Metal bands seem to always be characterised by three factors; searing riffs, massive drum beats and a steady rotation of lead vocalists. No seriously, metal bands seem to cycle through singers all the time, leading to fans constantly arguing as to which one gave the band their best sound. In no particular order, we list our favourite metal replacement singers who did an ever better job than the originals…
We kick off the list with potentially our most controversial choice. Ronnie Dio was only a temporary replacement for Ozzy Osbourne, but he gave the band a musical revitalisation on Heaven and Hell that they desperately needed and brought them a crowd of new, energised fans. Plus, he gave us the rock horns gesture which will surely outlive us all.
Alice in Chains
The rare example of a replacement singer who didn’t drastically alter the band’s original sound but rather perfectly carried on the legacy created by original singer Layne Staley (who passed away in 2002). Their first album with DuVall was their first release in fourteen years and made our list of Best Musical Comebacks.
Pantera truly found their sound with Anselmo, moving from their bizarre glam-rock beginnings (complete with spandex outfits) into the thrash metal heavyweights we all remember them as.
It’s hard to pin out a distinctive vocal style for Drowning Pool, being that they’ve moved through four singers since forming in 1996. Latest singer Jason Moreno’s first album with the band, Resilience, seemed to suggest that they’d soon be looking for a fifth singer, but 2016’s Hellelujah was a return to form for the band and seems to indicate that they’ve found their sound again. Check out our interview with Moreno here.
Another controversial one, as Hagar did change Van Halen‘s sound and move them in a poppier direction, but there’s no denying that his four releases with the band all peaked at number 1 on the Billboard charts and launch them into superstardom…
Whilst Iron Maiden started strong and released two amazing albums with original vocalist Paul Di’Anno (Iron Maiden and Killers) his drug and alcohol addiction took a heavy toll on the band, resulting in sloppy live performances. Dickinson joined in 1981 and his operatic voice and epic stage presence gave the band the jolt of energy they needed to get back on their feet.
A bit of a lesser known one, but Slipknot actually started out with Anders Colsefini on vocals before he was replaced by Corey Taylor and his incredible vocal range. Although the band don’t acknowledge it, there is an EP Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat. out there with Colsefini on vocals.
The Dillinger Escape Plan
Although he wasn’t there from the start, it’s impossible to imagine The Dillinger Escape Plan’s distinctively experimental twist on metal without Puciato at the helm. As the singer himself told us:
“Dillinger Escape Plan sounds like itself…it’s very unique sounding. That’s so tough to do. Some of the people that I admire the most are instantly recognisable. So I’ve just been trying to do that with varying degrees of success.”
Faith No More
Quite frankly, original singer Chuck Moseley had to go. He came into opposition with the rest of the band numerous times on tour over his erratic performances, which culminated in him falling asleep at an album release show for Introduce Yourself. Things turned out for the best, with Patton stepping in and bringing a diverse set of vocal techniques and a range that covers six octaves (supposedly the biggest range in pop music!).
In a list filled with singer changes, Anthrax still easily take the cake for replacement vocalists, having cycled through an insane count of almost 10 lead vocalists. Belladonna remains the band’s best singer, with his tenor vocal style perfectly complementing the band’s insanely fast thrash-metal instrumentations. Read our interview with founding member and guitarist Scott Ian here.
Another one which fans still argue over, Jones replaced original singer Jesse Leach in 2002 and until he returned in 2012. Jones does get a special mention on this list for actually seeking out the band himself. Who gives the band their best vocal sound is still up for debate, but Jones did give Killswitch two of their biggest songs; ‘My Curse’ and ‘Holy Diver’.
George ‘Corpsegrinder’ Fisher
Original singer Chris Barnes brought an intense power to the band, but unfortunately his deep-throat vocal style seemed to rapidly deteriorate. New vocalist Fisher may slightly lack some of the low-end power of his successor, but he easily makes up for it with his seemingly endless supply of energy and consistently rapid vocals. Watch our full set from the band here.
We Lost The Sea
Australian-based post-metal band We Lost the Sea were struck with tragedy in 2013 when lead singer Chris Torpy commit suicide the week before they were scheduled to play a show at Sydney’s Annandale Hotel. The band still played in tribute to their lost friend, and their entirely instrumental performance received a hugely positive response from the crowd. Off the back of this, the band re-branded as an entirely instrumental, cinematic, post-rock outfit, and released their critically acclaimed Departure Songs earlier this year.