10 legendary metal musicians we'd love to see rejoin their former bands (even if only for one night)

Mike Portnoy, Howard Jones, Jason Newsted and Michael Amott
(Image credit: Getty)

We’ve all got our favourite bands, and we’ve all got our favourite eras of our favourite bands. But in a world as emotional and combustible as the music scene, it's inevitable that some of those eras just don't last forever, and beloved band members are lost in the process. We get it: people fall out, the touring lifestyle is a gruelling one, and those dreaded “artistic differences” are always lurking around the corner. Still, while we’re certainly not saying that any of the bands in this list aren’t still great, there remains that little, nostalgic part of our brain that would love to see some familiar old faces welcomed back into the fold, even if just for a night. So, with that in mind, here's our wishlist for ten great metal artists that we'd love to see reunite with their old flames.

Metal Hammer line break

Jason Newsted / Metallica 

An entry so obvious it barely needs quantifying. Throughout the 90s, Jason Newsted was possibly the most beloved member of the biggest metal band of all time, the one who kept the band connected to the world of all things heavy by repping for Sepultura and headbanging so hard he needed neck surgery. We love Rob Trujillo, who is now Metallica’s longest-serving bassist and deserves huge respect, but Creeping Death has never sounded better than when it had Newsted’s guttural, growling backing vocals driving it. We know he's made very sporadic appearances with the band at a couple of special events since his departure, but we want to hear his iconic “DIE! DIE! DIE! MOTHER-FUCKER! DIE!” just one last time. Please?

Bill Ward / Black Sabbath

For many people, when Black Sabbath finally called it a day for good in 2017, there was an extra tinge of disappointment that Bill Ward wasn’t sitting on the drum stool where he belonged. It would be fitting, then, if the final Black Sabbath show was the original Black Sabbath. We know there have been health problems, and with Ozzy’s recent retirement announcement this is clearly a long shot, but just imagine: the four men that invented our beloved genre onstage together one last time. It would mean everything to anyone with even a passing interest in metal. 

John Bush / Anthrax

There is a very good chance that if you are of a certain age, then John Bush is your favourite Anthrax vocalist. For those of us growing up and discovering the band in the 90s and into the early part of the 2000s, Bush’s gruffer and rougher vocals were the perfect accompaniment to the more alt-metal tones of 1993’s The Sound of White Noise, or the groove-heavy Volume 8 album in 1998. And, while no one could really argue against the fact that Joey Belladonna fronted Anthrax's truly classic, definitive material, 2003’s We Have Come for You All, Bush’s final release with the band, is a modern classic. For whatever reason, not much of the Bush era gets in Anthrax's set these days. Which sucks, as we’d love to hear some, even if just for a special tour or one-off show.

Mike Portnoy / Dream Theater

It’s always a little disconcerting when a founding member of a band leaves the fold decades into their career. Certainly, Mike Portnoy’s departure from Dream Theater, the band he founded in 1985 whilst still at college with guitarist John Petrucci and bassist John Myung, took a lot of getting used to after it was announced in 2010. Portnoy was not only a key songwriter and producer of Dream Theater’s music, but he was also the face and most vocal member of the band. Dream Theater have been doing just fine since he left (and vice-versa, to be fair), but since they’re obviously still on good terms, with Portnoy recently playing in Petrucci’s solo band and admitting he'd consider playing with the US legends again, it would be an emotional moment to see Mike back up onstage with his college buddies, smashing out some prog metal perfection after all these years. 

Max and Igor Cavalera / Sepultura 

Obviously, this one has been doing the rounds for decades now, meaning that, at this point, you’d have to concede that it’s almost certainly never going to happen. Still, as long as Max and Igor are going out on tour to play Sepultura-heavy sets (which are killer, by the way), and while Sepultura are still rather excellently going about their business, we’re going to at least wonder what this might look like. Yes, it’s a touchy subject, but we’re not here to cause trouble. Derrick Green has been awesome for his entire tenure with Seps, and Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy are still putting out great albums. Still...could we not have everyone team up and bust through all those classics, just for one night?  

Michael Amott / Carcass 

Michael Amott and Bill Steer remain possibly the finest guitar duo in the history of extreme metal. The pair were the creators of some of the finest riffs ever put to tape on 1991’s Necroticism – Descanting the Insalubrious and 1993’s Heartwork albums, and when Carcass reunited for the first time in 2008, they were there, together again, during one of the most rapturously received reformations in the history of metal. We know Amott is a busy man with Arch Enemy and even occasionally Spiritual Beggars, but Carcass are currently a trio and in need of a second guitarist. This is a no-brainer. 

Richard Patrick / Nine Inch Nails 

Richard Patrick left Nine Inch Nails in 1993 after Trent Reznor told him to “Get off his ass and go write a record” - something Patrick has done numerous times in his 25 years since as frontman of Filter. It might not have seemed like much of a loss at the time (Reznor was and is the visionary behind NIN), but with Patrick’s success with Filter it would be fascinating to see him back onstage with Nine Inch Nails again, as we briefly did in 2022 when the band were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. That little taste has left us wanting more. Patrick as second guitarist and fronting NIN for a couple of mid-set Filter tracks? Now that would be special. 

Marty Friedman / Megadeth 

Megadeth never sounded more cutting edge or vital as they did on 1990’s legendary Rust In Peace. Much of that had to do with the jaw-dropping chemistry, and competitive streak, between frontman Dave Mustaine and their recently acquired guitarist, Marty Friedman. The next couple of albums they did, 1992’s Countdown To Extinction and 1994’s Youthanasia, are pretty great, too (yes, we’re ignoring Risk, obviously) and, although Mustaine and co. have put out some cracking records since Marty’s departure in 2000, we’re only human, and we’d be lying to say we don’t think about seeing that incredible and iconic Mustaine/Friedman shred off with our own eyes one last time. With Friedman joining the thrash legends at their upcoming, historic Budokan show, we'd love to see more shows down the line. 

Howard Jones / Killswitch Engage

Howard and his former bandmates are obviously still tight, with Jones featuring on Killswitch banger The Signal Fire on the band's 2019 album Atonement, and appearing onstage with the metalcore legends during the following live tour to support the record. Current Killswitch vocalist Jesse Leach has always been incredibly positive about Howard and his contribution to the band, so one night celebrating Killswitch’s entire history with the pair tag-teaming lead vocals would be an all-timer of a gig. Keep your fingers crossed?

K.K. Downing / Judas Priest 

Yes, we’re aware there is some serious beef here, with both Downing and various members of Priest batting barbs back and forth over the years since his departure in 2011. But, with Glen Tipton only managing to make sporadic appearances live with the band these days after his Parkinson's diagnosis, we’re surely getting to the point where the opportunity to see the most influential twin guitar attack in metal’s history one last time is decreasing at a rate of knots. Life’s too short, lads, and given Downing's rapturously received appearance at Priest's special Rock And Hall Of Fame set last year, maybe the odds aren't too long after all?

Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.