One of the several American metal bands whose first national exposure came by way of the Metal Massacre compilation series (in this case Vol. 3, which featured their 1983 song "Hellbent"), Chicago speed metal act Znowhite was formed in 1982 by guitar and drum-playing siblings Ian Tafoya (aka Greg Fulton) and Sparks Tafoya, their bass-playing cousin Nicky Tafoya, and, after some persuasion, their manager's girlfriend, Nicole Lee, as lead singer. After a short time using the more traditional spelling of Snowhite (a name chosen in irony since all but Lee were in fact African-Americans), the band assumed the more distinctive "Z" spelling and got down to business with a pair of releases through indie metal label Enigma, namely 1984's All Hail to Thee EP and 1985's Kick 'Em When They're Down album.
But these met with little success, Lee quit for a number of years (replaced by one Sue Sharp), and by the time she and Tafoya resurrected Znowhite with a new rhythm section (bassist Alex Olvera and drummer Scott Schafer) and album (1988's Roadrunner-released Act of God), any sort of momentum had been squandered. Following yet another personnel upheaval the next year (including the arrival of singer Debbie Gunn and drummer John Slattery), Tafoya decided to give up and start fresh, with his real name and a new thrash band called Cyclone Temple.