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Is It Possible To Do Death Growls Without Damaging My Voice?

Singer Screaming into Mic

Is Screaming Bad for the Voice?

Hello. I’ve been singing in quite a lot of different styles over the years, but I’ve always done best and most loved Opera. I’m a countertenor, by the way. Well, I’ve been thinking about learning death metal vocal to add contrast to my pieces and broaden my horizons, as it were. But I don’t want to ruin the sweet quality of my voice. Is it probable that I would be able to do death growls without damaging my voice? And what of the inverted technique? Thank you:)



Hey Yoel,

I understand your hesitation. As a singer, I play around with all types of music, from opera to rock, choral to pop, old school soul to jazz. All that being said, each style has it’s own unique characteristics.

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that “death growls” are probably as far from operatic singing as you can get. What I tend to tell people that want to sing in that way is that there are healthier ways to sing in a heavier rock style, but there are risks.

If you maintain good vocal balance, you can use false cords or perhaps fry singing to create the sound in a way that won’t destroy your voice. You can even perhaps build up enough stamina to do this regularly. But here’s the deal… even if you learn to properly do this in a way that’s healthier, it’s still a more aggressive form of singing and will likely alter your voice in some ways, even if you’re doing it correctly.

Let me give you an analogy of the best case scenario. Let’s say your a tennis player and you decide to take up weight lifting. Over the next 6 months, you develop significantly more strength. Now, this strength isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, but the next time you get on the tennis court, it’s going to feel much, much different. You may find that whenever you hit the ball, it sails past the lines. This isn’t because you’re a bad tennis player, but because you learned to play with a different coordination. When you gained that strength, it completely changed things.

That being said, I’d proceed cautiously with this style of singing if it’s important to you to maintain the same quality of voice you have in your operatic singing. Making sure you limit the time you allow yourself to play with the metal style and get plenty of vocal rest after trying rehearsals is paramount. So is hydration. If you’re going to play with this style of singing, it’s extremely important that you do what you can to take care of your voice.

I’d also suggest that you continue singing operatic music while you’re learning the other (not right after, but sing both ways each week). This will help you to gauge the effect it’s having on your voice without putting yourself in the position of taking it so far that you can go back.

So yeah, long story short, play around with it, but be very conscious as to how it makes you feel and never over do it, as it’s easy to do and the last thing you want to do is push your voice to its threshold.


Best of luck to ya!

~ Vocal Coach Ken Taylor


Check out these other articles by Ken:


Singing with Emotion   and     Singing with Practice 

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