I got a bit delayed this week as something called ‘work’ cropped up. It made me think of times when being able to grab a microphone and bellow would be the ultimate cathartic response. In fact this is personified perfectly in our new favourite TV series ‘Aggretsuko’. I’d try to explain but I think you need to watch to really appreciate the mental, metal, Japanese-ness of it all.
So then – shouty music. And let’s be clear as we can without raising our voices here. Not all ‘metal’ is shouting and not all shouting is ‘metal’. I’ve put quotes around the word to denote the fact that it is a broad and varied genre from the guttural rhythmic stomping of Metallica to the introspective darkness of Godspeed You! Black Emperor – and much in between, sideways, above, and below.
Passionate delivery is the aspect I’m focusing on here. A singer who has uncorked the bottle of their rampant angst and cannot possibly lower the tone of their voice any more than they could stem the sweat from their face or stop their hands from trembling as they grasp the microphone almost in fear that this might be their last chance to get their message across to humanity.
First up the Beastie Boys and Sabotage. I once witnessed my lawyer friend on his knees in an Indonesian Karaoke bar (wait don’t jump to conclusions, let me finish) grasping a microphone like his life depended on it and roaring the initial refrain of this song from somewhere deep within where there seemed to be some sort of internal litigation happening between his heart and lungs. Several minds were blown and possibly one of the speakers. This song was probably more famous for the spike jones directed video featuring a parody mashup of 1970’s crime dramas. Its demonstrably cool, but for me the song was always their signature track, and a call to arms for cathartic bellowing.
Next the Hives. Keen to distance themselves from ABBA, Ace of Base and the Cardigans but not align themselves too closely to the world view of Nordic death metal. Swedish band the Hives broke out of their small Swedish town just as their particular brand of shouty guitar rock was booming in the US courtesy of the Strokes et al. Probably the most interesting fact about them is the back story that they were all recruited by a certain Randy Fitzsimons who discovered them, acted as their muse and contributed to writing some of their songs. Randy actually turns out to be fake – a pseudonym of the guitarist Niklas Almqvist. It seems an elaborate ruse, especially when it’s unlikely that most of the fans would actually care if their dog wrote the songs and ‘found’ them all. Singer Pelle Almqvist has all the shouty angst we are looking for here on this track Main Offender from their 2005 album Veni Vidi Vicious. Enjoy.
A little off piste here but I’m going to bring you a slice of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. Now I know it sounds a bit obvious from his functional moniker but Hawkin’s style was generally more of a slurring drunken rant hiccough than pent up angst. However, he really got hold of this number originally by Paul and Linda McCartney, Monkberry Moon Delight and the result is pretty interesting.
Finally, I had to dig a little to find this one. I’m not going to make some hipsterish claim about liking the Kings of Leon before they’d left their dad’s garage (also because that would be awkward and slightly creepy) but I definitely liked their music less the more famous they became. This track, Charmer, however, off their 3rd album is bordering on strange and has Caleb Followill, possibly on prompt by a fork in the thigh, squealing before each delivered line. Whilst I’d assume that the folly of this was only recognised when they started doing 300 day world tours and hoping no one asked for it to be performed more than once, I have to say I like its originality and urgency. It shows the flickers of genius that pervade their whole back catalogue but never quite matched their debut.