Singing Vs. Screaming In Metal: Where Do You Stand?

There is a civil war in the world of heavy music. Let the debate rage.

There is a civil war in the world of heavy music. On one side of the division line, we have the old guard of classic, traditionalist metalheads who pine for the good ol’ days of Judas Priest, Dio, and Iron Maiden. These bands had real singers. The abilities of vocal giants like Bruce Dickinson, Rob Halford, and Ronnie James Dio was and is undeniably world-class. On the other side, we have a generation of young people who have consumed a steady diet of extreme music for their entire music listening lives. They have come of age in a musical world where abrasively harsh, screamed vocals are normal and sometimes considered more legitimately metal; they don’t have time for “pussy sh-t”.

The above paragraph is frankly an oversimplification. The truth is much more nebulous in reality because we all don’t fall under preferential archetypes. I grew up as a kid listening to Michael Jackson and Prince. Pop is easy on the ears: soothing and melodic. This is the reason many of the gateway bands in rock and metal are also it’s most pop-oriented and easy to listen to. My initiation into metal and it’s subsequent extremity was gradual. The first extreme vocal I heard was probably Pantera’s “Walk” featured on a mixtape a buddy made. The paleolithic grunt was almost funny to my brother and I (we discovered metal together, so it was a more shared experience than singular). We weren’t ready for it. The same could be said for when we picked up Machine Head’s Burn My Eyes (1994). By today’s standards, these bands aren’t on the extreme end of things. But at the time, it was just too heavy for our ears, which were still fixated on Megadeth and Guns N Roses. But we kept Burn My Eyes, and dug in deep after 6 months or so as I became more acclimated with this more harsh sound.

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