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Thread August 8, 2015 editorial: comments

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1 August 8, 2015 editorial: comments

You Scream, I Don’t

While I’ve never been a massive fan, I’ve enjoyed listening to various metal artists over the years, and there are some very cool aspects to much of contemporary metal. The playing is often quite intricate, with guitars and drums locking into elaborate patterns. It’s no longer just musicians bashing away on their instruments — there’s some real thought to the arrangements. But…and it’s a big but…the vocals. OMG. I’m not talking about sung vocals, I’m talking about screaming vocals. You know, the ones that sound like bad auditions for a Beelzebub impersonator contest.

OK, maybe I’m just clueless and out of touch but geez…Where is the pleasure in hearing somebody growl for three minutes. Yes, I know, it’s an expression of youthful rebellion, blah blah blah, but those “Cookie Monster vocals” are really hard to take, and, to me, a very puzzling phenomenon. 

You might be surprised to hear that there are actually vocal coaches for this kind of singing. I’d be curious to hear the exercises the students are given for homework at these lessons. I’ve taken conventional singing lessons, and the exercises for those are pretty horrendous — I recall having to sort of gargle and sing at the same time while running in place — so I can only imagine what they’re like for screaming…

What’s more, how do these singers not completely ruin their voices after a couple of months? Their vocal chords must feel like your feet would if you were constantly jogging on a bed of nails. 

If there are any metal vocalists (or fans of such singing) reading this, please clue me in, I really don’t get it. I don’t mean to offend, but I just can’t wrap my brain around the screaming vocal concept. What is the appeal?

And for everyone else, I’d love to hear your comments, too. Just don’t scream, please…

2
This is so funny. I have the SAME exact criticism. Maybe it's an age thing. I remember, back in the day, thinking Pantera was awesome but those vocals are just so harsh. Well, now I listen to Pantera and totally dig it, because those vocals are tame compared to what's gong on today. I LOVE a lot of the music today, but can't get my head around the Cookie Monster vocals. I try. I really do. But just can't quite.

And maybe it's because I'm a singer, but my throat hurts just listening to them. Maybe that's part of the reason I can't get into it. All I can think of is polyps and shredded vocal cords when I hear them sing. I can't enjoy the song.

Now don't get me wrong. I have nothing but respect. I just have a hard time getting into it.
3
I've always thought that this type of screaming had to do with the notion of all musical genres having to progress to the next level... so that the "old school" always end up saying "that just sounds like a load of noise to me" (as our elders probably did to us).

Thus blues begats rock 'n' roll rock begats rock begats hard rock etc... Though with heavy metal I imagine it will end at a screaming wall of white noise with cycling drum beat at 200 bpm! :bravo:
4
What can I say? I have ALWAYS despised loudness in instruments, singing, and music in general. I LOVE being able to hear. TharpTravis indicated that it's an "age" thing. Correct. But, like I mentioned, I have never been a fan of the noise -- no matter the musician, or what the heck they were playing. It seems that there has always been a segment of the population that absolutely MUST listen to their music with the volume pumped to the maximum. Why? I guess we will never know. I do know one thing however, when these folks get a little age under their belts, their mindset will be completely different. And, you can bet the house on that one.
5

I know a lot of musicians that shout, scream and holler like there's no tomorrow.

For one, Mike, there is a technique to do this and not be sore after 15 minutes and lose your voice. Some bands go on big tours and do this night after night, and there is no throat surgeon among their crew...

I saw a concert the other day of Slipknot, and when the crowd was going wild, doing circular mosh pits I saw pure aggression and rage - not against one another but against something "unpalpable". 

So I see it as a social phenomenon, a reaction to the more and more hopeless status quo between a rich minority that controls all of society, media and capital flows and the struggling, "silent" majority, that can only watch as teh rich get richer and the poor struggle more and more. It looks like a hopeless battle and those screams appear like the helpless utterances of a child picking a temper tantrum. The more perfect the institutions of domination, the rawer and undistinguished the rebellion (looking back at Robert Johnson, he seems like a sensitive singer songwriter, but he was a rebel with a cause...).

It is a valid expression of feelings, like free Jazz or 12 tone music not to everyone's liking, but valid all the same and requiring a different skill set - no judgement.

 

I could do the same discussion about RAP or mindnumbing techno or brainless EDM... each has its following and is thus justified.

I would go as far as saying the skillset of a metal band is of a higher level, but that would lead to a whole other discussion.

Disclaimer: I do not play metal, and am not associated with any metal band directly, instead my band of old rockers, The Surf Cowboys plays very mild 80-90 rock - 5 part harmonies and no screaming whatsoever :-)

 

6
Screaming is more than just entertainment. I understand where u are coming from, Mike. I used to be the same way. But, now I understand.

Pantera screams with hate, rage and pain. Their concerts are filled with pure emotion. Someone who used to be a fan and was also a screamer herself described their concerts as having a strong demonic presence.

Flyleaf also screams, but their screams are either of desperate pain, or desperate hope.

Each artist has there own reason.

Of course there are those who just wanna sound like rebellious punk heads.

But I don't listen to them.
7
Quote:
Can't get my head around the Cookie Monster vocals. I try. I really do. But just can't quite.

That's how I feel, totally.
8
Quote:
I do know one thing however, when these folks get a little age under their belts, their mindset will be completely different. And, you can bet the house on that one.

You make a good point.
9
Quote:
So I see it as a social phenomenon, a reaction to the more and more hopeless status quo between a rich minority that controls all of society, media and capital flows and the struggling, "silent" majority, that can only watch as teh rich get richer and the poor struggle more and more. It looks like a hopeless battle and those screams appear like the helpless utterances of a child picking a temper tantrum. The more perfect the institutions of domination, the rawer and undistinguished the rebellion (looking back at Robert Johnson, he seems like a sensitive singer songwriter, but he was a rebel with a cause...).

I must admit I never thought of it that way. It's obviously an expression of rebellion, but I never thought of it as having such political underpinnings. Interesting point.
10
Quote:
Pantera screams with hate, rage and pain. Their concerts are filled with pure emotion. Someone who used to be a fan and was also a screamer herself described their concerts as having a strong demonic presence.

I guess my problem is that my puzzlement is strictly based on analyzing it in a musical context. I don't get the rage and the demonic feelings part. I guess I'm just not young enough to understand. But I will say that even when I was in my teens and early 20's, I never enjoyed music that sacrificed musicality to express rage or angst. I've always liked music that's well played and sounds good.