by Quentin Singer
From Dream Theater to Steve Vai, Berklee has hosted dozens of successful rock and metal alumni, but the Berklee spotlight tends to shine on some more than others. That being said, there’s a handful of successful metal alumni who not everyone knows about, some of which have even earned multiple Grammy nods, commercial success in the metal scene, and have even created their own television show.
Producer, lead guitarist, and a founding member of the New England metalcore band Killswitch Engage, Adam Dutkiewicz is one of the most spoken names in the metal community. Studying music production during his Berklee years, Dutkiewicz would not only produce several Grammy-nominated metal albums (with As I Lay Dying and his own band Killswitch Engage), but pioneer the staple sound for the metal sub-genre known as “metalcore.” Some even list Killswitch Engage as founders of the genre, given their early critical success with their first two studio albums: Killswitch Engage and Alive or Just Breathing. Adam became an innovator in metal songwriting for not only his own band, but a plethora of other metal bands with whom he’s collaborated: ranging from Parkway Drive to As I Lay Dying and All That Remains.
Creator and songwriter of the Adult Swim show Metalocalypse, Brendon Small’s amalgamation of comedy and brutal guitar riffs has earned him critical and commercial success for his hit TV series, but also his three studio albums (based off of the series). Brendon went to Berklee as a Professional Music major where he developed his chops for metal guitar playing and his ability to put on a “one man show.” Eventually branching out into comedy, Brendon took several acting courses at the neighboring university Emerson. Combining his passion for metal and comedy, Brendon would create Metalocalypse, a show that follows the lives of the fictional death metal band Dethklok, characters whose voices are also provided by Smalls. Throughout the seasons of Metalocalypse, the show would develop a cult following, and would eventually see several guest celebrity appearances from the likes of Jack Black, Steve Vai, and even Mark Hamill. The three studio albums created to accompany the show were released under the name Dethklok. Some of these songs were featured in the show, but were mainly written and recorded to serve fans of the series. These albums would garner critical success in the metal community, and enable Brendon to tour under the Dethklok name.
Matt Gartska is already being hailed as a master behind the drum kit, and is famous for his work in the prestigious and super technical Djent band Animals as Leaders. Touring the world and recording two studio albums with the band has already paved the way for a long and undoubtedly successful career for the Berklee alum. Matt gives drum clinics around the globe and touches all kinds of styles ranging from blues, rock, reggae, funk, metal, and many more.
Founding member, lead guitarist, and vocalist of the death/thrash metal band Revocation, David Davidson has sought to merge the technicality and rhythm of metal genres with the theory and harmony of jazz. While he’s a metalhead at heart, Davidson has expressed his admiration and knowledge for jazz, some of which he credits to his studies at Berklee. Davidson would go on to form Revocation in 2005, resulting in a dedicated core fanbase within the metal community. The band has released 6 studio albums over the years, and they continue to tour the world with their melting pot of metal genres.