When we asked you to vote for the single greatest metal vocalist of all time, there were many ways you could have gone, from the classic to the new school, from the trad to the alternative. The runners-up in the vote reflect the wide range of possibilities: Ozzy Osbourne, Corey Taylor, Philip Anselmo, King Diamond, Peter Steele, Layne Staley. None of these choices would have been wrong if they landed higher in the results. As it were, the final tally offered up a top five that leans hard into metal's Eighties salad days but also spotlights a couple of latter-day masters. See your picks for the best metal singers of all time below.
Vinter, farmer, BJJ enthusiast, philosopher, prankster: Maynard James Keenan is many things, and one of the best metal vocalists ever is definitely among them. Across many musical forays — Tool, A Perfect Circle, Puscifer, his cameos with Deftones, Rage Against the Machine and beyond — MJK has showcased mind-blowing range, subtlety and emotionality. From Tool's jaw-dropping 25-second-long screams to Puscifer's more experimental excursions, each song he records is a testament to his impeccable skill.
Mike Patton is known as the man of a thousand voices for good reason. From Faith No More and Mr. Bungle to Tomahawk, Fantômas and Dead Cross to Italian pop, videogame soundtracks and whatever else he has cooking (which is a lot), his vocals encompass buttery-sweet crooning, evil whispers, maniacal babbling, the most maniacal aggro roaring and shrieking imaginable, and everything in between and beyond. As one of you voters put it: "Dude sings opera and then screams his nuts off!"
Iron Maiden's ageless frontman Bruce Dickinson possesses a trademark quasi-operatic tenor that goes a long way to defining New Wave of British Heavy Metal as we know it. Despite a 2015 scare from a cancerous tumor at the back of his tongue (from which he made a full recovery), the vocalist remains an absolute powerhouse decades on. Where he truly excels is onstage, putting on a strong case every night that he might be the fittest man in metal. If you can run around and jump from multilevel platforms, dodge blazing pyro and a massive Eddie hot in pursuit, and still hit every note perfectly — then scream for me.
Is there anything more metal than the Metal God himself? Coming up on 50 years of Judas Priest, Rob Halford is still going strong, his vocal ability seemingly no worse for wear, from his soaring falsetto to that throaty growl. Few things are instantly recognizable, but Halford's voice is one of them. It's iconic, powerful, enduring and pretty much drips with black leather.
Few people ever get to go by just one name, but the late, great Dio is one of them. The exuberant singer fronted numerous groups throughout his career — Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell and, of course, his eponymous band — leading them all with rafter-shaking, sky-scrapping vocal prowess. No wonder Dio was named "Best Metal Singer" at the Revolver Golden Gods Awards in April 2010 — he accepted the award in-person at what would prove to be his final public appearance. And no wonder you voted him, a decade later, to the No. 1 spot here. Raise your horns.