List: 10 Bands That Experimented with Different Vocal Approaches
It’s no secret that the release of Suicide Silence’s self-titled album, which features mostly all clean singing, has caused much divisiveness among fans and critics. This isn’t uncommon as any time a band steps away from the norm, it evokes controversy among those who don’t like change. Suicide Silence are not the first band to change their vocal approach and they certainly won’t be the last. Here is a list of 10 other bands that have also dabbled with different vocal sounds, from those who have simply experimented to those who have completely reinvented themselves.
1. Suicide Silence
In a recent interview with Revolver for our February/March 2017 issue, vocalist Eddie Hermida explained of the band’s new direction: “If you wanted the same record out of us, if you wanted 'The Cleansing' part four, it’s not what you’re gonna get so you’re gonna hate us, and that’s fine. If you hate us for the rest of your life and you wanna sit there and throw darts at a picture of me and scream ‘Laces out!’ for 20 years, then, yes, we’re going to change your perspective forever.” The full excerpt is available here.
2. Lamb of God
The release of Lamb of God’s seventh studio album, ‘Sturm und Drang,’ saw frontman Randy Blythe sing for the very first time on the song “Overlord.” While it seemed like a one-off track at the time of the release, the band have since put out an additional clean single, “The Duke,” leading fans to believe that they can expect more singing from Blythe in the future.
When Whitechapel’s ‘Mark of the Blade’ was released in 2016, not only did frontman Phil Bozeman lay down clean vocals, but the band’s entire sound shifted towards a more soulful, melodic tone. During an interview for our April/May 2016 issue, guitarist Alex Wade explained: “We all thought it was really cool how Randy [Blythe] from Lamb of God wasn’t afraid to try some manly melodic vocals on their last record [VII: Sturm und Drang]. So Phil’s diving into that a little and seeing where it goes. He’s actually got a great singing voice.” You can read the rest of the excerpt at this location.
4. All That Remains
When All That Remains arrived to the scene, they had a heavy metalcore influence and frontman Phil Labonte solely laid down guttural vocals. As the band’s sound evolved with each album, Labonte started to integrate clean singing into the music. With the forthcoming arrival of ‘Madness,’ it is evident that Labonte has no plans of abandoning his newfound vocal melodies. Not only does the title track exclusively feature clean singing, but a soulful, yet heavy cover of Garth Brooks’ “Thunder Rolls” also makes an appearance on the record.
When Opeth made their debut, their songs were mainly dominated by Mikael Åkerfeldt’s metal vocals, with some occasional singing. Åkerfeldt, who was very critical of his clean voice during the band’s formative years, gradually continued to incorporate more and more clean vocals into the band’s music until, eventually, he abandoned his death metal vocals entirely.
Vocalists who make the switch from growling to singing aren’t uncommon, but Testament’s Chuck Billy did just the opposite. With the 1997 release of ‘Demonic Refusal,’ fans were shocked by the thrasher’s transition from singing to throwing down guttural screams. Interestingly enough, fans were also initially taken aback by the band’s heavier sound, accurately portraying the schism between classic and modern metalheads.
Bathory made their start as raw, gritty metal, defining a sound that became rudimentary to Scandinavian black metal. However, when the band released ‘Hammerheart’ in 1990, Quorthon abandoned his signature growls and presented a more melodic, baroque-style of singing. This is perhaps one of the most significant reinventions of a band’s sound as it led to the birth of Viking metal.
8. Veil of Maya
In 2015, Veil of Maya dropped their ‘Matriarch’ album, which saw the arrival of new singer Lukas Magyar. While Magyar still dropped the vicious squeals that the band was known for, he also contributed clean vocals, something the band’s previous two singers had not experimented with.
“Death? How did they get on here? Didn’t they always have death metal vocals?” They sure did, however, Chuck Schuldiner challenged himself in the band’s later years, abandoning his deeper, more guttural growls to higher, more black metal sounding squeals. If you were to stack Death’s ‘Scream Bloody Gore’ debut against their last album, ‘The Sound of Perseverance,’ you might not even realize that it’s the same vocalist on each album.
10. Black Sabbath
Of course, changing singers will change any band’s sound, however, Sabbath are worth noting for how drastically their entire sound changed when Ozzy Osbourne was replaced by Ronnie James Dio. The godfathers of heavy metal went from having ominous vocals over bluesy, sludge instrumentals to becoming straight up rock and roll with a powerhouse singer at the wheel. The change was so radical that instead of referring to Dio-era Sabbath as Black Sabbath, fans have dubbed the band “Heaven and Hell.”