8 Metal Bands Made Better by Switching Vocalists

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Photo by Groovehouse
Periphery
With all the drama that surrounds singer/screamer changes, you'd think it's the end of the world and it has never worked for any band. The reactions across the internet any time one vocalist leaves and another joins are always less than enthusiastic, thinking change is bad one hundred percent of the time.

That's not true though, especially in a genre like metal where it has worked to great success so many times for so many different bands in different subgenres. In light of the fact that we're about to hear Suicide Silence's first album with a new vocalist, as well as what As I Lay Dying can do as Wovenwar without the stigma of Tim Lambesis, let's take a look back at some of the most successful metal singer switches of all time.

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Tool at Toyota Center, 3/25/2014

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Photos by Jim Bricker
Tool, Failure
Toyota Center
March 25, 2014

Among perhaps the shyest Grammy winners in history, Tool has a history of avoiding the spotlight for as long as possible, even onstage. It's been eight years since the band released its last heavy, psychedelic opus, 10,000 Days, and a solid Olympiad since they last darkened the doors of Toyota Center.

As the band strolled leisurely back into town on Tuesday night -- lasers and video screens in tow -- fans packed the arena to the rafters, eager to take part in the rare and transformative rite of rock and roll passage that is the Tool concert.


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Heaven Needed a Scumdog: Remembering GWAR's Dave Brockie

Categories: Mostly Metal

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Photo by Francisco Montes
Dave Brockie performs with GWAR at Warehouse Live, 2013
If you never caught a GWAR show in the band's improbable 30-year reign, your failure is now officially complete. Dave Brockie, the often-hilarious, always-obscene front-thing better known to fans as Oderus Urungus, returned to the stars from whence he came early Sunday morning. He was 50.

Though a slew of musicians have put in work under the foam rubber over the years, it's hard to imagine GWAR continuing without him. As the hideous face, voice and only constant member of GWAR for three decades, Oderus Urungus became a well-known, much-loved personality in the underground metal scene. Given life by Brockie's rapier wit and politically incorrect creativity, Oderus was always at the forefront of the band's mythology, which cast GWAR as omnipotent alien overlords banished to Earth millions of years ago, who accidentally created the human race by raping a few of the apes cluttering up the place.


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Omotai at Fitzgerald's, 2/21/14

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Photos by Nathan Smith
Omotai, Lions of Tsavo, Baring Teeth, Chipped Teeth
Fitzgerald's
February 21, 2014

Whenever the topic of Houston's heaviest bands comes up, it's tough not to place Omotai somewhere near the very top of that particular pile of bones. For three years now, the trio has offered up the city's most thoughtfully crushing racket with its moonshine blend of post-punk, sludge and grindcore. The volume has only increased in recent months with the addition of a second guitarist, Jamie Ross, making the group's sound all the more hazardous.

The band has a new 12" out, and it's called Fresh Hell -- a title befitting the kind of thing that local extreme-rock fans would hope for from a new Omotai offering. On Friday night, the band brought Austin buds Lions of Tsavo over for a free show to help celebrate the record's release.

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Power Trip Returns for Another Badass Weekend

Categories: Mostly Metal

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Photo by Nathan Smith
Riley Gale of Power Trip
If you're heading out to the 2nd Badass Weekend festival downtown this weekend, don't forget to bring your earplugs -- the ones that go in your ear canals, not your earlobes, dude. Matter of fact, a mouth guard not be a bad idea, either, because Dallas' Power Trip is playing the extreme rock fest's second night at Walters on Saturday.

Hey, if you've never been kicked in the face at a Power Trip show before, it's because you weren't there.

The thrashy, five-piece hardcore outfit is coming off its most successful year ever in 2013, highlighted by the release of its debut full-length for Southern Lord Records, Manifest Decimation. The record is now in its third pressing. The band toured relentlessly to support the release, setting out with hardcore big-timers like Bane, Terror and Fucked Up on treks that took them across the U.S. to Europe and back.

After five years of building momentum, Power Trip now find themselves at the very top of the Texas hardcore scene. How can we tell? Because no other band in the state creates as much violent havoc wherever they go. It's not quite fair to call what Power Trip fans do at shows "moshing" or "dancing." Somehow, it feels more like the Running of the Bulls.

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What the Hell Is Djent Metal Anyway?

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Photo by Groovehouse
Periphery, early founders of djent.
Metal has so many subgenres and classifications it can be impossible to keep up with them all. It's so complicated at times that some bands don't even know what kind of music they play, and some self-described fans of certain subgenres have no idea what they're talking about. Not to mention all the bands who play versions of a certain subgenre but aren't considered "true" bands of that genre; looking at Deafheaven and black metal here.

With that in mind, it's a fool's errand to try to define any subset of metal with any sort of certainty. What do you do with all the bands that incorporate some parts of the genre and not all of them? What do you do with the bandwagoners and trendy bands who just want to get in on what's popular right now? What about crossover bands?

That being said, I'm going to try to elucidate here what's really going on right now. The biggest trend in metal these days is djent, a new-ish form of technical, progressive metal that's really captivating audiences and musicians alike. But what the hell is it anyway?


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Five Post-Hardcore Bands Who Should Get Back Together

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Poison the Well's You Come Before You
Living in the end times, every band who ever played music and had ten fans is scrambling to get back together before it's too late. Or, at least before the gravy train stops and people get tired of nostalgia. That being said, we've seen some great ones make their return, especially in the post-hardcore genres.

Just in the past few years, we've been blessed with a return of At the Drive-In, Refused, Hot Snakes, the Jesus Lizard, Murder City Devils, Hot Water Music, and Quicksand. But there are still more we want to see, and these five need to hurry up and jump on the bandwagon while they still can.


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Six Other Crazy Places Metallica Should Play Now

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2013 was a big year for Metallica, featuring performances in IMAX 3D and in Antarctica of all places. Let's face it, there's not a whole let left for the biggest rock band in the world to accomplish. I mean, when you're forced to start playing in Antarctica just to do something new, you've really hit the glass ceiling.

With that in mind, I decided to sit down and figure out some new heights for Metallica to reach. They can't have really done it all, can they? And sure, some of the things I came up with are essentially impossible, but where there's a will and the multimillion-dollar business that is today's Metallica behind it, anything can happen.


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Houston's 10 Gnarliest Mosh Pits of 2013

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Photo by Groovehouse
Cannibal Corpse at Fitzgerald's

Punks and metalheads don't always see eye to eye, but one commonality they can always high-five over is the predilection to batter one another senseless at every opportunity. Houston played host to countless shows and tours this year that forced fans to keep their knees bent and their elbows out if they wanted to remain upright. Most were typically joyous affairs; some were a tad nastier than that.

Whether it was with hardcore floor-punches or thrash-metal clotheslines, you really beat the shit out of one another this year, Houston. Kudos! Now, at year's end, Rocks Off salutes your best concert scrums of 2013 by reliving a few of the scariest, most exciting mosh pits of the past 12 months. If you ran towards these mini-riots instead of running away from them, you're indisputably bigger, younger and (possibly) crazier than we are. Difference is, we got the photos.

For those who weren't there or were simply too concussed to remember much, let's take a look back at the bands who left the most scars, shall we? If you found any of them wanting, remember: The best mosh pit is always the next one that you start.

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Monster Magnet at Fitzgerald's, 12/3/2013

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Photos by Nicholas Zalud
Monster Magnet, Royal Thunder, Anti-Mortem, Venomous Maximus
Fitzgerald's
December 3, 2013

Tuesday night rock shows are always a dicey proposition. Staying up late and partying on a work night sounds like a good idea in theory, but in practice, fans are often too hesitant to really cut loose when they know they're going to have to face the alarm clock bright and early on the same morning that they stumbled out of the club.

Naturally, the best shows are the ones that make you forget not only that you've got to get up and go to work in the morning, but that the very concepts of work and responsibility exist. Experienced rockers know that these shows are few and far between, but we got one last night when the mighty Monster Magnet touched down at Fitzgerald's.

There was already a nice crowd of people inside the creaky old joint by the time the music began, courtesy of local metal sovereigns Venomous Maximus, taking a break from preparing their new album for release to fill Fitz with their familiar, doomy riffage. Heads bobbed enthusiastically for the chugging newer cuts "Dark Way" and "Angel Heart," both of which drew big cheers.


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