I get asked about my musical tastes a lot. There are five reasons I could think of why it happens.
1 – Nobody has ever seen me listening to popular music.
2 – Someone saw my playlist which is full of weird album arts.
3 – People who share my cubicle heard me humming the lyrics of a song they have never heard.
4 – Somebody saw my collection of Black T-Shirts (I have 9 Black T-shirts by the way) with Band logos on them.
5 – Somebody read something I wrote in my notebook. Given below is a sample.
'Repugnant is a creature who would squander the ability....................
..............to lift an eye to heaven conscious of his fleeting time here"
I mean who would write something like this on a very important paper right? Well, I do. When I get bored. These are the lyrics of a song called Right in Two by Tool.
So, my friends ask me why I listen to all this weird stuff. Apparently Pop, Rap, and Bollywood are the only three kinds of music in the world. After all, ignorance is bliss.
So I try to educate them about it and needless to say…..they don’t take it too well. It sounds harsh, they say. Well, that is what happens when you listen to Old School Thrash for the first time. It used to be my reaction exactly. Back when I was into bands like Hoobastank, Greenday and Backstreet Boys. Until that one day…… I found Metallica…..My gateway to the dark and twisted world of Heavy Metal. I have not looked back since then.
Metallica was the first real Metal band I listened to. I devoured their entire discography within 2-3 months. When I was out of new music to listen to, I decided to read their Wikipedia page which was full of amazing information. I had found a gold mine. This discovery led me to bands like Megadeth and Slayer. I must have been in college at that time. I remember thrashing day and night to slayer’s Raining Blood and Angel of Death. But again, I was out of new stuff to listen to. So again, I took some help from Google and found something called Death Metal. I HATED IT…..VERY MUCH….
It was just too harsh for my ears…It was a bit too much….My bad, I started with Cannibal Corpse. I stopped listening to Death Metal altogether. Then one day, while browsing Youtube, I came across a comment that mentioned a band called Death. They were the first ones to play Death Metal. I gave that band a try and boy oh boy, was I surprised. Chuck Schuldiner blew me away with his vocals and guitar skills. it was like I had found god. Death Metal started growing on me. My playlist was full of Thrash and Death Metal songs. I kept on finding new bands and came across Folk Metal, Viking Metal, Metalcore, Progressive Metal and Melodic Death Metal. Now, I can not live without Metal. It has helped me a lot when I was going through the darkest period of my life. Therefore it holds a special place in my heart.
So how can it be that one section loves it more than anything and another abhors it? Well, to each his own. I know Metal is not supposed to be accepted widely. When they listen to it, they ask the same questions – why do they scream? Why are they always angry? Why don’t they sing like Justin Bieber?
I won’t go into the details of how blasphemous that statement is but I get their point. So, I will try to answer the most basic question about metal – Why most of the Metal bands, if not all, scream or growl and not sing.
The Purpose of SCREAMING AND Growling
First of all, each and every genre out there has its own attributes that make it stand out from the others. So you can’t really expect every artist to be the same as the others. Different artists represent their art in different forms. Some people sing, some scream and some growl just like there are some movies that make you laugh, some movies that make you cry and some movies that make you shit your pants. There is no single rule to approach art and that is what makes it fun.
Secondly, not all Metal Bands scream. It is a common misconception. If you hate screaming and growling, there are bands like Nightwish, In This Moment etc. for you. Even the most brutal bands write some mellow stuff. Take this song The Drapery Falls by the Swedish Band Opeth for example. It is a Death Metal song but it also incorporates clean vocals. Listen to this part of the song. It features a growl followed by the clean vocals of Mikael Akerfeldt. The guy can growl like a devil and sing like an angel. So, metal vocalists can sing.
Coming to the main point, to understand why most of the Metal bands incorporate screaming and growling into their music, you will have to understand that Metal isn’t about Rainbows, Flowers, or Unicorns. It is about Anger, Pain, Sadness, Depression, Wars, Fantasy etc. Most of the Metal musicians have had a rough childhood. They express their emotions and feelings through their music.
Here’s another track called Death-mask Divine by The Black Dahlia Murder. This song is about a bereaved man who has dug up the grave of his lover and is trying to bring her back to life. It is a morbid subject but there is a distinctive beauty to it. You can’t really bring out the pain if you are singing in Bieber’s voice. Watch the lyrics video and see how screaming and growling takes it to a whole new level. It takes the story and adds another layer of pain to it The story is dark and the vocals need to complement the mood and atmosphere.
Another reason for incorporating screams and growls is that Metal Music is generally fast paced. It features loud and fast drums, distorted riffs played at insane speeds etc. The vocals need to complement that mood. The vocals need to fit in there, somewhere. Screaming and growling do the job. If you want to not hear those sounds and prefer clean vocals with good music, you have that liberty. You are always welcome to listen to Folk Metal, Symphonic Metal or Progressive Metal.
In the end, I would like to say that Metal is an acquired taste and it is only for metalheads. You either become a Metalhead or live long enough to cry and whine about bands screaming.