Sunday Sesh: A Voice in the Desert

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Greetings and welcome to this week’s Sunday Sesh. Today we’re heeding the voices of the prophets calling out from the valley of dry bones. Do you hear it? Those dulcet tones and raptor shrieks? Those are the cries of the most unique vocalists in heavy metal. Turn your ears and open your hearts, for you have much to learn.

Friday evening, I was messaging with Ascaris from Ævangelist about interesting album art, particularly the works of Denis Forkas. Ascaris noted that she is a big fan of Forkas’ work, primarily because of the album art he did for Kinit Her. That is a name with which I was unfamiliar, so as I often do when Ascaris namedrops obscure bands I’ve never heard, I navigated over to Bandcamp to see what the buzz was about.

“Termagant. Character study for the film The Last Witch Hunter, 2013” – This art is similar to the cover of Kinit Her’s Living Midnight at the Harvest Abbey

Without much thought, I pressed play on the first album I encountered and was greeted with some of the strangest vocals I’ve ever heard. Kinit Her, while playing neofolk with slight doom and drone inflections, employ on multiple albums, especially Glyms or Beame of Radicall Truthes, a bizarre, goblin-esque vocal style. Imagine one of the spiders from the old Rankin Bass Hobbit cartoon shrieking about esoteric folk themes rather than threatening to devour the 13 dwarves. If you never saw that old cartoon, A) you’re missing out, and B) you could imagine Gollum from the more recent Lord of the Rings films shrieking in ecstasy about rabbits after inhaling a bunch of helium. Is it strange? Absolutely. Am I still entranced by T. Schafer’s trollish ululations? Indubitably.

Perhaps you think those vocals are a little too Travis Ryan though and need something even more inhuman. Enter Fleurety, a band we’ve discussed at length both here and in the Facebook group. Although Fleurety would go on to adopt a more stock black metal vocal approach, on the early recordings, especially A Darker Shade of Evil, vocalist Nordgaren utilized a much more primal technique. In fact, Nordgaren’s shrieks on ADSE are nigh indistinguishable from the banshee cries of a bald eagle, and legend holds that these throat-shredding emanations actually caused permanent damage to the singer’s vocal chords. That’s rather unfortunate, because these prehistoric cries are just incredible, and I’d love to hear them in metal more.

I’ve already argued that vocals in metal can add significantly to the net quality of an album. When a vocalist uses a unique approach, it can raise the eminence of that album that much more. Do you have a favorite vocalist who stands out in the sea of boring growlers? Let me know in the comments below.

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