I don't really need to explain what a side project is. If I do, then you will get a sense of what it is from reading this post. These are my favorite side projects in no particular order. If your favorite is not here, I probably either don't like them or haven't heard them.
Down formed as a side project of members of Pantera (Phil Anselmo, and later Rex Brown), Corrosion of Conformity (Pepper Keenan), Crowbar (Kirk Windstein, Todd Strange), and Eyehategod (Jimmy Bower). The band played a style of metal incorporating Southern rock elements and doom metal. It sounded aggressive and dirty and sounded like it came from the swamps of Louisiana, which is of course where the band is from. The first album blew everyone away. While the second and third albums are not as good as the first one, the band has still become a major force in metal. Especially since Pantera is no longer around and the other bands are are on hiatus or just have not released anything in awhile. This is my personal favorite side project.
Nailbomb was a side project for Max Cavalera of Sepultura and Alex Newport of the horrendously named Fudge Tunnel. The band formed as an outlet for the members to experiment with industrial thrash metal similar to Ministry. The band is extremely loud and powerful with Max's brutal vocals to carry things along. The politics of Sepultura's groove metal period have also been brought to the mix. This was essentially a one-off project to allow the members to play a different style of metal. It's not bad but not one of the better side projects out there. They certainly know how to raise an unholy racket though.
The Swedish death metal supergroup is a collection of several musicians from the country's metal scene that have decided to pay tribute to old school Swedish death. The band was originally formed with members of Opeth (Mikael Akerfeldt), Edge of Sanity (Dan Swano), and Katatonia (Jonas Renske, Blakkheim Nystrom). Later, Akerfeldt left and Martin Axenrot (Witchery, Opeth) and Peter Tagtren (Hypocrisy) joined. Still later, Akerfeldt returned to replace Tagtren and Per Eriksson also joined after Swano left. The band plays fast, heavy death metal with a strong reverence toward groups like Nihilist, Carnage, Dismember, Grave, and others. The guitar sound features the familiar buzzsaw tone. The band has released three albums, a couple of EPs, and a live album and are quickly becoming a force unto themselves.
This one's a little different. Dragonlord is the symphonic black metal side project of several members of bands who have little to nothing to do with black metal. The principal members are Eric Peterson of Testament and Steve Smyth of Nevermore. The band plays black metal similar to Dimmu Borgir and other symphonic black metal bands. They were formed so that Peterson could explore darker music than the thrash metal of Testament. It was a little weird looking through band photos and seeing these guys in corpse paint. Oh well, they're very good at what they do, even though symphonic black metal is not one of my favorite genres. My good friend got me their second CD when I graduated from law school. I enjoy it quite a bit.
This is one of my favorite side projects. I is a combination of musicians from Norwegian black metal bands coming together and playing traditional-sounding heavy metal but with blackened vocals. The band consists of Abbath and Armagedda of Immortal, TC King of Gorgoroth, and Ice Dale of Enslaved. Demonaz of Immortal wrote many of the songs and lyrics while recovering from Carpal Tunnel (damn insanely fast Immortal riffs). The songs are incredibly memorable and the riffs are great. This is one of the most interesting side projects in years.
Laethora is a side project of Niklas Sundin of Dark Tranquillity. The band was formed as a way for Sundin to explore more extreme forms of metal than the melodic death metal that Dark Tranquillity releases. Laethora has influences from brutal death, grindcore, old school death metal, and doom metal. The band will soon release their second full-length album.
This is Max Cavalera's return to metallic form. Taking a break from nu-metal band Soulfly, Cavalera joins with his brother Iggor who recently left Sepultura, Soulfly guitarist and flamenco-specialist Marc Rizzo, and Gojira bassist Joe DuPlantier. Cavalera Conspiracy's sound is a mix of groove metal and thrash metal with some hardcore influences thrown in as well. The band was a reunion for the Cavalera brothers who have not played in the same band together since Max left Sepultura in the late 1990's.
HAIL OF BULLETS
An amazing collection of death metal talent came together in this album, a concept album centered around the German invasion of Russia in WWII. The musicians from Thanatos joined forces with Pestilence/Asphyx lead singer Martin Van Drunen, one of the most distinctive voices in extreme metal. He brings his trademarked raspy, hissing growls to Thanatos's infectious riffwork. A great album. Soon after, Van Drunen announced a reformation of Asphyx. Excellent.
RAZOR OF OCCAM
I had to end on an Australian war metal band. Razor of Occam is a combination of musicians from Destroyer 666, Adorior, and Macabre Omen. As implied, they play blackened thrash metal. It's fast, aggressive, and razor sharp. They lyrics are a bit more on the intelligent side than those of D666's. Not a problem though as the music is just as incendiary as ever.