The Inhuman Roar

In metalcore and the like, the vocal is not only unsingable, it contains no melody and sounds like the death throes of a dying redneck.

One of the most powerful features—and also one of the most important—in rock ‘n’ roll music is the lyrics. A well-sung song can take you away to ethereal planes never before experienced, with beautiful melodies delivered by those with the gift of song. Especially in the genre of rock/pop music, lyrical content and harmonic flow are key elements in the overall package. Your band may be great, but if your frontman sucks, you have no future, plain and simple.

Many different vocal styles color the rock scene. From the haunting raspiness of Stevie Nicks to the powerful pipes of Ann Wilson, there is room for many different types of vocals. In heavy metal, you run the gamut of the leather-lunged Ronnie James Dio, to the fiverange vibrato of Geoff Tate of Queensrÿche. Lyrically, metal has also enjoyed the darker side of the world, as well as human sexuality. Basically, in popular music, if you can’t sing it, it’s not music. It’s the vocal hook that sets off the rest of the song.

Thus, we come to my point: The newest trend in heavy music vocalizing is something I call “the inhuman roar.” The metal subgenre known as metalcore is famous for this gruesome vocal style. Don’t get me wrong: I like a metal vocalist who can pipe out a good scream. Yet, in metalcore and the like, the vocal is not only unsingable, it contains no melody and sounds like the death throes of a dying redneck. In short, I find it godawful.

The secret to rock ‘n’ roll is longevity, especially when you can retain all the original members. However, frontmen who provide the Inhuman Roar probably won’t even have a voice to sing with in five years. As someone who has studied the voice, there is really no proper technique to teach a person to shred their voice, and not affect the instrument overall. The vocal chords are tender organs that must be used properly in order to have a longlasting, useable voice Even properly trained vocalists like Dee Snider of Twisted Sister, Paul Stanley of KISS, and rocking females like Pat Benatar have had extensive training—and for some, like Ozzy Osbourne and Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls, extensive throat surgery to save their voices from overuse.

So, as for the Inhuman Roar, hopefully its time will have come and gone soon. There are a number of bands who have great musicians and write great tunes, just to be ruined the minute the frontman approaches the microphone.

For example, check new bands like Gemini Syndrome. Aaron Nordstrom is certainly capable of a good roar, has a fantastic, well-toned voice, and knows how to use it. While I will not openly name the bands I speak of as to not truly insult them, I certainly won’t write about them. If I can’t sing the song along with you, then I’d rather listen to something else.

Singers, take heed: If you want to be taken seriously as a vocalist, get lessons. Learn how to SING, not roar like an attacking bear. | Marc Farr

About Marc Farr 244 Articles
Marc Farr is the Live Music & Assignments Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. He's so invaluable to us, we've nicknamed him Mr. Music. Reach out if you have coverage ideas! "I know it's only rock and roll...but I like it!"
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