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Why Ruin It with Growls?

I was saying yesterday that I’ll probably find a way to post a quick rant about some sort of annoyance during the weekend and it just so happened that somebody posted a link to an Epica song, so it’s as good a time as any for this particular one. After all, Epica may be one of the most notable examples of this problem, in part also because the good messages embedded in many of their songs fail to reach many who can’t get past the harsh vocals, but it is otherwise widespread in metal subgenres that would be expected to be melodic and avoid grunts, growls or, as I tend to call it, belching into the microphone.
It may stem from a belief that metal should sound harsh, which may have been a defining characteristic when the genre separated from rock, but it’s hardly the case anymore. There are some subgenres that are obviously defined by such vocals and others where, while not required, they are often expected, but what about the rest? If you can’t exactly have death or black, which were succinctly described to me as “belching with angry drums” and, respectively, “belching with nice guitars” when I first started getting interested in metal and was trying to learn what to stay well clear of, without growls, why can you have power, folk or symphonic, particularly when female-fronted, with them?
Actually, when it comes to folk metal it’s so bad that I’ve learned to largely steer clear of it even though it should, in theory, be something that I should be drawn to. Definitely not as much as to symphonic and gothic without growls, but for quite some time it was a subgenre that I really tried to look into only to constantly be driven away by the overwhelming number of bands that seem convinced that a guy belching his heart out into the microphone is one of its defining characteristics. Though highly unpleasant, particularly considering the sort of “battle hymns” that could otherwise be produced, I can somewhat understand the temptation to do so when it comes to so-called “Viking” metal, but why does it seem to apply to the vast majority of the rest as well is beyond me.
Personally, I’m also bothered when I hear such vocals in doom that would otherwise sound nice, and far more so when it comes to certain gothic bands that otherwise benefit from great compositions and female vocals, but I’m aware that the first somehow separated from death when it was created and the second was, and for many still is, based on the “beauty and the beast” concept when it comes to vocals, so the end result may remain highly frustrating in certain cases, but at least it is understandable. However, to go back to my main interest when it comes to music, when you even have the symphonic black subgenre to cater to those who desire both those instrumental parts and the growls, why do so many female-fronted symphonic metal bands decide to scatter varying amounts of male growls throughout their songs? It doesn’t seem to do anything other than alienate most melodic metal fans and force such bands to compete on a field terribly overcrowded with traditional “beauty and the beast” gothic and “melodic” black, so why would they want to do this? I just don’t get it, and I doubt I ever will…


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