#12: Trevor Strnad (The Black Dahlia Murder)
MetalSucks recently polled its staff to determine who are The Top 25 Modern Metal Frontmen, and after an incredible amount of arguing, name calling, and physical violence, we have finalized that list! Writers were asked to consider vocal ability, lyrics, and live presence when casting their votes; the only requirements to be eligible for the list were that the musician in question had to a) play metal (duh), b) be a frontman or woman (double-duh), and c) have recorded something AND performed live in the past five years. Today we continue our countdown with The Black Dahlia Murder’s Trevor Strnad…
Vocalists are often the most difficult members of a metal band to evaluate properly. Screamers can’t wow with flashy technique and speed like instrumentalists can, and the disparity between a live and recorded vocal performance is usually far greater than the difference between a live and recorded instrumental track. The best vocalists find a niche in their bands, and deliver in a way that vividly animates their music live. And on record they maintain torrents of precision, versatility, and authentic energy that complement the music. Like all good death metal bands, The Black Dahlia Murder manipulate contrast, and Trevor Strnad’s presence is the perfect counterpart to their twisting approach.
It’s well known that Strnad is a guru of death metal, and numerous different styles are visible as influences on his vocals, from the old-school death metal growls to the rawer, Carcass-influenced ones. Collectively, they make his voice one of the most recognizable in extreme metal. Strnad’s howls accent his band’s beatdown while his shrieks animate the ghostly hollowness of classic tracks like “What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse.” Acidic, writhing leads meet their match in his slashes of blackened highs. Strnad has the whole spectrum down, far better than most death metal vocalists do these days. His voice still retains a natural quality; it isn’t warped beyond recognition by studio tricks.
And Trevor is one of those rare metal vocalists who has been gifted with a quality most lack: charisma. It’s impossible to avoid being consumed by his presence at a Black Dahlia Murder performance, from his finger-pointing recognition of individual crowdsurfers to his seemingly bottomless energy. He’s an exuberant frontman, thrashing around shirtless from end to end of the stage and roaring all the while. His voice instantly resonates with the Black Dahlia recordings, but his spontaneity prevents the live performances from coming across as a carbon copy of their albums. It’s a necessary mix of accuracy and flexibility.
Strnad’s impact takes place both on record and in concert, but it also takes place on a personal level. With his short hair, glasses, and frequent bouts of humor, Strnad departs from the appearance of the glowering, long-haired growler, and it makes his talents all the more emphatic. Trevor loves what he’s doing, and his devotion is apparent in the music. He’s a vocalist audiences can truly relate to: an everyday guy who just so happens to be capable of abyssal vocalizations. And that’s what has helped make The Black Dahlia Murder as popular as they are today, despite their monolithic heaviness.
THE LIST SO FAR:
#13: George “Corspegrinder” Fisher (Cannibal Corpse)
#14: Chance Garnette (Skeletonwitch)
#15: Vincent Bennet (The Acacia Strain)
#16: Mike Patton
#17: Tony Foresta (Municipal Waste)
#18: Joe Duplantier (Gojira)
#19: Oderus Urungus (Gwar)
#20: Nergal (Behemoth)
#21: Jens Kidman (Meshuggah)
#22: J.R. Hayes (Pig Destroyer)
#23: Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed)
#24: Travis Ryan (Cattle Decapitation, Murder Construct)
#25: Chino Moreno (Deftones)