|My "GridLink broke up" face.|
Extreme metal vocals are largely just another blunt instrument – one more unintelligible weapon in a band’s arsenal of noise. For the most part, that’s all they really need to be, another tool in the mix. There’s not exactly a lot of down time in grind songs. So when the band gets rolling, singers are left to try and keep pace and fight for space in the mix.
But occasionally savvy musicians will know when and how to pull back. Putting the vocals forefront and providing a moment of clarity can really punctuate a song both lyrically and musically. Slamming the music to a halt to let the vocals stand on their own is a great attention grabber when done right.
Here’s a handful of ways it’s been put to good use.
You Scream, I Scream
Southern crust punkers Antischism were pissed off. They wanted to scream. They wanted you to know that they wanted to scream. So on the song “Scream” they built in space for vocalist Lyz to make that point readily apparent. The result is a musical pause that gives Lyz the space to “SCREAM!” She’s screaming about the need to scream which is all kinds of cathartic and meta at the same time.
A Napalm Death play in one act:
“Gee, Barney, what’s the name of the next song?”
“Thanks for clearing that up.”
Mother Goose vs. the Grindfather
Drugs of Faith mastermind Richard Johnson made potent use of the musical pause on Corroded’s ode to rationality over religion “Age of Reason.” To punctuate his point about the value of freethinking, the song holds its breath long enough for him to scream out his intention to live “WITHOUT. THE. FAIRY. TALES.” From there, the song chooses to slowly spool out, as though all of the rush had built up to that single, powerful moment and then gave up in exhaustion. It makes the point that much more powerful.
You’re Hot Then You’re Cold
Jesus’ favorite grinders Rehumanize turn the book of Revelation’s tale of the lukewarm church at Laodecia into a grinding nightmare of vengeance and dismay on the song “Planet Loadecia.” While the song doesn’t come to a full stop, clearly its centerpiece is the relatively clean middle section where the band, personifying God, announce that “I WILL SPIT YOU OUT OF MY MOUTH.” Taken as a tale of divine retribution, that’s the moment when the implacable deity has passed judgment and only doom will follow. There can be no appeal and no reparations. Justice from that point on is swift and merciless.