10 great heavy bands with no original members left | Revolver

10 great heavy bands with no original members left

These groups feature totally different lineups than when they started
Lorna Shore 2022 Jason Goodrich 1600x900, Jason Goodrich
Lorna Shore
photograph by Jason Goodrich

Believe it or not, some of the best and biggest bands in heavy music have zero original members left in their lineup. In some cases, these personnel anomalies come down to a technicality. For instance, one or two people formed the band, but it was the third member who truly took the reins and gave the group its identity. In other cases, the group was an idea that was bigger than the founders themselves, and has been able to carry on just fine — sometimes even better — without the musicians who initially conceived of it.

Here are 10 great heavy bands who have a completely different lineup than when they started.

Cattle Decapitation

Cattle Decapitation frontman Travis Ryan has shrieked into the mic for all eight of the band's albums and four EPs. The only thing he wasn't there for was the deathgrind unit's 1996 demo, which featured original vocalist-guitarist Scott Miller, who stuck around for just one year before Ryan was drafted to fill his spot. Only two co-founders appeared on Cattle Decapitation's 2002 debut LP, To Serve Man, and after bassist Troy Oftedal called it quits in 2009, Ryan became the member with the longest tenure, even though he wasn't actually there from the beginning.


GWAR have always been more of an idea than a band. All the members wear absurd costumes and are given alien pseudonyms when they join, rendering the traditional notion of "membership" somewhat moot. Anyone could be up there in-character and it'd still be GWAR (to wit, a whopping 31 people have done time in the shock-metal institution), so it's not actually that weird that the band are currently operating without any of the musicians who founded the project in 1984. Longtime frontman Dave Brockie, a.k.a. Oderus Urungus, was the last of them until he died in 2014, but the spirit of GWAR carries on today, unwavering in their love of guts, goo and intergalactic genitals.

In Flames

Technically, the original In Flames was just one guy. Founded by Ceremonial Oath's Jesper Strömblad in 1990 as a studio side project, the axman eventually added guitarist Glenn Ljungström and bassist Johan Larsson in 1993, and the band enlisted session musicians to fill out the remaining parts on their 1994 debut, Lunar Strain, and their EP from that same year, Subterranean. It wasn't until 1995 that Strömblad and Co. drafted vocalist Anders Fridén and drummer Björn Gelotte (who switched to lead guitar in 1998), and since Strömblad's departure in 2010, those two are the longest-running members of In Flames — despite joining half a decade after the band formed.

Judas Priest

Every fan knows that there was a chunk of time in the middle of Judas Priest's career when Rob Halford was not in the band; less known is the fact that there was also a period right at the start when the group existed without the future Metal God. In fact, none of their current members were in Priest then. Formed in September 1969 as a blues-rock band, the group originally featured vocalist Al Atkins, guitarist John Perry (who died by suicide shortly after their formation), bassist Bruno Stapenhill (who named the band for a Bob Dylan lyric) and drummer John Partridge. Halford wouldn't join until '73, replacing Atkins, who was at the time the last founding member.

Lorna Shore

While Lorna Shore technically began in 2009, the deathcore MVPs we know today didn't really exist until guitarist and primary songwriter Adam Di Micco joined the crew in 2010, transforming the New Jersey band from local metalcore ruffians to regional deathcore kingpins. Every other founding member left by 2012, save for bassist Gary Herrara and frontman Tom Barber, who hung on until 2017 and 2018, respectively. They've cycled through three vocalists in their tenure, but Lorna Shore's current iteration — with the beastly Will Ramos on the mic — is their most solid and successful, having yielded their 2022 masterpiece, Pain Remains.

Napalm Death

U.K. innovators Napalm Death put grindcore on the map in 1987 with the release of their explosive debut, Scum, and then every single member left to form other projects. Even their first LP itself has two separate lineups, with side A featuring future Godflesh mastermind Justin Broadrick on guitar, while Carcass axman Bill Steer handles the flipside. Membership was a revolving door throughout the Eighties, but the band's current lineup — despite no original members — has remained remarkably consistent since the early Nineties, with vocalist Barney Greenaway, drummer Danny Hererra, guitarist Mitch Harris and bassist Shane Embury (the record-holder at 36 years in the band) still pushing the extreme after more than three decades.


At this point, for most fans, Opeth and Mikael Åkerfeldt are one and the same. Having been in the group since 1990, the singer, guitarist, songwriter and bandleader is by far the longest tenured member of the heralded death-turned-prog-metal outfit. But Opeth was actually founded without him — by vocalist David Isberg, guitarists Micke Bargström and Dan Nilsson, bassist Martin Persson and drummer Rille Even — and when he did join, he did so on bass, not as their frontman. Åkerfeldt took over that role in 1992 and has held onto it ever since, appearing on all Opeth's albums, from 1995's Orchid to 2019's In Cauda Venenum.


The Pantera that brothers Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul founded in 1981 is not the same Pantera that made 1990's Cowboys From Hell, the first album in their legendary five-pack of major-label LPs, concluding with 2003's Reinventing the Steel. Frontman Philip Anselmo didn't sign on until 1986 (marking the band's sixth vocalist in six years), and by that time, they were already up to their second bassist, with Rex Brown replacing Tommy Bradford in 1982. Therefore, the current "tribute" iteration of Pantera — Anselmo, Brown, Zakk Wylde and Charlie Benante — contains none of the band's founders, even though Brown has held down the low end on every single album since their 1983 debut, Metal Magic.


For most Sepultura fans, there are two eras of the band: the years when Max Cavalera was fronting the group, and the period after Derrick Green took over the mic in 1997. Max and his brother Iggor co-founded the band in 1984 as teenagers, and while Wagner Lamounier held down the mic during their first two years, Max stepped up to the plate in 1985 and roared on Sepultura's first seven LPs, including their most revered albums: Beneath the Remains, Arise, Chaos A.D. and Roots. Iggor split in 2006, leaving bassist Paulo Jr. the longest-running member. He joined the band in '84, but technically there was another bassist, Roberto "Gato" Raffan, who held the four-string spot before him — which means there are currently zero OG members in Sepultura.


For all intents and purposes, Trivium vocalist-guitarist Matt Heafy has always been the face and driving force of the band. That's been true of every album in the band's catalog, but technically, Trivium wasn't Heafy's creation. After impressing some local musicians at an eighth grade talent show, the 13-year-old Heafy was asked to try out for a band called Trivium, founded by vocalist-bassist Brad Lewter and guitarist Jarred Bonaparte. Graduating from guitarist to frontman when Lewter left the band a year later, Heafy has been at the helm ever since, and both Lewter and Bonaparte were long-gone by the time Trivium's 2003 debut, Ember to Inferno, was released.