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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  • Lacertilian

    I don’t mind that Kinit Her, the music is pretty interesting, like what I imagine folk music would sound like in some esoteric Ibogaine-dosed alternate reality.

    While not as abstract as those two, the first unique metal vocalist that comes to mind for me is Chalky from Psycroptic (and later Spawn Of Possession and Mephistopheles). At first I just thought his erratic style was too weird and that it was the incredible musicianship & song-writing that pulled it through. However, over time I grew to appreciate that he was trying something different both vocally and also lyrically, especially within what can be a depressingly monotonous death metal scene. The closing track to their 2003 opus Scepter Of The Ancients gives a glimpse into the weird shit he was confident enough to attempt. It’s only befitting that he often wrote his own mythology/fantasy stories to match his eccentric and volatile style, that ranges from wild shrieks, primal grunts, demonic roars, pangs of anguish, and the oddly harmonious layered outro.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1YbmjoCJ-4g

    Lyrics:
    “Far from this world lies a distant planet
    System of seven, six inhabited,
    all are revolving around a sub called Hzkol.
    This group of planets, are controlled by one.
    Spoken in human its name would be Jaar-Gilon.
    Planet of millions, thirteen O Eight(1308) species residing-
    controlled by one. “Klesta Raaldos” – The race of the dominants.
    Though not acknowledged ancient teachings follow the path of equality.

    Black soil beneath grey sky, valleys of dark tree growth shine.
    Leaves are reflecting Hzkol, here the Klesta Raaldos toil.

    Here they feed…

    There is one ruler who commands the council of the ancients.
    If measured in human years his age would be nine twenty four(924).
    He has ruled here, eight hundred years. His name is Jiilthanor Gilon.
    His descendants, have ruled this world, ever since their language was spoken.

    He is the fifteenth recorded generation since Diithor Na Gilon
    discovered the creation tree. During his journey beneath ancient
    planets crust – hidden for aeons – the reason for his planets life-
    Shining!….with life…

    He was struck by the beauty
    of this haggled tree.
    He took a branch to show his tribe a piece of ancient history.
    So, his prize in hand, he returned.

    This would change history, for he found a power.
    Instructing him to strike down.
    With force the staff struck the ground.
    The crust – it moaned and cracked –
    opening up and out came……creatures……twelve thousand….
    Attacking the “Klesta” tribe, leaving only good alive.
    Creating a peaceful nation from a bloodied battle.
    And from then the world has thrived, and the scepter has survived.
    The Gilon council has ruled their planet in peaceful Har-mony

    ……..Harmony!……..

    It is the scepter from Jaar-Gilon –
    It holds the powers of creation –
    It can bring life or it can destroy.
    The power used is the bearers choice.”

    • BobLoblaw

      Couldnt agree more.

  • BobLoblaw

    Ihsahn has always stood out as a very unique vocal style. Antti Boman is a given. Tomas Lindberg is another very unique approach. Luc Lemay and Steeve Hurdles pained howls have always struck a chord with me as well. There are way too many extreme bands with indistinguishable vocalists.

    • Dubbbz

      I actually didn’t like Luc Lemay’s vocals for a while, but I love them now. He adds a certain weariness and pain to his growl you don’t hear often.

      • BobLoblaw

        Except for when its coming from Steeve. Until seeing the live Negativa and some old live Gorguts stuff I thought it was all Luc but the seemed to both have equal duties and sound almost indistinguishable from one another. You hear a little of that “pained” quality in Tomas Lindberg and Mel Mongeon.

      • A.P.

        You put it very well regarding some of the qualities of those vocals I’ve always had a hard time relaying to others when I’ve tried to show them those records. Metal in these ways, to me, is about the expression of those feelings in the rawest possible way, and it’s not half as much about the hate and aggression as it is about depression and solemnity, the weariness, as you put it, the meaninglessness and existential pain inherent to life, and then perhaps the subsequent feral rage in response to those qualities of if anything, as opposed to an angst-fuled and reactionary episode, if I’m making any sense here.

        • BobLoblaw

          You are making as much as anyone does with abstract topics like this. Glad I went back and saw your post. Welcome to the turlet.

          • A.P.

            I’ve been reading since ~September ’14, just posting really infrequently. I still really appreciate the sentiment, though- that kind of hospitality is what makes this place and amazing as it is- and I’m really glad you got something out of the way I tried to describe it all. I never have too much confidence in how that kind of stuff is going to ultimately sound. I’ll try and have a greater presence around these parts- assuredly we’ll speak again soon.

          • BobLoblaw

            Please do. Personal sentiments seem to be welcome in these parts. Sorry for the unneeded welcome even though thats part of the draw.

          • A.P.

            Oh, no need to be sorry. Like I said, I genuinely appreciate it since I know a lot of people around here haven’t seen me. You’re right, being made to feel like a part of something special and inclusive is part of the draw and I’m so glad that you’re one of the people keeping that spirit alive. It means a lot, if only because I really do believe that this is something special that we have here. So thank you again.

    • Abradolf Lincler

      ughhhh, upvote

      • BobLoblaw

        But you didnt you tease.

        • Abradolf Lincler

          oops

  • Abradolf Lincler

    Since bob mentioned ihsahn, ill go for another of my fanboi favs: Noktu. He makes Celestia/Mortifera stand out over most of the other Black Legion bands, just personal opinion.

    https://youtu.be/Mdk2xK1BjSQ

    • Abradolf Lincler

      i also think Athenar makes Midnight something truly special
      https://youtu.be/pG0NkesIc-Q

      • Abradolf Lincler

        Ava Inferi, though now defunct, has some of my most favorite chilling female vox, making it one of my all-time favorite doom bands
        https://youtu.be/WP0n4DZGLIY

  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    I’ve only heard Order and Punishment, but !T.O.O.H.!’s Humanoid/Schizoid have a growling, howling jabbering attack on it that meshes very well with the instruments to produce a thrillingly disturbing, and as far as I’ve heard, pretty uncommon fun time.

    Also, perhaps obvious choices, but Atilla Csihar and Nattram from Silencer are long time faves.

    • Dubbbz

      Great answer. His work on OLD shows his versatility.

    • brokensnow

      pure rage and misanthropy.

  • Stanley

    The vocals in that Fleurety track sound like a screecher firework.

    Anyway, have some Hat.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaIMIB8x81k

    • CyberneticOrganism

      Heh, “Hat”

      • Grandpa’s Magic Fleshlight

        No Mr. Hat, no Gorgoroth!

        http://www.hofwat.com/gotohell.jpg

      • brokensnow

        Homosexual aversion therapy?

        • Abradolf Lincler

          therapy that makes you homosexual?

          • brokensnow

            look it up.

          • Abradolf Lincler

            nah

        • CyberneticOrganism

          Uh, no just a hat

  • Grandpa’s Magic Fleshlight

    This guy can pretty much do it all, from the grunty wunties (not very much of it’s in their songs though) up to the squealies. Plus the video is pretty neato.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2s1ReVvbqKc

  • Eliza

    While definitely not the most unique or out there, I think the vocals on this album are nonetheless very interesting and beautiful. https://eightbells.bandcamp.com/

  • Brock Samson

    I have always loved Rainer Landferman’s batshit approach to vocals

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqUrP2J58Rw

    • Hans Müller

      His vocals on Tod Huetet Uebel bei Anaal Nathrakh are properly deranged.

  • THERE IS ONLY ONE.

    • RIGHT, MASTERLORD?

    • Abradolf Lincler

      man, despite all the hate, he has some presence live

    • Grandpa’s Magic Fleshlight
      • Abradolf Lincler

        if it aint Adrian Paul, its garbage.

        • Grandpa’s Magic Fleshlight

          What, no love for the Sean Connery’s Spanish Highlander?

          • Abradolf Lincler

            nope

          • Grandpa’s Magic Fleshlight
          • Rob M

            Spanish by way of Egypt!

          • Grandpa’s Magic Fleshlight

            Mongolian by way of Winterset, Iowa:

            http://www.theshiznit.co.uk/media/News/johnwayne-art.jpg

          • Rob M

            John Wayne can do no wrong…if he wants to play Genghis Khan who am I to tell him no (though, if given the chance, Id probably warn him about the nuclear testing ground and the dangers of radiation induced cancer…stupid movie killed the Duke)

          • Grandpa’s Magic Fleshlight

            Well, that and smoking 4 packs of cigs a day.

          • Rob M

            Im sure that didnt help either

            …but its still kind fo weird that something like 90 people from the cast and crew of that film developed some form of cancer

          • more beer

            That’s funny because his acting kills me.

          • Rob M

            I’ll just assume youve never seen The Searchers.

          • more beer

            I have seen enough of his movies. To know he is a terrible actor.

          • Rob M

            Thats up to you man, but its generally considered one of the greatest films of all times

          • more beer

            I stand by my last statement.

        • Rob M

          Highlander: The Source says even Adrian Paul is full of fail

          • Abradolf Lincler

            exclude the movies

          • Rob M

            I’ll accept that

      • MR. STEAL YOUR GIRL

        • Grandpa’s Magic Fleshlight

          huh?

          • … I may have replied to the wrong comment -__-

          • Grandpa’s Magic Fleshlight

            No problemo.

    • Grandpa’s Magic Fleshlight
  • Grandpa’s Magic Fleshlight

    Not quite metal, but goddamn, them vocals, mane!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2ehstqk0M8

    • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

      She’s simply monumental.

      • Grandpa’s Magic Fleshlight

        Yup! Also liked her stuff with Rotting Christ.

  • CT-12

    This song is completely made by the vocals. So full of piss and vinegar, just adds another energy to this song that sends it over the top. CURRENT OV DESS!!!!!!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oV-K_0fcAZA

  • CT-12

    Fucking Attila Csihar. Had I not heard this dude’s depraved vox, don’t know if I ever would have gotten into black metal.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85ielup_aPQ

  • Rob M
    • Señor Jefe El Rosa

      He was one of the firsts that came to my mind.

  • Dave Vincent’s Perm

    I love the bit in God Machine where audie does his insane screams under dax’ whispering, especially in Acid Bath’s demos.

  • JWEG

    Sylvain Houde, early Kataklysm albums. Full stop.

    • Dubbbz

      Such a dramatic shift in styles.

      • Zeke

        I think he stopped singing for them after temple of knowledge- at which point I stopped enjoying them

  • I sure wish the riffs were tighter… but the vocals really add to Fleurety tracks!

    Happy Sunday!

    GL

  • Super Nintendo Chalmers

    The frontwoman in Youth Code has a nice grating screech/yell.

  • Hans Müller

    Don’t think I’ve heard squealing/shrieking like the guy from Vektor does anywhere else. Sadus is comparable, I guess, but not quite as weird.
    Chthe’ilist’s singer has an interesting approach to some of his growls. Not sure if a pitch shifter is involved.

    Unhuman’s singer kind of marries the two.
    https://unhumanofficial.bandcamp.com/

  • Dude from Jute Gyte has got some bonkers screams. First heard him on Isolation and I was like wuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut? Not sure if he uses processing to achieve such a harrowing sound. Regardless, it makes my stereo hurt.

    • Dubbbz

      Good question. I’ll ask Christian, as he would probably know.

  • Señor Jefe El Rosa

    Haha, indubitably.

    • Grandpa’s Magic Fleshlight

      Picturing you saying that in Mike Tyson’s voice. :-p

  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    Omitted earlier, Genevieve from Menace Ruine is another favourite, with her spectrally beautiful, obliquely unsettling chant/speak/sing style.

  • Janitor Jim Duggan

    My favorite vocalist is Todd La Torre.

    • Grandpa’s Magic Fleshlight

      He’s good, no doubt, but him singing old school QR is kinda painful. He has a lot of trouble trying to switch those octaves and notes, which was something Tate was a master at.

  • BobLoblaw

    Broken record here I know but Corporate Death has certainly kept his unique style forever (and may even be a strong precursor to said “pained” vocal delivery). Self imposed month of not mentioning Macabre starts NOW.

    • more beer

      While I know a lot of people hate Macabre’s vocals. Personally I think Lance and Chucks vocals are perfect for their band.

  • HessianHunter

    Kinit Her is basically Joanna Newsom metal. This shit rules.