screaming for vengeance
I was pondering about what I should write about this month— should I actually write about Integrity and Holy Terror, like I had jokingly suggested I would last month? (Ultimately, the relentless negativity every time an attempt to analyze that scene pops up convinced me otherwise.) Should I write about getting back into rap after somewhat drifting away from it over the last year? (I imagine no one wants to hear about some twentysomething white kid’s opinions on their favorite Wu affiliate albums, but I’m always willing to talk about Killah Priest’s Heavy Mental, which is unforgivably butchered on streaming.)
Then the other day, while lurking around in the Facebook group for Grey Gordon’s podcast Demolisten (a series of words which explains way more about me than I’d like), I heard tell of something called “Predator vocals,” in the context of a slam band that had been played on the show. Curious, I checked the comments section, where enthusiastic listeners were posting their favorite examples of the aforementioned vocal style. This song by Heinous Killings was posted, and listeners were instructed to listen to 00:54:
All I can say about this song is that, if you think you have heard the gnarliest vocals in heavy music, you really need to listen to it and let yourself be as taken aback as I was.
Dearest reader, when I tell you this was genuinely an enormous paradigm shift for me, I am not exaggerating. It completely expanded my idea of what heavy music vocals could be. At first I was simply thinking to myself, as a regular but not devoted listener of brutal death and slam, I spent most of that first minute thinking about how I wasn’t hearing anything new, but then, when the Yautja “PRRRR” vocals dropped, I knew that it was still possible for heavy music vocal techniques to blow my mind, and that was very special to me.
It also got me thinking about what I value most in heavy vocalists. Is it technique? Raw passion? A natural tonality that can’t be imitated or replicated? A perfect merger between lyrical content and delivery? Obviously the answer is all of the above to varying degrees depending on my mood, but I think overall what I enjoy in heavy music is a vocalist who can emote through even the most harsh and inhuman vocal techniques.
Two of my personal favorite examples of this are Travis Ryan of Cattle Decapitation and Will Smith (no relation to the Fresh Prince) of Afterbirth and (formerly) Artificial Brain.
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