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Earning a fan base is tough… keeping a fan base can be even tougher, but switching genres on your fan base is arguably the most difficult trick to pull off.

Many acts have failed, but these artists crushed it by going all in on a stylistic switch. Whether it was a struggling act like Pantera choosing to buck trends and create their own sound, or an already-successful act saying “fuck it” and experimenting, these artists switched genres and ultimately succeeded.

The most profound stylistic shift in metal history turned an average hair metal act into the Cowboys From Hell. The otherworldly talent Pantera possessed wasn’t truly unleashed until they stopped chasing trends and forged their own sound, mixing groove-centric metal with crushing brutality and Southern flair. Why do you think some Pantera die-hards call Cowboys From Hell the band’s debut album?

Industrial rock and metal never hit a peak quite like Nine Inch Nails‘ run in the ’90s, but Trent Reznor has experienced an entire second coming as a film scorer. Since Reznor teamed up with Atticus Ross for The Social Network in 2010 (which won the duo an Oscar and a Golden Globe) he’s become a go-to act for film soundscapes, allowing Reznor to showcase his skills in multiple genres.

Count Your Blessings Bring Me the Horizon is not Amo Bring Me the Horizon. The band’s deathcore beginnings brought them a dedicated following, but never promised to elevate Bring Me the Horizon into a generational band. The release of Sempiternal in 2013 brought Bring Me massive acclaim for their blend of metalcore, post-hardcore and electronic elements, while the pop-centric Amo gave Bring Me the Horizon their first No. 1 album in the UK. And after the DOOM-inspired “Parasite Eve,” it seems like there’s no genre Bring Me the Horizon can’t do.

Nergal will forever be a metal legend for his work in Behemoth and the uncompromising masterpiece that is The Satanist, but he broke free from black metal and death metal with his dark folk project Me and That Man. The blasphemy remains in Nergal‘s work, but in an entirely different genre. 

Baroness started off in the Georgia sludge scene with their filthy and progressive Red Album, but as the act moved their way through the rainbow, they became almost their own genre. Yellow & Green was a masterpiece of cathartic indie-influenced rock, while Gold & Grey was almost spacey and psychedelic. No band sheds skin (and the expectations of genre) as well as Baroness.

Rapper ZillaKami found his start in music by ghostwriting hip-hop for 6ix9ine, but when he formed City Morgue with fellow New York rapper SosMula, Zilla became a pioneer for a genre that would become known as trap metal. After combining hip-hop, hardcore punk, metal and industrial with City Morgue, Zilla switched it up again with his Dog Boy album, creating music inspired by the ’90s grunge wave.

Whether you’re into Black Sabbath or Broadway, there’s probably a Ghost album for you. The Swedish act is almost unrecognizable when comparing the ’70s occult metal Opus Eponymous to the ’80s arena rock Impera, but every step along the way has proved to be a massive success for Tobias Forge‘s now-iconic project. 

People forget how much Meshuggah have changed since their debut album, Contradictions Collapse. The band started off as a mix of alternative metal and thrash with James Hetfield-style vocals before becoming metal’s most extreme djent machine. When Meshuggah made the change, they were ultimately 20 years ahead of their time, inspiring countless acts while pushing metal into insane new directions.

Many of the Maynard James Keenan faithful expected to hear something like Tool or A Perfect Circle alt-metal when Puscifer‘s V Is for Vagina dropped in 2007, only to find a bizarre trip hop project. It was Conditions of My Parole and Money Shot, however, that expanded Puscifer into an etherial, post-industrial powerhouse. 

Maybe it’s not entirely a genre switch, but Steel Panther hit big when they morphed from a cover band jamming ’80s classics on the Sunset Strip to a comedic glam act making their own original music. Feel the Steel had no right to be as hilarious as it was, and it’s because the album was so damn excessive that it perfectly parodied the bands that inspired it. Well done, boys.

This may be somewhat controversial, since the majority of the Opeth faithful tend to prefer the Blackwater Park era over the Heritage era. But c’mon everyone, you know Pale Communion and Sorceress slap! It’s been 15 years since Mikael Åkerfeldt screamed on an Opeth record, but the band’s success hasn’t faded at all. As long as Opeth keep being Opeth, the music will remain awesome.

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