#8: Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth)
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 Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt…
Let me start by confessing that I’m a little bit of an Opeth fanboy. I just did the math, and it turns out that the amount of time I’ve spent listening to them accounts for nearly 1% of my life. Isn’t that unbelievably sad, pathetic, and awesome? Suffice to say, this article is going to read more like a confession of undying love and devotion than any kind of objective critical assessment of a superb front man.
It really shouldn’t shock anyone that Mikael Åkerfeldt is the primary reason I’m an Opeth superfan; the man excretes excellence from every orifice. If this was a list of guitarists, songwriters, or lyricists, I would be writing about him all the same. It’s fitting that this list happens to be about frontmen, though, because when I was a fledgling metalhead, Åkerfeldt’s abilities as a vocalist hit me first.
As a kid, I can distinctly remember falling asleep with headphones on only to be woken up in the middle of the night by what I genuinely believed was the devil announcing that he intended to wipe his ass with my soul. From then onward, I became so entranced by Åkerfeldt’s harsh vocals that I learned to emulate them almost perfectly, bastardizing many a pop song in the process. At the time, I didn’t know of any other band that used death vocals, but I’m still convinced that his harsh vocal tone is one of the most unique in the genre.
I can also say with confidence that I wouldn’t have latched onto Opeth as tightly if they didn’t make extensive use of Åkerfeldt’s clean vocals. I’m not about to try to argue that Åkerfeldt is a virtuosic singer, but his voice has a warmth and expressiveness that you just can’t find in most metal. You can only listen to “Harvest” so many times before realizing that the guy seriously needs to deliver a singer-songwriter type album as soon as possible.
No discussion of Mikael Åkerfeldt as a front man would be complete without mentioning his hilariously dry stage banter. I realize that most of his material relies on using penises as comedic devices, but fuck it, dicks are funny.
Too often, phenomenal instrumental metal songs go to waste because the band can’t come up with a suitable vocalist; I’m so glad that Åkerfeldt possesses the raw vocal talent Opeth requires, as the songs he writes are way too monumental to suffer such a fate. Actually, I’m kind of pissed off that he’s hording so many musical talents while untalented wonders like yours truly have to settle for being bloggers. If anyone can come up with any way to transfer talent from one dude to another that doesn’t involve me crying or walking funny the next day, I’m all ears.
The List So Far:
#9: Phil Anselmo
#10: Grace Perry (ex-Landmine Marathon)
#11: Guy Kozowyk (The Red Chord)
#12: Trevor Strnad (The Black Dahlia Murder)
#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)