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SuspendedByTheThroat 2007-12-05 14:01

Suspendedbythethroat's guide to metal/death metal vocals.
(it would help everyone if this became a sticky)

Lately every time I've been on this part of the forum I've noticed how everyone keeps asking the same questions, or they keep asking dumb questions. Well this is the answer to everyone's questions.

First off, Metal, Death Metal, Black Metal, and Grindcore vocals are all derived from the same thing, perseverance. In order to build up your vocal abilities at all you must dedicate yourself to them, work hard on them, and in the end you'll be suprised at what you can do. And don't even stop, you may think your vocals may sound good, or alright, but they can always get better.

Well are you ready to learn the ways of vocals? first you'll need a few items:

Tea (Tea is best to start off with, and then take water or tea breaks between vocals.)
Honey (will help flow, protect the throat, and amplify your vocals. If you don't have honey to gargle with, or you don't really feel like gargling honey, then see if your tea is the kind with honey in it, such as Arizona green tea with honey, my favorite is the black and white tea with honey because it doesn't have as much sugar or flavorings that will increase phlegm.)
Water (NEVER drink soda, soda is acidic, sugary and if you drink soda too close to vocal time your vocals will strain quicker and may sound like utter crap all together)
**Don't eat anything around vocal time, expecially anything sugary, full of lactose or anything like popcorn, too much phlegm will result in the straining of the vocal chords. (note: some people like to have phlegm, but that is for the weaker/less amplified styles of vocals, or it is for styles such as black metal)

My first tip is Kareoke, If you have any sort of loud speakers to play your favorite artist/vocalist through, then do so, and try to sing/scream along, if you practice doing this you will build up strength.

My second tip is whisper screams. if you can imitate vocals through a whisper then you have the first step done. Now all you have to do is amplify it, and you'll learn that actual vocals or screams will need alot more shaping then whispers.

My third tip is the warm up. Warming up is important, make gargle sounds, shreak, scream, hum, zzz, sss, bree, borr, whatever, as long as you get your vocal chords ready to be released.

Part One: The Diaphragm
Below your lungs is a very important muscle called the diaphragm, this muscle is what allows babies to scream so loud, for dogs to have such powerful barks and howl, and for horses to neigh. Ever get pissed off and yell/scream out of rage, or adrenaline and it was so powerful and loud that later you were suprised at yourself? Well that's the diaphragm.
The most simple method to find your diaphragm is actually very easy. Just start with a whisper "sss" and slowly get louder untill you run out of air completely. you will feel a horizontal muscle behind your abdominal muscles tighten, this is your diaphragm. Once you feel it you will now understand easier how to flex it to your own desire, because the human body is amazing, and you can control every muscle in it exept for your heart. Once you have control of this Diaphragm, then every vocal, from clean singing to heavy grindcore vocals are opened up to you.

Part Two: Yell/Hardcore/Thrash/Screamo Vocals
A more difficult vocal skill, yet important because it opens the doors to other vocal abilities. First, Yell/Hardcore vocals, ever listen to bands like Hatebreed, or Bury Your Dead? Maybe even metalcore bands like As I Lay Dying use this skill to some extent. Thrash bands, who yell, or shout. And screamo bands (real screamo mind you, not this popular bullshit that's going around calling itself screamo) who scream at the top of thier lungs with emotion and angst.
All of these have something in common, it's called diaphragm+ voice projection, Once you learn the diaphragm then this skill automaticly opens up to you.
Stand back release your power, shout, scream, flex your body to get more out, but use the diaphragm, you wont need much throat or mouth, so don't worry about that right now, just try to imitate your favorite band of this genre, and you'll start to get it.

Part Three: Gutturals
Gutturals are a base in Death Metal and Grindcore, and some Melodic Black Metal. Gutturals are simply a low airy resonating sound projected with the diaphragm. Leave your throat completely open, push the air with the diaphragm, it should resonate in the throat, and then come through your mouth, your mouth should be more closed or in an O-shape to properly create the Guttural sound. Once you have the sound, you may use your tongue and mouth to shape the sound into consonants and vowels. if you press the tongue to the roof of your mouth you'll get unique sound from the guttural, also the positioning of airflow through the mouth, rather then pushing completely down the middle, try putting the airflow to the roof of your mouth or the bottom right over the tongue.

Part Four: Growls
Growls are a combination between Yell/Hardcore vocals and gutturals, once you have them both down pat then Growls will become extremely easy to you.
Using your diaphragm, start with a guttural, open the mouth, and close the throat slightly, but not too much. And it's simple as that. Practice makes perfect.

Part Five: High Vocals/Rasps
Some People Believe that Highs come from head voice, while others believe that it's completely diaphragm, but as I've learned over the years, it's a combination of both. Highs will take the longest to get down perfect, and they will hurt the most on your throat, but you have to give them time.
The art of the High vocal is simple, start with imitating it through whispers, move up to head voice, and then throw in the diaphragm. Some people tend to use thier nose in the mix, but that's completely up to you. (just exhale some of the air through the nose when you do high screams to achieve this)
However the most powerful high vocal sound is going to come from the throat. Like a growl you're going to use the diaphragm, however, your throat is going to be extremely closed (depending on how high you want it) and your mouth is going to be wide open. Once you have gotten this down then your Highs will scream evil. Shaping the Highs is slightly different. some people shape thier highs with an animal growl tecnique in order to hit vowels that would normally not work if you just screamed them. ex: "errraiii" rather then "raiii". But most important for shaping the High scream is the throat and the mouth, and some tongue. Practice makes perfect, expecially for this style.

Part Six: Falsetto Screams
Namely Grindcore vocals, sometimes black metal, used alot in power metal.
Imagine screaming like a girl, or shreaking. Just let it out, beyond your range, as high and as strange as your vocal power will go. However Power metal is alot different, because of it's use of sirens, I would explain sirens in detail but falsettos in general are hard to explain, it's just one of those things you have to figure out on your own.

Part Seven: Inhaled Vocals
Inhaled Vocals, the most liked yet hated of vocals. In reality they are simple to do, yet hard to master. Bands like Cumbeast, Cock And Ball Torture, and newer bands like Waking The Cadaver, Annotations Of An Autopsy, all of these bands use Inhaled Vocals. The art, if you can call it that of Inhaled vocals is as simple as the name, just inhale! close your throat, open it, experiment! However you will never have good inhale vocals untill you can give them enough power to be at least as loud as your speaking voice. and into a microphone, you will more then likely need to cup the microphone or at least get very close to it to even equal your inhale vocals in amplification to your exhaled vocals. The more you practice, experiment, and the harder you inhale, the better your inhaled vocals are going to be.
opened mouth, can create a frog sounding vocal, closed mouth can create a watery sounding vocal, and with use of the tongue you can manipulate it to many many sounds, And the infamous pig squeal/bree with the tongue to the roof of the mouth.

I hope my guide helps all you aspiring vocalists.

Good luck to you.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

ash2490 2007-12-05 18:38

This is awesome!

SuspendedByTheThroat 2007-12-05 19:30

Originally Posted by ash2490
This is awesome!

you're quite welcome.

Corpse Ingurgitation 2007-12-06 13:14

This is indeed a helpful guide. I'm fairly new to death metal vocals; I started as a drummer. In my last band I used primarily inhale style and after practicing almost everyday for 9 months straight, I have become able to project my inhaled vocals louder than the other vocalist can do his exhale death growls. However, I am trying to teach myself the exhale technique of gutturals. Because the inhale technique is taking it's toll on my vocal chords, and lessening my lung capacity(so says the doctor). I have found in my practice that the exhaled technique is much harder to perfect than the inhale, but I have this advice to offer: If you already have a firm understanding of the inhale style, you can take the same throat flexing point that you utilize while breathing in, and apply it to exhale guts to add that extra "gurgle" or "froggy" sound. Also, using the diaphragm in reverse for inhale guts is how I am able to project my vocals so loudly. I can hold the microphone pretty far from my mouth and still sound loud as fuck. But as I said; it will ruin your vocal chords if you don't do it with an open throat.

My solo project is called Excruciating Ingurgitation. I make terrible cyber death/grind with fruity loops (no one respects cybergrind, so fuck 'em all)
url =

Hobo_Stew 2007-12-06 14:04

That's really helpful, thanks.

SuspendedByTheThroat 2007-12-06 19:59

I first mastered inhales, bad mistake because it made it harder for me to learn exhale vocals.

I even was in some lame band where I did inhale vocals of high mid and low tones.

Corpse Ingurgitation 2007-12-06 21:46

Originally Posted by SuspendedByTheThroat
I first mastered inhales, bad mistake because it made it harder for me to learn exhale vocals.

I even was in some lame band where I did inhale vocals of high mid and low tones.

I did the same. Inhales are still what I do best, but they aren't the pinnacle of metal vocalism. My inhaled gutturals sound like something out of a dinosaur's irritated colon after he ate a spicy meal. My exhaled gutturals, however, sound more like a geriatric man pushing a loaf into his depends... a.k.a. "bad". I'm hoping one day to achieve a guttural sound like that of Abominable Putridity or Malodorous, or other bands with a more "clicky" guttural sound. I can inhale click easily(but I hear that it's hell on the vocal chords) but I still don't understand how the guys in Malodorous and Abominable Putridity can do that going out...the muscular control involved eludes me. Maybe I'm just a mutant and cannot control the certain muscles in my throat that would allow for such a gurgling, yet sharply clicking guttural. Any suggestions on how to produce such a vomitous sound? I asked the vocalist of Malodorous(and like 30 other bands) for any tips. He offered me this less-than-intelligent advice: "Dude, you just gotta sound like an angry monster.":rolleyes: Oh, is that all? I'll must go on an expedition to piss off some monsters, brandishing my sony field recorder. How would you recommend I go about angering said monsters? A sharp stick perhaps? Maybe I could make fun of the monsters' love for sub-par deathcore breakdowns? In all seriousness though; if you have any helpful advice on how to add that clicking sound to a low gut I would greatly appreciate it.

The Execrator 2007-12-06 22:52

Awesome, thanks for the guide!

SuspendedByTheThroat 2007-12-07 14:37

well, first off, the more inhaled-sounding guttural that is actually an exhale is a more closed throat guttural closer to a growl then an actual guttural, you need to control air at lower velocities so that it has that gargling sound, I also believe that this is a case in which mucus is needed. not exactly sure.

There's alot of vocallists who have unique sounding gutturals that I wish I could do better. examples are Knights Of The Abyss and At The Throne Of Judgment, even though the guy from ATTOJ has a speech impediment and that might be why he sounds the way he does.

edit: or maybe it's the way he records/masters the vocals. that always makes a difference, for example, listen to old suicide silence and compare it to new suicide silence.

CAPCOPSNOW 2007-12-10 11:43

the way i learned gutturals was by talking low trying to burp and trying to take a shit at the same time. Slowly i added power to them and then after i could hold it for 5 seconds or more i started refining different techniques... I found learning gutturals to be an absolutely frustrating and slow process and at first i wouldnt be able to do it for weeks at a time. I also suggest learning to do it clean before adding things like chocolate or honey or whatever people use other than water.

SuspendedByTheThroat 2007-12-10 15:49

I don't use anything besides water usualy, but a nice arizona tea always helps.

it was harder for me to learn gutturals then high screams, but once you learn them and you start improving on them, they can come out quite nice, and eventually they're easier to do then highs.

The Execrator 2007-12-10 23:01

When I do black metal vocals for my solo band, my throat starts to burn a bit. Every time I tried to do them more from the diaphragm I couldn't get them as high as I wanted them to be. Since you say that black metal vocals are indeed mainly from the throat, pushing with the diaphragm, how normal is pain when doing rasps and highs? If it is normal, with practice and time will it eventually begin to diminish in pain?

SuspendedByTheThroat 2007-12-11 15:10

over time it will build up strength, time also will allow you to figure out every exact point and muscle that you need to move/contract etc in order to make it come out better and less painful.

also, when it starts to burn do you notice the back of your throat being "dry" feeling, like it's hard to swallow your own saliva?

lots of water, whenever you can.

Lakebodom 2008-01-01 11:05

this is great, kudos! :)

God-Free 2008-01-02 00:33

I get the Hiccups when ever doing any style of Death Metal/Hardcore style of vocal... perfect example, mimicking either vocalist of Despised Icon results in hiccups but eventually stop after a song of warming up or whatever.. anyone else have this problem?

SuspendedByTheThroat 2008-01-19 23:04

Originally Posted by God-Free
I get the Hiccups when ever doing any style of Death Metal/Hardcore style of vocal... perfect example, mimicking either vocalist of Despised Icon results in hiccups but eventually stop after a song of warming up or whatever.. anyone else have this problem?

woahh that's wierd, I never get hickups from doings vocals, maybe inhales because you're not getting proper oxygen intake?

but exhale vocals should'nt give you hickups, unless you're just a freak of nature and you're prone to hickuping easily?

anyways Despised Icon vocals are a breeze for me, very good band though.

- EXILE - 2008-01-23 01:10

I used to get the same thing lol always seemed to happen when ever I went as low as I could probably because I opened my throat as much as possible. After a while I realized that it sounds allot more powerful if you push just slightly above that point of being completely open. Also got rid of the hic ups :P

SuspendedByTheThroat 2008-01-23 15:14

Yes, most people have a problem of little tone coming out, or cutting out?
you just have to push a little bit past that point and you should be good.

some vocallists push way too much, and they're going to damage thier vocal chords alot faster, also they lose thier tone, you have to find a mid-point between "trying" and literally "screaming your lungs out"

ash2490 2008-01-25 09:40

Hey dudes?

I finally got around to checking out Akercocke.

I cannot believe how fucking SICK Jason Mendonca's vocals are.

I'm thinking he might be doing some inhales, like for those insanely demonic high screams, but I can't imagine how he gets those low growls.

They don't seem to have the gurgle of an inhaled growl, but they don't really sound like any exhales I've ever heard.

Maybe it's just another case of a vocalist having a unique voice, instead of a unique technique.

Crap, I literally spent about three and a half straight last night listening to "Horns of Baphomet" on repeat. I feel as though I'm impressed to the point of it being unhealthy.

Anyway, does anybody have thoughts on what type of vocals he's doing or how he does them?

SuspendedByTheThroat 2008-02-05 15:21

I beleive it's a technique used by some vocallists in traditional deathmetal that is similar to a guttural but with very little air let out, so it has a lower deeper sound.

or it could be inhales, some parts do sound very inhaled.

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