The Best Male Vocalists in a Band - A feature by Dave Christy and Susan Harris - Part 1 from Dave
In some ways, the singer can be the most important part of the group. The music genre can be defined by the band members and what they write but how its sung and the voice represented in it will most likely dictate if you like the band or even the song. A singer could use a different tone or pitch to match the feel of one particular song. You may like what you hear there but not on the other songs. So here are some of our favorite male singers. Not sure how many we'll be listing. We seem to go a little overboard anyway. We aim for a number then realize we left out one, or two, or ten others that need to be included. So, in no particular order, with no actual rhyme or reason, this is what I'm coming up with off the top of my head without obvious choices because you know I need to do things my way and be different.
Chris Motionless (Motionless in White).
When I first checked out MIW, it was because they were opening for Escape the Fate and I had tickets for the show. So, I looked them up on YouTube and found their video for "Abigail". The music was good but when the vocals started, they were more screaming then singing and I turned it off. I still had a month before the concert so I ended up giving them another shot. Listening to the whole song this time, it switched things up. A blend of screaming and singing. I liked the singing better. I ended up buying the CD. And their next one too. But it still wasn't anything I was really listening to a lot so I wasn't planning on wasting money on their 3rd CD "Reincarnate". But the songs went up on YouTube so I figured I'd at least listen to them once and see what it sounded like. It was an aptly named CD. The band was reincarnated. Alot more actual singing on this record. Songs like "Unstoppable", and "Contempress" (a duet with Maria Brink of In This Moment) are standouts that show the bands progression. Of course, some fans didn't like this new direction but I found it a lot more pleasing and ended up buying it and loving their subsequent records much more than their first 2. The raw emotion in "Another Life" is utterly amazing. 10 years ago, he wouldn't have been on this list but how much they have grown as musicians, songwriters and vocally have earned Chris this spot.
Axl Rose (Guns N Roses) & Sebastian Bach (Skid Row).
One of the key things I look at when compiling this list is range. Since both of these singers have similar qualities and the ability to belt out a heavy rocker, a fast song, and a ballad without skipping a beat, I decided to list them together. GNR's slowest song (if you can even call it that) on their debut was "Sweet Child of Mine". Then when they released "Lies" and put the acoustic ballad "Patience" as the single, that showed an entirely new level to the band. The Illusions CDs would continue to show another side speeding things up for "Garden of Eden" & "Perfect Crime". Skid Row had the rock anthem "Youth Gone Wild" on their debut but also slowed things down for "18 and Life" and "I Remember You" before igniting a flame under your seat with "Slave to the Grind". An EP of cover songs broke things down to another level for "Little Wing" showcasing Sebastian's vocal talent and range
Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance)
When I first heard about MCR, Rolling Stone described them as "goth, glam, punk, metal" or something along those lines. Sounded like an interesting combination so I decided to check them out. A singer needs presence and emotion to invite you into their world and the feeling behind the song. "I'm Not Okay" on "Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge" was being belted out and pulls you in by the throat. Then the very next song "Ghost of You" aims lower and pulls on your heart. "The Light Behind Your Eyes" and "Cancer" are two songs that resonate a lot with me, mentally and emotionally. People like to call this music "emo", short for emotional. I call BS. All songs have emotion. If there is no emotion behind it, why are they bothering to play the music?
John Bush (Anthrax).
When I first got into Anthrax, it was the "Among the Living" CD. Well, back then it was a cassette tape. Also, back then the singer was Joey Belladonna. Nothing wrong with Joey but this selection is to show how much a singer can fit a band, and vice versa. John had a band before Anthrax called Armored Saint. I heard them before but wasn't really impressed. When Joey left Anthrax and I heard John was going to be the new singer, I was not a happy camper. Then I heard a sneak peek of a new song and the announcer said "Do you recognize this band? You may not. They have a new singer on this record." Right then I knew it was a new Anthrax song, "Room for One More". Even though I wasn't an Armored Saint fan, John's voice fit this so well. All my fears were subsided. For a totally different, somber side of the band, also check out "Black Lodge". The single has a few different mixes of it. The "mellow to mad" mix is amazing. It’s basically strings for like 85% of the song before bringing in the other instruments. Incredible.
James Hetfield (Metallica).
Over nearly 40 years, James has had to do it all vocally. In their earlier days, they were more speed metal oriented with stuff like "Whiplash" and "Hit the Lights". They have changed course a few times, experimenting with different sounds. Early fans would never think this band could write something like "Nothing Else Matters", or perform an entire concert with a full orchestra, or an entire concert acoustically. A few years ago, they even had Lady Gaga join them on stage at the Grammy's belting out "Moth into Flame". Set-up wise, that was a disaster since the microphone was on the blink for half the song. But luckily, they filmed a dress rehearsal where everything worked great and that surfaced on Gaga's YouTube page a couple days later. Again, fans get picky with this kinda thing. I don't see why. Gaga adapted to Metallica's style and sang their song. Metallica didn't change to sing one of hers. Some fans just like to complain.
Eric Dover (Slash's Snakepit, Imperial Drag).
Eric used to play guitar for Jellyfish. So, he was picked to sing for Slash's first solo record in the mid-90's, I was a little confused. Of course, I want to support Slash's new project but what would it sound like? As far as I know, this is his first singing gig. It wasn't polished but it fit the music perfectly. "Beggars and Hangers On" and "Back and Forth Again" showcase what he could do. A couple years later, he had his own short-lived band that didn't really get a lot of recognition but I still loved them. Imperial Drag kinda came out of left field. A different musical style than Slash's Snakepit. It was more rock/alternative rock, with a bit of a trippy, almost 70's style feel. I can't even describe it properly. "Breakfast by Tiger", "Spyder", and "Zodiac Sign" will give you a better sense of their sound.
M. Shadows (Avenged Sevenfold).
Whenever a band changes direction and matures, fans always debate. It’s a fact. They won't write the same songs at 20 years old, as they will when they are 30 or 40 years old. You change and have more experiences, for better or for worse. Avenged Sevenfold is no exception. Early stuff like "Warmness on the Soul" captured fans. "Bat Country" and "Beast and Harlot" expanded the audience but songs like "Dear God", "So Far Away", "Victim", and "Fiction" would go on to affect them on a much deeper level. Even after those songs, the band continued to show progress and expand musically instead of just writing the same style on record after record. That's what I like to hear. Growth.
If you enjoyed Dave's list, come back for part two next week for Susan's Picks.
Dave Christy loves horror, music, documentaries and more. He is also the co-runner of several fan based groups including Morningstars (THE Lucifer fan group also run by Melanie), and now is a member of the VIPers Spotlight Lounge team for Melanie's Muses. Other than "In The Spotlight" Features -check out his "31 Days Of Halloween Movies"
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