Metal Vocals are Obstructive.  Remove them.

There are many well cultured intellectuals who, when presented with metal music, will immediately be tuned out by the vocals.  This results in much of the metal collective being comprised of hold-my-beer normies and most of the world’s high IQ population never grasping a music genre that has both the depth and the complexity they yearn for.  Moreover, vocals in metal have not progressed AT ALL since the 1990s and therefore vocalists have been rendered indistinguishable from one another.  Through this understanding comes the ultimate revelation:  metal vocals, more than any other factor, are hindering the next great wave of metal. 

Once upon a time, the majority of metal vocals either matched rock (e.g. Rainbow), punk (Motorhead), or opera (Candlemass).

As punk and rock evolved (in the form of hardcore and grunge respectively), metal vocals followed their lead in tone (evident in Slayer or Metallica).  The first and only style completely unique to heavy metal (aside from Ozzy’s range-limited mumblings) really came with death (and black) metal gutturals, growls, and shrieks via the lungs of Jeff Becarra, Chuck Schuldiner, Quarthon, and Max Cavalera.  Completely vacating melody in favor of drum-oriented rhythmic technique, this style could be applied without any real knowledge of music theory or training.  Furthermore, it was the absolute maximum in terms of extremity of the human voice.

Unfortunately the growl technique has not seen any real innovation or change (as it is likely not possible) since the turn of the millennium.  Because of this, its effectiveness has soured grotesquely.  Once used as a tool to create the most abrasive, threatening music possible, the guttural death metal vocal style has found its way into the most mainstream and trendy of bands ranging from screamo to pop punk (seriously, actual pop punk) such as Attack Attack, A Day to Remember, and In Flames.  Concurrently, the once shocking black metal rasp has become indistinguishable from many metalcore and post metal styles.  The scream style of metal has lost its edge, attitude, and purpose.  Yet, year in and year out, everyone continues with the same technique.  It’s become routine, mandatory, and- while fun- uninspiring.

Meanwhile, metal evolving in parallel to rock music has continued with horrific results.  As the 2000’s saw the loud and masculine grunge vocal replaced with feminine emo shrilling, Revolver-core metal autists such as Periphery and Pallbearer followed suit.  These vocals are devoid of everything that made metal vocals metal and yet these bands still get massive coverage in mainstream publications.

The classic operatic falsetto that dominated the early years of metal is scarcely found outside of power metal.  This is understandable given the amount of training required to master a multi-octave range along with the bleak financial prospects of a career metal artist.  This style is also alienating to many and therefore unnecessary to seek out in hopes of a full revival.

Finally, there are lyrics. 

Without looking, can you- at this very moment- recite any of the lyrics for any of the songs of your favorite 2017 album?  Think about the last live show you went to- did you retain any of the lyrics from a band you’ve never seen before?  Lyrics in metal have become irrelevant as young listeners load their heads with as many albums as possible, and therefore unnecessary.   And hell, look at how great classical music was without having lyrics in most cases.

When considering the above, it’s no surprise that people are flocking away from guitar-based music in droves.  Many contemporary styles of music (mostly electronic) such as Synthwave, dubstep, ect. are all void of vocals and lyrics and still are massively effective in connecting with their audiances.  It is an unfortunate truth that metal is behind the times with the psychological and emotional complexities of its listeners in this respect.

And so, the conclusion was reached- by going instrumental, extreme metal can become fresh and compelling.

As many are seeking uncharted territories in death and black metal, instrumental guitar-based music has been almost completely overlooked.  Of the 40,000+ death metal bands listed on Metal Archives only 137 are instrumental.  That’s less than a hundredth of a percent! The only instrumental metal bands I can recall that have gained any traction are progressive or jazz-fusion.

Of course this brings on a number of esoteric questions.  Is death metal really death metal without vocals?  Is black metal really black metal without lyrics?   This type of provocation is something that, regardless of how well articulated the arrangement of vocals and lyrics may be- are sadly not seeing.

If metal is to see another great movement like those of the 80’s and 90’s it needs to make conventional changes WITHOUT blending with today’s mainstream indie rock landfill.  This can be done- while still retaining those stellar traits of metal- by dropping the vocals altogether.



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47 thoughts on “Metal Vocals are Obstructive.  Remove them.”

  1. JN says:

    This is something I’ve also been thinking though I don’t hope the vocals to be completely dropped out. One of the most annoying things in metal nowadays are especially death and black metal vocalists who are growling through the whole song and don’t know when to shut up.

  2. James "when asked whether he had issue with the US government using metallica's music to torture iraqi prisoners he answered: 'If the Iraqis aren’t used to freedom, then I’m glad to be part of their exposure'" Hetfield says:

    An article on DMU that doesn’t suck dick. Color me surprised.

  3. Trashchunk says:

    The last album from The Chasm is purely instrumental but I haven’t heard it yet. I think a lot of death metal would sound better with mid range, thrash or even classic heavy metal style vocals. The guttural gurgles are expected but you are right, I woke up this morning singing Metallica’s Phantom Lord, I can’t think of a single Unaussprechlichen Kulten lyric despite having one of the best albums this year. I think you’re onto something, I’ve also been told by family members who are not deep off into metal that my musical efforts would be better if there were no vocals at all. “They’ll ruin the music and get in the way” is what I was told. On the flip side, “fuck em” if that’s getting in the way. I still think a compromise, mainly find a unique voice or vocal style, try to incorporate more singing, which takes effort. It really is not hard to do monotonous death metal vocals even over the most complex riff structures.

  4. tiny midget says:

    you could remove the vocals
    remove the lyrics
    remove the drums
    even the guirtars
    and why not the bass
    remove it all

    or …

    why not just switch to a different kind of music altogether?

    see here is the thing:

    When you take Brett’s elitist and super intellectual approach to heavy metal, heavy metal becomes failed music except for a dozen albums.

    Fact is, you need to be less smart than Brett and inevitably lower your artistic standards if you are to enjoy heavy metal as it really is NOT as you wished it were.

    I’ve been a reader since 1999 an I always embraced Prozak’s view, until I realized that to follow that path meant to eventually dislike metal music save for a few blessed records that are the exception but metal will never reach those heights again.

    For you to enjoy most of metal you need to embrace that which Brett loathes and moved away from this kind of music.

    1. Metal needs more musicals says:

      I just wanted to say that you are my favorite ANUSite and I want to put you in my pokeball.

    2. cornrose says:

      I hear ur point and do like to hear brett’s point of view as he is highly intelligent and it’s interesting but i still like what i like for the most part although some of my tastes have been influenced by this site in general.

    3. milk my dick says:

      Whether intentionally or not, the canon here has always been based on working class, lowbrow young people accidentally touching the sublime with their music for a tiny window of time before devolving into boring formalism/careerism. Brett and co. are brainstorming a way to manufacture this “accidentally sublime” feeling. But you can’t, that’s the thing with the sublime. All you can do is wait for more cannon fodder to hit that magical age of 17-25 and do something retardedly genius without thinking very much about it.

      1. Ignorance says:

        If you take a look at each of the albums in “Best of”, and you actually take the time to research the history, you will notice they were not “retarded accidents” but the result of fanatical obsession with something dark and ungraspable, alongside years of effort in the rehearsal room.

        Also, the fact that they are grouped within one generation means that the external factors create and enhance the psychological conditions, the symbols and legends around them, as well as the limitations and the kind of life that comes from that. If studied well-enough, the correct conditions, and the correct attitudes, can be promoted so that the probabilities are higher of the correct mind coming along and achieving this potential.

        If you are the kind of person who thinks that “the sublime” is just some “touch of god from beyond the veil” completely out of reach and unpredictable, then you are simply spewing your short-sightedness and ignorance as some kind of revelation.

        1. HessianMurdererOfBlackDeath says:

          Aye to this

  5. Rainer Weikusat says:

    If you already feel bored with yesterday’s new plastic junk, feel free to ‘innovate’ a new plastic junk today. Great American tradition it is after all.

    A interesting new perspective on a certain, historical event:

    No, this is not “some kind of hardcore”. That wasn’t ever much popular outside the US of A.

  6. Midget Brett's filipino transgender girlfriend says:


    Fixed it for you.

  7. Jerry Hauppa says:

    The newest Chasm is instrumental, I’ve been meaning to check it out.

  8. Mister Syre says:

    This article raise a lot of questions. Ain’t Metal simply a more extreme form of Rock music without lyrics or vocals? What about the visuals? Is the record cover a thing of the past? Will videos of instrumental bands attract anyone considering they usually are ego trips for vocalists? What about the recording studio or the value of sound production itself?

  9. Reduced Without Any Effort says:

    Metal in general is limited by the rock band format (and by extension the music industry-enforced emphasis on live performances and touring). This is not just limited to vocals and lyrics, which are the two most obvious weak links. Metal percussion is another weak link. These are not a detriment to metal because they put off the easily deterred, but because they encourage basic song structures and limited breadth of composition. Complete liberation from rock music, its conventions and the rock and pop music industry is the future of metal if it has a future at all.

    1. milk my dick says:

      That ‘future’ was already realized in the form of Burzum, Enslaved’s first album and various Blazebirth Hall bands. (They escaped the trappings of rhythm by either discarding it entirely, or expanding it into more of an invisible pulse like in classical or ambient.) They were only musically connected to rock n roll in the most superficial, spurious sense (they use guitars etc).

      The 90s was the artistic peak of metal and it’s important to realize you can’t fight entropy, only accept it gracefully.

    2. Rainer Weikusat says:

      Metal in general is limited by the rock band format (and by extension the music industry-enforced emphasis on live performances and touring).

      This is nonsense. Music doesn’t get better (or worse) by changing instruments (although there are probably still 70s left-overs trying to sell synthesizers as New! And! Exciting!), it just sounds differently. That’s enough to provide the kind of easily discernible surface variation “rock band formatted” people are capable of recognizing (without much effort into this) but that’s not a good reason to go down this road. One might as well play kindergarten shows, there, the enthusiasm would at least be honest.

      Instrumental music is meant to be ‘performed live’, that’s not something »the music industry« invented. Musicians have been doing live performances for a few thousand more years than “I’m the hyper-genius” bedroom tinkerer types have been able to emulate music by electronic patchwork.

      Metal percussion is another weak link. These are not a detriment to metal because they put off the easily deterred, but because they encourage basic song structures and limited breadth of composition. Complete liberation from rock music, its conventions and the rock and pop music industry is the future of metal if it has a future at all.

      In order words, the »future« of metal can only lie in it voluntarily ceasing to be, even harder than the prog rockers already tried (and sort-of accomplished) killing a genre in order to sell a masterly decorated saucepan to the gullible/ really desinterested.

      I mean, »stop using instruments, especially percussion instruments, stop writing riffs, stop playing life&laquo (and stop telling stories which may be of interested to people, as per Mr Toner’s suggestion) is not the kind of advice a friend would give, don’t you think so?

  10. Death Metal Gear Solid says:

    Suddenly it matters whether or not “well cultured intellectuals” like metal? *fart noises* Uhhhh okay.

  11. rotten culler says:

    Death metal vocals and lyrics that you can understand can be well-done, remember this :

    The problem in declining metal quality is not vocals, it is the absence of visionary musicians.

    Also, who gives a shit if some high-IQ individuals are turned off by the vocals ? This music isn’t for everybody and it shouldn’t be. You can be high-IQ and still be a faggoty aspie. The spirit of the music must be in the artist first of all.

    The question of how to innovate metal music is important, but the article looks only at superficial aspects and is useless. If you want metal music to become more like classical you could argue that you need to abandon some traditional aspects of musical composition in extreme metal. However vocals/lyrics have nothing to do with it.

    Get culled, Tonner !

  12. Name says:

    “Ozzy’s range-limited mumblings”

    Anyone still wondering why no one takes this site seriously?

  13. cornrose says:

    I couldn’t agree more, although the last few Burzum records had interesting vocals.

  14. Serpent Ascending isn't good, Engram was bad says:

    It wouldn’t save Serpent ascending from mediocrity.

    1. I raped Daniel Mallrat says:


  15. Claudia Roth says:

    Not metal, but I sort of like this instrumental punk band:

  16. Claudia Roth says:

    Also, now that I read this article, the argument is basically that retards started using metal vocals, hence proper metal bands shouldn’t use vocals anymore. Which is retarded and by the same logic you could argue metal bands shouldn’t use guitars anymore.

    Speaking of which, I also kind of like this instrumental band without guitars:

    Is this too hipster? Anyways I get that it would be a good idea if musicians tried writing compelling instrumentals as an exercise before anything else, but then many good metal albums of the past were written this way anyways, where all the riffs and instrumentals were done before the vocals and lyrics were added e.g. Nespithe.

    1. Rabid Intolerance says:

      Shut the fuck up and listen to Blotted Science.

      1. S.C. says:

        Spastic ink is pretty great too.

      2. Claudia Roth says:

        Not a fan of greasy nerd wankery

    2. Ignorance says:

      I do not think that vocals are ruining the genre or stopping it.
      It’s a generation of lost people without ground or real drive.
      That said, I do not think Brock said that metal should stop using vocals because the retards started using them: he said that vocals were stopping the development of metal.
      I do not agree with that, though.

  17. Recarbonize says:

    moronic shit blaster

  18. Carencro says:

    Great article! Extreme metal vocals were always treated as a sort of instrument in itself, since growling and screaming distanced itself so far away from a conventional human connection. to further meditate on this idea: while the most obvious answer to having a lack of vocals in metal would to make the instrumentation a lot more technical and/or various, having a shredding electric guitar playing style in a Death Metal format would only distance itself from the ideologies that make up the genre to begin with. Growling and screaming vocals added an abrasive quality that, when paired with the chaotic order inside the music of Death Metal, enhanced the general aesthetic. So, in order to successfully replace vocals, something needs to be placed in the music that does the job as good or better as the abrasive vocals did.

  19. TP says:

    Perhaps a first step is to severely limit the amount of singing. Vikingligr Veldi is a good example of an album where a band is economical with vocals over most of the duration of the album and it works very well.

  20. milk my dick says:

    “One of metal’s barriers of entry is keeping out middle class faggot hipsters we don’t need. Let’s remove that barrier of entry!”

  21. Meat says:

    not drop it altogether but use less of it. I always found vocals of any form be it electro or rock to be annoying when sung, growled throughout. It feels like both the music and vocals are wrestling for the center stage at times.

  22. Canadaspaceman says:

    Yep, a lot of bands have singers that all the sound the same.
    Whether “brootal” deathcore or death metal with gutteral belches, black metal squawks/screeches, or the (1990s ’til now) power metal castrato’s that all sound like the same whiny woman.

    It is not impossible to find bands with an identifiable sound/singer, which is why many fans will stick to the 1980s and early 1990s era, when not everybody was attempting to simply be a clone of what was popular.

    Last night, I was blasting these records, and maybe you won’t agree, but every singer I thought was unique –
    (and they are all 10″ vinyl EP’s)-
    Bitterness (2007) As All Beauty Starts To Fade…
    Explorer + First Aid (2010) [split] Boozing Maniacs-Explorer
    Lordes Werre 2006 Canticles of Armageddon
    Pagan Winter (2002) The Cult of Flesh
    Sturmtiger (2007) Sturmtiger
    Wicked Angel (1987) Chaotic Intellect Demo

  23. Canadaspaceman says:

    for instrumental only, no vocals, check out The Fucking Champs.
    headbanging / rocking stuff that both metalheads and punks can dig.

    1. Jerry Hauppa says:

      The Champs are like an unrestrained Brian May. Fun live band too.

    2. Death Metal Gear Solid says:

      The Fucking Champs guitarist is the guy from Weakling, lol.

      Good fun music though. Chorale Motherfucker, Aliens of Gold, NWOBHM, and Winter of Discotheque are my favorite songs, though I may be misremembering some of those names since it’s been a while since I played any. Those were the jams for my friends back in the acid droppin days. They don’t even use a bass guitar iirc.

  24. Chad shilldinger says:

    Black Funeral – Ankou and the Death Fire

    Very musical Black Metal vocals. His lyrics are also great; style seems Paradise Lost (the book) inspired, especially on the next link.

    Also see:
    Black Funeral – Waters of Weeping

  25. 0011971 says:

    Why not just give up on guitar-based music already and get into something else like New Complexity Composition or whatever…?

  26. Destroy your life for Satan says:

    Does anyone think that live performances are too loud. I walked out of a Mayhem concert because I couldn’t hear anything.

  27. Human sucks smegma dick you uncut poser.

    1. Ariel Sharon says:

      Stuoid goyim. All of us trve chosen people know that only Scream Bloody Gore is real.

  28. atonalistic moshing says:

    This is about the self-discipline or heteronomy of music

  29. Imperathor says:

    Great Opinion Article. I agree 100% Metal is a dying rotting corpse. They should pass a law so that there are no more Black Metal and Death Metal bands allowed on this planet. How many more Bathory clones (Really Clowns in gay makeup)does the world need? How many more Death Metal bands do we need? The music styles of Black and Death are so pointless in this day and age. I was there from the beginning of both 1st wave and 2nd waves of Black Metal and the second wave had two good early years and then collapsed just like Morrisound studios ridiculous attempt to make every fucking Death Metal band sound like Obituary,Death,Deicide,Morbid Angel,Cannibal Corpse the list could take too long… These two music styles are what actually help kill metal and the it finally died in the 1990’s for a good reason because its lame to keep spewing out the same stupid ass lyrics about the Devil or Rotting Flesh and Raping corpses and talking about politics only can get you into trouble with Faggot Social Justice warriors who cry about any difference of opinion. Instrumental music leads to writing more seriously and not using cheap gimmicks or cheesy buzz words and commands your attention. Hopefully an Instrumental revolution in Metal could lead to great music that lasts the test of time. No more Faggot Black Metal screeches and Toilet bowl flushing growls. Thanks.

  30. whatever is dead says:

    good vocals in metal have always been a rare thing as far as i can tell. i find the vocals are key for creating the atmosphere that i find so interesting about great metal. if everything is on point except the vocals, it still doesn’t make the cut for greatness. i am a chanter/growler/screamer/barker/gurgler myself, and it is very important to my creative process.

  31. RabidRab says:

    I have an idea! How about artificial or distorted vocals like what you had with the closing songs (Premature Autopsy/Defective Decay) on both Left Hand Path and Like An Ever-flowing Stream?! That would out-do any vocalist from David Vincent to Pete Helmkamp!

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