It’s tough to see a metal band retire; whether it is because of finances, health, commitment to other projects, or just being ready to call it an end, there are a plethora of reasons why bands stop creating music and performing.
Over the course of metal’s history, there have been many bands to call it quits – and frankly, for some of them – we aren’t ready to say goodbye yet. At least give us one more record! Give us one reunion tour! Something!
So with that in mind, we wanted to talk about bands we’d love to see come out of retirement! Here are 10 retired bands we’d love to see comeback and rage hell in the scene. (This list is not ordered in any particular way).
Agalloch is by far one of the most impressive North American black metal bands to ever be. The band formed back in 1995, and up until they disbanded in 2016, they released five studio albums. If you’re someone who enjoys Wolves In The Throne Room or Panopticon, Agalloch had a similar style to their brand of black metal. Each cut from the band exudes a remarkable atmosphere that taps into mystical energies. It is music that blends both tranquil and primal qualities, making for a compelling form of heaviness. The band’s last studio record was 2014’s The Serpent & the Sphere. With more black metal acts today pushing the genre in fascinating ways, it would be incredible to hear what a modern-day Agalloch album would sound like.
Featuring horror rocker Wednesday 13 and the late Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison (the latter who took on the role of guitarist), the Murderdolls were pure horror-rock thrills. In their time together, the band released two studio albums: 2002’s Beyond the Valley of the Murderdolls and 2010’s Women and Children Last. Each song from the band made for a tongue-in-cheek horror banger; like a perfect storm, Jordison’s wicked sounding riffs would fuel Wednesday 13’s howling vocals, and vice versa. Including Jordison though, the band’s former drummer Ben “The Ghoul” Graves has also passed away. If Wednesday 13 was up to it, it would be incredible to see the horror rocker team up with the rest of the band (and some other musicians), and maybe have one more show to celebrate the legacy of both Jordison and Graves.
This one has for sure been a topic among many metalheads. For awhile, people have wondered if Pantera could ever come back together; there have even been conversations involving Zak Wylde stepping in for the role of guitarist. But with Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul having passed away back in 2018, that leaves two incredibly huge pair of shoes to fill if Pantera were ever to come back. With vocalist Phil Anselmo and bassist Rex Brown taking part in their various creative ventures, if Pantera were to return, who would you want to see try and fill in for guitarist and drummer? [8/18/22 update: clearly Rex & Phil read this list and that’s why they’re reuniting. You’re welcome.]
We’re used to bands who put out intense energy, but there are few that captured such frantic, yet controlled chaos like The Dillinger Escape Plan. The metalcore meets mathcore act proved themselves to not only be wild on stage, but brilliantly creative geniuses in the studio. Since forming in 1997, the band put out six studio albums. With every new record, the band displayed remarkable growth, crafting music that was as heavy as it was intricate. The band’s technical finesse allowed them to create songs that offered a surreal quality; abrupt time signature shifts, polyrhythms, and other oddities in their playing made them a force that could always catch listeners by surprise. If the band came back together for another record, we have no doubt that it would be a work of technical brilliance that would rock socks off.
Compared to some of these other acts, Slayer hasn’t been gone for that long – but come on guys, we’d love more music and tours! Of the Big 4, Slayer is the only band to retire. Having formed back in 1981, the band released their last studio album Repentless back in 2015. We’d like to think that the band could surprise us any day with a major announcement, maybe a surprise record or tour in the works. We can only hope!
While the band technically say they are on hiatus, per a comment from their drummer back in 2013, it has been roughly 18 years since we’ve gotten a Necrophagist record. These German death metalheads offered the world a killer record in the form of 2004’s Epitaph; infusing their death metal with baroque-esque compositions, the record still stands as a work of extreme technical prowess. Technical death metal has come a long way since 2004, but given what the band did on Epitaph, we’d love to hear what they could create today.
Blending groove with nu metal, Chimaira were an incredible gem of a band throughout the early 2000s. With blistering rhythms that remind us of Pantera, these Cleveland, Ohio metalheads know how to write a song that kicks ass. Chimaira knew how to make undeniably catchy music that was packed with aggressive mentality; if you’ve ever heard their song “Pure Hatred,” you know what we mean. The band called it quits in 2014, but came back together for a one-off show in 2017. Chimaira, the world could always use more of your electrifying grooves and crushing heaviness.
Another band that is not technically retired but is on an “indefinite hiatus.” These sludge metal stoner rockers pack quite a punch with each song; the band’s music captures a great balance between catchy and heavy, the rhythms offering a vibrancy underneath a thick sludgy air. Since forming in 2001, Kylesa released seven records; in 2016, they announced on their Facebook that they were going on hiatus. With riffs that ooze sludgy and stoner tones, Kylesa cater to those itching for a rock ‘n’ roll vibe, but in need of something heavier. Hopefully one day we’ll hear that the band is back and ready to make more music.
Isis frontman Aaron Turner is plenty busy between his numerous musical projects, but damn, we would love to see Isis make a return. As an essential act of the post-metal movement, Isis have pushed the genre of heavy music into new and fascinating waters. On records such as 2000’s Celestial and 2004’s Panopticon, the band not only show what metal is capable of sounding like, but also subvert the concept of what constitutes as heavy music. With all Turner has going on with his band Sumac and his other work, there’s a chance we may not get another Isis record – but we can always hope!
We know Devin Townsend is busy with other projects, but why not bring back Strapping Young Lad? While Townsend’s music can pack quite the punch, Strapping Young Lad was a much more aggressive vehicle of music (as compared to his other projects). With blistering instrumentation that reminds us of Gojira, Strapping Young Lad offers such a crushing appeal. Over the course of the project, the band released five albums. Those five records are incredible, and we have no doubt that if Townsend brought back Strapping Young Lad today, we’d get another incredible record.
What retired bands would you like to see come back for either a tour or to put out a new record?
Words by: Michael Pementel