Progressive Metal Vocals
Despite being well-intentioned, any definition of progressive metal is very much a simplification. Prog metal is a highly flexible genre, with metal's global nature actually building on progressive music. Such a genre demands equally flexible styles of vocals; melodic prog metal vocals are the only ones included here, since they are most distinctly a part of ONLY this genre.
Chosen for his acting ability as much as a range almost stolen from Chris Cornell and solid metal tone, Mats Levén replaced Andy Kuntz of Vanden Plas (a strong influence on Amaseffer) to voice their Exodus trilogy. Here he utilizes a majestic tone suited to this piece's sweeping atmosphere, representing the oppressive rule of the Egyptians over the Israelites.
Another exceptional actor, Swedish powerhouse Göran Nyström has to be one of the best fits in a band - easily my pick for best new vocalist in 2009. In person, he's a talented comedian, which makes for a diverse, musically sensitive vocalist ideal for the range of expression in Italians Twinspirits. Göran could sing musicals with his dark low tenor and intense high register - the flawless breath control exhibited throughout shows sufficient endurance.
A near legend in Colombia, such that after leaving Entropia almost nobody dares to replace him, Juan Manuel Güiza brings the catchy swagger that goes along with Entropia's exciting blend of technical, heavy and accessible elements. All about punch rather than crunch, Juan Manuel delivers vocals alternately in a high baritone, soaring falsetto and power singing. He won't let go of this catchy hook!
It's impossible to leave Chris Salinas without thinking Geoff Tate, but equally difficult to care. Technical prog masters Power of Omens could nevertheless write beautiful pieces of uber-complex music, and even alongside Tate's range and power, Salinas can display a vulnerable emotional edge Tate never tried. Their debut is a highly theatrical masterpiece and he fits right into the sound.
Henrik Båth is quite suited for Swedish band Darkwater, highly melodic and focused on dark guitar riffs and wintry keyboards. Despite maintaining a mellow midrange voice, Båth can use a more anguished delivery to hook in a listener and then submerge them in...well, dark water.
Seemingly one of the more unusual choices, Mariusz Duda's whispery baritone is all about extreme subtlety to create a haunting mood in his band Riverside; sometimes he just sings wordless harmonies, quite frequently in world music styles. His singing is natural - avoiding something he can't do and maximizing every shred of what he can, and that's progressive!
THE most demonstrative example of my statement, Ross Jennings matches Haken's wildly eclectic sound (just listen, I can't explain!) with a high priority on sheer entertainment value, incorporating ideas far outside the prog scene from country rock, occasional growls, bebop and whatever these Brits can come up with. Multiple styles of vocals and music converge at once, but above all Haken loves to play whatever it is.
In his later years, Ray Alder has unlocked new degrees of pathos within the emotionally heavy music of Redemption. He doesn't have to try hard to match the music, rather just sounding right in place as he is. Frontman Nick van Dyk dedicated this bittersweet piece to daughter Parker, whose cone dystrophy left her legally blind - but I would believe it if Ray was her father!
Though deceased, Mike Baker will be one of the most missed out of the 12. The way Mike could use his voice as an instrument of the emotional music is unmatched; his special subtlety and perfectionism are always clear in Shadow Gallery. Attempting to sing with Mike puts me RIGHT THERE where he is, my goal as a vocalist.
The melodic pumping energy of Aussies Hemina is contrasted by the nervously soaring voice of dark horse Douglas Skene. Though perhaps not technically perfect, his lines thus gain a quite sad tone absent since early Stratovarius, fitting the concept: an abandoned angel looks for his place in the universe, and above all friendship. Watching Douglas expand his talent will be worth any listener's time.
Michael Eriksen is an easy superstar with incredible range and flexibility, fitting the energetic progressive meanderings of Circus Maximus. Mechanically consistent even live, Eriksen can deliver whatever is necessary, including the anguished wails of a person left without love, the only thing that saved him from insanity.
Spheric Universe Experience know how to play highly technical music with dense arrangements, but classy Frenchman Franck Garcia can soar over all of this with a dramatic tenor or snarly metallic tone. I tend to prefer his passionate melodic side, strongly represented in a rare SUE ballad - this is the song's first heavy riff.
DISCLAIMER: All clips are from 20-30 seconds, fair use; almost all bands represented have explicitly supported these before.