Heavy metal screaming is a distinctive vocal style used in the genre of heavy metal music. It involves using the voice to produce harsh, aggressive, and often guttural sounds that convey a sense of intensity and aggression.
The technique has been a defining feature of heavy metal music since its inception and has been used by countless bands and artists throughout the genre’s history.
The importance of heavy metal screaming in the genre cannot be overstated. It has played a crucial role in shaping the sound of heavy metal, giving it a unique and powerful edge that sets it apart from other styles of music.
Heavy metal screaming is often associated with themes of rebellion, anger, and social alienation, and has become an important means of self-expression for many fans of the genre.
The history of heavy metal screaming is a long and complex one. It has evolved and changed over time, reflecting the changing tastes and styles of heavy metal music as a whole.
From the early days of bands like Black Sabbath and Judas Priest to the more extreme styles of death metal and black metal, heavy metal screaming has remained a constant presence in the genre, constantly evolving and pushing the boundaries of what is possible.
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Early Days of Heavy Metal Screaming
The origins of heavy metal screaming can be traced back to the early days of heavy metal music. In the 1970s, bands like Black Sabbath and Judas Priest began to experiment with vocal styles that were harsher and more aggressive than those used in other genres of music.
Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath
Ozzy Osbourne, the lead singer of Black Sabbath, is widely credited with popularizing the technique of heavy metal screaming. His distinctive vocals on songs like “Iron Man” and “Paranoid” helped to define the sound of heavy metal music and set the stage for future generations of metal vocalists.
Introduction of Growling and Snarling
In addition to Osbourne, other bands like Judas Priest and Motorhead also helped to shape the early days of heavy metal screaming. Vocalist Rob Halford of Judas Priest introduced growling and snarling vocals on songs like “The Ripper” and “Victim of Changes,” while Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead used a raspy, guttural style on tracks like “Ace of Spades.”
Together, these early pioneers of heavy metal screaming laid the foundation for a new style of vocal expression that would become a defining characteristic of heavy metal music for years to come.
Rise of Extreme Metal
In the 1980s and early 1990s, heavy metal music underwent a significant evolution with the emergence of death metal and black metal. These new styles of metal were characterized by faster tempos, more complex song structures, and darker, more aggressive themes.
They also brought with them a new generation of vocalists who pushed the boundaries of what was possible with heavy metal screaming.
Introduction of Guttural Vocals and Shrieks
Bands like Possessed, Death, and Mayhem pioneered new vocal techniques that were more extreme and intense than anything that had come before.
Possessed’s Jeff Becerra introduced the technique of guttural vocals on tracks like “The Exorcist,” while Chuck Schuldiner of Death used a combination of growls and high-pitched screams on albums like “Leprosy” and “Human.” Mayhem’s Attila Csihar used haunting, shrieking vocals on the seminal black metal album “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas.”
These new vocal styles pushed heavy metal screaming to its limits and helped to create a new sub-genre of extreme metal that would continue to evolve and grow in the years to come.
The rise of death metal and black metal also paved the way for other extreme sub-genres of metal, including grindcore, deathcore, and blackened death metal, all of which have their own unique vocal styles and techniques.
Evolution of Heavy Metal Screaming in the 1990s
The 1990s were a time of great change for heavy metal music, as the genre continued to evolve and adapt to new musical trends and influences.
One of the biggest shifts during this period was the rise of grunge and alternative rock, which had a significant impact on the vocal styles used in heavy metal music.
Grunge and Alternative Rock
Many metal bands began to incorporate more melodic singing and clean vocals into their music, moving away from the harsh, aggressive screams and growls that had defined the genre in the past.
Bands like Alice in Chains and Soundgarden were particularly influential in this regard, with their emphasis on melody and emotional intensity helping to reshape the sound of heavy metal vocals.
Introduction of Nu-metal and Rap-metal
At the same time, a new sub-genre of heavy metal emerged in the form of nu-metal and rap-metal, which fused heavy metal with elements of hip-hop and rap music.
Bands like Korn, Limp Bizkit, and Linkin Park used a range of vocal styles, including rap-style vocals, melodic singing, and heavy metal screaming, to create a sound that was both unique and commercially successful.
Continued Popularity of Death Metal and Black Metal
Despite these changes, the more extreme vocal techniques popularized by death metal and black metal continued to be used by many heavy metal bands. Vocalists like Glen Benton of Deicide, Nergal of Behemoth, and Dani Filth of Cradle of Filth helped to keep these styles alive and well, even as other vocal styles became more mainstream.
Overall, the 1990s were a time of great diversity and experimentation in heavy metal vocal styles, with bands and vocalists constantly pushing the boundaries and exploring new sonic territories.
Modern Heavy Metal Screaming
In the modern era of heavy metal, there is an incredible diversity of vocal styles being used by bands across the genre. From the guttural growls of death metal to the high-pitched screams of metalcore, contemporary metal vocalists are constantly pushing the limits of what is possible with their voices.
Rise of “pig squeal”
One of the most distinctive vocal styles to emerge in recent years is the “pig squeal,” a technique that involves producing a high-pitched, squealing sound that is reminiscent of a pig’s squeal. This technique has become particularly popular in deathcore and djent bands, where it is often used to create a sense of aggression and intensity in the music.
Rise of “Death Growl”
Another technique that has become increasingly popular in modern metal is the “death growl,” a low-pitched, guttural vocal style that is often used in death metal and black metal. This technique involves using the diaphragm to produce a deep, resonant sound that is designed to convey a sense of darkness and brutality.
Diversity of Vocal Styles in Contemporary Metal
Contemporary death metal bands like Cannibal Corpse and Nile have helped to keep the traditional death metal vocal style alive and well, with their use of guttural growls and shrieks adding to the intensity and brutality of their music.
Meanwhile, bands like Bring Me the Horizon and Architects have incorporated elements of metalcore and post-hardcore into their music, using a range of vocal styles to create a sound that is both heavy and melodic.
Overall, the modern era of heavy metal has seen a remarkable diversity of vocal styles and techniques, with vocalists constantly experimenting and pushing the boundaries of what is possible.
Whether it’s the haunting shrieks of black metal or the guttural growls of death metal, heavy metal screaming remains a vital and essential part of the genre and will continue to evolve and adapt in the years to come.
Throughout the history of heavy metal, screaming has played an essential role in defining the genre and pushing it forward. From the early days of Black Sabbath and Judas Priest to the rise of extreme metal in the 1980s and 1990s, heavy metal screaming has continued to evolve and adapt to new musical trends and influences.
While the vocal styles used in heavy metal have changed dramatically over the years, one thing has remained constant: the importance of screaming in defining the genre’s sound and style. Whether it’s the guttural growls of death metal or the high-pitched screams of metalcore, heavy metal screaming continues to be a vital and essential part of the genre’s evolution.
Looking to the future, it’s clear that heavy metal vocals will continue to evolve and adapt to new trends and influences. Whether it’s the incorporation of new vocal techniques and styles or the use of cutting-edge technology to push the boundaries of what is possible, heavy metal vocalists will continue to explore new sonic territories and help to shape the sound of the genre for years to come.
In conclusion, the history of heavy metal screaming is a rich and fascinating one, full of experimentation, innovation, and evolution. While the future of heavy metal vocals is uncertain, one thing is certain: screaming will always be an essential and integral part of the genre’s sound and style, helping to define heavy metal for generations to come.
What is the screaming in metal called?
The screaming in metal is often called “harsh vocals” or “extreme vocals.” There are several different techniques used to produce these vocals, including growling, screaming, and shouting.
Why do heavy metal singers scream?
Heavy metal singers use screaming as a way of expressing intense emotions and adding a raw, aggressive edge to their music. It is also a way of creating a unique sound that sets heavy metal apart from other genres.
Where did screaming in metal come from?
Screaming in metal can be traced back to the early days of heavy metal in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was popularized in the 1980s by bands like Slayer, Metallica, and Anthrax, and has since become a defining characteristic of the genre.
Is metal screaming difficult?
Metal screaming can be difficult to master, as it requires a lot of practice and control to produce the desired sound without damaging the voice. It also requires a certain level of physical stamina, as screaming can be very physically demanding.
Should metal screaming hurt?
Metal screaming should not cause pain or discomfort when done properly. However, improper technique or excessive strain can lead to vocal damage or injury.
What is a guttural scream?
A guttural scream is a type of harsh vocal technique that involves using the throat and diaphragm to produce a deep, throaty sound. It is often used in death metal and other extreme metal genres.
How to do a death growl?
To do a death growl, one must start by exhaling a large amount of air and then using the muscles of the throat to produce a deep, guttural sound. This technique requires a lot of practice and control to avoid damaging the vocal cords.
Does metal screaming take talent?
Yes, metal screaming takes talent, as it requires a lot of practice, control, and physical stamina to produce the desired sound without causing vocal damage or injury. It is a unique skill that sets heavy metal apart from other genres and is highly valued by fans and musicians alike.
About the Author
Mark Nye is a writer and guitar teacher with a passion for heavy metal and hard rock. With years of experience playing and teaching guitar, Mark has developed a deep appreciation for the music and culture of the genre. In addition to teaching guitar, he enjoys writing about heavy metal and hard rock music and sharing his knowledge and insights with others. When he’s not teaching or writing, you can find Mark listening to his favourite bands and discovering new music to add to his collection.