While some folks tend to think of instrumentals first and foremost when it comes to metal, there is one other very important and significant factor in creating good metal – vocals.
Hell, Dino Cazares put Fear Factory on hold for some time until he was able to find the vocalist to do right by the band. He auditioned some 300 vocalists for the role even, that’s how important it was for him to find the right singer.
Even if there is awesome instrumentation, a bad singer can kill a song. That said, metal is full of brilliant and talented vocalists, and among all of them, there are 10 that stand out to us as the best metal vocalists working today.
Who knew that a vocalist could change so much for a band? Ramos made his studio debut with Lorna Shorte on their 2021 EP …And I Return to Nothingness; that said, it was really the release of their single “To the Hellfire” that changed everything for Lorna Shore. Ramos’ demonic high-pitched squeals and gelatinous-sounding growls caught the attention of folks across the music landscape. Content creators on YouTube started doing reaction videos to the band’s song, each person’s jaw-dropping at the sound of Ramos’ unreal screams. And on the band’s latest album Pain Remains, Ramos shows off more of his remarkable vocal talents. What he can produce from his voice is far from human sounding.
Courtney LaPlante’s vocal skills have come a long way since her deathcore days in Iwrestledabearonce, and she’s helped establish Spiritbox as one of metal’s most exciting current acts. Much like the instrumental component of Spiritbox, LaPlante’s voice offers a stunning range of variety and sonic appeal. In one moment, she could be belting out a haunting, melodic chorus and in the next bringing out all hell. Whether it’s through her singing or deep gutturals, LaPlante’s voice brings tremendous depth to Spiritbox.
Easily one of the most iconic voices in all of heavy metal, Rob Halford has been captivating audiences for roughly half a century. Halford’s singing is immediately recognizable, offering an operatic-like quality to the world of metal. The Judas Priest singer is never straightforward in his delivery; whether he screams or sings, he knows how to pace himself and deliver a dramatic punch to a song. While the instrumental side of Judas Priest may be exciting and shreddy, much of the band’s appeal comes from Halford’s vocal precision. With a bravado that has the power to thrill and move audiences, Halford’s voice has aged like a fine wine.
Mallika Sundaramurthy (ex-Abnormality, Unfathomable Ruination)
As one of the most killer voices in the death metal scene today, Sundaramurthy has a voice to be reckoned with. Some folks may know her thanks to her work in the tech death band Abnormality, where she would warp her voice to unleash demonic and robotic-sounding vocals. Since the band has retired, she has gone on to work in other projects like Nidorous, and more recently, Unfathomable Ruination. Over the course of her career, Sundaramurthy has continued to build upon her craft and provide an even greater array of death metal ferocity – cementing herself as one of the genre’s best today.
Dylan Walker (Full of Hell)
When it comes to grueling, abrasive, and exhilarating voices in metal, Walker is easily one of the best around. Alongside the chaotic and aggressive instrumental noise and deathgrind presentation that is Full of Hell, Walker’s voice adds another layer of sonic intensity to one of the most technically interesting bands working today. Whether it’s through his high-pitched shrieks or his gurgling mucusy low growls, Walker has one of the grossest, most awesome voices in metal.
Very few voices in the world of metal have reached the level of “haunting” that Ethan McCarthy’s voice achieves. Whether it’s through his doom/sludge/noise project Primitive Man or his grind band Vermin Womb, McCarthy’s voice provides a texture that may get listeners to flinch. McCarthy’s voice is chill-inducing, like sandpaper scraping across one’s eardrums, or a forlorn scream for help in a claustrophobic space. A brilliant musician and a super-talented vocalist, McCarthy’s vocal performances are nothing short of astounding.
Kris Esfandiari (King Woman)
While not terrifying-sounding, Kris Esfandiari’s vocals have the power to grip listeners with chills. That’s because Esfandiari’s voice is deceptively gentle; through the minimalism of King Woman’s instrumentation, Esfandiari’s voice drifts among the music. Yes, she may not be shrieking or screaming (at the moment), but in her calm demeanor, Esfandiari taps into something dark and unsettling. By the time she lets lose her yells, listeners are immediately gripped – caught in the swirling and emotional doom of King Woman.
Kristin Hayter knows how to use her voice like an instrument. When she wants to sound “lovely,” she knows what to tap into; when she wants to sound “ugly,” she knows how disturbing to sound. Through her industrial noise or folk music, Hayter uses her brilliant vocal skills to present both enchanting and horrifying theatricality. Within a given song, she will go about startling transitions – perhaps startling with some choral-like singing, to then unleashing agonizing screams and spoken word passages. Given all she has done through Lingua Ignota, it will be awesome to see what Hayter does next.
Anders Fridén (In Flames)
Anders Fridén is one of death metal’s most talented vocalists, and In Flame’s meteoric popularity is proof positive of that. From his wicked-sounding screams to his lovely singing voice, Fridén’s vocals beautifully blend with the instrumental component of In Flames. As one of the progenitors of melodic death metal, Fridén is a big component that has contributed to the band’s legacy. While a lot of death metal prior to the band involved purely screaming and growls, Fridén helped tap into the genre’s creative depth.
Play any given Cattle Decapitation song and at some point you’re going to hear something that sounds like frontman Travis Ryan gurgling or choking on something – rest assured, he’s having a good time doing it. Ryan has an immediately recognizable voice; his highs and lows exude a texture that is both captivating and repulsive. On top of the grinding brutality of Cattle Decapitation’s music, Ryan provides an added phlegmy touch – something a little spicy to punch up the already grotesque atmosphere of the band’s music.