Intensifying the Monstrous: Extended Vocal Techniques in Extreme Metal Music
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Extended vocal techniques, such as scream and growl, are an important puzzle in the sonic transgression picture of extreme metal music and other subgenres. The distorted sound result produced by the usage of these techniques – often described as scary, monstrous, “from hell” – is intriguing in itself, while also being the point of intersection for several problems concerning voice, body, and technology. Assuming the voice is heard from speakers, with Michel Chion’s notion of acousmatic voice in mind, the first instinct is to presuppose the source of the voice, that is, the body from which it comes from. This “hellish” acousmatic voice leads the listener to vivid images of bestiality behind the sound. What is pictured is something inhuman, something monstrous. In line with Bojana Kunst’s idea that the monstrous body can be understood as something other than human, as well as the indicator and the symptom of re-thinking the human, and Jelena Novak’s definition of monstrous voi...ce which is based on Kunst’s hypothesis, I will try to examine the position of monstrosity of voice and body in extreme metal music. When speaking of the “terrifying friction of inhuman noise”, Novak argues that the “human identity is problematized when monstrous voice is heard from the human body”. Novak monstrous stems from the relation of voice/body with technology in postopera. In this presentation, my intention is to examine the monstrous voice in extreme metal genres that is created not by technology, but primarily by extended vocal techniques, and afterward enhanced through the technological means – microphones, speakers, headphones.