I have enjoyed the vocals of the singer Angela Gossow for a fair number of years now and I'm very interested to learn more about the Growl style of vocals in heavy music.

Is this style of singing in response to the heavy distorted guitar tones of heavy metal or is it more a reflection of the macabre imagery that are part and parcel of heavy music?

I would love to learn more about this style of singing, how it developed and who some of its more prominent champions were.


As far as for how it developed there will be differing opinions, but to me there's a line from Howlin' Wolf to Lemmy of Motörhead, via Chronos of Venom and Tom G. Warrior of Celtic Frost through Tom Araya of Slayer, ending up with the originators of the growl style in the late '80s/early '90s death metal/grindcore scene, like Chuck Schuldiner of Death, Glen Benton of Deicide, LG Petrov of Entombed, Bill Steer and Jeff Walker of Carcass, David Vincent of Morbid Angel, Lee Dorrian and Barney Greenway of Napalm Death. That's a pretty complete one sentence answer with what I would consider the highest impact names, but throw in Repulsion, Possessed and Massacre for good measure, and you've got a reasonable list of the origins.


I personally would say growling/screaming tends to fit the heavier style of the music, but then remember that Angela Gossow (and by extension, Arch Enemy) are a very extreme and "brutal" style of metal that usually has constant growling vocals, as it's all part of the genre and sound.

If you look back across plenty of other genres of metal and rock, you'll see that a lot of bands only use heavy vocals in certain sections of songs, or sometimes not at all in certain songs, because it doesn't fit the theme or feel of the song. Take Trivium for example, a lot of their earlier music was very fast paced and heavy. Their later efforts (In Waves and Vengeance Falls specifically) have a much broader range of styles, which means that perhaps growling isn't the most appropriate way to approach singing.

I can't tell you how the style developed, but if you listen across several genres of rock and metal you'll hear the whole spectrum from the original gritty rock vocal to all out pure screaming.

Some prominent figures currently are along the lines of...

  • Matt Heafy
  • Corey Taylor
  • Robb Flynn
  • Phil Anselmo
  • Spencer Sotelo
  • Daniel Tompkins

... but then also there's the likes of Dave Grohl who still use that very gritty original style of rock vocals.

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