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. Led by guitarist and songwriter Kurdt Vanderhoof, the band has released twelve studio albums, and is often credited as a formative influence on the thrash metal subgenre, melding the aesthetics of the new wave of British heavy metal and American hard rock with "incredibly tight musicianship" and "piercingly screeched" vocals. They are also considered to be an integral part of the Seattle heavy metal music scene of the 1980s, and achieved considerable popularity that decade, with two of their first three albums entering the Top 100 on the Billboard 200 chart. The band's early lyrical topics such as conflict and paranoia later expanded into philosophical and social commentary.
Metal Church has had a revolving door of vocalists, guitarists, bassists and drummers throughout its 41-year career, and Vanderhoof remains the group's sole consistent creative, despite reducing his role strictly to composition in 1986 after tiring of performing. The "classic" lineup of Vanderhoof, vocalist David Wayne, guitarist Craig Wells, bassist Duke Erickson, and drummer Kirk Arrington recorded the band's first two studio albums, Metal Church (1984) and their major breakthrough The Dark (1986). By the end of the 1980s, Vandehoof and Wayne had parted ways with the band and were replaced by vocalist Mike Howe and guitarist John Marshall respectively. Metal Church's popularity continued with their third album Blessing in Disguise (1989), which spawned one of their best-known songs "Badlands". After releasing two more studio albums, the band called it quits in 1996.
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, Metal Church considered disbanding for the third time before Howe was rehired in April 2015 as the band's lead singer. He has since recorded two more albums with the group, which enjoyed a renewed popularity in the mid-to-late 2010s.