Monday, July 21, 2008

You owe me a scream

"It's an art form unto itself," I once said to Ervie a few months ago. Ervie, bless his goofy heart, agreed that while it's not his thing, it certainly is a special talent.

I speak of screaming, of course.

There are many things that Mrs. TK and I don't agree on: Olives, for example. I've yet to be able to get her to see the genius of Big Trouble in Little China. She doesn't get my addiction to t-shirts. I don't get her addiction to furniture. I can't handle spinny carnival rides - she treats them like she's going down a kiddie slide. But one of the big ones is music - specifically, what she calls "angry screaming music." She doesn't see that it is an art. It's a skill. It's not just anyone who can scream non-stop for a 3-5 minute song. It's even harder to do it set to a rhythm. Harder still to do it for a 90 minute concert.

I fucking love it. I was once discussing "Collision Course," the Jay-Z/Linkin Park collaboration album with my friend Chris.

"I dig Jay-Z I guess, but I can't stand Linkin Park," remarked Chris
"I kinda like 'em... actually, really I just like the screamy parts," I said.
"There's a fuckin' shock," he replied.

Clearly my reputation precedes me.

It's true though. I like all manner of screamers, if they can do it right. By "do it right," I mean not just scream or roar themselves into a cacophonous, incoherent fury, such as Napalm Death, or a lot of death metal, for that matter. Chester Bennington of LP, while his band is kind of lame, gets a pass for being a truly outstanding screamer. I like those who can actually use the scream as an instrument, to play off of the harmonies in the song. I realize that Mrs. TK is never going to appreciate it, because she doesn't like the music type in general... hell, none of my friends really do (which is why Boo and I need to spend an evening getting hammered and talking about metal some time). But I like punishing guitar chords with a wailing lead and pounding, rapid-fire double bass drums and yes, a good screamer layered on top of that. One of my favorite things? Bands with two singers, so they can do that "one guy screaming/one guy singing" thing, a la Thursday's "War All The Time" album.

Thursday, incidentally, is what the kids and the Wikipedia folks call an "emo-core" or "screamo" (one of the most hysterically funny tags ever) band. They're terribly earnest and have really angsty lyrics like:

"Rupture the wall around my heart
I feel so lost,
I've been shaking, you can't save me"

I know, right? Terribly cheesy. But I forgive all of this, because right at the beginning of that verse, when lead singer Geoff Rickly begins to tearfully sing out "Rupture..." another band-mate screams out "RUPTURE!!!" simultaneously and it just fucking... works. It's almost beautiful. For the record, I'm not talking about your regular, Metallica-esque heavy metal shouting, or just singing real loud. I'm talking screaming. Like, borderline agony screaming. I know it sounds weird but I'm telling you - there's a certain magic to it.

So. With that excessively lengthy introduction, here are some of my favorite screamers.

Faith No More: "Cuckoo for Caca," from King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime (Mike Patton is a master of vocal gymnastics - a beautiful voice with a stellar scream mixed in)

Thursday: "For the Workforce, Drowning," from War All The Time

The Dillinger Escape Plan: "Milk Lizard," from Ire Works

From Autumn to Ashes: "Pioneers," from Holding a Wolf by the Ears (Another brilliant entry in the "one guy screaming/one guy singing" sub- sub- sub-genre)

Maylene and the Sons of Disaster: "Darkest of Kin," from II (Ervie and I saw these guys open for Clutch, and they are damn impressive live)

The Hope Conspiracy: "They Know Not," from Death Knows Your Name

Linkin Park: "Faint," from Meteora (I know, OK? I know. But I'm telling you, this dude is a near-pantheon screamer)

Flyleaf: "I'm So Sick," from Flyleaf (incidentally, this album is a massive disappointment, and this is the only screamy song. I was furious. But still, this song kind of rocks).

Bad Brains: "Banned in D.C.," from Rock for Light

Marilyn Manson: "Rock is Dead," from Mechanical Animals (say what you will about these guys, but they know how to entertain and he knows how to scream)

Murder By Death, "Devil in Mexico," from Who Will Survive and What Will Be Left of Them?
(interestingly, this isn't a metal or hardcore band, and they rarely scream. But when they do, such as in the end of this song? Chills, I tell you. Sadly, I couldn't find a video.)

Nine Inch Nails: "Happiness in Slavery," from Broken (the grand master, never to be replaced: Trent Reznor)

Hope you've enjoyed. Scream 'til that shit hurts, people. That's when you know you're doing it right.


kelsi said...

1) faith no more? so much love. you fucking rock for bringing mike patton into this. now i have to find a way to talk about mr. bungle for an hour or two.

2) afi's davey havok is a fantastic screamer, too. a particularly good example is "death of seasons" from sing the sorrow. but i feel about afi the way you seem to feel about linkin park. i like the screamy parts.

3) (this should have been first, i guess) awesome subject for a post.

Boo said...

Um, a big FUCK YES, mister. I love this topic; screaming is certainly not easy, but I think it takes some dedicated listening to get the nuances. (And I can't believe how much you and my husband have in common, your t-shirt obsession for one...)

BAD BRAINS. yes. How about Lamb of God? (Chris Adler is a machine gun.) And here is a shameless plug for my brother's most recent project, Telic ( Please check them out. And keep in mind that those recordings were made in someone's living room. :)

(Kelsi, AFI is a big yes.)

God, you guys rock.

Boo said...

Oh, and you named all my favorites, so sorry for the lack of suggestions. (I'll forgive you for Linkin Park. This once.)

Jez said...

You should be shot for bringing Linkin Park onto this website. But only in one knee. Not like, fatally, or anything.

But then again, since you opened that door, get ready in future posts for some of the worst bands ever and my justification for why they are great. Or maybe I already did that in another post. Oh well.

For your "one person screaming, one person singing" let us all bow our heads thankfully for the Pixies, "Monkey Gone to Heaven." Who can deny the greatness of Black Francis screaming "THEN GOD IS SEVEN, IF GOD IS SEVEN, THEN GOD IS SEVEN!" while Kim Deal sings the chorus beautifully.

Rock me, Joe, indeed.

Also, the Bob Mould songs on Husker Du's "Metal Circus" album are great as well.

nancy said...

No love for Maynard? He's a hell of a screamer.

TK said...

Hmmm... I'm gonna need a ruling. Is Maynard a true screamer? I'm not sure when compared to the others listed.

Lamb of God: Hell yes. Pixies: Good call.

Anonymous said...

I'm backing up the AFI comment above, but recommend checking out the albums "Shut Your Mouth and Open Your Eyes" through "Black Sails in the Sunset" to see how truly bad-ass Davey Havok used to be.

...Pre-2004. Then everything got all fucked up.

Lux said...

Maynard not a screamer? Check out Tool's "Ticks and Leeches" on Lateralus or "Hooker with a Penis" on Aenima. I am not a big screamer fan except when it's Maynard or Trent Reznor (mmmm "Happiness in Slavery"; also "Last" is a great NIN screamer song). I honestly enjoy Maynard's non-screamy songs more because he is by far my favorite male vocalist, but I can appreciate the skill it takes to make screaming sound good.

MelodyLane said...

Really "Faint"? Why not "Crawling" or "One Step Closer" instead? Linkin Park isn't all that bad (there are much worse bands), but their last album is crap, complete and utter crap.

Maynard, whom I adore, I never really think of as a screamer. Maybe because I listen to too much APC. Also, Boo, I am going to bring this from the metal thread. Is there a performance with both Trent and Tori like the Maynard/Tori bucket o' awesome?

chris said...

I totally understand wanting melody with your screaming, which you seem to do, but I can't agree with any of your choices except Murder By Death. I don't dig on grindcore or metal, but some smaller and less glossy (who needs glossy when it's screaming?) melodic bands that scream (without being melodic hardcore): Give Up The Ghost, When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth, Some Girls, HEALTH, and Fuck Buttons.

Felicia said...

I adore NIN and Trent and if I don't get to see him next week at Lolla I will scratch someone's eyes out (friends I am going with are wanting to see Kanye who is playing opposite NIN).

MelodyLane said...

Felicia, I say get new friends. Go to the Trent. Screw Kanye and his over-inflated ego.

Anonymous said...

melodylane, please listen to the tool song "hush" (preferably really, really loud). if, by 30 seconds in, your maynard screaming opinion is not completely transformed, i will eat spiders.

brilliant post. brilliant blog, for that matter.

Jez said...

Melodylane hates black people.

(Mike Myers just looked at me in disbelief.)

Anonymous said...

The best screamer today is Scott Holland from J.A.C.K. listen to "The Leader"

Longina said...

Trent does backing vocals on Tori's Past the Mission from Under the Pink. I've never seen a live rendition with both, but if it exists I must know.

Anonymous said...

Big ups on the Hope Conspiracy video. Their second LP, Endnote, is by far my favorite hardcore record of all time. Also, I like to put these in the classification of "beard-core," as half of the members look like they should be cutting down trees for a living.

I have a suggestion, TK, as well. Check out Gallows if you haven't already. They're a newish hardcore band out of England. It's always a little intriguing to hear a scream with an English accent.

MelodyLane said...

Nah Jez. It is just that I would sell a kidney to see Trent.