Usually when discussing singers I, and just about everyone else, will analyze them in accordance to vocal range, impact, and the genre they generally perform in. For instance, one might say, Celine Dion has an incredible range. But would she make a good metal singer? Probably not. Or Lou Reed, despite not being a technically magnificent singer, inspired many a punk rock vocalist. Today, however, I’d like to take a few minutes to talk about singers that are just all around unique. This has nothing to do with technical ability or genres. I will not talk about what I think is “bad” or “good.” It is simply a look at some of the most original vocal styles you’re likely to hear. Sound, delivery, and peer comparison played into my decisions.
1. Tim Baker
Band: Cirith Ungol
Why: Tim's delivery is raspy and high-pitched all at once. It's what I imagine Skeletor would sound like in a metal band. Love the music by the way!
2. Legendary Stardust Cowboy
Band: The Legendary Stardust Cowboy
Why: No one delivers a tune like this guy. His diction is bizarre to say the least. A little bit of trivia for you: David Bowie covered his song "Took a Trip on a Gemini Spacecraft." Bowie's been a fan for years.
3. King Diamond
Band: Mercyful Fate/King Diamond
Why: Nobody has a falsetto like King. Not to mention, his regular voice is pretty unique too. Likely a mixture of his Danish accent and the lyrical subject matter. Plus the guy sings songs in multiple voices because his songs feature characters and his albums are one big story. Have to love King Diamond!
4. Lord Worm
Why: Lord Worm doesn't even sound human. I know that many a grindcore vocalist out there has borrowed a page from his lesson plan. Never been a giant fan of his vocal approach because he sacrifices lyrical understanding for a monstrous vocal effect. However, I can't do what he does and I'm not sure anyone else really can. He's original and I have massive respect for him.
5. Tom Waits
Band: Tom Waits
Why: His voice sounds like it lost a boxing match, ate some razor blades, smoked a carton of cigarettes, caught on fire from a cigarette, and was put out with sand. To cool off it had a swig of Jack Daniels. It's so raspy and fragile and yet, it commands great presence. If you heard him singing you'd know it.
6. Captain Beefheart
Band: Captain Beefheart
Why: Beefheart, besides writing some of the craziest lyrics in the history of music, had a deep, raspy, and unconventional vocal delivery. I'm not sure how to really describe it because it isn't as rough as Tom Waits but it isn't Elton John either.
7. Tom Warrior A.K.A. Thomas Gabriel Fischer
Band: Celtic Frost/Apollyon Sun/Triktykon
Why: Tom's Swiss accent is very prevalent in his singing voice. Couple that with his menacing growls and grunts and you got a pretty unique vocal sound. Tom was an obvious inspiration for many black and death metal vocalists. His vocals today, are just as unique as they were 30 years a go and we love him for it!
8. Katie Jane Garside
Band: Daisy Chainsaw/Queenadreena
Why: Katie has a, let's say, different delivery. Sometimes she'll be almost whispering and other times she's totally wailing. Not to mention, she's almost 45 years old and at times you think you're listening to a 6 year old sing. Creepy. Love the tunes!
9. Jinx Dawson
Why: Often called the 'Goth Queen,' Jinx burst onto the scene with the early 1970s occult rock band, Coven. Despite the fact that the songs were lyrically driven by the occult, Satan, witches, magic, and ritual the music wasn't all that heavy. Her vocal style is, well hard to explain. Just listen to the way she carries notes.
10. Bobby Blitz Ellsworth
Why: Sometimes he drops some of the best shrieks in metal and at other times he sings in a very, very low, almost bluesey style. He's got a unique all-around vocal sound.