We’ve all had opinions over the last week or so in regards to Linkin Park’s cringe-worthy attempt at 40-year old’s doing pop music. Whilst the majority agree it wasn’t pretty there have been bands that have crossed genres in the world of heavy or alternative music and actually come out the other side. So, we’ve scrounged through the archives and come up with our own take on The Top 7 Artists That Changed Their Style significantly and Didn’t Suck.
7. CORROSION OF CONFORMITY – From Hardcore Punk to Stoner Metal
Also known as C.O.C, out of North Carolina in the U.S, these guys actually started off as a hardcore punk band believe it or not, with their 20-track debut album, Eye for An Eye, jam packed with 1 to 2 minute songs. Animosity followed up a year later in 1985, still doused in hardcore with tinges of metal shining through and even in 1987 with their next release, the EP, Technocracy, the band were still knee deep in punk, crossing over into some thrash territory.
Enter 1991’s Blind album, still rated within the metal world as one of the ‘classics’ of ‘90s metal, a large fork in the road moment for the band. Gone were the 1-2 minute straight forward punk tracks as the band reached into realms of a heavier Black Sabbath/Pantera groove metal, a sound that evolved even more so for the band with later releases, 1994’s Deliverance and 1996’s Wiseblood. It was obvious, the addition of Pepper Keenan to the band pre-Blind turned these guys towards stoner rock, with Pepper even taking over the vocals from Deliverance onwards. Check out the track, ‘Albatross‘ below from the album Deliverance for marked difference!
6. OPETH – From Death Metal to Prog Rock
Sweden’s Opeth kick started their careers in 1989 as a death metal band with the typical ‘blast beats’ and growling vocals though the band did not release their debut until 1995, Orchid and there were already a few stylistic changes occuring on their first release. Featuring some acoustics, piano and even clean vocals, the signs were there early that Opeth was so much more than your average death metal growlers. Still, Orchid for the most part was borderline black metal and without doubt the band’s darkest album in terms of music style.
Fast forward 22 years and the Opeth of today is a far cry from the one all those years ago. Gone are the blast beats as the band happily wade through progressive rock in all its elements with soft vocals, acoustics even jazz, with vocalist Mikael Åkerfeldt hardly recognisable, vocally from the chaos of Orchids. Still, the majority of old fans of this band have accepted the change and relish the change up of style. The band recently wowing Australia with a commanding performance at the iconic Sydney Opera House. Check out the change in vocal style with ‘Era’ music video from the band’s last album, Sorceress below.
5. AVENGED SEVENFOLD – From Metalcore to Hard Rock
Californians, Avenged Sevenfold started way back in 1999, their debut album Sounding the Seventh Trumpet dropping 2 years later, an extreme piece of metalcore, though perhaps the seeds were sown early for what was in store later for A7X with the single, ‘Warmness on the Soul’, a searching ballad with vocalist, M. Shadows showcasing his rock voice he would develop further into his carter. Other than that it was pretty harsh metalcore from the band, check out ‘Lips of Deceit‘,
Further clean singing was added in the 2003 follow up, Waking the Fallen but it was most notable on a complete change up on 2013’s Hail to the King where the band centred their sound solely on riff orientated rock anthems in the mould of Metallica’s Black album, and much of their commercial success was founded from this stylistic move. Whilst 2016’s more progressive metal/rock album, The Stage saw the band attempt to broaden their sound with over the top expansion, including an elongated 15-minute track, ‘Exist’, it also showed a nod to its past with a metalcore track of sorts, ‘Paradigm’. Perhaps A7X aren’t done with yet in terms of a complete change up, in terms of style but for now, we’ll lump them into the #5 spot.
4. BEASTIE BOYS – From Hardcore Punk to Hip Hop
New York’s Beastie Boys formed in 1981 a band that fed on the hardcore underground punk scene and supported the likes of Dead Kennedys, Bad Brains and The Misfits. Their debut EP, 1982’s Pollywog Stew, was an 8 track, 10-minute hardcore punk album in the mould of those bands mentioned. However, just a year later the band released a track, ‘Cooky Puss’, a hip hop track that suddenly began a movement in the clubs around New York and the rest they say, was history. The band’s first album, Licensed to Ill sold over 10 million copies and included the hip-hop/rock mish tracks, ‘Fight for Your Right’ and ‘No Sleep ‘till Brooklyn’.
Whilst the band stuck mostly to their hip hops themes throughout their career there were occasional nods to their past, including 1994’s ‘Sabotage’, a riff orientated track that seamlessly blended rock with that patient Beastie Boy hip hop element.
3. BRING ME THE HORIZON – From Deathcore to Pop Metal
Whilst Sheffield’s Bring Me the Horizon change of style over the years can perhaps be attributed to vocal issues for Oliver Sykes, likely from his battle with the drug, ketamine, the band have always attempted to change up their style from each album to the next. Forming in 2004 it wasn’t long until they released their first EP, This Is What the Edge of Your Seat Was Made For, a brutal deathcore screamo effort with Sykes, only 17 years old at the time stampeding himself as a vocalist of substance.
Count Your Blessings was the band’s first full length release with the sound surrounding Sykes’ scything vocals improved dramatically with some great breakdowns, a thunderous production and even some decent solos. Fast forward to 2015 and the album that presented BMTH in a whole different light, That’s the Spirit was released. Draped in a pop-metal genre blending mix, the band’s most commercially impacting album certainly divided options through the BMTH fan base but there was no denying the catchiness of the tracks, with their melodic verses and by now, stadium anthems.
2. MINISTRY – From New Wave to Industrial Metal
Believe it or not, Al Jourgensen and crew started off as a new wave synth band. As cringeworthy as it sounds, the band’s first album, With Sympathy is an album full of electro wonderment, have a listen below, it really is dripping with 80s pop music. Urggh!
Luckily, Uncle Al discovered more left of centre music, darker themes and whilst the band’s follow up, Twitch was still minus any guitars and absolutely entrenched in the world of electronica, the winds were slowly changing. Enter, 1988’s, The Land of Rape and Honey and industrial metal as we know basically gave birth. Jourgensen started using an electric guitar into the sound, his vocals got that harsh throaty Uncle Al hatred into them and the band never looked back. One listen to ‘Stigmata’ from that album and the change up was obvious.
1991’s single, ‘Jesus Built My Hot-rod’ with Butthole Surfers, Gabby Haynes on vocals slammed the band into mainstream and whilst Ministry have never again reached that height in terms of commercial success there can be no denying the band were at the forefront of industrial metal throughout the late 80s and 90s and to this day, Ministry remain one of the most lauded live acts in the world.
and the winner is…
1. PANTERA – From Glam Metal to Heavy Metal Titans
It’s hard to believe that the groove masters of metal, Pantera actually released four full length albums prior to the break out album, 1990’s Cowboys from Hell. Even hard man, Phil Anselmo was with the band for one of these glam power metal albums, laughably named, Power Metal, though it has to be said, Power Metal was leaning more away from the glam metal side by that time and was getting heavier, with it’s three processors more likened to something Poison or Def Leppard would play, albeit a very bad version. It was all long hair, make up and over the top 80s jewellery. Dimebag Darrell was named Diamond Darrell and bassist, Rex Brown was Rex Rocker. W T F!
Thankfully something clicked in 1990, the image changed and so did the music with the album, Cowboys from Hell kick starting one of heavy metal’s most acclaimed new sound. It was called groove metal, a mid tempo thrash metal beat with harsh and often scathing vocals from Phil Anselmo. Suddenly the bands on stage persona changed, they were partying harder and longer than any tour manager had ever seen and the bands performances on stage were nothing short of insane. Mosh pits were crazy, Anselmo’s stage dives and his over the top angered presence immense. It wasn’t soon before the band were invited to play in front of 500,000 people at Monsters of Moscow festival in Russia alongside the likes of Iron Maiden and Ac/Dc.
The rest is of course history.
So, change can be good…. sometimes. (*)
(*) Linkin Park need not apply
Written by @plugga73