From Hell’s Heart:
THE TOP 5 METAL VOCAL REPLACEMENTS
As usual, constraints must be placed on everyone’s suggestions. The vocalists, the original and the replacement in each list, must have both recorded a studio album with the band. To make our lists a little more interesting, we have an honorable Top 5 which we disallowed from each staffers top 5. We just assumed these would likely win otherwise and make the point of doing the list pointless.
Honorary top 5:
1. Bruce Dickinson
3. Rob Halford
4. Phil Anselmo
5. Brian Johnson
So with those vocal legends given their rightful place, let’s continue on with the selections.
When thinking about replacements, many failures immediately come to mind (perhaps we’ll use that as an upcoming topic). But there are plenty of vocalists who came in and did as good, and at times, a better job, than their predecessor.
1. Andi Deris – Helloween
Although Helloween fans are often divided on the “Deris vs. Kiske” debate, I’m not divided on the subject at all. Both are excellent and offer their own style. With the downturn in Helloween’s style prior to Michael Kiske’s departure, it was a rebirth when Andi joined in 1993 and he’s been with them ever since! May long live Andi Deris fronted Helloween!
2. Mark Tornillo – Accept
Here is an example of a vocalist who came along and took a band to new heights. Mark replaced Udo Dirkschneider in 2009 as it was reported that Udo didn’t want to record new music with Accept and make it a full time thing, so when their reunion shows with Udo were done, in came the replacement. While I love old Accept, the three albums (to date) that Mark has done with Accept are my favorites by the band.
3. Zachary “Zak” Stevens – Savatage
When Jon Oliva stepped to the background in Savatage I was concerned, but when I heard Zak in 1993 on the album Edge of Thorns, I was relieved. He rivaled Jon and kept the band alive throughout the 90’s when many bands went to shit, Savatage stood strong.
4. Stu Block – Iced Earth
I loved both Matt Barlow and Ripper with Iced Earth, but Stu really came in and gave the band the sound and life that lives up to the legacy.
5. Floor Jansen – Nightwish
Perhaps my favorite female vocalist, Floor was able to do justice to both eras of Nightwish.
There is not much to say but after these singers came on board, all these bands went onto much higher levels of fame and recognition largely based on the superb performance of these vocalists.
1.) Michael Kiske replaces Kai Hansen in Helloween
2.) Timo Koltipelto replaces Timo Tolkki in Stratovarius
3.) Roy Khan replaces Mark Vanderbilt in Kamelot
4.) Marco Marcolin replaces Johan Lanquist in Candlemass
5.) Dead replaces Messiah in Mayhem.
In No Particular Order…
1) John Bush – Anthrax
I was as skeptical as the next guy when I learned that the guy from Armored Saint was going to be the new singer for Anthrax. What the hell would that even sound like? Beyond their differences in vocal styles, John and Joey are just very different performers in general. But THE SOUND OF WHITE NOISE was exactly the kick in the ass that Anthrax needed at the time to get their mojo back. That album lives and dies by John Bush’s vocals; Joey would’ve never been able to pull off “Only” or “Room For One More”. Bush pushed the band into broader, heavier and more complex musical territory, and his addition renewed Anthrax’s credibility in the metal community. The crowd reaction to his appearance with the band at Sonisphere a few years back proves I’m not alone in this sentiment.
2) Steve “Zetro” Souza – Exodus
Paul Baloff was an incredible frontman and BONDED BY BLOOD is an unquestionable classic, but there’s no denying the impact that Zetro’s addition had on Exodus. Despite the drama that’s followed his relationship with the band, he will always be THE defining voice of Exodus.
3) Mike Howe – Metal Church
I was pretty indifferent to Metal Church prior to BLESSING IN DISGUISE, but the “Badlands” video changed my attitude entirely. The guy had the same range as his predecessor (David Wayne), but he brought an added depth and charisma to the music that had been missing. I’m pretty stoked that he’s back in the band, and judging from the re-recorded “Badlands” teaser, he’s still got the chops to make Metal Church a viable property again.
4) George “Corpsegrinder” Fischer – Cannibal Corpse
There was a time when the thought of anybody but Chris Barnes fronting Cannibal Corpse would’ve been treated as heresy, but ask Corpse fans that question today and the likely response will be “Chris who?” Fischer’s entrance to the band ushered in Cannibal Corpse version 2.0, a more serious and career minded version of the band with a focus on world domination. His hulking persona is matched only by his versatile vocal gymnastics, making him the perfect centerpiece for one of the metal’s most controversial bands.
5) Mark “Barney” Greenway – Napalm Death
Under Greenway’s stewardship, Napalm Death went from being an infamous, blue collar UK grindcore outfit to being one of the most globally respected and longest running metal bands of all time. Whether it’s spastic fits of vocal fury or more pronounced declarations, Greenway’s growl (and his general social consciousness) have become synonymous with the Napalm Death brand; you can’t have one without the other.
When I started thinking about this topic, I immediately came up with so many names that it would have been nearly impossible for me to narrow it down to five. I did notice a trend though, so with that in mind, I’m going to do something a little bit different and present my Top 5 Bands That Have Had Multiple Successful Vocalist Replacements…key word being “Successful”. Even here, there are a ton of options, so this list should of course only be seen as my own personal preferences.
Note: In deference to the original intent of this topic, my Honorable Mentions will include my single picks.
1. Deep Purple (Ian Gillan, David Coverdale, Glenn Hughes, Joe Lynn Turner)
Has any band had more luck with replacement musicians than Deep Purple? Obviously for purposes of this discussion I’ll confine it to the vocalists, but geez! Anyway, poor Rod Evans. The man was no slouch and the band did well under his stewardship of the mic, but adding the amazing Gillan in ’69 strapped a rocket to the band’s collective asses and in some respects, they have yet to come down. While the band’s fortunes declined after Gilllan left, the addition of young Coverdale and Hughes on competing vocals re-charged the band for at least one classic album (BURN) and a couple more solid ones. After Gillan re-joined and left again, they added ex-Rainbow man Joe Lynn Turner for one album and although it’s not fondly remembered, you can’t fault Turner’s performance. Of course, in 1993 Gillan returned to his throne permanently, solidfying the Deep Purple legacy. It’s truly an amazing run of vocalists for an equally amazing band.
2. Axel Rudi Pell (Rob Rock, Jeff Scott Soto, Johnny Gioeli)
Another guy with golden luck, Axel Rudi Pell has had a string of incredible vocalists, somehow even starting his career with former Ted Nugent side-man Charlie Huhn. But to follow that up with the likes of Rob Rock (1 album), Jeff Scott Soto (4 albums) and, in my opinion, of the most talented and under-appreciated vocalists in metal, Johnny Gioeli (9 albums and counting) is nothing short of astounding. All three guys are top-flight talents that have elevated Pell’s music to higher levels.
3. Helloween (Michael Kiske, Andi Deris)
Well duh. While Kai Hansen didn’t really come into his own as a vocalist until he took over the mic in Gamma Ray, Helloween soldiered on in style. Kiske is “only” one of the most revered vocalists in metal of all time, while Andi Deris has more than proven his own unique vocals can carry a band; add in his song writing talent and you have a force to be reckoned with.
4. Kamelot (Roy Khan, Tommy Karevik)
I often compare Kamelot’s original vocalist, Mark Vanderbilt, to Deep Purple’s Rod Evans. Both were capable singers that got completely overshadowed and nearly forgotten in the wake of the men who succeeded them. The fact that their respective bands’ music improved significantly after they left is typically forgotten as well. That said, Roy Khan joining Kamelot was a minor miracle for the band as he gave them a powerful and distinctive voice to propel the music and differentiate them from the power metal crowd. So much so, in fact, that everyone assumed the band was dead after Khan left. Enter the equally impressive Tommy Karevik. Yes, he often sounds like Khan’s doppelganger, but now with two albums under his belt, he’s really begun to show his own personal style.
5. Black Sabbath (Ian Gillan, Glenn Hughes, Tony Martin, Ray Gillen)
Reminder!!: this week’s topic purposefully excluded Dio from the list, so I am focusing exclusively on the post-Dio years here.
Say what you will about the quality of music Black Sabbath has released without Ozzy and Ronnie, but I happen to enjoy just about all of it. While it didn’t work out long-term, Ian Gillan joining the band was a stroke of genius at that time and I will happily argue with anyone who says that BORN AGAIN is not an top-flight album (it is). And yes, Glenn Hughes was perhaps a drug & drink-addled mess during the SEVENTH STAR years but his soulful vocals always win the day and that album did have some great cuts. As for Tony Martin, he may just be the most unfairly disrespected vocalist in all of metal. The albums he recorded with Sabbath, particularly THE ETERNAL IDOL, easily stand up against nearly anything else the band has released, post-1975; largely due to Martin’s roar. Add in Ray Gillen’s contributions which have finally & officially seen the light of day, and Tony Iommi surely must count his lucky stars for his good fortune.
Mikael Stanne (Dark Tranquillity)
Tomi Joutsen (Amorphis)
Timo Kotipelto (Stratovarius)
James LaBrie (Dream Theater)
Urban Breed (Tad Morose)
Russell Allen (Symphony X)
1. Joey Belladonna
Although Neil Turbin did a fine job on FISTFUL OF METAL, his Judas Priest style didn’t quite fit Anthrax. Belladona replaced him on sophomore effort SPREADING THE DISEASE and immediately Joey impressed with his vocal range and power. More of a pure singer in the vein of Dio than say a thrash vocalist like Tom Araya, Joey’s style made Anthrax unique. All of Anthrax’s best material features Joey – “Caught in a Mosh”, “I Am The Law”, “Indians”, “Madhouse”, “Anti-Social” (Trust cover), “Among The Living”, “Be All, End All”, etc. In 2010, Joey’s return to Anthrax in time for the Big 4 shows reinvigorated the band and they have been on fire ever since, putting out WORSHIP MUSIC in 2011, playing Yankee Stadium as part of Big 4, and touring the world.
2. Mark “Barney” Greenway
Birmingham’s Napalm Death was gaining momentum in the late 80s, but the sound was changing from punk to death metal. The Lee Dorian / Bill Steer lineup was coming to and end as Steer wanted to focus full time on Carcass and Dorian, unhappy with the new ND sound, formed Cathedral and started singing doom metal. Napalm could have completely fallen apart. Instead, Mark “Barney” Greenway from Benediction (also a Birmingham band) took over the helm and is still Napalm’s singer and focal point 25 years later! Perfecting the “deathgrunt” vocal style created by Death / Massacre vocalist Kam Lee, Barney’s growls and bellows took the metal underground by storm with HARMONY CORRUPTION. If the Hulk could sing, he would sound like Barney Greenway! Although Barney’s voice has changed a lot over the last 25 years, he is still an amazing frontman and nobody is a crazy as he is onstage!
3. David Vincent
David Vincent’s predecessor in Morbid Angel was Mike Browning, who handled drum and vocal duties for the band. Browning wasn’t particularly good at either, so guitarist / band leader Trey Azagthoth replaced Browning with Terrorizer’s Vincent on vocals and Pete Sandoval on drums. The result was death metal perfection ala ALTARS OF MADNESS in 1989! In addition to ALTARS, Vincent would go on to sing on some of the best death metal albums of all time, BLESSED ARE THE SICK and COVENANT. His death growl has impressive range, high end (“Angel of Disease”) and low end (“Day of Suffering”) and his creepy baritone clean vocals on “God of Emptiness” are just amazing. Vincent left in 1996 to be replaced by Steve Tucker. Although I like the Tucker albums, the band wasn’t quite the same until David returned in 2004. The band appears to be finished now and I am very sad. I’ve seen Morbid Angel 7 times with David at the helm, and I consider myself a very lucky metalhead.
4. George “Corpsegringer” Fisher
In 1995, Cannibal Corpse was tired of singer Chris Barnes’s antics. He was slipping as a vocalist, you can hear a major drop off in his vocals from TOMB OF THE MUTILATED to THE BLEEDING. Something had to be done, so they replaced him with Monstrosity vocalist George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher and became the biggest death metal band in the world! George’s vocals have more range and ferocity than Chris’ and he took things much more seriously. 1996’s VILE was well-received by fans and then CC proceeded to crank out consistent, brutal death metal every 2 – 3 years, touring like a monster. George is a great live vocalist and he is easily the best headbanger of all time. Nobody can spin their noggin around for 75 min a night like he does! Look at that neck!
5. Dave Ingram
With one album under their belts and Barney Greenway’s deparute to Napalm Death in 1990, Benediction could have been finished before they started. Instead, the band found Dave Ingram and proceeded to put out phenomenal death metal that even got Chuck Shuldiner’s attention! 1991’s THE GRAND LEVELER was Ingram’s debut, and he emulated Greenway’s style while still putting his own stamp on it. DARK IS THE SEASON and TRANSCEND THE RUBICON followed, and after those landmarks everyone in extreme metal knew who Dave Ingram was! Nobody is better than singing about serial killers than Mr. Ingram, check out “Jumping at Shadows” and “Born in a Fever” for his take on the Son of Sam and Jack the Ripper!
1. Michele Luppi in Vision Divine
When I heard his voice in the promo for Stream of Consciousness for the very first time, I thought another angel must have fallen.
2. Edu Falaschi in Angra
The only times I’ve seen Angra have been with Edu singing so I don’t feel cheated even if I am a huge fan of Andre Matos era Angra.
3. Floor Jansen in Nightwish
While no-one will ever be able to match what Tarja gave to Nightwish, Floor is a worthy replacement. White Anette Olzen is a good singer, I just didn’t like her in Nightwish.
4. Capri in Amberian Dawn
Amberian Dawn have had a history if singer changes (although not as much as some female-fronted bands), but I think they’ve got it completely right with Capri.
5. Fabio Lione in Angra
A rather strange replacement which I still haven’t been able to get my head around, but Fabio in any band can’t be a bad thing.
It’s hard for a band to go through a change of singer and in the most cases the band doesn’t survive it. In most of the cases the singer IS the band and is hard to replace. There are only a few bands that have survived the change.
1. Entombed: Lars-Göran Petrov – Johnny Dordevic
The Swedish death metal pioneer suffered a short break with original growler Petrov. The break was short but not sweet and soon Petrov was back.
2. Mötely Crue: Vince Neil – John Corabi
In my opinion is Corabi a much better singer than Neil and more suitable in Mötley Crue. The album Corabi recorded with Mötley Crue is sadly underestimated.
3. Krokus: Marc Storace – Peter Tanner
Storace IS Krokus, it was a huge mistake to replace Storace with Tanner. Luckily the fans didn’t have to wait long until their favorite shouter was back in the band.
4. Arch Enemy Johan Liiva – Angela Gossow
Liiva didn’t do a bad job in Arch Enemy and with Gossow behind the mic, the band slightly changed musical direction and she fit better as the lead growler than Liiva. Gossow is one of the worlds best growlers – male or female!!
5. Candlemass: Messiah Marcolin – Thomas Vikström – Mats Levén
The Swedish kings of doom have gone through a few changes in the line-up when it comes to singers. The fact remains – Marcolin IS the true voice in Candlemass.
1. Joey Belladonna (Anthrax – 1984/1985)
Joey is a thrash machine. Active and energetic to date. He’s got a talented clean voice that can make any Anthrax song look like a diamond. Replacing Neil Turbin, whose voice I like a lot, but Belladonna is much better, don’t you think?
2. James LaBrie (Dream Theater – 1988)
DT released their debut album with Charlie Dominici on vocals. That was a good album, but not as good as if James Labrie could of done it. I put James Labrie in #2. There were too many candidates (around 200 as I remember). Canadian James Labrie has been chosen and ultimately contributed in making Dream Theater a main and eminent band. Remember, mainly with the outlandish interpretations not only in “Images And Words”, but also in “Awake”. Then the food poisoning has come, problems in performance, the questioning, the taunt, the resurgence. 25 years have passed after Labrie’s recruitment and this boasts that it has offered and achieve much more than they really are recognized. Many will disagree, but I doubt you could do a better option.
3. Mike Tornillo (Accept – 2009)
I am a big fan of Accept. When UDO left the band, I thought that Accept had died. But they said it’s not true. The recruit Mike who’s vocals are similar to UDO’s but much better. Then, after the reunion, Accept released 3 incredible albums. They live again after their 80’s success. AND THEY DESERVE IT!
4. Matt Barlow (Iced Earth – 1994)
Iced Earth is one of my favorite bands, and Matt Barlow is one of the biggest vocalists out there. He did amazing things with Iced Earth and re-recorded the debut album and BURNT OFFERINGS. If you listen to the first takes, you gonna say the same with me.
5. Floor Jansen (Nightwish – 2013)
She’s pretty, tall, with an absolutely incredible voice and live performance, and a great biography and history with After Forever. She’s not a soprano like Tarja Turunen, but who cares? I like Tarja as a vocalist but maybe not as a person even though I do not know her personally.
As for Dio who replaced Ozzy in 1979, he was one of the most anticipated and beloved metal vocalists of all time. Undoubtedly. The Sabs have already closed behind a good route with Ozzy, but they could not continue their talented metal path together any more, Ronnie did not get along with Ritchie, so something had to be done. The undisputed quality of Dio’s voice was accompanied by a diversification into the compositions of the amazing “Heaven And Hell” and “The Mob Rules”, two albums that stood enough to make large percentage of the fanbase to consider the period of Sabbath with Dio.
Phil Anselmo is another one obvious option for this top-5. This is probably the only case of band that turn down its sleazy style and adopted a heavier one and then the band made its breakthrough. Phil Anselmo was one of the responsible guys behind that change. He replaced Terry Glaze who was more of glam style and Pantera were more of pitiful glam rock band.
I made that list considering that Bruce Dickinson and Rob Halford would be the winners in this top-5. So, I did not place them as special winners of this top-5, and put others in those positions just to show another succeeded metal replacements beyond the obvious ones. Furthermore there are a plenty of choices that I could do for the top 5 but… Joey Belladonna, Michael Kiske, Floor Jansen, Angela Gossow, Tommy Karevik.
All those vocalists are amazing and did a great job with their current and previous bands.