As I’ve mentioned before, Dream Theater is my favorite band. I’ve used it as a jumping-off point into the world of progressive music, which has some of the most innovative music of any genre today. I’m still getting to know a lot of the bands, but what I have noticed is the virtuosity of not only the instrumentalists but also the singers. I’d like to feature three of the most distinctive voices you’ll ever hear-Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt, Symphony X’s Russell Allen, and Pain of Salvation’s Daniel Gildenlöw.
Mikael Åkerfeldt, the lead singer for Swedish progressive metal band Opeth, uses two different vocal styles-clean vocals and death growls. I will admit that I am not a big fan of death growls . But I have a great appreciation for the versatility of Åkerfeldt’s voice. I love his clean vocals in the song “Coil”, off of Opeth’s 2008 album Watershed:
The next song on Watershed, “Heir Apparent”, showcases his growly vocals. For those of you who’ve never heard him sing before, you’re in for a surprise:
For anyone who might prefer Åkerfeldt’s clean vocals, check out Opeth’s 2002 acoustic album, Damnation.
Russell Allen is the lead singer for American progressive metal band Symphony X. He has fantastic tone quality and expression in his voice, although he does not have a large pitch range. According to his bio, he put the finishing touches on his singing voice during the late 90s when what he calls the “Great American Rock Singer” was disappearing from the American music scene. Allen’s voice fits perfectly into the category of the “Great American Rock Singer”. He sounds almost like Sammy Hagar’s evil brother. In “Serpent’s Kiss” off of Symphony X’s 2007 album Paradise Lost, Allen’s voice hits the listener like a punch in the nose, but in a good way:
Russell has a great clean sound as well. Here’s the title track “Paradise Lost” off of the same album:
Daniel Gildenlöw is lead singer and bandmaster of Swedish progressive rock band Pain of Salvation. Before I begin to discuss his voice, I have to mention his mind-boggling intelligence and creative spirit. Here’s a blurb from his bio :
Bandleader Gildenlöw reveals a humanist, social and political conscience which deals in a controversial manner with the excrescences of the nuclear industry, war and the global water shortage. At the same time, he takes an uncompromising stand against the death penalty, sexual exploitation, racism and torture.
I think that Gildenlöw has the biggest emotional and pitch range of any rock singer today. Some of you might be confused by my statement, since I spent an entire post praising James LaBrie, lead singer of Dream Theater. Don’t get me wrong. LaBrie is still my favorite. His voice touches me in a way that no other’s can. But no matter how much I like him, the fact is that his range is narrower than Gildenlöw’s. Here are some examples of Gildenlow’s flexibility:
“This Heart of Mine” is a mellow song off of one of my favorite albums of all time, Pain of Salvation’s 2004 acoustic live album 12:5
“Nauticus (Drifting)” is from the 2004 album Be. This song showcases Gildenlöw’s low range. He sounds like a completely different singer.
“King of Loss” is from the 2000 album The perfect element Part I. This song encapsulates Gildenlöw’s versatility-the low range, the high range, the heavy, and the clean vocals.
I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts on these three singers. Also, I’m always looking for interesting voices. If you have any suggestions, I encourage you to share.