Cattle Decapitation's Travis Ryan is one of the sickest vocalists in metal and has been for a long time now, so who better than him to lay out a guidemap to the 10 sickest extreme vocalists?
This is not at all your typical ranking filled with the usual suspects in death metal, black metal, grindcore... the list goes on. Sure, a couple of the more familiar faces and voices crop up here — who doesn't worship Carcass, right? — but you're sure to find at least one vocalist you've never heard of before.
READ MORE: Carcass' Jeff Walker - My 10 Favorite Bands Inspired By Carcass
One thing that's clear here — the Cattle Decap frontman is all about genuinely pushing boundaries and pursuing sounds rarely heard in recorded music. Given that he's spent a great deal of his own life doing the same thing, it makes perfect sense.
Travis Ryan is among the most influential vocalists in extreme metal throughout the 21st century, really upping the ante with his freakish clean-ish imp vocals. Sorry dude, we're writers and have a hard time describing the noises you make — hats off!
Get a taste with "We Eat Our Young," one of the standout tracks on Cattle Decapitation's new album, Terrasite.
Cattle Decapitation, "We Eat Our Young" Music Video
Now, open your minds, your ears, and if you're willing to try to imitate any of what you hear below, your throats, and dive into Travis Ryan's picks for the nuttiest extreme metal vocalists out there!
Get your copy of Cattle Decapitation's new album 'Terrasite' on CD or vinyl. Follow the band on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Spotify. Head to their website to see all upcoming tour dates and get tickets here.
Rainer Landfermann (Bethlehem)
While perhaps too over the top for most people, this man's voice on Bethlehem's Dictius Te Necare is the absolute meaning of extremity. This is one of the most freakish performance's put to tape that isn't Nattramn (Silencer).
There's brutally shrill parts that are just horrifying and shouldn't be produced by a human. There's angst, performative aspects, attitude, character... this performance had it all. He's a shredding bass player, composer and producer so there’s no room to do too many more vocals. The man changed the fucking game big time.
The most terrifying woman ever to grace a stage. Yes, more than Karen Black, more than Eva O, more than Wendy O Williams. Just frightening.
But the majority of the fright comes from the extremely collegiate stance she has in music — she's an incredible pianist and has an absurd range, vocally. She's the one person that could stop me dead in my tracks and make me fold into a worthless ball of epithelia, mucosa and rendered-useless organs just from the sheer knowledge of what her upper respiratory system is capable of, not to mention her vast knowledge of the world of music as well as social politics spanning hundreds of years.
Martin Van Drunen (Asphyx, Hail of Bullets)
He might just be the greatest death metal vocalist there ever was. I’m referring to "actual death metal" that is, not all the stuff that came after 1997 or so. You know... like my band.
The dude sounds like he's actually dying. Not in a lame "I'm-actually-just-getting old-and-lost-my-abilities-and-just-suck-now-so-I'll-hide-behind-the-guise-of-its-death-metal-so-thats-why-I-sound-like-I'm-dying" way, but the man actually sounds like he's in the throes of death.
Nobody sounds like him, though many have tried.
Yamatsuka Eye (Boredoms, Naked City)
Just absurd, dude. He once drove a fuckin' bulldozer through a club while playing with his band Hanatarash. Sure, that says nothing about his vocal prowess, but he's a fucking madman, both literally and vocally.
While he has a wealth of output under his belt, look no further than his Naked City material for the actual reason why I'm putting him on this list. The essence of extreme vocals...
Jon Chang (Discordance Axis, Gridlink)
...and this guy would be the essence of extreme vocals used in the grindcore arena. His highs can only be matched by people trying to imitate it. There's no reason to go any higher than him in terms of tone or key because it would probably end up being beyond the high frequencies of human hearing. And why bother, anyways? This shit ain't a competition. He was definitely an inspiration to my vocals in the early Cattle stuff.
Antimo Buonnano (Disgorge, Mexico)
Just disgusting. Look at the albums Forensick and Necroholocaust.
Forensick is one of the most disgusting albums of all time. He had these gnarly snarls that are just inhuman. And just absurdly deep, breathy, guttural lows
The Bill Steer/Jeff Walker combo (Carcass)
I'm going to combine two people into one here because there's a sound these two produced that really triggered something in me. This sound is where I came up with using my tongue to get all sorts of mouth sounds, mainly trying to emulate the sound of two different vocals at once.
I used to just call it "air displacement" or "tongue vocals" and the fans used to call it "pteradactyl vocals.” Now they call it all sorts of stuff.
Well... it all came from playing so many shows without the ability to layer vocals live. I've always loved the sound of layered vocals, especially when these two did it
Matti Way (Disgorge - USA)
I've seen this guy live since he was in a local band called Silent Ovation and then another one called Haunted before he joined Disgorge. He was one of the first that I remember seeing take the whole Joe Ptaek (Broken Hope) gutturals to an absurdly low level. Matti was perhaps one of the first to perfect the whole "you can hear the actual ceramic of the toilet bowl!" gutturals that so many people have strove to do since Disgorge's emergence on the scene in the mid-’90s.
I got to see them back when they first started and at that time I was more of a drummer so I was kind of fixated on watching Ricky play using a fucking bucket as a drum throne. Wild times...
It’s important to remember and acknowledge the people who were some of the first to do things. History and how things came to pass will always matter and it shouldn't take getting older and wiser to acknowledge it.
Laurent Lunoir (Oxxo Xoox, ex-Igorrr)
I love everything this guy has been in so far. If you dig into his catalog, that's when you'll realize just how sick he is and the range he has. Laurent is also influenced heavily by my favorite band of all time, Magma. Be sure to check out all of his bands.
Frater U.:È.:Œ. (Anguis Dei, Ahpdegma)
I know very, very little about this person. I know they're from Japan and that's about it. People are fast asleep on this guy right here.
I stumbled upon this on Facebook somewhere, but can't remember if it was something someone suggested or what. My eyes popped out of my skull and I blindly ordered the Anguis Dei LP and I'm glad I did. Holy shit what a performance.
The band Ahpdegma is also fucking absurd. Just insane stuff.
If people still want to treat this whole extreme vocal thing to be some sort of competition, well, this guy kind of has every last one of us beat.