Voices of the Dark

I have been contemplating my own version of this topic for some time. Music is personal, and while the metal folk of old will mostly agree on the what and who of music, some things are just more personal.

I have my opinions of the best drummers, best bassists, best guitar solos, best sound engineers and producers (*cough* Dan Swano) etc. The same rule applies to vocals. There is a myriad of styles that sprouted from the classic and hard-rock of the 70’s. Heavy metal, thrash metal, black metal, death metal, grindcore. Under each of those, more sub-divisions formed, NSBM, Scandinavian death (some of whom are melodic death), south American, south African… It doesn’t matter, labels don’t matter. What matters is what matters to you, and you alone (Morpheus?).

I am going to try and touch on some of the vocalists that really, really inspired me and whom I believe laid some form of structural foundation in their respective genres. It’s not an exhaustive list, and I will probably forget so many of the guys who made a HUGE impact on me musically. Well, here goes… on my 25th year in metal!

Tomas Lindberg (At The Gates)

Undoubtedly one of my favourites in the Swedish Deathmetal scene. Melodic giants with vocals that just highlight excruciating, knee-hammering pain from Tomas. As tonal as the band is, his voice just always carried it all the way through. This doesn’t mean that I put Entombed, In Flames (pre Reroute please!) or Amorphis in the bin, not even close. Tomas is just, something else and I hope you agree!

The Swarm on Google Play and Youtube

Chuck #1 – Chuck Shuldiner – Death

Pioneers of death metal, Chuck Shuldiner was one of the most creative and philosophical lyricists and song writers of his time. His vocals strike me as utterly powerful and irreplaceable, and his guitar technique is unrivalled. I can’t do him any justice, and I wish he was still alive. Rest in peace Chucky.

Even if death-metal, or vocals or guitars are not your thing, you must appreciate his style and deployment tactics.

If you only watch one of the videos in this post, watch this one… :'(

Glen Benton – Deicide

I can’t get around this list of mindblowing vocal engineering if I don’t include Glen Benton here. The man, the band, is the Rolls Royce of American full-scale death metal. I don’t think he needs any introduction, other than that he is actually a huggable teddy bear in the body of a beast.

This links to the full show, but at least check Scars of the Crucifix

David Vincent – Morbid Angel

Another death metal vocalist, David Vincent. Some hate him, I think he is a force to be reckoned with. Not only a joy to my ears, and a pleasant performer on stage with a good sense of humour but a growling-low-end giant in deathmetal.

NOW! Did you know he is also a country man? Check out David in these two videos and make your own call about vocals.

Tom Araya – Slayer

Slayer is undoubtedly one of the massive pioneers of metal, thrash metal, extreme metal. I am going NOWHERE without putting Tom in this list. We miss Jeff, and things will not be the same without him, but Tom is the one immortal from Chile. I will link you to Angel Of Death (Dr Joseph Mengele, World War 2) because all songs should start with a demonstration of what it sounds like when you fall out of your roller-coaster seat. Solos by King and Hanneman… you were warned.

On Google Play Music

Like cattle you run…

Chuck #2 – Chuck Billy of Testament

Testament, like most thrash, humor, tongue in cheek, sarcasm and to the point with a point. Our big native American guy, Chuck Billy definitely needs a spot on my list. It is extremely hard to define his tonal talents, so I think… just listen and absorb, my friends. Unlike our dear Chuck Shuldiner, Chuck Billy survived cancer and is still rocking in his place with the gods of thrash!

Practice what you preach on Google Play Music.

Testament with Chuck

Barney Greenway – Napalm Death

Grind/deathgrind is not everyone’s cup of tea, but Napalm Death is known to most (if not all) metalheads. They drive their point hard, and fast – anti-fascist, anti-politics, anti-music-business. Barney steers that ship pretty well, would you not agree? They basically created PunkDeathMetal, or am I drunk?

Nazi Punks F*ck Off on Google Play Music

Barney looks like someone’s fun brother

Petri Lindroos – Ensiferum

Medieval, Folk, Deathy metal. Something that everyone can appreciate. Petri‘s voice is the ideal viking driving force (yes, I agree Johan Hegg needs a spot on the list…) for Ensiferum. A journey carried back in time where cabins in the snow were only made visible by the smoke from their smithy fires.

One more magic potion

Johan Hegg – Amon Amarth

Hah! I made you believe that I was going to omit Johan here. No way! The viking of all vikings! Johan speaks (and chants and roars) for himself. I need not introduce him to you. Across the rainbow bridge is the ideal song to demonstrate his style. If you didn’t know, the rainbow bridge is the bridge between Midgard (earth) and Asgard (the realm of the gods).

Set. Me. Free……

Abbath – Immortal

I have to Abbath here, because there is only one Abbath. As far as black-metal goes, the sons of northern darkness really is the go-to for me. No offence to the kvlt guys, just a personal thing. His style in my mind, is Norwegian black metal, way up high. They never made any dubious bonfires though… which some of the other amazing voices in Black Metal did do…

If you don’t like frostbite, winter and snow then Immortal’s songs are not for you. If you prefer just audio, Tyrants!

Abbath is worth watching in this interview, by the way. Almost as fun as Ghaal‘s interviews.

Ihsaan – Emperor

Last but not least, and not a man that I consider blunt or uncreative at all, Ihsaan. He is involved in all sorts of things, including classical music, extremely philosophical in his writing but by all means one of my favourite blackmetally vocalists, with mind-numbing writing powers. I recommend you do some trench-work on his solo project (with his wife) as well.

Empty covers pretty much everything he is about…

Dani Filth (Cradle of Filth)

Remarkably reaching highs and lows that blow your hair off, Dani screeches in from the (arguably) black-extreme-metal band, Cradle of Filth. Hailing from England, and not everyone’s favourite style or place, they have an amazing theatrical history of utterly well written songs. His voice is superbly suited to what (my favorite era) Gian Pyres and Nicholas Barker baked in.

on Google Play and Youtube

That is it for now.
I expect more to come. Many greats unmentioned… tune in, drop out.

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