Any type of line-up change is never easy on a band. It’s especially tricky when replacing the lead vocalist, as it’s bound to change the sound and, therefore, the reception of the band. We have seen it many times over the years, panning out wonderfully for groups, but there also have been some mishaps, as a singer can make or break a band. So, instead of putting together a list of these already historic moments where a new singer just elevated the band they joined – moments that range from IRON MAIDEN, BLACK SABBATH, and AC/DC back in the day to NIGHTWISH, ARCH ENEMY, and KAMELOT in more recent times – we have selected other names and success stories to share with you.
10. LEAVES’ EYES
The departure of lead-vocalist and co-founder Liv Kristine in April 2016 should have meant the end for symphonic metal band LEAVES’ EYES. Defying the odds, the band found their saving grace in Finnish soprano Elina Siirala (ANGEL NATION). Possessing a similar tone to Liv Kristine, as well as matching operatic vocals, Siirala manages to keep the band’s legacy alive, while forging her own material with LEAVES’ EYES and attracting new fans in the process. True enough “Sign of the Dragonhead” (2018) was met with mixed reviews, mainly because of the band’s straightforward style, while “The Last Viking” (2020) fared much better, with many critics (and fans) praising Siirala’s vocals. With anyone else at the helm, the band would have had a harder transition, but with Elina Siirala, the symphonic/folk metal seas are still theirs for the taking.
Writing about XANDRIA’s history this past decade is a delicate matter because of the inner workings of the band. Nonetheless, there have been some highlights along the way. The first one is the superb “Neverworld’s End,” their only album with German soprano Manuela Kraller, as well as the one that put them on the symphonic metal map. The second highlight was their time with Dianne van Giersbergen as – during her time fronting the band – XANDRIA saw a rise in popularity mainly due to her charisma, vocal abilities, and background with EX LIBRIS. They also managed to craft some incredible symphonic metal anthems in the form of “Nightfall,” “Call of Destiny,” “Dreamkeeper,” or “Queen of Hearts Reborn.” But honestly, any song from the band’s latest albums is a symphonic metal jewel in its own right. Recently the band announced Ambre Vourvahis as their new front lady, alongside single “Reborn,” and I am curious to see how this new line-up holds up over the years.
Even if Heike Langhans and DRACONIAN have recently parted ways, the legacy she leaves behind is priceless, especially taking into account that “Under a Godless Veil” (2020) is already considered a classic of the Gothic/doom metal genre… and for a very good reason as the beauty and melancholy that the album exudes is mostly based on her hauntingly gorgeous vocals. She possesses the right tone to not just carry these songs, but elevate them straight into the stratosphere. How better to summarize their time together than to quote the band’s own words: “…with Heike, we have written and released two enigmatic, truly special albums held in much high regard all over the world. Heike and her voice with its spectacular presence and approach are a large part of that.” But all is not lost, as former vocalist Lisa Johansson has rejoined the band and a new album is in the works. She already sang with the band at this year’s Hellfest on what can only be seen as a passing of the torch between Heike Langhans and Lisa Johansson that will assure the legacy of the band will continue with, hopefully, equally great releases. Until new music is released with Lisa Johansson, let us celebrate their time with Heike Langhans.
French mezzo-soprano Emmanuelle Zoldan has been fronting the band since late 2016, after having been part of the Sirenian Choir for 13 years. During this time, SIRENIA released three fairly well-received albums – “Dim Days of Dolor” (2016), “Arcane Astral Aeons” (2018), and “Riddles, Runes, & Revelations” (2021) – toured the US and Canada for the first time in May 2017, played the renowned heavy metal cruise 70K Tons of Metal in February 2018, and extensively toured Europe, most recently this spring with DYNAZTY and SURMA. When announcing Zoldan as their new vocalist following Ailyn’s departure, the band had this to say about her: “Emmanuelle can handle lots of different musical styles and various techniques in addition to classical and opera, and this has had a big influence on our new album […] This is without doubt the most diverse SIRENIA album to date, and this album marks a new beginning and new direction for the band in many ways.” True to their word, the sonic world of SIRENIA has expanded a lot, with their latest album revealing a modern/melodic metal approach.
It is fair to say that ELUEVITIE’s status didn’t change much after the many line-up changes the band went through (especially Anna Murphy leaving in 2016), but the truth of the matter is that Fabienne Erni helped make the transition into the new era smoother and easier. Since she joined the band in January 2017, Fabienne has proven to be a formidable singer in her own right (check out ILLUMISHADE), helping the band create one of their best albums to date in “Ategnatos” (2019). She can also hold her own in a live setting, powering through both the classic songs as well as the new material. On top of her vocal talent, Fabienne can also play such instruments as Celtic harp and mandola, thus further adding to ELUEVITIE’s sonic universe.
With the addition of Michele Guaitoli and Alessia Scolletti in March 2018 to replace Sandro Capone and Chiara Tricarico respectively, TEMPERANCE got a new lease on life. Talking about the new members, the band had this to say: “Michele, already singer of KALEDON and OVERTURES, became through the years one of the most significative performers in the Italian scene, with hundreds of shows and several tours in his background. Alessia is one of the most shining promises of the national panorama, thanks to her unique and extraordinary vocal character!” In this new and improved line-up, the band released three well-received albums – “Of Jupiter and Moons” (2018), “Viridian”(2020), and “Diamanti”(2021) – and proved to be a force to be reckoned with not only on the Italian metal scene but on the European metal scene as well. Combining power, melody, symphonic flair, and a balanced male/female vocal delivery between Alessia Scolletti, Michele Guaitoli, and Marco Pastorino, the band toured Europe extensively with SERENITY and attended a great number of festivals. Later this year they will hit the road for their headline tour, as support for LEAVES’ EYES, and in 2023 as special guests for Tarja Turunen on her much postponed RAW Tour.
4. VISIONS OF ATLANTIS
After many incarnations, including a full lineup overhaul in 2013, Austrian symphonic metal band VISIONS OF ATLANTIS seems to have finally found its final form, with French soprano Clémentine Delauney and Italian vocalist Michele Guaitoli (TEMPERANCE) providing the band’s vocal duality. Since they joined the band in 2013 and 2018 respectively, VISIONS OF ATLANTIS has gained more momentum on the metal scene, and have released three albums, each better than the last – “The Deep and the Dark” (2018), “Wanderers” (2019) and “Pirates” (2022), the last two featuring Guaitoli. This is a story of perfect synchronization as the band’s drummer and founding member Thomas Caser wanted the band to go back to the roots and the original style, and Clémentine Delauney wanted to explore exactly this style of music, so they embarked on this shared journey together. Clémentine stated the following: “I couldn’t resist the call to realize such an old dream of mine to sing like this and to offer it to those of you who still love this genre!” Since then the band toured extensively with KAMELOT and SERENITY and have recently shared the stage with DRAGONFORCE and SEVEN SPIRES touring North America. The band is enjoying a surge in popularity while also building their own identity around the idea of travels, freedom, and adventures on the high seas with such anthems as “Legions of the Sea,” “Melancholy Angel,” or “Heroes of the Dawn.”
3. THE AGONIST
The drama that surrounded original vocalist Alissa White-Gluz’s departure from the band in March 2014 to join the more successful ARCH ENEMY cast a long shadow over THE AGONIST, despite having found an excellent replacement in Vicky Psarakis. But through perseverance and hard work, the band has grown and developed their own sound within the death metal genre, mainly thanks to Vicky Psarakis’ vocal abilities, which range from beautiful clean vocals, to harsher tones and screams, to deep growls, gutturals, and everything else in between. Her versatility expanded the band’s soundscape into various territories, while also retaining a strong sonic identity. They are now currently on pretty much every respectable metalhead’s radar, especially following the success of “Orphans” (2019) and the EP “Days Before the World Wept” (2021). Such tracks as “The Gift of Silence,” “Orphans,” “In Vertigo,” or “As One We Survive” showcase just how versatile she is as a singer and how many different things she can do with her voice.
2. LACRIMAS PROFUNDERE
Here’s a name that many of you may not be familiar with just yet: Julian Larre. Even though he fronts Finnish metalcore project LESSDMV (check out “Epitaph“) he gained much more popularity since he joined German Gothic/dark metal band LACRIMAS PROFUNDERE. His impressive vocal range and versatility with both deep, rich cleans and a variety of harsh/screams can be heard on the band’s 2019 offering, the superb “Bleeding the Stars.” The album impressed so many critics and fans alike that it was named Album of the Month in magazines such as Metal Hammer, Orkus, and Dead Rhetoric, and found its way into top 10 positions in other publications, not to mention a chart entry (#34) followed by the band’s most successful headlining tour to date. It’s too bad that the band had to be revamped almost from scratch to achieve that, but sometimes starting from zero is the way to go. Their newest album, “How to Shroud Yourself with Night,” sees Julian Larre taking his vocals to a whole new level of intensity and technical perfection, thus allowing the band to deliver on their promise of expanding their sound. Check out one of my favorite tracks, “Wall of Gloom,” as a testament to Julian Larre’s vocal abilities.
- LORNA SHORE
Is there a better success story than the revival and meteoric ascent that American deathcore metal band LORNA SHORE has been experiencing since Will Ramos officially joined the band as vocalist in 2021? After some turbulent years and line-up changes, their single “To the Hellfire” and subsequent EP “… And I Return to Nothingness” made headlines in the metal community as people took note of “the best metal song of 2021,” as it was later elected by Loudwire. The EP was greeted with positive reviews all around and a great deal of praise for the songwriting, technical details, and of course Will Ramos’ versatile vocals that cover a wide range of sounds from low gutturals and growls to screams and even pig squeals. He’s definitely one of the most talented vocalists currently wailing on the extreme metal scene. This, in turn, makes LORNA SHORE one of the hottest bands in the industry. Their concert at Lollapalooza 2022 is a good indicator of what the future is going to look like for them. With their upcoming album, “Pain Remains,” scheduled for an October release via Century Media, the sky is the limit for these rising rockers.
Written by Andrea Crow