In 1980 Kurdt Vanderhoof started a band that he named Metal Church (named after the alias given to his apartment where he and his friends worshiped at the altar of heavy metal) in San Francisco. Metallica's famous Lars Ulrich is considered initially as Metal Church's drummer, but he ends up moving to L.A. instead. This first incarnation of the act failed to go any farther, so Vanderhoof moves back to his hometown of Aberdeen, Washington.
In 1981 Vanderhoof would try again, this time he forms a band in Aberdeen called Shrapnel with some friends from high school: Kirk Arrington (drums), Mike Murphy (vocals), and Craig Wells handling guitar. Another friend, Duke Erickson played bass, so he is brought in to complete the line-up. Mike Murphy ends up leaving Shrapnel and joining the band Rogues Gallery, so Wells brings in his friend David Wayne to take over lead singing duties. Shrapnel would play mostly heavy metal cover tunes around their hometown, doing pretty much any gig they can get their hands on... school dances, local bars, with the occasional wedding thrown in.
In 1983 they emerged from the underground now renamed Metal Church and consisting of David Wayne (vocals), Kurt Vanderhoof (guitar), Craig Wells (guitar), Duke Erickson (bass) and Kirk Arrington (drums). Their first concert was on May 4th of that year at the D&R Theater in Aberdeen, with opening acts Rogues Gallery and The Melvins.
Their style was the emerging and developing Thrash style of the 1980s, and their debut Metal Church (1985), released on the indie 'Ground Zero' label, excelled them into the spotlight. The Dark (1987), their follow-up now on 'Elektra', was equally well done but failed to improve on the popularity from the debut. Blessing In Disguise (1989) saw Wayne leave and replaced with Mike Howe, who continued with their high quality style. Wayne, formerly of Heretic, had left to form his own band Reverend, taking with him two other current members of Heretic. Also on this release, John Marshall (previously a guitar tech. for Metallica) replaced Kurt Vanderhoof due to the former's dislike of touring.
Personnel changes and short ventures with record companies didn't help their situation throughout their career or their The Human Factor (1991) and Hanging In The Balance (1994) releases. None of their follow-up albums ever achieved the stature of their debut and they have thus far remained as under achievers. After theirMasterpeace (1999), the ban d had been put on hold with Vanderhoof contributing to his own project Vanderhoof, and Wayne (who had returned to the fold) starting his own project Wayne. David Wayne did not impress his old colleagues much when he titled his first solo album Metal Church.
In 2002 the act had formally reformed now featuring Ronny Munroe (vocals), Kurdt Vanderhoof (ex-Vanderhoof/ex-Hall Aflame; guitar), Jay Reynolds (ex-Malice/ex-Megadeth; guitar), Steve Unger (bass) and Kirk Arrington (ex-Vanderhoof; drums) to record a new album titled Weight Of The World. This album was followed up with A Light In The Dark (2004).
In 2006, Arrington left the band due to health complications with diabetes. His replacement was Jeff Plate, ex of Savatage, Chris Caffery and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
Reynolds then left the group in 2008 and was replaced by Rick Van Zandt.
This Present Wasteland resulted in 2008, with the line up of Kurdt Vanderhoof (guitar), Jeff Plate (drums), Steve Unger (bass), and new guitarist Ricky Van Zandt.
After Vanderhoof's back 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, and Plate in Machines of Grace.
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 played their debut album, Metal Church, in its entirety. A new album, Generation Nothing, was released in October 2013.
Munroe left the band in September 2014 to "pursue other interests". The band announced its plans to continue nonetheless. On April 30, 2015, former singer Mike Howe rejoined the band. Their next album, XI followed in 2016.
Footnote: 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.