Through the masculine, heavy and aggressive approach of hard rock/heavy metal music, one might not automatically assume that high pitch singing would have such a pivotal role. But, from the onset, with Black Sabbath and Ozzy's shrieking, nervous vocals, a very powerful, falsetto style of vocalization has been at the heart and soul of the music's sound, development and evolution. Here are the top 10 singers in hard rock/metal with the highest voice.
See also: The Top 10 Power Metal Bands
10.Dani Filth (Cradle of Filth)
Cradle of Filth was, at a time early on in its career, one of the scariest bands in extreme metal, and were at the forefront of black metal's mainstream popularity in the U.S., in the mid to late '90s. Vocalist Dani Filth was a singer with not just lyrics, but eloquent, biblical, vampiric, and evil tales and mythologies, sung in a demonic high pitch death growl. It alternates between grunting and a terrifying howling shriek that is like a black metal, grindcore version of Bruce Dickinson. Over the past 20 plus years, and a dozen studio recordings and live albums, Filth is the band's remaining original member, but despite the revolving line up, Cradle of Filth's sound has remained, with additions of melodic classical orchestra music influence, punk riffs, and female vocals, all of which add to an evil, symphonic sound. Based out of the U.K., Cradle of Filth will tour the world in 2015, with the release of a new album, due out July 10, entitled Hammer of the Witches.
9.Geoff Tate (Queensryche)
In 2015, Queensryche is no longer fronted by Geoff Tate, but he will always be remembered for his work from its early days, including the first two albums, The Warning (1984) and Rage for Order (1986), as well as the best and most well known masterpiece of a concept album, Operation Mindcrime (1988). With a voice that projected so many emotions and feelings within the notes he sang, Tate's soulful expression truly came to life, and set a standard for other heavy metal/progressive rock singers at the time, that many failed to live up to. The sound and music of Queensryche with Tate as the front man is timeless, and was instrumental for the development of power metal, and prog rock. Even though Tate is no longer with the original incarnation of Queensryche, after numerous legal battles and a settlement, he continues on as a heavy metal singer, keeping the legacy of the album alive, with his band Operation Mindcrime.
See also: The 10 Best Heavy Metal Concept Albums
8.Serj Tankian(System of a Down)
As front man for the Armenian, LA based internationally known heavy metal band System of a Down, Serj Tankian's vocal range is between grindcore death metal, and the singing style of Freddy Mercury. Tankian is as wild, and animated on stage live with the band as he is on record, and his erratic and yet high pitch voice is best experienced on the bands debut self titled album (1998), which produced its first hit KROQ song, “Sugar.” But the band's best work is heard on the second album, Toxicity, (2001), which kept the thrash metal punk fury and speed but added melody, beauty, clarity and clean singing and a slight middle eastern classical vibe, to an experimental form of metal.
Serj's lyrics, are out conceptual, but also very anti fascist and political; together, the band is determined to bring awareness about the Armenian Genocide of 1919, which saw millions of Armenian men, women and children killed and displaced at the hands of the Turkish Government, and still denied to this day. System of a Down brings Serj's lyrics to life, with songs about ancient wars, future conflicts, religion, humanity, and good vs. evil. Tankian has talent in as a singer, and an incredible talent in timing, and an ability to switch between opera-like singing and inhuman death metal growls in less than a millisecond. As a heavy metal singer, he is at times demented, yet so in tune with using his haunting voice and as a harmonious instrument.
7.Kayton De Pena (Hirax)
This early LA/OC area thrash metal band was part of a scene that included bands like Exodus, Dark Angel, Testament, Slayer and even Metallica. Speed metal, or thrash as it became known was played at such a high volume and intensity the singing needed to be just as strong, if not stronger to reach head bangers that were going deaf from the amplification and distortion. This is where Kayton De Pena came in. With violent, sped up riffs, songs about Warfare, death and destruction, distorted bass lines and blast beats, the music of Hirax was a thrash metal assault, but what stood out was De Pena's classic falsetto style of singing, which gave Hirax a reputation and sound that no one could compare with, taking the melodic singing of power metal and the menacing riffs and speed of thrash. The classic album Raging Violence (1985) still stands the test of time as one of thrash metal's most venomous releases. In 2015, over three decades after the band first formed, De Pena still marches on with a revitalized line up of Hirax.
See also: The 10 Best German Metal Bands
6.Geddy Lee (Rush)
Although they're not a heavy metal band, RUSH is in a category of bands such as Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. The band might have a cult following, but these Canadians are celebrating 40 years, as a rock band with all original members, and at the front center, is the voice of Geddy Lee. As the band's bassist, singer and keyboard player, Lee is instrumental in the unique sound of Rush, and his higher toned voice is, to many either love or hate it. He has led rush through millions of albums sold, countless awards and nominations, numerous tours of the world, and a connection with fans around the globe that is spatial, musical and spiritual. Rush has crossed generational boundaries to become a noted rock band, in the context of modern popular culture. With Lee's distinct vocals, Rush's epic brand of progressive rock and early proto metal set the stage for so many rock and metal bands to follow.
5.Dio (Dio, Black Sabbath)
Ronnie James Dio is one of the best heavy metal vocalists of all time. His life was taken in 2010, after a battle with stomach cancer, at age 67. Ronnie Dio started a career in music at an early age, and by 1967 was already established in a rock band that would be known as Elf. From then he would sing for Rainbow, and eventually after the firing of original singer, Ozzy Osborne, Black Sabbath. Ronnie James Dio, from his beginnings had the heart, mind, soul, and voice of a musician. In 1979, when he joined Black Sabbath, he was just a few years away from exploding onto the scene as an invigorating heavy metal solo singer, under the name Dio. With the image of dragons and swords, Dio's vocal range, and ability to hit and keep long notes in head banger's anthems and ballads, Dio's career and catalog of releases in the 80s secured his legacy and influence over the next three decades of heavy metal music. Dio reformed with his Black Sabbath band mates, in 2006, and performed with them as Heaven and Hell until 2009, shortly before he passed away.
See also: The 10 Best Viking Metal Bands
4.Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden)
Although he wasn't the original first voice of the British powerhouse heavy metal group Iron Maiden, Bruce Dickinson has been the voice behind one of England's biggest bands, since he has become to establish himself as one of heavy metal's greatest singers and front man since 1982's seminal record, Number of The Beast. Dickinson's high pitched screams and long reaching echo of a singing range is perfect for Maiden's songs, which detail historic figures, ancient battles, modern turmoil, warfare and tales of evil and darkness. Dickinson's larger-than-life voice with Maiden go well with the iconic skull logo Eddie, and his offstage hobbies–brewing beer and flying airplanes, also seem to fit with Iron Maiden's brand name and magical legacy of epic heavy metal music.
3.Axl Rose (Guns N Roses)
Guns N Roses, were, one of the best hard rock bands, with just enough edge to be liked by metal heads, but not quite enough heaviness to be considered metal. But, with the 1987 record Appetite for Destruction, the LA based rockers put the LA on the scene, and the front man, was lead singer, Axl Rose. Notorious, unstable, violent, and fueled alcohol and drugs at the time, Rose's performance on the record is immortal and his vocals made the GNR release one of rock music's classic albums of all time. The notes Rose hits and sustains make his singing sound like it was an effortless performance. Not only was Rose forever revered as an iconic singer with dynamite stage presence and, but his voice, look and attitude make him a rock star, and a rebel. The depth of Axl Rose's vocal ability on Appetite for Destruction is close to flawless.
See also: The 10 Best Historical Metal Bands
2.Halford (Judas Priest)
There is a reason that Rob Halford, of the mighty Judas Priest is known as a metal god. Judas Priest were rocking and rolling since the very first incarnation of the band formed, in 1969, out of Birmingham England. But Halford joined in 1973, leading to a journey that would find him at the top of the heavy metal vocalist food chain in the early to mid 1980s. With a voice that was rainy, raspy a very much in tune with proto metal/hard rock bands of the time, Halford's true talent was making high pitch notes like an opera singer and a scream like no other. Judas Priest are one of the most influential of al heavy metal bands, inspiring legions of fans such as Venom, Slayer, Pantera and so many others to pick up instruments and form bands themselves. The bands direct influence and Halford's trademark scream can still be felt and heard in punk and metal to this day.
1.King Diamond (Mercyful Fate)
As the lead singer for the Danish early heavy metal band, Mecyful Fate, King Diamond (born Kim Bendix Petersen) was always fascinated by all things occult based. From demonic entities, ghost stories and subjects like witchcraft and black masses, the singer used a very unique and powerful voice and range, to convey a sense of mystery and evil to the music. From insanely high pitch howling to singing, the King's voice is so distinct, it's one of a kind, and instantly recognizable from the first note. His obsession with evil only continued and intensified with his solo career in the 1980s, making him as influential as great acts like KISS and Alice Cooper, internationally, with a cult following of millions of devoted followers. Diamond is an admitted Satanist, and despite several health scares over the years, he is still carrying the torch for evil music with his solo band, and his voice is as strong as ever, as he finds himself co-headlining this summer's Rockstar mayhem Festival, along with fellow evil thrashers, Slayer.
Alex Distefano is an established freelance writer and music blogger from the Los Angeles area. With over a dozen years under his belt as a published Journalist, he covers the worlds of heavy metal music, punk rock, current events, cannabis culture, comedy, radio, food, tattoos, the paranormal, and ‘conspiracy theories.’ He graduated from California State University Long Beach in 2012 with a Bachelor’s Degree in both Journalism and Ancient History. Aside from his professional writing endeavors, Distefano works as an Educator, and delivery/rideshare driver.