Is metal music? A look at the singers

Some metal musos are amongst the most talented exponents of instrumental craft (though sometimes they are not – and are on the far end of the spectrum). But is this true for the singers? Is there a method to their madness? A classically trained singer, and expert, has analysed five popular metal singers.

Here’s what she had to say about Ozzy Osborne.

“This is a singer with decent diction and good musical instincts but no command of vocal technique. He is massively over-adducting his vocal folds while driving enough air through them to get them to speak, but his throat is so tight that there is no flow or resonance… The entire range of his singing is contained within a single octave – with the exception of the moment when he yells “Oh Lord!” a little higher, in my opinion the only quasi-free vocal sound on the entire track.”

But it’s not all bad news. Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson gets a good wrap (as do others).

“I have nothing but admiration for this singer. Listen how he starts off with a soft growl, then moves seamlessly into a well-supported, sustained high full-voice sound that then evolves into an effortless long scream! His diction is easily intelligible, regardless of the range he’s singing in or the effect he’s going for. He achieves an intensely rhythmic delivery of the lyrics without losing legato and musical momentum, something a lot of classical singers struggle with, especially when interpreting the many staccato and accent markings that crowd scores by Bellini, Donizetti, etc… Notice the rasp that occasionally colors his sound. This is an effect that is totally distinct from strain – his entire larynx and throat needs to be completely loose and free to respond this way.”


Ben McLaughlin says:

Good to see a metal post. Interesting link too.

I was very excited to see King Diamond (Mercyful Fate) and Rob Halford (Judas Priest) on her list. Two of my all-time favourites.

No one can do what these two guys did. Listen to those links and have your face melted!

Bollocks. She doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Early Ozzie is fantastic. Who gives a toss about whether he stands up to the canons of classical vocal technique? He’s not trying to! He just made phenomenal music.

It’s like taking Sid Vicious to task for the simplicity of his music…

To clarify, that ‘bollocks’ was directed entirely at the analyst, not our good blogger here.