I figure it’s time for another personal post so this one is just going to be a small group of my Top 5 Somethings.
This post will be my Top 5 Vocalists:
Randy Blythe – Lamb of God
Bjorn ‘Speed’ Strid – Soilwork
Rob Halford – Judas Priest
Mikael Åkerfeldt – Opeth
B. Dez Fafara – Devildriver
Bjorn Strid has to take the crown as his range is insane, from wailing heights to make any female gospel singer envious to the crisp, clean depths of utter death metal growling. And yet he never falls prey to the common traps of brutal death metal where everything is guttural and incomprehensible, his growls and screams are all pristine and quite often are paired with delicate and engaging melodies. If I could sing like anyone else it would have to be Bjorn Strid.
Randy Blythe is an extremely close second however as, while he can’t quite match Bjorn’s wide range, he more than makes up for that in fully developed sounds in his lower ranges. He can go from high, punchy throat-wrenching screams all the way down to deep and punishing growls that are drowning in rich bass tones. I’ll never quite reach the full range of Bjorn but I do a mean Randy and Lamb of God are one of my favourites bands to f**k s**t up to!
Rob Halford needs no real description as one of the founding members of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal that brought us genre-defining greats such as Judas Priest and Iron Maiden which still to this day influence many, many metal bands. While Bjorn has an awesome range, Rob Halford owns hands down in that regard bringing high-pitched to all new heights while maintaining a powerful low-end that brings great flavour to Judas Priest’s palette of sounds. He’s also helped define the metal look of leather and motorbikes and doing all that while being super camp is something you truly have to respect. Something that all youngsters unsure of themselves can look to for support.
B. Dez Fafara is just plain awesome, every song he sings sounds so brutal that you can nearly imagine blood pouring from his tattered throat but he pulls it all off with such skill and colour that I personally listen to so-called “black metal” and come away shaking my head in confusion.
Last, but far from least we have the inimitable Mikael Åkerfeldt who like Bjorn, another Swede, manages to have an astounding range and depth to his voice that gives his clean vocals a passion and emotion that is not always as easy to find as one would imagine and yet his death metal vocals are truly deserving of their name. Treading a finer line between B. Dez and Randy Blythe at their most brutal, Mikael manages to give a classic death metal sound a refreshing upgrade.
So, that’s my Top 5 Vocalists. I know my choice is really limited to the world of metal but given my wide range of musical taste, I personally find that metal vocalists, when they know what they’re doing are truly some of the best vocalists in any genre. The level of skill needed to pull off the sounds that Bjorn, Rob and co. do is really high and it lends itself automatically to any other genre. This is why you end up with bands like Within Temptation, Nightwish and Epica who have highly trained vocalists, even if metal wasn’t where their training was focused.