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Appreciating Metal Vocals

Appreciating Metal Vocals
February 26, 2010, 10:57:23 PM
From time to time you'll see metal fans discuss their favorite riffs. Not unusual at all if you ask me, but one thing I never see (perhaps its just me) is metal heads discussing vocals. I find metal vocals provide different atmospheres to the music and I always believed it would be fun to discuss. Comparing vocals such as Demilich vs Obituary really makes some one realize how vocals can change the atmosphere of a song. Ive compared When the Sun Drank the Weight of Water and Infected and it really got me thinking about vocals and I really started appreciating them just as much as I value solos, riffs, harmonies, ect.

Re: Appreciating Metal Vocals
February 27, 2010, 07:31:33 AM
Good thread, I appreciate metal vocals myself and consider them important in creating the desired atmosphere in a song. The guttural sounds of the early Napalm Death albums (especially on the Peel sessions album) particularly appeal to me. I consider them essential to the music Napalm Death seem to have wanted to create at that time. I feel today most death metal bands share vocals that have too much in common, as if they had willingly chose to elect only the median form of growl. I also do believe Demilich singer sung in a toilet since I have yet to find out how he actually manipulated his voice.

Re: Appreciating Metal Vocals
February 27, 2010, 07:56:39 AM
The sooner metal goes 100% instrumental, the better. Guttural/screaming vocals are mostly a distraction from the music, and distraction for the musicians too - since they think in terms of verse-chorus, and they have to fit the structure of the music to the structure of the lyrics, instead of completely freeing themselves from the bondage of the pop/rock song format.

Re: Appreciating Metal Vocals
February 27, 2010, 08:19:44 AM
Instrumental songs are often just as good as anything without vocals so I see where your coming from. However, vocals are able to be done correctly by musicians, its just that MOST are too bound to the whole verse-chorus format.

Re: Appreciating Metal Vocals
February 27, 2010, 11:08:08 AM
When I first started getting into metal, I remember thinking that Immortal's vocals were some of the absolute best in black metal, while Burzum was somewhat more difficult to adjust to.  Today the tables have turned completely.  In fact most metal vocals are transparent at best, distracting at worst.  Immortal's vocals got boring fast and now they just sound cheesy to me (not to say I dislike Immortal, vocals are obviously the least important aspect of metal, and if they're not then it might not be real metal).  Burzum on the other hand has my favorite metal vocals.  They never get boring; they are so dynamic and sound absolutely authentic (in terms of artistic intent).  Varg's early vocal style had a WIDE range, especially compared to the toneless stuff most bands do, and they are some of the few metal vocals that seem to have any real emotional force.  I definitely wish more bands went this route for vocal style.  Of course, still nowhere near as important as the actual music.

I wonder if maybe the reason metal vocals are so guttural and revolting has something to do with the fact that it puts so much more emphasis on the music.  Think of it like an organism, if it stops using a certain biological trait, that trait will whither and die as the species evolves.  Maybe something similar is going on in metal and what we're experiencing now is basically rock that has focused so much on the instrumentation that the vocals are now in a whithering stage.  I'm not saying I think this is what's actually happening, I'm just speculating.

NHA

Re: Appreciating Metal Vocals
February 27, 2010, 12:05:12 PM
Varg's early vocal style had a WIDE range, especially compared to the toneless stuff most bands do, and they are some of the few metal vocals that seem to have any real emotional force.  I definitely wish more bands went this route for vocal style.  Of course, still nowhere near as important as the actual music.

I think one of the more legitimate complaints about metal is the flatness of a lot of the vocals - although its probably appropriate for a lot of situations.

Something like this is pretty similar in aesthetic to metal vocals but somehow has more depth to it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGaTLs-GsFw

Re: Appreciating Metal Vocals
February 27, 2010, 12:24:46 PM
I like death/black metal vocals because they're not like heavy metal, in wich the guy sustains his voice for a long time over the song. One type of vocal I like is when the guy just spits a few words/sentences rapidly while the music is playing full speed. Like in Morbid Visions, the song War for example.

Re: Appreciating Metal Vocals
February 27, 2010, 01:46:28 PM
PAGAAAN FFFEEEEEUUUHHHHRS.

Re: Appreciating Metal Vocals
February 27, 2010, 02:04:38 PM
I like metal vocals that remind us of some of these things: invocation, ritual, blasphemy, bestiality, the animal kingdom, insanity, Satan, God, youth, battle, action, lust, pride, impudence and mortality. So it's not about technical skill but living inside the music and its depicted characters - explains why so many good vocalists like Ihsahn lapsed with age and "musical maturity".

Re: Appreciating Metal Vocals
February 27, 2010, 04:20:00 PM
The best metal vocals in my opinion are on O Agios Pethane by Blood.  I don't know where they got it, and I'm sure they didn't make it up, but the day I listened to that, metal vocals gained a new place of importance for me.

Re: Appreciating Metal Vocals
February 27, 2010, 08:50:34 PM
Vocals play such a huge part in metal for me I'd hate to see everything go Instrumental. I couldnt imagine Profanatica without Ledney vomiting out his vocal chords.

Re: Appreciating Metal Vocals
February 27, 2010, 09:52:15 PM
I'm an advocate for more instrumental metal.  Either that, or perhaps a wider spectrum of vocal techniques being utilized simultaneously.  Death and black metal vocals can get annoying, and often sound cheesy.  When I try to introduce friends to metal, they often laugh at the vocals.  I've been told that they sound like "a haunted house at an amusement park".  I agree that often the growling and shrieking come off as an overstatement of the musical intent, though I appreciate not being able to understand what is being... sung.

I think disEmbowelement does pretty well in a more extreme vein, while early Slayer's vocals were perfect for their music.  However, the more I listen the Hvis Lyset Tar Oss, the more I find that the vocals tend to pull me out of the experience.

The verse/ chorus structure can be a problem, but I feel that lyrics are necessary.  This means that lyrical content should be of highest caliber.

Re: Appreciating Metal Vocals
February 27, 2010, 09:55:56 PM
I like the vocals on extreme metal and could not imagine it being any other way. People who shun extreme metal because the vocals sound like "monsters" or satanic, are idiots to me. Why concentrate on the vocals only to define the music?

Re: Appreciating Metal Vocals
February 27, 2010, 10:42:56 PM
most people i know who dont listen to metal do nothing but complain about the screaming. I purposely play the loudest most obnoxious metal for these people, we dont need pansies easing into this kind of music anyways.

Re: Appreciating Metal Vocals
February 28, 2010, 12:44:53 AM
The lyrics in a metal song, especially in death and black metal, are poems recited with music to make the album an experience rather than a pamphlet of the band's values.  I get the feeling that early metal bands wanted to emphasize the musical narrative of their songs rather than play supporting chords for a single vocal melody, so they simply yelled their lyrics so they would still be a part of the music but not the main focus.