10 heavy metal solo careers that fell completely flat

Photos of Megadeth, Anthrax and Vince Neil performing onstage
(Image credit: Megadeth: Micky Simawi/Avalon/Getty Images | Anthrax: David Wolff-Patrick/WireImage | Vince Neil: Gary Malerba/Corbis via Getty Images)

Unlike pop or rap, metal isn’t a genre that easily lends itself to solo stardom. Although we do have some of the most iconic standalone artists of all time in our genre, from Ronnie James Dio and Ozzy Osbourne to Alice Cooper, they are sadly the exception to the rule. Breaking off from the comfort of your band has frequently been a very bad idea, as these 10 metal musicians who went it alone and fell flat on their face demonstrate. 

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Dave Mustaine (Megadeth)

Dave Mustaine disbanded Megadeth in 2002, mostly due to a crippling arm injury that left him unable to play. After an impressive rehabilitation, he felt able to record an album, planning 2004’s The System Has Failed to mark his solo debut. Contractual obligations with his publishing company put paid to that, though, and the record had to stand under the ’Deth banner.

Gene Simmons (Kiss)

Everyone’s favourite demon bassist has released two solo albums during his career, which doesn’t seem that much for such a savvy self-promoter. The first is one of four solo albums released by Kiss’s members in 1978, while the second, 2004’s Asshole, is unforgivably bad. The nadir is that cover of The Prodigy’s Firestarter, which packed all the cutting-edge attitude of a drunken uncle.

Vince Neil (Mötley Crüe)

Kicked out of Mötley Crüe in 1992 for allegedly holding the band back, Vince Neil attempted an Ozzy and went it alone. His 1993 debut album, Exposed, reached a respectable number 13 on the US Billboard charts, but two years later its followup Carved In Stone barely dented the top 150. Vinnie returned to Mötley with his tail between his legs in 1997.

Joey Belladonna (Anthrax)

Joey Belladonna released three solo albums between 1995 and 2003, and we’d bet plenty that you’ve not heard a note from any of them. Despite Joey fronting one of thrash metal’s Big Four, his outings under his own name repeatedly flopped. All of them sound like half-hearted alt-metal cash-ins, perhaps explaining why the singer has kept them buried.

Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath)

Tony Iommi is the man who invented the heavy metal riff, so he deserved a much more successful solo career than the one he actually achieved. His first effort, 1986’s Seventh Star, was rebranded as “Black Sabbath featuring Tony Iommi” by its label, his 2000 self-titled album was star-studded yet overlooked, then 2005’s Fuse also got ignored by most people. It’s a crying shame.

Fieldy (Korn)

In the early 2000s, Korn were one of the biggest bands on the planet, with everything they put out yielding gold. They were so indestructible that they even thought bassist Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu could put out a rap album and make a success of it. Instead, 2002’s Rock ’N’ Roll Gangster, featuring the horrific Baby Hugh Hef, became an all-time stinker.

Jared Gomes (Hed PE)

Another calamity from the nu metal world. If you didn’t want a solo album from Korn’s bassist, then you really wouldn’t be interested in one from the vocalist in Hed PE, would you? Jared Gomes – alternatively known as MCUD, Jahred and other silly names, probably – released an EP (Unite) and a single (Doomsday Paradise) in 2012. Not heard them? You’re not alone.

Aaron Lewis (Staind)

As a member of the truly rotten Staind, you’d imagine that Aaron Lewis’ solo work would be pretty guff. Correct. Aaron has been making horrid country music since 2012, with his fifth effort expected later this year. And yet, the only thing his solo career is famous for is him ranting about Donald Trump and vaccines at his gigs. What a legacy!

Jim Martin (ex-Faith No More)

Despite all the great riffs he brought to Faith No More, Jim Martin was booted out in 1993. He returned to the limelight in 1997, roping in Metallica duo James Hetfield and Jason Newsted for his Milk And Blood album. Even with such megastars, however, the end result received middling reviews and made no commercial dents. Jim was no Mike Patton vocally, either.

Aaron Gillespie (Underoath)

After leaving the band he’s most associated with, Underoath, in 2010, frontman Aaron Gillespie decided to go solo. He went to Africa in search of inspiration for new music, and, like most white artists who go to Africa in search of inspiration, what he returned with was terrible. Aaron has now made three albums of awful, saccharine guitar strumming. Avoid them.

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.