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.