Band Gimmicks- Part Four: Too Many Vocalists

Co-written by Mike Marlinski and Vick Sacha

Let’s face the facts here, if you’re a good vocalist, you have either a decent range between highs and lows, or you’re consistent.  But what if you’re not? What if you have your mids down, but you want to incorporate black metal highs or piggy squeals into your songs? Well, obviously, you call up your most talented buddy and you share the limelight as frontmen (or women).  Surely, there are a few bands that can pull off the two-vocalist thing; for some lineups, it’s a necessity. But then there are those which force one to ask, “What the hell is going on here?”

I wanted to go off on another tangent about the Butcher Babies, but I didn’t want to twist some people’s panties into a bunch again, and we certainly don’t want to subject our other readers to that level of horror.

A few years ago,  some ‘All-Stars’ tour blew through Buffalo, with our own Every Time I Die headlining.  I wasn’t into any of the other bands, but I stayed at Town Ballroom all day because I was determined to at least get my money’s worth.  One of the openers was a band called Volumes that I had heard a few things about and also overheard that a lot of people at the show were the most excited for them. With the amount of people talking so highly of Volumes, I had assumed the LA based band was going to completely blow my mind.  And then they played their set.  It was nothing but “djent” chugging and simplistic drumlines, but what got me was that there was not one, but two vocalists (as if you couldn’t guess by the title of this article).  And if I hadn’t been paying attention, I’d have thought that they were just one guy; they both sound exactly the same.  One does cleans now, and the other raps, but aside from that, there is no differentiation between the two.  So, I beg the question, what’s the point?  Couldn’t one guy just do everything?  Surely, neither of them are Travis Ryan or Johnny Davy, but the lyrics are so simplistic and the only unclean vocal styles they use are mids (or lows, depending on their own range).  I guess to sum up my experience, I was pretty disappointed, and it left me questioning why so many people were into this simple, repetitive, generic music.

Speaking of bands with rappers, Mike is going to give a shoutout to an old Buffalo, NY staple.

Skungk, rap metal legends from the area, had a pretty decent following for a local band and even helped pave the way for the rise of Stemm, Niagara Falls, NY’s longtime kings of rock/metal. Aside from some subtle differences, these guys were fronted by two hip hop savvy rhyme wranglers by the names of Matt Ayers and Tooter Warnes. From my point of view, the dynamic between the two was unnecessary and the mere presence of their DJ, along with just one of the 2 frontmen would’ve been sufficient. But what do I know? I’ll let you be the judge. As luck would have it, their Angelfire page is still up and running. Click the link above and judge for yourself.

Since Mike brought up the Buffalo scene, one thing I (Vick) noticed is that the two-vocalist thing is a little more common that I had originally thought.  My City, My Secret just happened to do it better than the rest, with Keith Kuzara on screams and Adam Fabozzi absolutely nailing his cleans.  Though they were scouted by a major record label, they have since disbanded.

Mike and I were going to slap Buffalo NY’s The Bunny The Bear into our “Faceless Bands” article, but Papa Emeritus from GHOST BC was just exponentially cooler.  For those of you that don’t know, TBTB is just that- one guy runs around with a bear mask on, and the other hops around with a rabbit mask on (see what I did there?)  The popcore duo, equipped with a revolving door for the instrument-playing members, were signed to Victory Records a while back, and if you know anything about that label, you know that they don’t necessarily sign the cream of the crop.  Matt Tybor, the Bunny, is their “unclean” vocalist, and in my opinion, his vocals are about as generic as it gets.  There is absolutely nothing that separates him out from the rest of the bunch other than his Bunny face.  Their old clean singer, Chris Hutka, The Bear, is a bit of another story.  His voice is rather distinct, but not necessarily in a good way.  His singing is, to me, unnaturally high, as if someone squeezes his balls a little bit before he gets his pipes going. Recently, Chris quit the band and has since been replaced by an unnamed girl who is of course, topless on their newest album cover.  If you haven’t been made aware already, lack of clothes automatically means talent.  Release of the year, right? Yeah, maybe for the young and impressionable.

But we’re not all about ripping apart bands because we think they suck.

For example, as Mike would like to point out: Amaranthefrom Sweden, is an eclectic group that fuses death metal, metalcore and pop metal. And as they are focused on three sub-genres of metal , they also have 3 vocalists. Jake E and Elize Ryd handle clean vocals, while Henrik Englund – fairly new to the band – handles the screams. Together, they create a dynamic so profound, it’d be nearly impossible to replicate it without one another. They proved this early on with the self-titled debut album and continue to do so on their latest release, Massive Addictive. This band combines the signature sounds of Scar Symmetry, Six Feet Under, Killswitch Engage, Evanescence and Lacuna Coil in nearly every song and they do so flawlessly. Amaranthe is just one of those bands that wouldn’t stand out in the crowd without the trifecta at their forefront.

Here’s another band we feel “does it right”:

Up until their disbanding in 2010, Despised Icon led the 2 singer charge in deathcore for 4 albums and kept their vocal styles just diverse enough to justify it. With an array of gutturals, high screams, mid-screams and the occasional cleans, they kept their audiences captivated for 8 solid years, all the while getting respectful nods of approval from tour-mates and others of the genre. Together, lead vocalist and former drummer, Alex Erian, along with lead vocalist, Steve Marois, got the job done without ever cluttering the recordings or stifling the live show. Fans were pleased when the band got back together for some reunion shows in the spring of 2014, during which they were able to seamlessly reignite the torch that got them started and continue to keep things interesting. Despised Icon is another prime example of multiple vocals being beneficial to both their band and their audience.  “MVP” is a solid song, and really, this is exactly how you make two unclean vocalists work.  Feel free to take notes.

So, we guess that’s it.  Shitty way to close the article, right?  There were a couple more bands that we thought of, but we think we pretty much covered all the right bases.  Though we haven’t decided yet, our next babbling on will either be what we’re calling “theme bands” or the 8+ strings guitar and bass club.  Either way, we’re pretty sure we have our shit in the bag for both of those.

Actually, you should probably leave us some feedback, either on here or our Facebook about what we should tangent about next.  And, of course, as always, all other comments and feedback are most welcome.  Thanks for the read and don’t forget to let us know what you think!

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One thought on “Band Gimmicks- Part Four: Too Many Vocalists

  1. I used to play a lot of shows with Skungk years ago when I was in Teased to a Beatdown and I think the dual vocalist thing works in rap metal but in any other type of metal is awful. Its basically just a waste of space on an already crowded stage.

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