8 Metal Bands Made Better by Switching Vocalists

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

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.

After the Burial

The singer turmoil with After the Burial was a huge joke during their early career. It just never seemed to stop. Every time they would make their way back to Houston, it seemed like they were fronted by a different guy. Most of those early vocalists pretty much sucked, including and especially Nick Wellner, who did vocal duties on their first record,

Forging a Future Self


They eventually recruited Anthony Notarmaso and it was a match made in heaven as he's a fantastic vocalist and fit right in with the band. Despite his perennial presence since, Wellner did make an appearance on the band's latest as a nostalgic tip of the hat. It was fun to hear him, but I hope he never comes back full time.


One wonders whether it's even fair to include Pantera here, since their early career is mostly entirely disregarded. It's a very poorly kept secret that the metal gods of the '90s were a pretty shitty glam metal band in the '80s, back when Dimebag Darrell was known as Diamond Darrell and they all had teased hair.

Oh, and this guy named Terry Glaze sang for them. After he was given the boot in favor of Phil Anselmo, the band started getting a whole lot better and whole lot more badass. These days, it's hard to imagine Pantera with anyone else on the microphone, but those early records are still floating around like high school yearbook photos.

Poison the Well

It's easy to forget since Jeff Moreira was Poison the Well's iconic front man for their entire full-length discography, but the band did record one EP with a different vocalist early on.

Distance Only Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

was released by a pre-fame Poison the Well in 1998 and actually featured two different vocalists.

They eventually ditched the idea of the whole dual vocalist thing, and recruited Moreira who might as well have been their original singer for all that first EP really mattered in the grand scheme of things. Still, it's weird hearing Poison the Well without him.

The Dillinger Escape Plan

This one is still controversial among Dillinger fans since their music was much less varied and much heavier before the inclusion of current vocalist Greg Puciato. However, despite the addition of melodic tendencies to their music, it's hard to argue with results. Their fanbase has expanded dramatically, and their work since Puciato joined the band has been hugely successful.

Original vocalist Dimitri Minakakis hasn't just dropped off the face of the earth though. He actually left to become an artist and remains good friends with the band, having gone on to design the artwork for their 2010 album Option Paralysis.

Killswitch Engage

Another controversial one among fans, but Killswitch Engage's greatest success critically and commercially emerged after the then-small metalcore band recruited Howard Jones to replace the departing Jesse Leach. Jones propelled them to new heights with his mix of screaming and smooth, melodic singing.

For the past few years, Leach has once again taken on vocal duties for the band after Jones left due to the heavy touring and his struggle with diabetes. It's renewed the debate once again over which is better, with a whole new generation of fans debating the merits of each. One thing is for sure though, there probably wouldn't be this new generation of fans had Jones never joined in the first place.

Faith No More

Any band would probably benefit by replacing their current vocalist with Mike Patton, due to the man's exceptional gifts as a singer, screamer, songwriter, and vocal artist (if that's what you want to call the albums he's made entirely composed of noises made with his mouth and voice box).

Faith No More just happened to be the band that actually did it, recruiting him from his band Mr. Bungle after a run with Chuck Mosely at the helm that only produced mediocre success and a disastrous turn with Courtney Love on the mic. It propelled them and Patton to stardom and they've become legends for their insane output, which ranged from metal to Burt Bacharach.

Dream Theater

Though I personally am not a fan of Dream Theater's James LaBrie, their longtime vocalist has made the band what it is today. His voice is as iconic as any in the metal world, and it would be hard to imagine the band without him singing, even despite the awful experiment with Mike Portnoy taking on some of the vocal duties in the early 2000s.

LaBrie didn't get his start until Dream Theater's second album though, their most famous and most popular Images and Words. On their first record, When Dream and Day Unite, the singing was done by Charlie Dominici. The album was little heard, but for those who have grabbed a copy since, it's not hard to hear why he was replaced. His pipes just weren't there and didn't fit the music.


It's hard to believe, but Periphery has been a band since 2005. The reason most people don't remember much of their early career, however, is that they didn't take off for a long time. They had continual lineup problems, and it was difficult for them to get anything off the ground.

Things picked up when singer and screamer Spencer Sotelo started with them in 2010. Since his inclusion, they've become one of the most popular and well regarded progressive metal bands in the game. Prior though, it's tough to even listen to some of their demos because of how bad their early vocalists were.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.