Types of Metal Vocals + How to Do Them

I'm going to explain the different types of metal vocal styles and how to do them, plus dos and don'ts.

Ultimate Guitar
First and most important, the things you need:
  • Water
  • Tea
  • Honey
  • Strong vocal chords
  • Patience
Explanation of why these things are important:
  • Water will keep you hydrated, make sure to drink A LOT. It is so important to keep well hydrated.
  • Tea is good to sooth the chords especially afterwards because it feels really good to put something warm on those aching chords.
  • Honey keeps your voice smooth and also sooths the chords as well. Honey can be eaten straight or put into tea, whatever floats your boat.
  • Strong vocal chords are very important because some people cannot rip those sounds out of their throat, or they are just not doing it right and it sounds like a banshee screeching her bloody head off (or it sounds like my brother trying to scream. *shiver*)
  • Patience is key because not everyone will get it right off the bat, it takes a lot of time to get your tones and sound just right, I'm still trying to scream cause I can only do growls right now. Practice makes perfect, and for this you need to practice a lot!
Things to avoid A.K.A. The Screamer's Diet:
  • Sugar
  • Caffeine
  • Milk
  • Alcohol
  • Cold water
"Why avoid these things?" you might ask, well I'll tell you:
  • Sugar can chrystallize in your throat and you could really hurt yourself when you try to do a scream or a growl.
  • Caffeine... That one is the real kicker because it is everywhere... The hype of growling and screaming could hurt you, too, your heart could explode if you have too much. If you do drink coffee or energy drinks do it in moderation because I'm sure the lot of you don't want to die.
  • MILK... This one can build up excess mucus in your throat which is really gross because you'll end up spitting a lot. Ew...
  • Alcohol can burn your throat and that could really hurt especially since you just tore up those vocal chords screaming your lungs out.
  • Cold water can shock the vocal chords, it is best to drink warm water or tea right after growling or screaming.

The big THREE:

There are three different types of metal vocals: screaming, growling and false chords.
  • Screams are the loudest and they hurt the most for vocals especially when making rapid switches between singing and screaming. These are also the highest and a lot the time sound crazy and completely bad ass. They always leave me wondering, how the hell do I hit those notes?!
  • Growls are the second loudest and are less harsh on the chords, they are also lower than screams.
  • FALSE CHORDS. These are not your real vocal chords, hence the false. They are way lower and really easy to belt out. They also don't hurt very much at all, the first time you do it, you will be a little bit sore but that is normal.
The sounds to train yourself with: AH, OOH, E, or OH. OOH or OH are the easiest in my opinion.

You can also start will uttering "ugh" loud and low, that one is common and works pretty well. You need to practice a lot on sound before adding words.


  • Practice often.
  • Drink water before, during and after practice.
  • Drink tea afterwards to keep your chords soothed.
  • Rest your voice after long bouts of screaming.


  • Eat before practice.
  • Drink cold water.
  • When done with practice, don't whisper, you could make your chords stick together which could be very damaging when you try to scream again.
  • One thing you can do that will really help you is to do breathing exercises, these expand your vocal chords and make so you can do longer growled/screamed lines.
  • Use your diaphragm! Push those sounds out from your gut, not your throat. Not only will they be more powerful coming from there but they will also hurt your throat less.
  • Be kind to your chords and they will be kind to you, do what I've told you and don't hurt yourself! Be safe when you do this!
GOOD LUCK! Happy screaming! Oh, and if there is anything I'd forgotten, tell me in the comments!

Over and out,
Zakkie Shaddix

32 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Well shit. Alcohol and caffeine are staples of my diet. No screaming for me.
    If you do it, just do it in moderation. Don't drink alcohol directly after screaming haha cause that would be ahem really bad. I hate the caffeine rule though cause I need my coffee and my Mountain Dew, so for that rule and milk I basically said "**** it" cause I was going to bend the rules one way or another. Plus, I should probably add that smoking isn't the best idea, especially tobacco because of the chemicals but pot is a-okay! I've never had a problem with that! :p Haha
    Pick 'n' Finger
    "Sugar can crystallize in your throat" Now that's some hardcore BS here. Even if that would happen it's fairly easy to get rid of that: Take a sip of water, or two. Have you ever seen how fast sugar dissolves? By the way, do you know what honey is mainly made of? Yeah, sugar. Due to it's consistency honey is more likely to stick to your throat than sugar. But however, Drinking alot is the right thing, but it doesn't do ONE thing and that is soothe vocal cords. Why? Because the water only gets there indirectly via blood and lymph. To expose your VC to anything you put in your mouth you have to inhale it, which I say DON'T DO THAT!! People tend to think drinking alot helps directly on the Vocal Chords which it does not! How does Tea help? It's the warmth! You can put a heated bag of whatever around your throat and it would do the same. Also, if your throat hurts after screaming, you are doing it wrong, that's why the high-pitch screaming is not the loudest. Anything Vocal-Chord (Real VCs) related is rather as loud as your usual speaking voice. If you do it real loud... well have fun with polyps and stuff. False Chord screams can be done much louder, because you use the folds above of your Vocal Chords, which are thicker and more stable. It takes more pressure to make them vibrate at all, but it takes more pressure to damage them, too. How long have you been doing guttural vocals yet? You seem to be in need of learning quite some things yet...
    Great correction there, mate. If I may add, instead of tea, the best thing you can drink is boiled water. It's a lot cleaner than warm water straight from the tap.
    I've been doing growls for a really long time, since 7-8th grade. Screams, however I'd recently figured out because I'd had a hard time doing them. I royally ****ed this lesson, I know.
    are there even any mods or admin on this site? how does shit like this get through...
    I agree with everything above. You didn't teach anything about singing, you only gave some advice about maintaining your vocal chords. And some of it was misinformation, as stated above tea contains caffeine, and honey is at least in my experience even worse than sugar.
    It's different for everyone. My old singing teacher told me about an opera singer who sung his best after a chocolate milkshake. Myself, I sound best after a chicken caesar salad. But yes this article is quite amateur and confusing.
    Yeah, I've also heard of a guy who cleared his throat by eating a brain blaster. Whatever works I guess.
    Every good scream tutorial should start with "if it hurts, you're doing in wrong" Just sayin And I'd rather say the big 3 are scream, growl and shout. False cords is something you do screams and stuff with
    It's going to hurt either way, you pretty much are tearing up your throat when you scream. As for the big three, now there's four because I forgot about shouts. False chords are different though, the sound is different rather than growling and screaming. You can transition from growl to scream or false chord to scream but they are still different.
    Ummmmm... False cords totally are the same thing as growling and screaming. They're just a technique to use. The other technique is known as fry vocals, and it involves your actual vocal cords. Aaaaaand no, it should never hurt. If you're tearing up your vocal cords, you're doing something horribly, terribly wrong. Screaming is almost identical to growling, except it's sung with a higher pitch.
    That's a really misleading title. It should be "how to not hurt your vocal chords", because it didn't say how to make these noises happen or focus anything at all on the technique.
    Shit, yeah, sorry guys I realized I ****ed this lesson, too, with the "how to" I wish there was a way to edit this lesson.
    You are still trying to do screams? Well, then, you should definitely stop. Because this article is nothing short of amateur bullcrap. No singing at all should hurt vocal chords. NONE. No screams no growls. If it does, then it's done wrong.
    types of metal vocals? hahahaha there's only one and anyone can do it when they're hoarse....
    Ok, the lesson was pretty shotty... and he admitted that. Let's move on. "Zakkie", as a "teacher", you can never let your audience get the best of you, as they obviously have. You were doing great until your last post that started, "go ahead and talk shit", that's where you messed up, well, aside from this lesson no offense. As a "teacher, or instructor or whatever, you lose all credibility when you let things get personal. People tend to dumb it down at that point and make themselves sound like headstrong teenagers instead of professionals. A little advice for next time, if there is a next time: Research the hell out of your topic before submitting or putting together an article. If you would have, all of these things mentioned above would have surfaced and you could have addressed them. If the article tanks, as this one did, walk away(internet style) and don't look back, because the article isn't going to change and neither are the comments. Keep your dignity in hand, not left on some forum. Idk, just my $.02. Take care.
    Not sure where this article teaches proper vocal techniques for metal, or any other genre of music. I would even go so far as to say it's dangerous to those who don't know any better. "The Zen of Screaming", on DVD, is an excellent vocal training course for rock vocalists and taught me to take my vocal performance to a whole other level.
    Go ahead and talk shit. I already admitted that the lesson was ****ed up so... Yeah, shut up already. Thanks, I'd appreciate that. Guess I'm no good at writing out lessons. I'd had this written down but I'd lost the paper, there was more to add but I forgot. ALSO IM A ROOKIE ON THE SITE. Geez, y'all. I know it's a crap lesson and one way or another I'm going to fix it. And no, Zakkie Shaddix isn't a joke. I borrowed the last name of "Shaddix" from someone I idolized and Zak comes from my initials. Hate me if you want for my choice of stage name but realize it doesn't effect my decision on what it is and how it'll stay. So laugh it up while I enjoy life because only my opinion matters.
    I usually try to find something nice to say when someone puts in the time and effort to create and post a lesson but this is literally the dumbest "lesson" I've ever seen on this site... and that's saying a lot. Is this serious? "Zakkie Shaddix"??? HAHA if this is a joke it's kinda funny. I have a feeling that it's not.
    Also no mention of cupping or eating the mic. Most guys arent going full blast live.
    Cuping the mic is one of the worst things you can do. It will always sound like crap.
    This article is pretty bad. First of all, there are two techniques to do metal vocals, and both can do screams and growls. Fry and false cord. Its the way you use them that determines the type of scream you are going to do. And it should never hurt if you are doing it properly. That being said, you cant learn this stuff without trying (and faiing) a lot, so when you are starting out, you can kinda push trough the pain a bit, but in moderation, and never push youself to far, so you are realy hoarse. I generaly stop screaming if i notice that the strain affected my singing. That usually happnes if i have an of day or whatever. Also important to note is, that you should breathe from your diaphragm. There are tons of youtube videos on this, and how to do propper breath support, but the most effective way is to actually take some singing lessons. They help greatly.
    Shouldn't this be called "Types of Extreme Metal Vocals" or something like that? When I think of metal vocals I first think of folks like Dio, and he never did any of this.
    I have one thing to say. When you're trying for high notes, it should feel like the sound is coming up from your belly and up over the back of your head. And if you start feeling light headed from doing it, stop. It's hard to explain but it should literally feel like it's a note soaring over your head and out to the world. I'm not good at explaining singing and I wish I had a way to record all of my voices as I've gotten decent enough to feel like I can do some Judas Priest, Billy Talent, Whitesnake, Dio, Jorn, Myles Kennedy but I have no way of showing that unless you rode in my car or was at my work when my stereo is blasting.
    May I asked about False Chord"..What is false chord and any side effect of screaming?