or… Who decided Cookie Monster would make a good frontman for a metal band?
Way back, in the hazy days of my youth, I was something of a metal fan. Heavy metal. Crunchy guitars, thundering drums and bass, dark lyrical themes. I wasn’t an over the top metal head like some of my friends were, but I could hold my own with the best headbangers.
Then I got married, had kids, got a job, responsibilities, and had no time for much else than scratching out a meager living and keep the bills paid. Life goes on, right?
Eventually, I reached a point where life wasn’t quite as big a struggle as it had been and I found myself with time and even a few resources to do things I wanted with for me. I rediscovered my love of art and painting, my passion for social justice and real democracy, and finally, music.
I never really stopped loving or listening to music, but my ability to purchase music was, shall we say, severely limited for many years. When the choice comes down to feeding my family or buying the new Iron Maiden album, well, the music has to wait.
Thankfully, in the twenty odd years since my first child came along, the music business has changed drastically, for the better. When I was a kid, artists used to go on performance tours in order to sell records (or tapes, or CDs). The record company made crap loads of cash for doing little more than arranging distribution, and the artists made a bit of change too.
Today, thanks to the magic of file sharing software and high-speed data networks, the middle men have had to find more constructive employment. Most bands today make a record in order to draw people to their performances, where through ticket sales and merchandising, they now make as much money or more than they did when fat cats in suits called the shots. The protests of folks like Lars Ulrich and a few others aside, this has and will continue to be a good thing for the music appreciating public and for artists as well.
But that really isn’t the point of this rant.
What I really want to discuss here is the seeming absence of vocal talent in metal bands today.
I’ve been sampling music online from as many different bands as I can find this weekend and I’ve got to say, I am really disappointed at the sad state of metal today. Who the hell decided that it would sound good to have Cookie Monster do the vocals in every new metal band that’s come out over the last ten or fifteen years. Seriously? WTF? Do none of you people have an ear for pitch anymore, or give a crap about being understood?
I’ve got a pretty good ear for vocals, a well as other parts of heavy music. You have to mumble pretty badly for me NOT to understand what you’re singing about, but I can’t even listen to this death growl shit long enough to even care what it’s about.
It’s one thing for a singer to work in a lower register, or even have a somewhat gravelly voice, like Phil Anselmo sounded on the first Pantera albums, but this damned near unintelligible vocal style I’m hearing from bands like Black Tide, Lamb of God, etc. just turns me off. I thought I’d found something really good when I discovered Opeth the other night, but then the pukefest started up and, honestly, if I want to hear good music ruined by bad vocals, I’ll go audition for a band somewhere myself. I can’t sing worth shit and I sound better than these bastards.
Maybe the death of the music industry wasn’t such a great thing after all.
I love metal music. The harder, faster, and more complex the riffs the better, and most of the bands I’ve listened to over the past few days sound great… until the vocalists open their mouths. Then, it’s ten seconds of, “How to utterly ruin a perfectly good tune,” and I’m out of there.
Doesn’t anyone do clean vocals anymore? Am I going to just have to settle for whatever Metallica, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden put out? Don’t get me wrong. I love Metallica’s Death Magnetic record, and have developed a new respect for the work of Halford and company, but I would dearly love to discover something completely new and different that doesn’t sound like a drunk barfing in a trash can every time the so-called singer opens his or her mouth. There has to be something out there I can stomach. I refuse to get old listening to the same handful of records I was jamming when I was twenty.