I’ve been there: in the unenviable position of leaving an established band, and having to ponder, “What’s next?” Sometimes you quit. Sometimes they kick you out. Sometimes the band just…ends. Many move on and leave the rock ’n’ roll life behind— get a job, start a family and be, just, normal. The rest of us decide to carry on, and get back in the game. If you’re lucky (and super talented), you might get picked up by another established band like Jon Donais from Shadows Fall getting picked up by Anthrax, or his predecessor, Rob Caggiano, joining Volbeat.
The truly tenacious few decide to start something brand new, from the ground up. Sometimes this takes the form of a “supergroup,” but this is not the music industry of old where big money contracts were preemptively laying at the feet of any artist with a “name.” Even if having well-known musicians in your new band gives you a leg up, you still have to get out there and grind it out to build your fanbase to anything close to your previous band’s status. It takes a ton of work and humility to be willing to get back in the trenches. I wanted to shine a light on some new(ish) bands from artists whose past work you may be familiar with.
Act Of Defiance
Established Musicians of Note: Chris Broderick (Megadeth, Jag Panzer, Nevermore), Shawn Drover (Megadeth), Matt Bachand (Shadows Fall), Henry Derek (Scar The Martyr)
Act Of Defiance was announced almost immediately after Chris Broderick declared his exit from Megadeth following drummer, Shawn Drover’s departure from the same band. You can tell from the just the opening verse riff that Drover and Broderick were itching to do something faster, angrier, and thrashier than their former band. “Throwback” kicks you in the nuts and doesn’t relent. Their debut album, Birth and the Burial, comes out August 21st on Metal Blade Records.
Devil You Know
Established Musicians of Note: Howard Jones (Killswitch Engage, Blood Has Been Shed), Francesco Artusato (All Shall Perish), John Sankey (Devolved, Fear Factory), Ryan Wombacher (Bleeding Through)
Normally a drama-free outfit, news surrounding Howard Jones’ departure from Killswitch Engage was fraught with scandalous rumors. After Jones all but disappeared from the public eye, it was a wonderful surprise to hear about his new band, Devil You Know. Their 2014 debut, The Beauty Of Destruction, was a welcomed slice of accessible —but über-heavy— metal. It’s nice to see guitar virtuoso Francesco Artusato flourish in a more traditional song-based band, and bassist Ryan Wombacher’s backing vocals and harmonies are absolutely stellar live.
Established Musicians of Note: Till Lindemann (Rammstein), Peter Tägtgren (Hypocrisy, PAIN, Bloodbath)
Technically, Lindemann falls under the category of side project and supergroup, but it is clearly a big time release and major focus for these mammoth musicians. I love the idea that an artist like Till Lindemann, who has had so much mainstream success with Rammstein, has made an album with a hero of the underground, Peter Tägtgren. And better yet, both have equal billing. I found the video for the single, “Praise Abort,” irresistible. The primal, repugnant lyrics and imagery might distract from the spectacular production value, but like Rammstein, Lindemann wields repugnance with deft genius. Also, an interesting note that this is Till Lindemann’s first album sung completely in English.
Established Musicians of Note: Logan Mader (Machine Head, Soulfly)
If you were an early Machine Head fan, Logan Mader took on a somewhat legendary status because he was the lead guitarist on their first 2 albums, Burn My Eyes and The More Things Change. These were considered to be the band’s definitive sound compared to their more nu metal experimentations on The Burning Red and Supercharger. Since then, Mader had made a big name as one of metal’s most sought after producers. Once Human is his first creative output in years, which tells me how special it must be. I have only heard the one song released, and it’s extremely promising. I’m sure some will compare it to Arch Enemy because of the vocalist, but I reserve judgement until I hear the full album.
Scar The Martyr
Established Musicians of Note: Joey Jordison (Slipknot, Murderdolls), Kris Norris (Darkest Hour, Straight Line Stitch), Jed Simon (Strapping Young Lad, Front Line Assembly, Zimmer’s Hole), Kyle Konkiel (In This Moment)
Scar The Martyr was started during one of Slipknot’s long breaks between records, before Joey Jordison had been fired from Slipknot. Although, he was taking the band seriously, his exit from Slipknot put Scar The Martyr to the forefront as his main band. Despite having a monumental assembly of talent, I believe Jordison handled the songwriting for the band’s self-titled debut record. Since it’s release, the band has parted ways with vocalist Henry Derek, and looks to release its sophomore album with a new vocalist this fall. I found the first album to be an interesting blend of rumbling, low-end grooves and overt gothic atmosphere, and I’m looking forward to the new record.
Established Musicians of Note: Nick Hipa, Phil Sgrosso, Jordan Mancino, Josh Gilbert (As I Lay Dying), Shane Blay (Oh Sleeper)
You had to be living under a rock to not hear about the collapse of As I Lay Dying due to its lead singer, Tim Lambesis, being sent to prison for plotting to kill his wife. Thankfully, the rest of the band didn’t miss a step, as they carried on with Wovenwar, which isn’t drastically different from As I Lay Dying’s core sound. Along with many of crunchy breakdowns, the band has removed all screamed vocals, instead favoring an emotive, melodic vocal approach with Oh Sleeper vocalist and guitarist, Shane Blay, joining the fray. He and bassist/vocalist Josh Gilbert really serve as dual frontmen, harmonizing throughout. Wovenwar’s debut album is catchy as ebola, and I can’t wait to see how they develop. We should all be rooting for these guys.
Established Musicians of Note: Steve Brodsky (Cave In), Ben Koller (Converge)
I’m not sure if Mutoid Man counts as a new band or side project, but Steve Brodsky has indicated that the activity of Cave In is somewhat in the air, so Mutoid Man might be his priority for the time being. Ben Koller is still very active as drummer of Converge. What’s cool about Mutoid Man is how different it is from Cave In or Converge. You can tell it’s a fun, organic band without any broad motives. Bleeder is available now on Sargent House Records.
Established Musicians of Note: Christian Älvestam (Scar Symmetry)
Christian Älvestam’s true claim to fame is the fact that he was such a stellar and diverse vocalist that Scar Symmetry needed to hire 2 singers (one melodic, and one growler) to replace him. Scar Symmetry’s last album with Älvestam, Holographic Universe, was their breakthrough release, and is still a fan favorite. Although Solution 45’s only album, For Aeons Past, was released over 5 years ago, their social media indicates the follow-up album should be released very, very soon.
Obey The Brave
Established Musicians of Note: Alex Erian (Despised Icon), John Campbell, Miguel Lepage (Blind Witness)
Alex Erian’s former band, Despised Icon, was truly ahead of their time, pioneering a distinct deathcore foundation years before the sub-genre had become the behemoth it currently is. His current band, Obey The Brave, based out of Quebec, are a much more straight-forward beatdown hardcore/metalcore band, following in the footsteps of bands like Bury Your Dead and Hatebreed. They are not quite as metallic as most of the other bands mentioned in the article, but I like to keep it diverse and expose talent in all realms heavy.
Established Musicians of Note: Ihsahn (Emperor)
Few black metal bands carry the kind of reverential legacy like Emperor. At their peak, the elegance with which they crafted their sinister compositions left them truly without peers. If you miss that signature, high-minded tonality, than it’s time to dig deep into ex-Emperor impresario Ihsahn’s solo catalogue, which is now five albums deep. Unlike Emperor, Ihsahn’s solo output is much more avant-garde, experimenting with horns, dark jazz, and progressive ambience that pushes the boundaries of all extreme music. Ihsahn is in that small camp of do-it-all visionaries like Devin Townsend, plus his cool ass name sounds like he could be a Sith Lord.
Established Musicians of Note: Warrel Dane, Jim Sheppard (Nevermore)
Nevermore’s demise in 2011 splintered the band with Jeff Loomis’ star rising as a solo artist and eventually landing in Arch Enemy. Drummer Van Williams started Ghost Ship Octavius, and Warrel Dane and Jim Sheppard reignited their old band, Sanctuary. While Sanctuary isn’t a new band, I think there should almost be a statute of limitations where bringing a band back from the dead is virtually starting over again. It was exactly 25 years between Sanctuary’s last release and 2014’s The Year The Sun Died. Not previously being a fan, I was pleasantly surprised when I heard the killer new material. It will certainly serve as an adequate place holder until Nevermore ever decides to reform.
Established Musicians of Note: Tony Foresta (Municipal Waste), Phil “Landphil” Hall (Municipal Waste, Cannabis Corpse), Ryan Parrish (Darkest Hour)
Everybody loves Municipal Waste. But if you’ve noticed the Waste aren’t hitting your town on tour as much as they used to, then you need to get on Iron Reagan right now! There isn’t a whole lot of musical difference between the bands, although I find Iron Reagan to be a bit more aggressive. ’80s thrash, crossover sound? Check. Party vibe on full throttle? Check. Frantic, crazy moshing and stage diving at shows? Checkmate. The video for “Miserable Failure” is completely grin inducing and charming. Get stoked.