Five Metal Bands Who Overcame the Odds

The Slayer road show hits Bayou Music Center this evening, but don't get your hopes up too high. This is Slayer practically in name only, thanks to the tragic passing of guitarist Jeff Hanneman in May and the firing of drummer Dave Lombardo. Frankly, I'd prefer if remaining members Kerry King and Tom Araya would just throw in the towel and let Slayer go out with dignity. However, they're determined to carry on with touring and a new record in the works.

Is that such a bad thing, though? Hell, if any band could prove doubting Thomi like myself wrong, it would have to be Slayer. After all, they're not the only band who have attempted to rise from the ashes like this, and there have even been quite a few successes in the world of metal who overcame the odds to have long careers after tragedy and loss of membership.

Take these five, for instance, who Slayer could maybe learn something from going forward.

REWIND: Could Slayer's Bloody Reign Be Coming to an End?

5. Metallica The loss of a bassist might not seem like the death knell for a band, but Cliff Burton was no ordinary bassist. He was a big component of the songwriting process in Metallica's early days, as well as a vital aspect of the "spirit" of the band.

When he unfortunately died in a bus accident in 1986, it could have been the end of the line for what was up to then one of the hottest rising bands in the world. The other members even admitted they considered disbanding after Burton's death.

Thankfully for everyone involved they decided to keep going, and we all know the rest of the story from there.

4. Baroness Perhaps no other band has had to fight as hard to overcome and keep their career going as Baroness. One of the most significant breakout metal bands in years, their rise was unfortunately threatened by a bus accident which left all members of the band severely injured. Two, drummer Allen Blickle and bassist Matt Maggioni, were forced to leave the band permanently due to the accident.

Still, vocalist/guitarist John Baizley and lead guitarist Peter Adams decided that they weren't willing to let the band go without a fight. After recruiting a new rhythm sections and recovering from their own injuries, they got back on the road this year and kicked our asses at this year's Free Press Summer Fest.

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3. Alice in Chains Many of us cried blasphemy when it was announced Alice in Chains would even be performing with a new vocalist on the road. Like so many other situations (Sublime with Rome or Queen + Paul Rodgers, for instance), it seemed like a potentially embarrassing desecration of their legacy. Instead, it turned out pretty well.

We flipped even more when the band decided to start recording. Surely this would be the embarrassment we had been waiting for. Nope. Instead AiC came back strong as ever with Black Gives Way to Blue, churning out a record worthy of their name and so dead on it was like they had never stopped recording to begin with. They even kept it up for a second go-around with this year's The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here.

List continues on the next page.

2. Ozzy Osbourne Okay, let's be honest here: the former Black Sabbath front man had already clearly carved a niche as a performer and a personality by the time that legendary guitarist Randy Rhoads died in a plane crash. Still, the loss was potentially devastating on more than just a personal level for Osbourne. Rhoads had been the primary songwriter of his first two records, and his shoes were pretty much too big to fill.

Osbourne still managed to coast after Rhoads' death though, subbing in a few different imitators including most notably Jake E. Lee. The records with Lee proved successful and turned out hits, even if they were a lot more typical of mainstream metal at the time than the inventive guitar work Rhoads had provided.

However, Osbourne really got lucky when he discovered a young Zakk Wylde, who replaced Lee and became Osbourne's primary collaborator for the next two decades. Wylde represented a new era, and finally brought Osbourne's music back to the field Rhoads had been playing on.

1. Mayhem Mayhem's history is both tragic and just damned weird. The black metallers started out in 1984, and it's a true testament to perseverance that they still exist today. Among other controversies, they survived the suicide of lead vocalist and black metal pioneer Dead. Then came the murder of founding guitarist Euronymous by former bassist Count Grishnackh, known more prominently by his real name Varg Vikernes or his later band Burzum.

At that point, most bands would have simply given up, but not Mayhem. Members Necro Butcher and Hellhammer brought the band back in 1995, just two years after the death of Euronymous. The band has remained a prominent touring and recording entity ever since, with several highly acclaimed releases in the following years.

Slayer performs tonight at Bayou Music Center, 520 Texas (Bayou Place), with Gojira. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.


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