Longtime Metal Church drummer Kirk Arrington died Monday, May 22nd, at the age of 61.
The band shared the news of Arrington’s passing in a social media statement on Monday night, writing, “We just received the sad news, Kirk Arrington passed away this morning due to health issues. RIP in brother! See you on the other side….#RIP #legend #gonetoosoon #MetalChurch #drummer”.
In 2006, Arrington exited Metal Church due to health issues stemming from years of coping with diabetes. Since then, his post behind the kit has been assumed by Jeff Plate (Savatage, Trans-Siberian Orchestra) and Stet Howland (W.A.S.P.), who is the group’s current drummer.
Arrington joined Metal Church in the early 1980s prior to the band signing to Elektra and dropping its seminal self-titled album in 1984. Songs like “Beyond the Black” are early examples of the thrash/speed metal style, and the LP — which had future Pantera producer Terry Date behind the board — is often grouped with the likes of Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All and Slayer’s Show No Mercy as formative touchstones of the genre.
Despite those early thrash leanings, Metal Church are most often mentioned in power metal circles. The band steered their sound to cleaner, more grandiose heights on 1986’s The Dark and 1989’s Blessing in Disguise, with singer Mike Howe taking over frontman duties from David Wayne for the latter LP. Wayne died in 2005, while Howe passed away in 2021.
Like many prominent ’80s metal bands, navigating the early ’90s proved challenging, and Metal Church lost major-label support after 1991’s The Human Factor. Following a brief hiatus in the mid ’90s, Arrington and company re-formed Metal Church for 1999’s Masterpiece and released two more albums before the drummer departed in 2006. His death follows follows Howe’s suicide in 2021.
Revisit Arrington’s drumming on Metal Church’s classic “Beyond the Black” and see Metal Church’s social media tribute below.