New DVD Teaches Heavy Metal Stars The Art Of Roaring

James Parker of The Boston Globe has issued the following report:

The origin of the "tortured throat scream" or "angry hell voice" is as hotly contested as anything else in the history of heavy metal.

Does it derive from the "death grunt" — the subhuman ultra-low-frequency belch developed by Florida bands such as DEATH and MORBID ANGEL in the mid-'80s? Or is it an importation from hardcore punk, whose unskilled ragings were funneled into metal by METALLICA, SLAYER, and their brethren?

On these matters there will never be tribal accord.

What is beyond dispute is that the scream is now part of metal's official language. For the modern metal vocalist, the ability to scream like a fiend night after night is just part of the job. And so we come to "The Zen of Screaming" (Loudmouth), an instructional DVD for "extreme singers" presented by voice coach Melissa Cross (read interview). Her clients are the cream of the scream scene: LAMB OF GOD, GOD FORBID, SHADOWS FALL, ALL THAT REMAINS . . . Even the maverick Andrew W.K., whose thunderous party music sounds like "Bohemian Rhapsody" performed by British skinheads, is a devoted follower of Cross.

"Don't you want to be the best you can possibly be?!" he roars at the camera. "Wouldn't you do whatever you possibly could to improve your voice, to improve your screaming?!"

Testimonials from satisfied customers are an important part of this product: Intercut with the lessons are a series of gruff encomiums ("She's a genius, man . . . a vocal genius") from today's hardest-working screamers, worn out and wild-eyed young men, greasy with road-funk, filmed backstage or on the tour bus or — in the case of Mike Ski from the A.K.A.'S — hunched in a small padded van. You can smell the sweat.

In 50 years, students of metal will be able to watch "The Zen of Screaming" for a precise understanding of the currently prevailing conditions.

"You have to have control of your pipes at all times," glowers GOD FORBID vocalist Byron Davis, "'cause that's your livelihood, and if you don't, it's gonna show. Doin' this [expletive] every day, playin' shows every day, if your technique is wack, you're not gonna have the endurance."

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