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Death grunt

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Death grunt

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The death grunt (also referred to as death growl, death vocal, vokills or (jokingly) cookie monster vocal) is a singing style usually employed by vocalists of the death metal musical genres, but also can be heard in a variety of heavy metal subgenres. Stylistic similarities in vocals can be heard in grindcore and hardcore punk bands, among others. Melodic death metal, doom metal and gothic metal bands tend to modify the technique substantially.

Death grunts are guttural and difficult to decipher, particularly to listeners unfamiliar with the style. Most vocalists who employ the technique choose to sing indecipherably, such as Sylvain Houde from Kataklysm or Lord Worm from Cryptopsy. However, some vocalists sing such that their lyrics remain intelligible; Karl Willetts from Bolt Thrower being an example. Few female singers make use of the technique, Lori Bravo (Nuclear Death) and Angela Gossow (Arch Enemy) being two exceptions.

Death grunts can be obtained with various voice effects. However, many singers are able to produce them with their bare voice. It requires proper training, as it can harm the vocal cords.

It is difficult to pinpoint a specific individual as the inventor of the technique; the assumption that different musicians developed it gradually over time is, in a general manner, considered more plausible. The band Death (and its precursor Mantas) with its two vocalists — initially Kam Lee and subsequently Chuck Schuldiner — have been cited as influential (although Schuldiner would eventually switch to a more high pitched screeching style). Moreover, the singing featured on Venom's 1981 album Welcome to Hell has influenced the development of the style, even though the album does not exhibit the death grunt itself. Possessed is considered by some to be one of the earliest bands to employ death growls, as are Necrophagia and Master.

The vocalists from the British grindcore band Napalm Death — consecutively Nic Bullen, Lee Dorrian and Mark "Barney" Greenway — further developed the style in the late 1980s, adding more aggression and deeper guttural elements to it, while also speeding up delivery of the lyrics. Around the same time, in the United States, Chris Reifert (from Autopsy) began combining shrieks with his deep grunts. Also, Chris Barnes (from Cannibal Corpse) is notable for having deepened his grunts to tones lower than those which had been recorded at the time. Some death metal bands such as Carcass and Dying Fetus, have experimented using two vocalists, alternating singing duties between lighter and heavier death growls on their songs. The now-defunct Swedish grindcore band Nasum also utilised a similar arrangement, with two vocalists alternating between deep growls and high screeches. Vocalists of doom metal bands tend to put more emphasis on adding atmospheric and emotional overtones to their death grunts. Nick Holmes (from Paradise Lost), Darren White (from Anathema) and Aaron Stainthorpe (from My Dying Bride) were the main developers of grunts within this context, in the early 1990s. Stainthorpe was one of the first to combine grunts and clean singing, a technique which was developed further in large part by Opeth's Mikael Åkerfeldt.

Funeral doom metal bands have taken a different approach to death grunts. Deep guttural vocals are often replaced by hoarser, almost whispered grunts. Examples of vocalists which make use of the technique are "Matti" (from Skepticism) and John Paradiso (from Evoken)

Key death grunt vocalists

Vocalists essential to the development of the death grunt and the bands they represent are:

Chris Barnes (Cannibal Corpse, Six Feet Under, Torture Killer)
Nic Bullen (Napalm Death)
Lee Dorrian (Napalm Death)
Martin van Drunen (Pestilence, Asphyx)
Mark "Barney" Greenway (Benediction, Napalm Death)
Nick Holmes (pre-1995 Paradise Lost)
Sylvain Houde (Kataklysm)
Dave Ingram (Benediction)
Kam Lee (Massacre, Mantas/Death)
Darren Moore (Mourning Beloveth)
Frank Mullen (Suffocation)
Chris Reifert (Autopsy)
Chuck Schuldiner (Death)
Aaron Stainthorpe (My Dying Bride)
Bill Steer (Carcass)
John Tardy (Obituary)
Jeffrey Walker (Carcass)
Darren White (Anathema)
Karl Willetts (Bolt Thrower)
Lord Worm (Cryptopsy)
Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth, Bloodbath)

External links


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Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.


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