10 heavy metal replacement singers even better than the original

Changing a vocalist isn’t like changing a tyre. They’re the literal voice of the band, the only member whose instrument is themselves. But sometimes that change is for the better and drives bands to heights they never would have reached without replacing them. Here, we’ve listed 10 metal singers who are better than their predecessor, and who helped spur their bands on to bigger and better things. 

Metal Hammer line break

Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden)

The most obvious pick on the list, the man nicknamed the Air Raid Siren has one of the most distinctive voices in metal history. Replacing Paul Di’Anno after Iron Maiden’s first two albums, Brucey’s quasi-operatic wails immediately set him apart from his punkier predecessor. Maiden – and indeed metal – would never be the same after his debut on Number Of The Beast, and we’re grateful for that.

Corey Taylor (Slipknot)

While Slipknot don’t consider Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat. canon, it’s still the first release under their name and with original vocalist Anders Colsefni. He was replaced by Corey Taylor before 1999’s self-titled and the rest, as they say, is history. Like it or not, Corey’s an outspoken frontman and powerhouse vocalist who helped propel The Nine to greatness.

Rob Halford (Judas Priest)

He’s the man who popularised leather as heavy metal’s de-facto uniform and is an icon for LGBTQ+ metalheads around the world. Rob Halford replaced original Judas Priest singer Al Atkins, who left the future Metal Gods to support his family in 1973. Just one spin of Breaking The Law or Painkiller is proof that Halford was the Priest’s missing piece.

Mike Patton (Faith No More)

Alt-metal pioneers Faith No More had already made a strong start with debut We Care A Lot. However, recruiting Mr Bungle’s Mike Patton based on a demo they heard helped the band push into increasingly more experimental territories and critical acclaim. Patton’s voice is iconic, a master of multiple styles including rap, screaming and falsetto – plus a whole lot more.

Joey Belladonna (Anthrax)

Anthrax have had their fair share of vocalists over the years. Widely considered part of its “classic” lineup, Joey Belladonna has been both the second and fifth frontman for the iconic thrashers. Appearing on several of their most acclaimed albums, including 1987’s Among The Living, his tenor range is immediately recognisable, as is his energetic presence during live shows.

George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher (Cannibal Corpse)

Corpsegrinder has, inarguably, the greatest neck in metal. He’s also one of its most iconic voices, replacing Chris Barnes after the first four Cannibal Corpse albums. Since then, the New York gore merchants have remained remarkably consistent – the change in vocalist has only done them good, and they’re currently enjoying a late career renaissance with Violence Unimagined and Chaos Horrific

Greg Puciato (The Dillinger Escape Plan)

The Dillinger Escape Plan made some of the most challenging, obtuse music imaginable, but it wasn’t until Greg Puciato joined them that the incendiary band truly took off. Often hurling himself around and off the stage, Puciato is also famous for that incident at Reading Festival, but it’s his ferocious screams and delicate melodies that helped ground such intense music. 

Barney Greenway (Napalm Death)

The godfathers of grind, Napalm Death have gone through more than a few members, with the seminal Scum being recorded by two different lineups. However, neither included Barney Greenway, who joined in 1989 and has fronted them since. Napalm Death have gone from strength to strength since, exploring a slew of extreme genres, all with Barney’s distinctively gruff bark.

Angela Gossow (Arch Enemy)

Swedish melodeath outfit Arch Enemy were starting to make a name for themselves, but adding Angela Gossow as their new singer after Johan Liiva’s departure was a master stroke. Her vicious, guttural roar on Wages Of Sin and its followup Anthems Of Rebellion helped catapult the band to metal’s upper echelons – then her presence and charisma kept them there for years, too. 

Pepper Keenan (Corrosion Of Conformity)

While he joined the band in 1989, it wasn’t until 1994’s Deliverance that Pepper Keenan took over lead vocal duties and, bar a short stint from 2010 to ’14 while he toured with sludge supergroup Down, he’s remained there since. His gravelly delivery has helped push Corrosion Of Conformity into the stoner/sludge metal titans we know and love to this day. 

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