Metal Scream

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
—Roger Daltrey of The Who, "Won't Get Fooled Again".

Let's say you've got a line in your song that you really want to emphasize. Really emphasize. Or maybe it needs to be "edgier" and "gritty". What's a musician to do?

Cue the Metal Scream.

This can come in a few different flavors:

  1. A hoarse, bellowing mid-register sort of roar, as exemplified by Phil Anselmo.
  2. An animal-like, extremely low-pitched growl, as exemplified by Chris Barnes' early days.
  3. A phlegmy, almost gagging sort of scream, of mid to high pitch, as exemplified by Dead.
  4. A very loud, high-register "clean" singing style, done either as a single scream or short burst, or to construct an entire melody. (it even warrants an article on The Other Wiki) Rob Halford is the standard by which all other users of this type are measured. Vibrato (like Geoff Tate) or some degree of harshness (like Eric Adams) may be added for flavor.

This is found most often in Heavy Metal songs, especially with Type 4. Type 3 is almost exclusively associated with Black Metal and forms influenced by it, but can also show up in metalcore or Death Metal. Types 1 and 2 are becoming increasingly common in some alternative rock movements. Types 1, 2, and 3 are often referred to collectively as Harsh Vocals.

Often a part of a Big Rock Ending. Compare Careful with That Axe, where the singer unexpectedly screams with the intention of surprising the audience. The Metal Scream is used for emphasis or to develop a heavier tone for the song; it's only Nightmare Fuel for those not into the genres likely to use it.

Compare This Is Sparta for the nonmusical equivalent. Or see here for the non-human variation.

Examples of Metal Scream include:



  • The first low-pitched, death metal scream...was recorded in 1966, 20 odd years before Death Metal existed, by The Who in "Boris the Spider". In this case though, it was John Entwistle doing the screaming. There's also Roger Daltrey's wonderful, climactic scream in "Won't Get Fooled Again", which effectively sums up this trope in the page quote.
  • Billy Idol's White Wedding. "WAAAAAAAAAOOOOOOWWWW...It's a nice day to...STTAAAAAAART AGAAAAAAAAAAIIIN..."
  • Relient K uses this trope in "I So Hate Consequences" and "Life After Death and Taxes" (YOU ALREADY FORGAVE ME!!!!). It's backing vocals, so it's hard to notice, but it's still surprising due to their genre.
  • The Smashing Pumpkins, "X.Y.U." (from the Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness album): "AND INTO THE EYES OF THE JACKAL I SAY KAA-BOOOOOOOOM!!"
  • "I Want It All" by Queen had this trope, in the acapella section of the song right at the beginning. Dragged out to about a full minute at the last section.
  • Aerosmith's "I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing" has one towards the end, possibly ruining the mood of the song.
    • Steven Tyler does it often. One of the most famous is "Dream On" (see Live-Action TV, below). There's also the ending of "Amazing", the chorus of "Walk This Way" on the Run-DMC version, and at least thrice (start, before the solo and coda) in "Falling In Love (Is Hard on the Knees)".
    • "Angel", "Back in the Saddle", "Rats in the Cellar", "Same Old Song and Dance", "Toys in the Attic", "Crazy", "Draw the Line"... hell, let's just say Aerosmith in general.
  • Whitesnake does this a bit, with "Still of the Night" being the most notable one. A scream before the softer "bridge", a scream going out of it, and a couple here and there for good measure. Also notable are the falsetto notes partway through "Here I Go Again", which sound kind of like David Coverdale inhaled a balloon full of helium just before he tackled it.
  • Alice in Chains starts their second album, Dirt, with one of these, and several more are present throughout the album.
    • The third track from Dirt, "Rain When I Die", has some epic choruses.
  • Arguably, Paul McCartney's scream at the beginning of "Revolution" by The Beatles and in "HELTER SKELTER" (da-na-na-na-na-na-na-nuh).
    • A great John Lennon example is in "Well Well Well" off the Plastic Ono Band album, which features Lennon screaming the word "well" at the top of his lungs for about two minutes.
  • Kurt Cobain was an expert in going from "regular singing" to "shouting your lungs off". Great examples are the "YEEEEEAH YEEEEAH" in "Lithium" the last chorus of "Where Did You Sleep Last Night," and of course "Smells Like Teen Spirit," where he goes from singing the verses in an easy, mellow tone, to nearly incomprehensible shrieking during the chorus.
  • Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song".
  • Dave Grohl, often. THEBESTTHEBESTTHEBEST "Best Of You" has probably one or two sentences that aren't yelled. He has stated that he chews gum during concerts because of all the screaming, and that he's afraid someday he'll sound like Lemmy.
    • The song "Monkeywrench" is a pretty impressive example. The last verse is screamed quite vigorously. When Grohl stopped to breathe, I have no idea.
  • Two examples from Guns N' Roses are Axl's "police siren" wail at the start of "Welcome to the Jungle", and near the end of "November Rain" before the final bridge begins.
    • Their cover of "Ain't It Fun" ends with one.
    • "There Was A Time" has a window-shattering scream around the 5-minute mark.
  • Breaking Benjamin does this a lot, typically type 1or 2. Sugarcoat has psuedo-death growls.
  • Used in Green Day's song "She", and very awesome it is too.
  • Another chick-at-the-start example: "I'm So Sick" by Flyleaf. Anyone who starts up the CD, then turns the volume up to hear the first line, is trying to reconstruct their ears after the second. For bonus points, get someone who's never heard this song before to try to sing it in Rock Band.
    • Lacey Mosley Sturm does this again at the start of "Cassie" (I...will...say...NOOOOOOOOOO!)
    • "Sorrow" has her screaming "Joy will come!" while in "I'm Sorry" she screams "I'M! DONE! HEALING!"
  • Linkin Park pre-Minutes to Midnight comes to mind as a version 2 and 3 (depending on the song; "Faint" is one of the worst offenders).
    • "Given Up" from Minutes to Midnight has a 17-second long scream.
    • "Across the Line" has an 11-second Type-2 scream.
    • "Blackout" from A Thousand Suns also has it in the choruses.
  • Rage Against the Machine—The "WRYYYYYY" from "Freedom" and the "YEAH!" from "Know Your Enemy"...and at least one line from pretty much every Rage song ever.
  • Songs to Wear Pants To's "Lyrics To A Song" parodies the second type, with individual words getting agonizingly screamed in the middle of an otherwise gently sung melodramatic ballad. The person submitting the lyrics did want certain underlined words "stressed out" after all...
  • The very first note of the very first track of Wolfmother's self-titled album is a savage Metal Scream. Way to wake up the listener.
  • Red like to slip in at least one type 2 per song.
  • "Instruments of Destruction" by N. R. G. (the Decepticon Theme Music Power-Up in Transformers: The Movie) has the last chorus screamed, followed by two long, drawn-out scream sequences.
  • Melodic alternative band Manchester Orchestra has a 12-second Metal Scream about 1:45 into "I've Got Friends"
  • "THE UNRESTRAAAAAINED UUUUUUUUSE OOOOOF EXCEEEEEESSIVE FOOOOOOOOOOOOOORCE" - the only distinguishable lyrics in KMFDM's aptly named 'The Unrestrained Use of Excessive Force'.
  • Hot Hot Heat is a confusing, quasi-example because of Steve Bays' unique voice. Even when he is singing things straight, it often sounds near yelling. It isn't quite a scream, but it definitely isn't a normal vocal approach. Critics have tried to pin it down to bellowing, yelping, pleading... It isn't working.
  • Mike Patton lets out an epic one in Mr. Bungle's Carry Stress In The Jaw.
    • He pulls out a few good ones in Faith No More too. "Smaller and Smaller" contains a particularly good one.


    • As does "Jizzlobber":


    • For downright insanity, "Litany IV" (his a cappella piece on a John Zorn album) should definitely be mentioned. Just listen.
  • Done by Alter Bridge on occasion, especially type 2. For example, there's type 2 scream in "Metalingus" and a type 1 one in "Save Me".
  • The forgettable early 90s song "Baby I Don't Care" by Transvision Vamp had one of these right at the start of the song. By a chick. Cue power chords and Crowning Music of Awesome.
  • Around the World by Red Hot Chili Peppers has one of these in the intro, and another partway through the song.
  • Adam Gontier of Three Days Grace gets a pretty lengthy Type-2 scream at the end of "Riot".
  • Tool is well known for the Type 2 version. In the song Jerk-Off from the EP Opiate, there's one near the end. Keenan stretches "GOLD" (at about the 6:59 mark of "The Grudge") for a full 25 seconds. There's also the "GOOD-BYE!!" in "Eulogy", which lasts a good 13 seconds. In "Third Eye", Keenan suddenly breaks into a series of four screams after the first two verses. ("IN! OUT! IN! OUT!!!", with the last "OUT" lasting 18 seconds.) Later in the song, he suddenly screams "PRYING OPEN MY THIRD EYE!!!" four times while the guitar, bass, and drums hit the same eight notes. At the end, he screams the same thing only he does this a whopping twelve times in a row!
    • Keenan actually blew out his voice for a while recording the vocals for "Ticks and Leeches" because of all the screaming.
  • Pick a song off one of the first two My Chemical Romance albums. Go ahead. And actually, pick any song they usually play live, for that matter...
  • The Locust. Practically every song is a collection of three guys screaming the lyrics in a high pitched, glass shattering bray.
  • Janis Joplin's version of "Piece of My Heart." WOOOOOOW!
  • On most Escape the Fate songs, there is at least one type of screaming in either the background, or the breakdown. Several of their songs are entirely composed of differently pitched screams (e.g. The Guillotine).
  • Loads of Jack Off Jill songs contain the first and second types, particularly on Sexless Demons and Scars.
  • Hole's early records feature a lot of screaming. Notable examples include 'Rock Star', 'Burn Black', 'I Think That I Would Die' ("FUCK! YOOOOOU!") and 'Drown Soda'.
  • Everything Else has one right after the solo of "What Can't Be Seen".
  • GG Allin in his later years was either 1 or 2, depending on the album, but either way he'd milk it for all its worth.


  • Manowar is BUILT on this trope. Eric Adams does this about twenty times on every album they've released, and even pulls off a 30-second scream on the track Thor (The Powerhead).
    • And another 30-odd second long one at the end of "Black Wind Fire and Steel".
    • Oh yes, and he does this live too
  • The screaming is one of the trademarks of Ian Gillan from Deep Purple, to the point where an entire section of 'Child in Time' is comprised of screaming.
    • Not to forget the epic 'AAAAAAAAAH NO NO NO NO!' in Bloodsucker.
    • Or the one that starts off 'Highway Star'.
  • Pantera. Particularly "Cowboys from Hell." After the solo, he gives what can best be described as a raptor shriek.
    • "The Great Southern Trendkill" starts off with a particularly epic one.
      • That one, along with some other screams in "War Nerve" and "Suicide Note Pt. 2" were done by Anal Cunt vocalist Seth Putnam. The outrageously offensive and aggressive Putnam was brought on not only because the band wanted to prove that they weren't going soft (like some other metal figures of the time period) but also because Phil's voice couldn't produce the screams they wanted. Think on that, if you will.
    • Or any other band with Phil Anselmo on vocals. The man gargles glass and sandpaper.
      • And we love him for it.
  • Towards the end of Skindread's "Choices and Decisions" the singer screams the word mad for a ridiculously long time.
  • This is one of the hallmarks of Iron Maiden.
    • The scream in "Number of the Beast" is so godlike that even Bruce Dickinson himself has never been able to reproduce it. The producer forced Dickinson to sing the first four lines over and over again, and his frustration at this finally boiled over into the legendary shriek.
  • Female-fronted Death metal band Arch Enemy pull this off well in most songs. Type 1 is used to devastating effect in the song "Dark Insanity" in which she growls and screams wordlessly in the middle of the song. Type 3 is used in every song.
    • Arch Enemy wasn't always female-fronted. "Dark Insanity", mentioned above, was released when Johan Liiva (male) was the lead singer of Arch Enemy. However, the example is still correct.
  • Judas Priest very often have this, due to Rob Halford's astounding vocal range, but one example that every fan of the band (and every Rock Band player) will recognize is "Painkiller". Particularly the long, high-pitched scream during the second guitar solo.
    • "Dissident Aggressor" has a great one at the beginning, a semitone below soprano C (i.e Really high), sung completely cleanly.
    • Halford's vocals on "Painkiller" are awesome, but when Death covered the song on "The Sound of Perseverance", Chuck Schuldiner took the screams to extreme levels.
  • On Megadeth's first album, Dave Mustaine takes this trope to near-Narmful levels.
  • "Angel of Death" by Slayer of course. If that scream doesn't get you pumped for the song, you just don't like metal.
    • There's also a similar scream in 'Seven Faces'
    • Other notable screams are "Necrophobic", "Aggressive Perfector", "Chemical Warfare", "Postmortem", "War Ensemble", and "Epidemic".
    • "World Painted Blood" has a point where it goes from normal to type 3 in a rising, blood curdling moment of rage.
  • Eyehategod. Mike Williams' screams are often unintelligible and literally sound inhuman. The fact that he hasn't blown out his vocal chords and still sounds the way he did in the 80's and 90's is really saying something.
  • Schmier from Destruction has used the Metal Scream in some occasions, check here, 4:02 of the Antichrist re-recorded version of Curse the Gods, it almost sounds like a banshee howl, and here, 0:44 of Devolution, from the album with the same name, this one sounds a lot like the scream of Slayer´s Angel of Death.
  • As a death metal band, Cryptopsy is certainly type 3 but "Open Face Surgery" features a scream that goes on for half a minute. "Benedictine Convulsions" also features a 30 second long growl. Less notably, "Adeste Infidelis" contained a 20 second long scream.
  • Sepultura's "Refuse/Resist" has a 12 second long scream. Not to mention the ever so subtle "FUCK SHIT UP!" in the background when the main riff kicks in...
  • James Hetfield of Metallica is also an expert. "I was born for DYIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING!"
  • Abnormality's songs consist of nothing but a Type 3 "manly" scream. Even crazier when you consider that the singer is a chick.
  • Cannibal Corpse has a many. A lot of these overlap with Careful with That Axe, but the best one is in their song "They Deserve to Die." On the last chorus, George Fisher follows up the last "They desere to DIIIE!" with a 15-second long "DIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIE!"
  • Slipknot uses Types 1 and 2 frequently, with the occasional Type 3 ("Get This" being a prime example).
  • Swedish Symphonic Metal band Therion went so far, on the album 'Lemuria' to bring in a guest vocalist JUST to do a metal scream on the song 'Abraxas'. That was literally his only involvement in the entire album.
  • And how can we forget Ozzy's famous "AAAAAAAAAAALLLL ABOAAAAAAAARD!!HAHAHAHAHA!!!
  • Disturbed with "Enough", likely the closest thing to a truly harsh death growl the band will ever achieve, after a career of flirtations with the technique ("Just Stop", "Violence Fetish", "Conflict").

Haven't they suffered enough / haven't we suffered enough
Haven't they suffered enough / The damage more than I can BEAAAAAAAR!!!

  • KURENAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!! Special note also goes to hide's backing vocal scream for "Sadistic Desire."
  • Seems to be quite prevalent in female-fronted metal bands - Maria Brink of In This Moment uses the Metal Scream frequently. "Next Life" (You're danger-OOOOOOOOOOOUUUUUUUUUUUUUSSSS!) and "Daddy's Falling Angel" are two good examples)
  • Eyes Set To Kill - "Young Blood Spills Tonight" - at first it sounds like the vocalist could be selling pop records, but then you get to the chorus - "YOUUUUNG!!! BLOOOOOOOOOOD!!! SPIIIIILLS!!! TONIIIIIIIIIIGHT!!!!!!"
    • When you realise it's a love song, you start to wonder why exactly they want to make it sound as painful as indicated.
  • And Alissa White-Gluz from The Agonist. "Eulogies" probably has her best example (1:33).
  • Otep is a rare example for nu-metal, being capable of delivering death metal style vocals - which can bring a 6 or 7 on the scale a number or two higher.
  • Razor's "The Marshall Arts," the opening track for their Violent Restitution album, begins with a 30-second scream from Stace McLaren, who is known for his lengthy screeches.
  • Tony Kakko, singer from Sonata Arctica, absolutely loves high-pitched screams.
  • The overblown wail of "WOOOAAAAAHHH!!" from Lost Horizon's "Highlander" inspired the Face Metlter fad on
    • That famous wail is actually the least over-the-top of the screams in that song. The absolutely mind-blowing D6 shriek in the middle blows it out of the water.
  • John Cyriis, singer of Los Angeles-based speed metal outfit Agent Steel, has a majestic "air raid siren", as shown in the chorus of "Agents of Steel".
  • The closing tracks of Meshuggah's Catch 33, particularly "Dehumanization" and "Sum".
  • All That Remains uses this in the solid majority of their songs.
  • The Black Dahlia Murder has a nearly constant Metal Scream effect in some/most of their work, notably in Everything Went Black.
  • Altaria opens their song "Unicorn" with an amazing thirteen-second scream complete with backup screams that join in about halfway through.
  • The vocals to every Lamb of God song consist of virtually nothing but Type 3. On their first record, 1998's Burn The Priest, it's Invoked so hard that even with a lyric sheet it's all but impossible to follow Randy's voice.
  • Nitro was mostly about high-pitched screams and godlike guitar work. The most insane scream is found in "Machine gun Eddie", at 0:50 and lasts 30 seconds!.
  • Battlelore's "Voice of the Fallen" features a 23.5-second scream.
  • One comes to mind in particular: "Entombment of a Machine" brought to you by Job for a Cowboy. Also, anything by Bring Me the Horizon. One that sticks out is "Pray for Plagues".
  • Steve Bridges of Witchfynde had more of a metal shriek, which he used in "Give 'em Hell" and "Getting Heavy" on their first album.
    • Their second singer, Luther Beltz, can do the metal shriek as well; see the beginning "Wall of Death" from Lords of Sin. That one is also a good example of Careful with That Axe.
  • This seems to be a staple of Avenged Sevenfold's repertoire. "Bat Country" and "Beast and the Harlot" both have ungodly epic examples at the very beginning.
    • As Avenged Sevenfold moved away from Type 3 to more and more Type 1 and 2, rumors began to pop up that M. Shadows was losing his touch and stopped screaming to stop inflicting damage to his vocal chords, culminating in throat surgery before the release of City of Evil. Including the above examples, M. Shadows usually has at least one five to six second scream in all live songs if they have a scream on the album.
  • Opeth uses type 2. A few songs are type 3.
  • In Devin Townsend's Planet Smasher, Devy is pretty much playing with growls most of the song, effortlessly "growl-speaking".
  • Deftones are quite well known for Type 2, with frontman Chino Moreno swapping between intense screams and more serene singing on much of the band's catalog, though some songs (like "When Girls Telephone Boys" but more notably "Hexagram") are definitely Type 3.
  • Almost every variety can be found in, well, almost every song by Cradle of Filth. This is acceptable due to Dani Filth's exceptional vocal range and the sheer awesomeness of his shoes. Notable uses are in the album Thornography, particular the songs Byronic Man and Libertina Grimm.
    • It doesn't do him justice to refer to them as merely varieties. Pitch and volume are both his playthings, to do with as he so wishes. Dani Filth can do all the screams. All of them.
  • Nile uses type 3, although for Karl Sanders, this is less screaming, and more... Inhumanly low and nearly indecipherable rumblings that merely happen to come from his mouth.
  • May I direct your attention to Bloodlines by Dethklok. There are a couple Metal Screams in there, but the one near the end of the guitar solo is probably the metal-er of the two.
  • Let me introduce you to DevilDriver
  • Doro Pesch, most famously of Warlock, is quite adept at the Metal Scream.
  • Dream Evil actually shout METALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!! on the song The Book of Heavy Metal
  • No love for Sybreed? They're a solid type 2; see songs "Twelve Megatons Gravity" and "Emma-O".
  • Anacrusisis love this one, and use it in the majority of their songs. Singer Kenn Nardi even managed to work it in a few times in his much mellower side project, Cruel April.
  • What about the 17 second growl at the beginning of Silence calls the Storm by Quo Vadis.
  • The scream (just after the spoken part) in Nanowar's - no, that's not a typo, they're a parody band - "Metal-la-la-la" is probably the funniest use of Metal Scream.
  • Kitananx does this quite a bit in Meatheads, Meatheads Everywhere.
  • Heaven Shall Burn provides a pretty awesome one at the start of their song Endzeit.
  • Stratovarius. Was more common in the early days when Timo Tolkki was the singer, but Timo Kotipelto does a few sometimes. Best examples of Tolkki's work would be "Dreamspace", which has TWO near the end - "No sign of light anywhere, I am going INSAAAAAAANE!" and then "Now I am leaving this life, no hope left, I want to DIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIE!" which is a really high note held for about 20 seconds. Another one comes from "Thin Ice", from the same album - no, that high-pitched noise you hear isn't made by violins, that's actually Tolkki screaming. Kotipelto usually does it live - in the live at Athens version of "Speed of Light" (which was included on the live album Live Visions of Europe), he screams "YEEEEAH!" just after the first chorus. As for album songs, there's an absolutely EPIC scream of "ALRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT!" at the end of "I'm Still Alive", complete with the music going absolutely crazy and sounds of a crowd cheering (even though it's not a live recording). Might also qualify as a Last-Note Nightmare.
  • System of a Down do this in multiple songs, notably in Prison Song.
  • For the sake of countless eardrums, it might be a good thing that hardly anyone has heard of the underground albums Norman "Ski" Kierznowski has sung on. The most common description of his style is any variation of "Rob Halford on steroids." And yes, he was a potential candidate to replace him.
  • Grindcore is solely built on Type 3.
  • Steel Panther, as a parody band of 80s Hair Metal and Heavy Metal, makes frequent (ab)use of this trope.
  • Iced Earth, especially their songs with Matt Barlow or Tim Owens. Here's Matt doing a type 1 and Tim doing a type 2. Both of them have since been replaced by Into Eternity's Stu Block, and if Into Eternity's material is any indication, they're not through with this.
  • Ill Nino has used every type at least once, using type 1 and 3 most frequently.
  • Overkill's new song, "Wish You Were Dead." About 20 seconds in. This is also used a lot throughout their discography.

Fan Fiction



Live-Action TV

  • The Infamous Gokey Screech from the latest season of American Idol.
    • He was trying to reproduce the competent Metal Scream from Aerosmith's version of "Dream On" (Slash told him that scream was very important). Steven Tyler pulled the scream off okay - hey, even Michael Johns did back in season 7. But Gokey didn't quite get it...
  • Season 10 gives us James Durbin, who likes Heavy Metal, and can pull these off very well. Pretty much every song, in fact.

Tabletop Games

  • In 3.5 D&D the Bard spells Shout and Greater Shout can be interpreted as this.

Video Games

  • Brutal Legend does it (along with every other Heavy Metal trope ever): when the Double-Fine Productions' logo appears on start-up, it is accompanied by a randomly selected Metal Scream by one of the guest stars of the game (yes, including Rob Halford).
    • Ahem.


Web Animation

"Screaming from the top of your lungs is for people with blonde hair. For Death Metal, you want to scream from the bowels of your lungs. The bowels!"

Web Comics

Web Original