Drummer Jeff Plate has announced his departure from METAL CHURCH. He explained in a statement: "I came to this conclusion two weeks ago, and agreed to hold off on the announcement until METAL CHURCH had made some decisions on what they were going to do.
"This is obviously not an easy decision. After many conversations with myself, my wife, my family, my management and Kurdt Vanderoof and Mike Howe, I know I am doing the right thing for my future.
"I know there will be questions and speculation. The bottom line is time, my time, and how best I manage it. I had to come to terms with the fact that time is just blowing by at the speed of light and there is no time for me to second-guess or regret anything I'm doing.
"At this point in my life, I need to be in more control of my time and career. I have a number of things I'd like to do and try, and to do these I have to give up something I truly love and am very proud of.
"I cannot thank Kurdt Vanderhoof enough for inviting me into METAL CHURCH. For the past 12 years, I have had the honor and privilege of playing some of the best, truly iconic hard rock/ heavy metal songs ever written. I have recorded four records with the band. The latest, 'XI', is not only one of my favorite METAL CHURCH records, but I feel it is the one of the best, if not the best records I have recorded throughout my career.
"Also, I cannot thank the METAL CHURCH fan base enough for the tremendous support. I have met thousands of you over the years and you, fans old and new, are simply the best. You have kept this band alive for the past 33 years, and I am sure there is more great music to come.
"METAL CHURCH is in a good place, and there are a number of shows and good things coming up this year.
"This decision is made now to not only let me prepare for the year to come, but also to let METAL CHURCH do the same.
"Kurdt Vanderhoof, Mike Howe, Steve Unger, Rick Van Zandt, Tim Harding (sound and production) and Joe O'Brien (President @ Rat Pak Records) have been a tremendous team, and they are also very good friends of mine. I wish them nothing but the best.
"I hope to see you all again somewhere down the road. I will keep you posted on my activities. Trust me, I will not sit still for very long."
METAL CHURCH's latest album, "XI", debuted at No. 57 on The Billboard 200, having shifted 11,000 equivalent album units in the week ending March 31, 2016.
"XI", was released on March 25, 2016 via Rat Pak Records. Produced by Kurdt Vanderhoof and co-produced by Chris "The Wizard" Collier, the band's eleventh studio release marked the return of singer Mike Howe.
METAL CHURCH will release "Classic Live" via Rat Pak Records on April 28. Produced by Kurdt Vanderhoof, this special edition release features nine classic METAL CHURCH songs recorded live on the band's 2016 tour and also includes a special bonus track, a powerful new studio version of "Fake Healer" that features a duet with QUEENSRŸCHE vocalist Todd La Torre.