Introduction by Lord K Philipson:
Hello, fuck you and welcome to another of our most appreciated top 10
lists here at GD. Expect no Vanessa Carlton’s. Do not look for any
Pavarotti’s. Forget about Bruce Dickinson’s as well. Be sure you won’t
find anything but meaty fucken grunters in here. Well, most of them do
nothing but grunt but there might be that exception to the rule… the one
fucko who can actually growl and sing when needed. And whaddya fucken know… The very same fucko obviously ended up winning the damn thing.
We all know you are disagreeing cunts and will find deserts in
your vaginas after reading this one since we didn’t include your
favourite death metal vocalist. Tough. You are always invited to discuss
this list over at our forums. Find the topic yourself.
With that said, enjoy our picks, suck our dicks and do not listen to The Kicks. Poetry at large. Read on.
10. Muhammed Suiçmez – Necrophagist
The ultra-technical, ultra-flashy guitarwork by Necrophagist’s frontman Muhammed Suiçmez may be their main
attraction, but his growling is pretty damn nice as well; extremely
guttural and abrasive (and kind of scary, as a matter of fact), the deep
bellow of this Turkish-born wunderkind makes it sound like he’s been
doin’ some eating of the dead himself recently (yucky mental image,
Sure, it’s pretty monotone in terms of expression, but I don’t care
about that; it fits NecroP’s incredibly intense,
never-let-up-for-one-second brand of technical death metal perfectly,
and you haven’t experienced Muhammed’s awesome growl yet, go listen to Foul body autopsy IMMEDIATELY; seriously, he even makes that clogged toilet-growl (the one that Prostitute Disfigurement guy used) sound cool! Now, if he’d only hurry up with the third album, everything’d be all hunky-dory…
9. Roberth Karlsson – Facebreaker/Scar Symmetry
This is probably the best growler to which you never listen. Okay, so you’re a fucken metal newbie like staffer Smalley.
So Mr. Smalley, name off your favorite growlers.
Well, first off I fucken love, loooooooooouuuuuve,
liieeeeoeooooouuuuve Chuck Billy in his growling stage, he is fantastic.
Then you have the tops and the bestest like Joergen Sandstrom, Mikael
A., David Vincent, Peter T., and… Chuck Billy.
Chuck Billy is not a growler!!!!
But it’s sooo good. =D Check out this song! It’s so cool! \m/(>.<)\m/
Well, regardless of your obvious brain damage, you forgot some beasts of the mic, like ROBERTH KARLSSON!!!
Want to hear Robban’s fantastic growling? Check out some fucken
Facebreaker immediately. Youtube that shit or something and be ready to
be blown away. Or, you can go find that Edge of Sanity album without
Dan Swano. Dan’s not on it so who cares which album it was, amirite?!
Or if you’ve got that bit of homosexuality in your system go grab the
newest Scar Symmetry and take a listen to some of the best death metal
growling this year.
Why he’s so low on this list is just a big indicator of how big he isn’t.
Take heed, ye Smalley’s of the world. Robban slays, more than a few
of the guys on this list. Don’t be fooled by the numbers!
8. Karl Willetts – Bolt Thrower
Bolt Thrower is certainly one of the best things that death metal
has brought to this earth, and that’s a scientifically proven fact.
Don’t believe me? Let’s do the maths:
Bolt Thrower = One of the best things death metal has brought to this earth.
Q.e.d. With them ruling all, it’s almost evident that their
long-running vocalist has to be part of this list, as his performance
has been one of the decisive elements of their great sound through the
What sets Karl Willetts apart from most other death metal growlers
is his ability to sound heavy and aggressive while also being
intelligible instead of going maniacal or Rauuurghmunchmunchrurgrrurrr breeeeeee raughrghhhurr!
on us. In that his vocal delivery is in line with Bolt Thrower’s
overall sound that doesn’t have to rely on blast beats, slam breakdowns,
insane speeds and all this fancy modern stuff to get the death metal
sauce flowing. They simply don’t need it, thanks to, and here it comes…
Quality. Magic word.
Similarly, Karl Willetts simply puts everything he’s got into the
vocal delivery without sounding forced, and that does wonders for his
flow and the vocals’ fitting into the trademark wall of sound that Bolt
Thrower generate. Among the things he does have going for him is
knowledge of “real” singing, which is something he obviously never does
on an album, but that is revealed by his structured approach and clear
pronunciation of every word to the last letter. Which leads us to
another big bonus, namely his lyrics. These are not just plastered over
the music and, by chance, correlate with what the instruments do, but
are more than well-integrated into the big picture. And awesome. Now
when we take all of this and put it in a blender with dedication,
consistency and an awe-inspiring heaviness brought forward by the band,
the only question is… will it blend?
Damn straight it blends and it has been doing so for a long time.
Now put your trust in Karl and the rest of the band that they will take
the right decision and only record an album if it’s worthy of their
legacy. I salute them for keeping their heads out of their asses despite
constant praising critical acclaim like my little kissing of their
according body parts here. Now get them back on the forums again, lady
7. George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher – Cannibal Corpse
When Chris Barnes left Cannibal Corpse and fucked off to make a fool
of himself with Six Feet Under, there was some trepidation among fans
of the band. Who will enter the fold to fill Barnes’ obviously big
shoes? Will the replacement be less brootal, less inarticulate that
Barnes? Will the Corpse enter the realm of has-beens in the annals of
death metal? Well, now we all know what happened, right? George
“Corpsegrinder” Fisher came in and, as the saying goes, the rest is
George’s unholy vokills is really something else: it’s an incredible
mixture of burping, throwing up and a guy who screams after being
stabbed in the belly. Most of the time, George goes for the trademark
“death growl”, which means that, even when he tries to “sing” the
lyrics, what comes out is an inarticulate low-end noise. Which is,
y’know, pretty good for what the Corpse’s music stand for. I also like
his ability to go from deep belches to high-pitched screams in a blink
of an eye and make them last, too.
But, y’all know what? This is forest for the trees crap. If you like
death metal at its most brootal, you like Cannibal Corpse. And if you
like Cannibal Corpse, then you REALLY
like George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher. You like his vokills, you like his
no-shit-from-anyone attitude, you like his lyrics, you like his stage
persona with the windmill headbanging, you like everyfuckingthing about
him. Do I have to spell it for ya? George “Corpsefuckingrinder” Fisher. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!!!
6. Chuck Schuldiner – Death
The tale of Evil Chuck is one of a visionary, of a man possessed by
the spirit of death metal, boundless energy and unlimited talent. Others
might have growled first, but Chuck was the all-knowing forefather of
death, and in his infinite wisdom he recognized the fact that inhuman
growling and grunting was the way to go. His progression as a vocalist
was very steady, and even if he doesn’t sound as guttural as many of his
peers, you’d be hard pressed to match the passion of his delivery. His
vocal lines always had character and plenty of inspired moments, and his
flawless enunciation quite astonishing fact.
Chuck wanted to be heard and understood, and he wanted us to know
this was an age for extreme measures to become the essence of metal.
Needless to say, he succeeded in more ways than one… and so I leave you
with these words he once sung in that unforgettable growl, words in a
timeless voice that will continue to haunt us until the end…
“There will be zero tolerance for the creator of hallowed intentions
There will be zero tolerance, fate is your deciding God”
5. David Vincent – Morbid Angel
Y’know, very few albums blew my mind in my youth quite like “Altars
of Madness”. Genre-defining, era-defining, call it what you want; in
short, Morbid Angel had come to make death metal the definitive way, and
everything that came after that was trying to reach that pinnacle.
That’s true even for the following Morbid Angel albums, which were good,
but never were as striking and powerful as their debut. Also, Morbid
Angel is one of those bands in which the whole is so much more
important than the individual.
Sure, Pete Sandoval probably made the blast-beat a trademark of the
genre. True, Trey Azagthoth is the riffmeister that made people from
Cannibal Corpse to Napalm Death weep with blasphemous envy. And, yes,
David Vincent was a huge part of the band’s original sound, with his
raw, evil rasp, vocals fit to be the voice of Satan himself. Maybe
Cronos was the first to perform harsh vocals, maybe not, who knows? But
the one who spread that style like a plague to all who would listen,
that would be David Vincent.
Sure, eventually he went gay, left Morbid Angel, formed a ridiculous
band with his wife, so on, but his legacy, as far as I’m concerned, is
untarnished. Even better, he’s been back to the fold for a few years
now, right where he belongs. It’s a shame people forget about Morbid
Angel, and particularly Vincent, when thinking of death metal. These
guys were the very soul of the age of death metal, and no one could ever
touch that debut album of theirs, with its historic drumming, melodic
riffs and grim, rough vocals. I, for one, after listening to Vincent’s
performance in “Altars of Madness”, thought to myself: that’s what I
want to do!
4. Peter Tägtgren – Hypocrisy
This list is great simply because most of these fucks have been
around a long time, and we have heard their growls and screeches develop
– just get better and better – until they obstreperously vacate their
bladders upon the competition. Heggs and toast, Sandy, the
Chuckmeister, and of course Rat-tat-Tägtgren each started out a bit
basic but now you can hear just one line of blasphemy uttered from their
lungs of steel and immediately place the grunter.
So my coverage of Evil Pete is going to be of the historical
variety. Grab my cock and let’s take a trip down memory lane. Is this
going to be complete look at Petey’s four thousand side projects, or
even a step-by-step of Hypocrisy’s albums? No. Fuck off.
We’ll start on the foggy shores of yesteryear. He wasn’t too happy
with his vocals on their first demo, released as Seditious, in 1991.
Only sang on one track on the band’s first full-length, the title track Penetralia
in fact. While he has his moments on there, it was definitely a good
choice to leave the growling to Masse. Very uneven, kinda sloppy, not
terrible but certainly not the Überhowler we know and love.
Pete took back the vocal reigns starting on the “Inferior devoties” EP, and he kicks the shit out of Mental emotions.
Good job, man, we knew you had it in you. His Evilness has a great
low grumble that is full of grit, and high soaring screams that would
make the blackest ov the black envious. The little green men could not
have a better ambassador.
As for Hypocrisy’s midperiod, I’m not too knowledgeable. This
seems to be one of the more popular tracks and Pete’s vocals sound
pretty good. Nothing too high effort, mind you, but good. Lower, some
nice incorporation of his gremlinself, and a natural confidence. Like
he was surrounded by supermodels and his dark circles suddenly
disappeared. And the ladies all thought he had morphed into evil Johnny
Looky here! Thanks to my amazing research skills I’ve found that
Tattoo-gren was in a sweet death/grind outfit called Lock Up with a
bunch of dudes from Napalm Death. Sweetness says I – there’s even some tits on the cover. Trademark scream of intense doom is all over this track.
Time to make up some history. The winter was cold. It was fucken
Sweden, after all. His vocals had become stale. The bags under his
eyes had bags under their eyes. Fuckers touched his chin. He did not
look even remotely like evil Johnny Depp. Duder was bummed. But then
the phone rang, and it was Bloodbath. Yep, the whole band
minus Mr. Number One Growler was gathered around the phone. Somewhat
gayly. And they needed Tägtgren’s help! Assherfeldt had more important
shit to do than Bloodbath. Where were they gonna find someone as
spectacular behind the mic? They thought and thought, and finally came
up with da man himself. Tägtgren considered the proposition for about
two seconds, then agreed. So it was that one of the most badass
tunes of all time was laid down. You can thank me later for the video.
His performance on “Nightmares” is the stuff that growling dreams are
made of. If you don’t own the album, you will never, ever be involved
in any FFM action. In fact, you’re probably involved in some MMMDogCat action right now. What a jerk.
Let’s skip randomly to “Into the abyss”, a crusty and cruel release
from Hypocrisy at the turn of the millennium. “Blinded” is a fine
example of Rattat laying down the anti-melodious wonder.
Was this his standout material in terms of his storied career? No,
but few can sound as nasty or as frenzied when they’re in the mood.
Plus, Peter the producer knows just how much to layer his vocals so that
Hypocrisy doesn’t sound like Behemoth
(behemothBEhemothBEHEmothbeheMOTH) with their over the top 900 guys are singing the same line shit.
That takes us to today’s Hypocrisy. Having only heard snippets of
“…Divinity”, my reference point for Tagteamgren’s vocals is “Virus”, and
he sounds rawk-us. Everyone who listened to his performance in
Bloodbath knew he was gonna unleash the beast when it came to his own
material, and tracks like Warpath
confirmed it. Jeebus, would you listen to that opening scream? Godly.
You could demolish buildings with that shit. Someday when I stop
buying beer and start selling semen at blowout prices, I’ll have some
extra dough to spend on “Taste” and will be able to hear if he’s
bringing the pain (hur hur) at the same level as “Virus”. Certainly
I hope you enjoyed my brief, incomplete and largely incomprehensible
summary of Evil Pete’s vocal stylings. I know I’ve always been
impressed by his surely alien throat and will continue to perk up
whenever Hypocrisy is mentioned solely for his harsh, heavy, and
one-of-a-kind growl. His clean singing, well, uh, let’s just say he
ain’t making it on that top 10 list.
3. Johan Hegg – Amon Amarth
When the music your band plays is given the moniker of “Viking
metal” (which isn’t a real thing, but that’s a story for later), you’d
better have a singer who sounds a bit manlier than Tiny Tim on extended
estrogen therapy, right? Fortunately, Johan Hegg is a perfect fit for
Amon Amarth’s take-no-prisoners style, matching their signature heavy
guitar work wonderfully with his not too harsh, not too clean, but just
right, sore-throated, rumbling growls. This guy sounds exactly like
what you’d imagine a battle-hardened, vintage viking would (if they sung
in metal bands, that is) and while his growling was a bit
muddled on the first few AA albums (in addition to him doing those
higher-pitched screams a bit too much), by the time “Versus the world”
hit in ’02, he was definitely showing more clarity and control over his
vox, and he hasn’t fucked it up ever since, hence, he’s an awesome
Yes, he does need to cut some flab if he’s going to perform
shirtless like that (gross, man!), and no, he doesn’t have the deepest
growl in death metal, but Amon Amarth is melodic death metal (and not “Viking metal, lolz!!!” Seriously, you might as well say pirate metal’s a sub-genre because Alestorm
exists!! …ahem), and Hegg’s growls are guaranteed to get your thirst
for blood goin’ anyway, so he really is a kick-ass death growler in the
end. Now, go burn ‘n pillage (not necessarily in that order) some
villages to make him happy, and be sure you’re listening to Amon Amarth
as you do so, naturally.
2. Jörgen Sandström – The Project Hate MCMXCIX/Vicious Art/Krux, ex-Grave/Entombed
I could write an essay about my admiration for this fucko’s vocals.
But I won’t, simply becoz I have rightfully praised and held J’s grunts
in the highest regard for over a fucken decade and a half or something. I
have stated over and over how this guy is the best, which he is. I
don’t have to do it here in great lengths. You know my opinion on J
already. You know he’s one of my closest friends. You know he fucken
eats every single grunter in the world for breakfast.
There. The truth. Just a few more things before I wrap this up.
A list of the world’s best growlers without Jörgen Sandström on it
would be a farce. A list of the world’s best growlers without Jörgen
Sandström as number 1 is plain wrong. For some reason he was beaten by
Opeth’s Mike Åkerfeldt (who I’d consider to be number 3 after silver
medalist Robban Karlsson – further up on this list) this time around.
Mike is a better all-around vocalist, obviously, but is he a better
growler than J?
Not a fucken chance.
There is no one in the world of death metal that can top J. Where most growlers are one dimensional – J offers variety and an insane depth (fast forward to 2:04 or listen to the first 30 seconds of this clip to hear a few of J’s styles while at 0:28 in this tune
you’ll hear his basic, fantastic growl). He can do the lowest of grunts
while spicing everything up with some insane higher screams that
literally send shivers down yer spine. The combination of all the styles
that J possesses makes for a fantastic and unbeatable performance –
demo after demo, album after album. And he’s been topping himself with
every visit in the studio, time and time again.
Another plus for Mr. Sandström is that he’s got an incredible output
in his voice. Most growlers tend to not have any power in their voices.
They sound deep and demonic and all, sure, but there’s no punch to be
found. J is a completely new ballgame. He literally belches out so much
power you are waiting for this to happen, in the vocal booth or on stage.
I am blessed to be able to have Jörgen sing in the 2 bands I am in; The Project Hate MCMXCIX
and Torture Division. I am blessed to be best friends with the fucken
guy. J is utter, global domination vocal-wise. He is the muthafucken
Georges St. Pierre of death metal roars. The world champion of this art.
Anyone who says anything else is a fucken liar and should be shot like one.
-Lord K Philipson
1. Mike Åkerfeldt – Opeth
brutal (broot’l) adj.
1. Extremely ruthless or cruel.
2. Crude or unfeeling in manner or speech.
3. Harsh; unrelenting: a brutal winter in the Arctic.
4. Disagreeably precise or penetrating: spoke with brutal honesty.
Add bone-chilling pathos and crystal-clear articulation to the
equation and you’ve just described the phenomenal voice of our champ,
the man with the mustache: Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth, Bloodbath). With an
enviable directness and rhythmic precision, his delivery is always
immaculate, both live and on record. There’s a unique timbre to
Åkerfeldt’s voice, which gives it a raw crude edge most growlers can only dream of; no matter if the grunting is performed gutturally or shriekingly, it is always harsh and unrelenting, like a brutal winter in the Arctic.
Most of Evil Mike’s growls that are caught on tape can be found on
all of Opeth’s records of course, and when comparing his efforts on
1994’s “Orchid” to 2008’s “Watershed”, one can’t but marvel at how he’s
been able to perfect an already at an early stage fantastic growl into an extremely cruel machine of death that spews out venom and sulfur with penetrating
demonic force. Mike’s voice was a bit higher in pitch during the 90’s,
which is of course a result of not only the obvious decadent effects of
drinking and smoking, but the fact that he’s older. Still, who cares, as
the diabolic grunt we get nowadays is so rich and full of hellish
overtones that you wouldn’t want his more mature growl, if you will, to
sound any other way.
Åkerpenis’ work with Bloodbath can of course not be left without mention– listen to this or this – pure and crude
brilliance. The sophistication of Opeth gets pushed aside a little in
favor of an even rawer output. Me like. Well, who doesn’t. His guest
appearances on Katatonia’s “Brave Murder Day” and “Sounds of Decay” as
well as Edge of Sanity’s “Crimson” in the mid-90’s are not to be
belittled either, no matter when or where Migayl lent his vocal cords to
anyone, they produced the harshest and most ruthless sounds ever to come out of a human being.
As an ending note, as nothing is worthy nor capable of topping it, I
present to you the most blood-freezing, bloodcurdling, blood-younameit
shriek in all of metal – the grand finale of Opeth’s mega opus Black Rose Immortal.
The music calms down at 7:40 (in the clip) to beckon the end, and moves
tentatively forward to the softly sang/whispered phrase “At night I
always dream of you”, and at 9:19 – curtain. The world ends, the
universe collapses, each and all are wholly encompassed in a shroud of
pitch-black despair. A true divine moment.