In their late 1980s heyday, Metal Church were the archetypal new wave heavy metal band with a sound defined by screaming, high-pitched vocals and bludgeoning guitar riffs executed to perfection by a tightly rehearsed band. They started in San Francisco, California, in 1980, but by the time of their self-titled 1984 debut only rhythm guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof remained from the original line-up. The band's first album with Elektra Records was 1986’s The Dark, which became a commercial success helped in no small way by the video which accompanied the single “Watch the Children Pray” which was promoted heavily on MTV. They continued to record but after 1993’s Hanging in the Balance they split up two years later citing bad management and poor record sales. The band reinvented themselves on two occasions and have been through numerous line-up changes but continued to record and perform. They launched yet another comeback with 2016’s XI, and it became their first album in nearly 30 years to enter into the Billboard 200. 2018’s Damned If You Do was followed by a slot on Megadeth's 2019 Megacruise. The joy of this comeback was cut short with the death of lead singer Mike Howe, who had fronted the band from 1988 to 1996 and again from 2015 until his passing on July 26, 2021. Marc Lopes was subsequently added to the lineup as the band's new singer, and Metal Church returned in 2023 with the band's thirteenth album, Congregation of Annihilation.