Sunday Sesh: Of Line-Up Changes And Old Man Ramblings

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Not long ago, our Dubious leader lamented good bands calling it quits a little too soon. Some of these bands leave an immaculate legacy, others break up right after a perfect record. Some just leave you wanting for more. Today, we’re going to be discussing (seshing?) about bands that didn’t go anywhere, but aren’t really there anymore either.

No, I’m not talking about bands stuck in a limbo or lost albums, fated never to surface. I’m talking about bands that carried on but “stopped being the same band”, changed and no longer managed to put that smile on your face. There are obvious examples, like Opeth. A band tied to the vision of Mikael Åkerfeldt so strongly, that few ever question if the changes in direction have stemmed from something else. Like from the fact that the band’s former members could populate a Vault-Tec Corporation Societal Preservation Program Vault. Between Morningrise, a personal favourite, and Still Life – an unquestionable masterpiece of deathy prog-metal, exactly half of the band had changed, and today only bassist Mendez stands by Åkerfedt’s side. The band’s undergone several stylistic changes as well and it would not be strange to expect that the current 70’s-prog-meets-modern-metal won’t do it for fans of their early material.

Some bands have been doing the exact same thing for decades, but I’d be surprised if I couldn’t find several people pining for the oozy magic of Motörhead’s original line-up, and several more not finding much to marvel after the demise of the classic line-up. Manowar has remained the same, at the core, though their style has seen some revisions. I’d be willing to bet most fans of both bands find a particular era much more likeable than the rest. But does that mean they weren’t the same band anymore? Motörhead’s always been so inarguably tied to Lemmy I don’t believe any sane person would ever have questioned whether it was the same band or not, as long as it was Lemmy’s band. Likewise, Manowar is strongly tied to Joey DeLameo – though never quite so strong, and every now and then you find a fan willing to pretend Manowar faced a horrible traffic accident, claiming the lives of all members in 1989.

So the question is this, is there a point in which a band has changed so much from the one you fell in love with that you can’t rightly consider it the same thing anymore? And for the record, despite all the prattle, we’re talking strictly line-up changes here, because the answer’s a little too easy if we let musical changes into this. And because the band that got me thinking of this hasn’t really wandered far from its roots. The band in question being death/doom masters, and one of my all-time favourites, Hooded Menace. When I fell in love with them, it wasn’t with the original line-up. But it was a radically different one.

It was always clear Lasse Pyykkö, despite being one of the best death metal vocalists of all time, never really enjoyed performing in that particular style. For much of the decade Markus Makkonen has been the mouthpiece of the band on stage, while Pyykkö remained the studio-vocalist. An arrangement that obviously could not continue, so I was not as much surprised as I was disappointed when it was announced Harri Kuokkanen (Horse Latitudes) would step in full-time to take over the mic in studio and on stage. Around the same time, Makkonen became a live-only member (as a bassist) to ensure things were no less complicated. But now that the band is closing on finishing their fifth full-length, the die has once again been cast; not only will Antti Poutanen (Church of The Dead) take over the bass full-time, but long-time drummer Pekka Koskelo will be vacating the seat as well. And I find myself asking a question that may not be very important, but one that bothers me all the same.

Hooded Menace did release a split with Algoma, introducing their new vocalist. “Celestial Dissection” is without a doubt a good song, but so many things don’t really feel the same anymore. Differences so small you can’t really point all of them out, but ones that you can’t help but notice. Though I remain excited for their upcoming material, with even more changes since – I wonder if Hooded Menace really even is the band I fell in love with anymore. Is there a point where line-up changes have taken something vital out of a band for you?

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  • Janitor Jim Duggan

    The problem with my genre of choice is most of the bands are really old and the members are dying or retiring. Look at an example like Molly Hatchet. All the original members are dead except for Steve Holland and he hasn’t been in the band since the 80s. Basically in my case you see a band with one or 2 original members or a cover band using the name of a famous band due to someone owning the rights to the name.

  • Elegant Gazing Globe

    For me it was when i learned that tucker was out and vincent was back. Glad it went back the other way.

    • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

      The three first Morbid Angel records with Vincent are unbeatable, but Formulas and Gateways are severely underrated and fantastic in their own right as well. Formulas features some of the most unique stuff Trey has put on tape.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7W5xmWm5lo

      • I honestly like all MA’s stuff except that Vincent reunion piece of poo. Domination was the first death metal album I ever bought, back in ’95, so it holds a special place for me. I love Trey’s weird style and his use of a flanger and how when you listen with headphones sometimes you can hear these little imperfections like line/string noise when he’s muting. It’s very human sounding, which is lost in a lot of modern bands.

        • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

          Domination has some good cuts, but as whole it feels somewhat underwhelming compared to the albums that came before. I know it’s a cliche gripe with the album, but some of the lyrics are rather stupid as well.
          It’s still worth it for the guitar work tho. Basically, only Trey can sound like Trey.

          • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

            People constantly complain about the dumb lyrics on ILI, completely forgetting that “Dawn of the Angry” is the absolute nadir of Morbid Angel lyrics. I know even Trey himself has said that Domination’s lyrics suck

          • GrumpDumpus

            WHERE THE SLIME LIVE IS AWESOME MAINLY BECAUSE SLIME IS NEAT

          • Fart Johnson

            The weak production on Domination hurt it more than anything. It’s a shame nobody took the right lessons from Covenant on how to record death metal.

          • Elegant Gazing Globe

            IDK man the 2011 press I have has much wider dynamic range, and is thicker and fuller than even some of the FDR presses I have of other albums

      • Elegant Gazing Globe

        My favorite MA album for sure.

  • Slightly off topic maybe (I know they’re not around anymore; not sure how many lineup changes they had), but I listened to Bolt Thrower for the first time this week. Holy mother of fuck, I’m fucking hooked. I always dismissed them because people always talk of them as, like, mid-paced death metal, which sounded boring to me because I like things fast. I’ve only bought they’re first three albums so far but they’re goooood.

    • Retchin’ Rites ov Karhu

      Dude! After War Master they got less blasty, and some dislike them for it, but especially the last album is 10/10.

      • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

        Those Once Loyal is their best album. So much that the band didn’t feel they could top it so they never made another album again

        • Retchin’ Rites ov Karhu

          I remember them talking about having about another album’s worth of material ready and dumping it because it didn’t stand up to TOL at all in their minds.

    • GrumpDumpus

      I ENVY THIS TIME OF YOUR LIFE JUST THROW AWAY EVERYTHING AND LISTEN TO BOLT THROWER, ALSO GOOD NEWS EARACHE IS PUTTING OUT ALL THEIR STUFF ON FULL DYNAMIC RANGE VINYL WHICH PUTS IT ON THE SAME SONIC ENJOYMENT LEVEL AS MILES DAVIS KIND OF BLUE AAAARRGGHHHHH I GOT TOO EXCITED AND CRAPPED MYSELF

    • You are in for a fucking treat!

  • HessianHunter

    When Protest the Hero lost their bassist (and lyricist) Arif, that band basically ceased to exist for me. The drummer Moe isn’t even around anymore. I was obsessed with them as a young man and still think Fortress is a masterpiece, but we’ve simply grown apart musically. I have no interest in what they do anymore.

    • VVizardface Kelly

      I loved that band growing up. But I have to say, I saw them live recently and I couldn’t have cared less. Their new material is beyond uninteresting.

    • Retchin’ Rites ov Karhu

      As Arif wrote less and less material they grew less interesting overall.

    • The Tetrachord of Archytas

      I had the same thought at first, but their newer releases have grown on me a ton. I don’t think any of them, arif included, write good lyrics. They always remind of this Michael showalter bit where he talks about wanting to be a serious poet when he was a kid.

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EsDelKQ5JUQ

      • HessianHunter

        Rody’s lyrics are awful but hard disagree about Arif. Spoils has some of my favorite lines ever sung by anyone.

        • The Tetrachord of Archytas

          Arif is defintely better, although I think Rody’s lyrics on pacific myth are pretty comparable. But songs like turn soonest to the sea (which is a great song) are just so try hard sophomore philosophy major to me.

          • HessianHunter

            Fair – I was definitely more impressed by Kezia’s lyrics when I was 17, the age they were when they wrote that album.

          • The Tetrachord of Archytas

            Yeah same here for sure.

  • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

    I know I’m being a pissbaby, but every time I see Opeth’s “new” direction being brought up…I still feel that same pain of disappointment I felt when I first popped in Heritage…

    Join me in shedding a nostalgic tear:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-DVhzFGXjE

    • The Master of Puppets

      Still Life is truly their masterpiece imo though I think Opeth is really amazing from Morning rise to Watershed. They are a decent prog rock band now a days but I’d rather listen to the prog rock bands that Opeth is copying from the 70’s/80’s.

  • HessianHunter

    The Trap Them I fell in love with has Chris Maggio’s manic drumming splooging all over those delicious swedecore riffs. Once they replaced him a much more traditional “metal” drummer with a double kick pedal, to me they might as well be a completely different band. Check out 2:00 to see what I’m talkin’ ’bout. httpsutu.be/4HvX53CfeOk

    • Dubby Fresh

      Which drummer did they have around 2009? I saw them then on tour with Kataklysm and Napalm Death, and their drummer killed it!

      • HessianHunter

        That would have been Maggio, the dude who sounded like he had a double kick but actually was just stupid fast with a single kick and his hands.

        • Dubby Fresh

          Dude locked into one of the tightest grooves I’ve ever heard live.

  • GoatForest

    I know it’s obvious, but Mayhem. This thing crawling around in the flesh of Euronymous’s baby, while okay, is inarguably not Mayhem.

    • GrumpDumpus

      BUT HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE THEIR LOGO CLEARLY SAYS THEY ARE TRUE

  • GoatForest

    Another for me is Bloodbath. I know it is a supergroup with rotating members, but something is missing without Swano.

    • The Master of Puppets

      Also shame that we never got to see them live with Peter Tagtgren.

      • GoatForest

        Absolutely.

    • GrumpDumpus

      “something is missing without Swanö” THIS IS WHY I NEVER STOP LISTENING TO PAN THY MONIUM EDGE OF SANITY MOONTOWER AND WITHERSCAPE

  • Al Bvndy

    One of my ‘Gateway’ bands into metal was Marilyn Manson and I allways considered them to be a real band with a special group of individuals that bought something interesting to the musical table.
    The first four albums featured the core line up of Brian, Madonna Wayne Gacy on Keys and Ginger Fish on drums. Twiggy played Bass after the Debut and the guitarist changed or rotated every couple of albums, i.e. John 5/Zim Zum.
    From hard rock to Industral and Glam, these guys killed it and we’re allways an amazing live act.
    These days, Marilyn Manson is basically Brian + 2 nameless hired hands and every album since Holy Wood has suffered for it. Sure, an argument could be made that the music is lame because he is a past-it, coke fiend that’s no longer relevant and out of ideas? Perhaps that’s true. All I know is that Manson was a lot better with his Family.

    • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

      Portrait Of An American Family was a great album. They had a really original sound on that one, and I wish they had continued that trajectory rather than the “NIN but spookier” sound of everything they did after

      • Al Bvndy

        Yeah Portrait is probably my favourite.

        • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

          Well, Jack Off Jill kinda picked up where Portrait left but the broke up shortly after

          • GoatForest

            Have you heard Scarling? They’re the remains of Jack Off Jill. Pretty damn good, too.

          • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

            Yeah, they are pretty great. But didn’t they put out only two albums as well?

          • GoatForest

            Yeah. It’s a shame. I really liked Jessika’s voice. It could be super sexy at times and absolutely deranged at others.

    • Rolderathis

      I really enjoy Mechanical Animals, that CD has a lot of good songs!

  • nbm02ss

    New Church of Misery doesn’t quite get me going like their older material (Master of Brutality) does. That band is a constant revolving door of members, aside from the bassist.

    • Retchin’ Rites ov Karhu

      Nobody from the latest album plays in the band anymore, except Tatsu. An all-new, all-Japanese line-up.

  • The Tetrachord of Archytas

    I’d love to know what experiment Vault-Tec is secretly running with the opeth vault.

    • Dubby Fresh

      They’re attempting to create the perfect, sentient 70s mustache.

      • The Tetrachord of Archytas

        A sentient 70’s mustache who also stays true to its deathclaw metal roots

  • JWG

    Im actually still undecided whether my indifference to recent albums by The Agonist is because of their stylistic and qualitative shift, or the one-person lineup change.

    Evidence against the latter is that I’m just as indifferent to Arch Enemy since they gained AWG as a vocalist. And I think Vicky Psarakis has talent, it’s just not being used right given that (I think) they changed not because of her but in spite of her.

    But if that’s so then my problem is not with the lineup shift and that’s not what you asked for…

  • Janitor Jim Duggan

    RIP Bobby Heenan. Now Him and Gorilla Monsoon are together again, commentating the big wrestling event in the sky. I can imagine Bobby saw Gorilla and said “Are you sure this isn’t Hell?” I can also imagine Gorilla commenting “WILL YOU STOP? after he heard that.

  • Max

    Van Halen, Napalm Death and Mayhem are the three bands who taught me that you can never be too precious about “classic line-ups” in metal, especially if the output of whatever line-up comes later is decent. New singers, different guitarists – none of it bothers me.

    Most bands are barely still in their inaugural line-up by the time you’ve heard about them anyway.

    • Kyle Reese

      I remember seeing Lamb of God, and they’re all like, oh well Doc Coyle is filling in for Mark Morton tonight. I was like, huh? That’s a thing. And proceeded to get blasted and enjoy the show.

  • Count_Breznak

    Dat new Arschpire…

  • GrumpDumpus

    DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN AFTER CHRIS PENNIE LEFT WAS POOP ALSO PUBLIC ENEMY ISNT THE SAME WITHOUT TERMINATOR X BEHIND THE TABLES

  • Lone Biker of the Apocalypse

    I miss the Dying Fetus lineup that recorded “Killing on Adrenaline” and “Destroy the Opposition”. They’re still an above-average DM band, but they lost some magic after that album. Lot of lineup changes after 2000, with John being the only one left from those albums.

  • Kris Norris leaving Darkest Hour didn’t help…