], if not better than, the other. So, from there, I said, ‘Well, I can’t say no to this. And let's just see how it goes.' And we started writing lyrics and getting together, and it's morphed into being back in Aberdeen in the studio making the new Metal Church record." [32]

The end result was their eleventh studio album, XI , which was released on March 25, 2016, and is Metal Church's first album with Howe on vocals since 1993's Hanging in the Balance . [33] XI received positive reviews from critics, and was Metal Church's first album 27 years (since Blessing in Disguise ) to enter the Billboard 200; it peaked at number 57, [34] making it the band's highest chart position in their career. On the album's supporting tour, guitarist Rick Van Zandt had to go in for emergency eye surgery to repair a detached retina, and was temporarily replaced by former Firewolfe guitarist Paul Kleff, and Savatage guitarist Chris Caffery. [35] [36] The band co-headlined a West Coast North American tour with Armored Saint in June 2016, [37] and along with Amon Amarth, Suicidal Tendencies and Butcher Babies, they supported Megadeth on the latter's Dystopia tour in September–October 2016. [38]

When asked in October 2016 if he intended write another album with Metal Church, Howe stated, "We have every intention of doing that and that's what it's all about. If you're not putting on new music, then it's time to go away for me. In Metal Church... it's always been like a two-year cycle band, but we put our album out this year in March. So our album is actually only being out for six months. But we have plans on this fall getting back to writing and try to put something out next year. We're also looking at some dates for the spring possibly back in the States and maybe back over here. But our drummer Jeff, he's also on the TSO. He leaves from the end of October through December. So we might take that time to start writing new record." [39]

Metal Church released a live album on April 28, 2017, titled Classic Live, which was recorded on the 2016 XI tour. This is the band's first live album since 1998's Live in Japan, and their first live album with Howe on vocals. [40]

On March 21, 2017, drummer Jeff Plate announced his departure from Metal Church. [41] As the result of his departure, the band withdrew from a U.S. tour with Alter Bridge and In Flames, scheduled to take place in May 2017. [42] Plate was replaced by former W.A.S.P. drummer Stet Howland. [43]

In a May 2017 interview, Vanderhoof stated that Metal Church had begun writing and demoing their next album, which would be tentatively due in early 2018. [44]

On October 1, 2018, Metal Church teased an audio sample of a song from their twelfth studio album. [45] The album, Damned If You Do , was announced shortly after and it was released on December 7, 2018. [1] In support of Damned If You Do, Metal Church co-headlined a North American tour with Doro in April–May 2019. [46]

On October 9, 2018, Metal Church was confirmed – alongside Anthrax, Testament, Corrosion of Conformity, Armored Saint, DevilDriver, John 5 and Doro – as being among the first batch of bands joining Megadeth's first-ever Megacruise in October 2019. [47]



Metal Church


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<i>Metal Church</i> (album) 1984 studio album by Metal Church

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<i>The Dark</i> (Metal Church album) 1986 studio album by Metal Church

The Dark is the second full-length album released by the American heavy metal band Metal Church. It was released on October 6, 1986 and was the last album featuring the group's classic lineup of David Wayne, Kurdt Vanderhoof, Kirk Arrington, Duke Erickson, and Craig Wells. 1999's Masterpeace album reunited the former four, with John Marshall replacing Wells.

<i>A Light in the Dark</i> 2006 studio album by Metal Church

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<i>Blessing in Disguise</i> (Metal Church album) 1989 studio album by Metal Church

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<i>The Weight of the World</i> (Metal Church album) 2004 studio album by Metal Church

The Weight of the World is the seventh studio album by American thrash metal band Metal Church. It was released in 2004 through the Steamhammer/SPV label.

<i>This Present Wasteland</i> 2008 studio album by Metal Church

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<i>XI</i> (Metal Church album) 2016 studio album by Metal Church

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<i>Damned If You Do</i> (album) 2018 studio album by Metal Church

Damned If You Do is the twelfth studio album by American heavy metal band Metal Church, which was released on December 7, 2018 through Rat Pak Records. This is their first release with former W.A.S.P. drummer Stet Howland, who replaced longtime member Jeff Plate in 2017. Music videos were made for "Damned If You Do" and "By the Numbers".


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