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Voice of anarchy”: Gender aspects of aggressive metal vocals. The example of Angela Gossow (Arch Enemy)

Florian Heesch
Traduction(s) :
“La Voix de l’anarchie” : la question du genre liée aux chants agressifs du metal. L’exemple d’Angela Gossow (Arch Enemy)

Résumé

Growling can be regarded as a key aesthetic practice of death metal. This practice, throughout the history of the genre, has been heavily gendered; while practiced both by men and women since the early 1990s it has nevertheless been associated with masculinity, due to its perceived aggressive sound, as well as corresponding notions of perceived low pitch and noise. In 2001 Angela Gossow became the singer of the band Arch Enemy and has since established herself as one of the most outstanding female growlers within the global metal scene. An analytical look at Gossow’s individual vocal style will be applied to argue that growling could potentially contribute to a more complex understanding of how voice, gender and aggression are related. This article examines the musical phenomenon of death metal growling, as well as the marginalization of women in what has been conceived as a primarily masculine style.

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1Heavy metal music frequently deals not only with violent topics, but also with the inclusion of stylistic elements that can meaningfully be described as aggressive or as expressions of aggression. These elements include certain vocal styles that are typical of the so-called extreme metal sub-genres, such as the style of growling common in death metal since the 1990s. Even though this style had already been practised by male and female singers for a decade, it was largely understood as a predominately masculine practice at least until the end of the 20th century. This picture changed to a certain extent in 2001 when Angela Gossow became the singer of the already established band Arch Enemy. Since then, she performed as one of the most outstanding female growlers in the global metal scene, until her departure from the band in 2014.

  • 1 Certain passages of this paper are based on my previous article on Gossow published in German as «  (...)

2In the present article, I will discuss the extent to which growling was (or still is) gendered; and how much of the gendering process results from the association of growling with aggression, itself stereotypically seen as a more masculine than feminine trait1. After some introductory remarks on concepts of violence and aggression, I will investigate the gendering of growling from two different angles: first, with regard to the historical development of growling together with a critical view on the representation of growling as a masculine practice within metal discourse; and second, by focussing on gendered receptions of vocal sounds. The section on the history of growling will include observations on Gossow’sand other women’s initial participation in that practice since the 1990s. As a final step, I will sketch a systematic approach to describe the characteristics of Gossow’s individual growling style alongside exemplary sound recordings of Arch Enemy and her vocal participation. This final segment will be introduced by a brief account of Gossow’s personal attitude towards her participation in the metal scene. The overarching aim of my investigation is to shed light on the complexity of the cultural relation between growling, gender and aggression with regard to discourse, sound and individual artistic style.

  • 2 Regarding visual representations of female metal artists including Gossow in music magazines, cf. A (...)
  • 3 Judith Halberstam, Female Masculinity, Durham, London, Duke University Press, 1998.

3Concerning the gendering of growling, the case of Gossow could seem an almost self-evident choice because of her outstanding position as one of the few internationally acclaimed female growlers within the metal scene and even as embodying a somewhat pioneering role. In addition to that, the very way by which she became a member of a hitherto all-male band is interesting when taking into account the allegedly masculine practice of growling. Furthermore, as her success within the metal scene has proven, her vocal style is of a high quality. As I will argue, Gossow’s style is moreover characteristically versatile in expression which makes it an interesting example regarding aggressiveness, conceived as an emotional and aesthetic trait. With regard to aggressiveness and gender it would be interesting to take Gossow’s bodily and performative appearance into consideration2. Given that metal, not the least Gossow’s contribution to metal, is also a highly performative practice in which live events are particularly valued, it would certainly be relevant for a complete understanding of her musical production to take a closer look at her movements and gestures on stage that can partly be characterized as aggressive, too, or even as performances of what Judith J. Halberstam has described as ‘female masculinity’3. However, within the frame of the present article I have to restrict my argumentation on the vocals as a practice and a sound.

4With regard to the study of Gossow’s growling style, my main sources include live and studio recordings of her music. For contextual information I will further refer to diverse published and non-published sources including music magazines; oral utterances by Gossow from informal conversations with her, and from a panel discussion with four female metal singers at the « Heavy Metal and Gender » conference in Cologne in 2009; as well as observations in vocal workshops.

5My aim is not to put Gossow on a pedestal or to canonize her, although there is no ‘innocent’ way of interpreting a single artist without any canonizing effects at all. Nevertheless, historiography, not the least the historiography of music, is not automatically inclusive, but needs to be critically viewed and re-told in terms of who is included and who is not, and whether the inclusion is related to aspects of identity, such as gender. Thus, telling the history of aggression in metal music particularly deserves critical attention due to the stereotyped connection between aggressiveness and masculinity.

6As a musicologist, I have been interested in the relationship between sounds and aggression since I started researching metal music about a decade ago. I have always been sceptical about stereotypical descriptions of metal as sounding aggressive, even though I am supportive of the use of ‘aggressive’ as a descriptive term as far as the goal of its use is differentiation of sounds and styles. Therefore, I find the discussion about aggressive style quite intriguing. Moreover, I think it is important to develop useful ways for interpreting extreme vocal sounds such as growling, which clearly eludes conventional tools of analysis. It may be due to my specialty in gender studies, that I have always considered the investigation of vocal sounds as inseparable from the question of their gendering. Thus, I think that a study on female growlers such as, for instance, Angela Gossow, is relevant because of the discursive gendering of their male-dominated genre as well as the gendering of sound. As I will argue in this article, the musical phenomenon of death metal growling has the potential to confuse widespread notions about male and female voices. Therefore, it is a revealing endeavour to take a closer look at this phenomenon also for any study of music and aggression.

Violence, aggression and gender

  • 4 Simon Frith, Angela McRobbie, « Rock and Sexuality » [1978], in Simon Frith, Andrew Goodwin (dir.), (...)
  • 5 See for instance Susan Fast, In the Houses of the Holy. Led Zeppelin and the Power of Rock Music, O (...)

7The terms violence and aggression are often conflated. One common aspect is their social and cultural connotation with masculinity: according to stereotypes, men show a larger tendency to violent or aggressive behaviours than women. The relationship between violence/aggression and gender is of course much more complicated; not to mention that there is indeed such a thing as physical violence conducted by women. However, the well-established stereotype of violent men and peaceful women remains relevant in many cultural areas, not the least in rock music. In their early, much-quoted article on rock and sexuality, Simon Frith and Angela McRobbie, argued almost naively along the stereotypical dualism of rock being associated with masculinity and aggressiveness versus pop’s connotation with femininity and romantic elements4. Although this oversimplified dualism has led to critical deconstruction5, certain connotations between musical genres and aggression, as well as masculinity, seem to remain more than simplistic clichés, or to put it into other words: the stereotypes are important parts of the musical discourse, whether they are used to confirm or even reify alleged representations of masculine aggression or to criticise, deconstruct or subvert such connotations.

  • 6 Cf. Peter Imbusch, « Der Gewaltbegriff », in Wilhelm Heitmeyer, John Hagan (dir.), Internationales (...)
  • 7 Katharina Inhetveen, « Gesellige Gewalt. Ritual, Spiel und Vergemeinschaftung bei Hardcorekonzerten (...)
  • 8 Cf. Gabrielle Riches, Brett Lashua, Karl Spracklen, « Female, Mosher, Transgressor: A “Moshography” (...)

8In the following sections, I am going to use the terms “aggression” and “aggressive” in a rather broad way, in order to characterize a musical genre and its stylistic elements. Aggression, then, does not necessarily include a disposition for real physical, verbal or emotional violence against persons or things6. An aggressive genre like death metal could indeed include practices such as the so-called violent dancing that can meaningfully be described as kinds of “sociable violence”, a term coined by the sociologist Katharina Inhetveen in her studies on hardcore culture7. Although critical questions regarding the relationship between aggression and gender are of relevance here, too8, I am rather focussing on elements in the musical style that are important for the perception of death metal as a characteristically aggressive sub-genre of rock music, namely the vocals. As singing regularly includes words, the question is about what is sung as well as how it is sung: the fictional representation of aggressiveness and violence in the lyrics on the one hand, and the quality of the vocal style on the other hand. There is indeed a range of further aesthetic elements in death metal that contribute to the genre’s connotation with aggression and violence: aspects of guitar and drum sounds, patterns, riffs, melodic and harmonic structures on the aural level; cover artwork and video clips on the visual level. The vocals, however, are interesting, first, because they can include two levels of aggressive expression, the lyrics and the vocal sound, and second, because they lead to the sociologically and aesthetically interesting cases of female vocalists: What happened when women intruded the initially male-dominated genre of death metal at some point in the 1990s and participated in expressing aggression by means of that style? To what extent did this affect or even change connotations between aggression and gender?

The gendering of growling as a practice

  • 9 Cf. Robert Walser, Running with the devil. Power, gender, and madness in heavy metal music, Reprint (...)
  • 10 Cf. Keith Kahn-Harris, Extreme Metal. Music and Culture on the Edge, Oxford, Berg, 2007.

9The stylistic foundations of heavy metal emerged from blues rock, hard rock and progressive rock since the late 1960s9. However, the 1980s were of no less crucial importance to heavy metal’s establishment as a genre, for several reasons – among others, heavy metal diversified into different subgenres. One of the subgenres that have been conflated quite meaningfully under the term extreme metal in recent academic writing, is called death metal10. In the second half of the 1980s, death metal evolved at first mainly in Florida, Tampa in particular, and in Sweden – especially in the Stockholm area. Main characteristics of the death metal genre include lyrical topics surrounding death, extreme physical violence and despair, the sound of highly distorted down-tuned guitars, single-note riffs, frequent uses of blast beats in drum parts and vocal styles that tend to focus on screaming rather than conventional singing.

  • 11 Cf. Marcus Erbe, « Extreme Metal Vocals », in Ann-Christine Mecke, Martin Pfleiderer, Bernhard Rich (...)
  • 12 Cf. Michelle Phillipov, Death metal and music criticism. Analysis at the limits, Lanham, Md., Lexin (...)

10Inspired by the rough approach to music-making in punk, the adoption of relatively rough vocal styles with few or almost no melodic element has been spread in several genres in the 1980s, in thrash metal as well as in hardcore punk and even in the establishment of death metal. Such kind of almost-non-melodic singing with significant air pressure and a rough timbre is typically called shouting. Some vocalists stylized their shouting into a low-pitched sound, that later became called growling or sometimes grunting. These terms obviously include some analogy to animal sounds like those of dogs, bears, lions or pigs. Moreover, there is an older tradition of vocal growling, prominently featured by Blues, R&B, Jazz and Gospel singers: Here it refers to a distortion effect that is usually applied as a means of expression at single points in a vocal performance. Growling in metal, however, is usually applied continually, not as an effect, but as the basis for a distinct vocal style.11In a playful twist, it is sometimes described as the “cookie monster” style12. Around 1990, low-pitched growls became a stylistic marker of death metal.

  • 13 Ibidem.

11Like often in rock music historiography, most historical accounts of the death metal genre mention the most well-known bands and artists, and thereby – willingly or not – tend to confirm traditional narratives of great men histories. For instance, Michelle Phillipov narrates that « Cookie Monster vocals [...] was a style popularized largely by Cannibal Corpse and its frontman Chris Barnes13 ». The fact that Phillipov utters this statement without providing empirical evidence is illustrative because it is reflecting an acceptance of the death metal discourse. Even though there is no doubt that vocalists like Barnes on par with John Tardy of Obituary or Nick Bullen of Napalm Death had a certain impact on the development of growling, the exclusive focus on male figures within common death metal narratives has had an impact on the gendering of the style, too: Growling became associated with masculinity.

  • 14 Awakening: A Compilation Featuring Females in Extreme Music, Los Angeles, Dwell Records, 1997. Rega (...)
  • 15 Regarding Gammelsæter’s growling about death in « Dommedagsnatt », cf. Florian Heesch, Anna-Kathari (...)
  • 16 Asmodina, Inferno, CD, PHP, 1997.

12As a closer look reveals, some women have indeed been using growling since the style’s inception, if one takes for instance the Dutch death metal band Achrostichon which started as early as in 1989. Achrostichon’s vocalist Corinne van der Brand produces typically monotonous deep growls, alternating with higher rough singing on long notes. An exemplary track of hers, « Pain », can be found on a compilation album with the remarkable title Awakening: A Compilation Featuring Females in Extreme Music that was published in 1997, no doubt in order to promote the apparently unknown existence of women in extreme musical styles14. Besides van der Brand, other examples of female growlers from the 1990s featured on the album are Runhild Gammelsæter (Thorr’s Hammer) and Stephanie Masson (November Grief)15. Gossow, too, started developing her death metal vocals as early as during the 1990s, joining the German bands Asmodina in 1991 and Mistress in 1997. Her work with Asmodina resulted in the production of the album Inferno that can be consulted for samples of her early style16.

  • 17 Conny Schiffbauer, Interview with Angela Gossow, University of Music and Dance, Cologne, October 8, (...)

13Gossow’s start with Arch Enemy in 2001 represents a striking evidence for the established connotation of growling with masculinity. At that time, Arch Enemy had already gained certain international reputation as a melodic death metal band with their first, male vocalist Johan Liiva. Gossow became part of the band after they had disbanded from Liiva. But the first recordings with the new constellation were published without revealing the new singer’s identity to the metal scene, thus obscuring her gender. Obviously the band expected certain scepticism among their fans against a growling frontwoman. When they revealed her identity, it indeed resulted in some astonishment about her voice being that of a female vocalist17. From a retrospective view, Gossow’s participation with Arch Enemy has proved to be an international success.

  • 18 Julian Schaap, Pauwke Berkers, « Grunting Alone? Online Gender Inequality in Extreme Metal Music », (...)
  • 19 Ibidem, p. 113.

14However, the fame of a single female growler may not result in a widespread change of view regarding the gendering of growling. Clearly, Gossow has become a kind of role model for many women of her own generation and younger generations. In a recent study on online “vocal covers” in extreme metal styles, Julian Schaap and Pauwke Berkersalso point to the marginal position of women in these genres, and emphasize Gossow’s outstanding position18. Within their own investigation, they even omitted examples of women who cover Gossow on YouTube, because in these cases « the gender gap is closed via Gossow and not directly by the women performing vocal covers19 ».

  • 20 « Det finns ingen relation mellan det som jag gör och någon annan sångerska, eller sångare för den (...)
  • 21 Serpent Omega, Serpent Omega, LP, Mordgrimm, 2013.

15Another striking evidence of Gossow’s special position can be found in a public comment by Pia Högberg, vocalist of the relatively obscure Swedish sludge metal band Serpent Omega. In 2013, Högberg was interviewed by Sweden Rock, a large Swedish rock magazine, which includes a special column presenting new comer bands, « Vilka fan är... » (i.e. « Who the hell are... »). When the interviewer brought up the unique sound of her voice, Högberg commented: « There is no relation between what I am doing and any other female singer, or any singer at all. But obviously I get to hear comparisons, like I would recall Angela Gossow of Arch Enemy. Maybe, this comparison is mostly about the lack of female singers in hard music20 », I would agree with Högberg’s conclusion that comparing her voice with that of Gossow seems to indicate the rareness of female growlers in the first place. Although we might take into consideration that Högberg herself justifiably strives for being seen as a unique artist, her style does indeed sound quite different from Gossow’s. As heard on the band’s eponymous album Serpent Omega, Högberg, who combines growls with shouted long notes on certain centre tones, could rather be compared to the aforementioned van der Brand from Achrostichon21. A part from the vocals, the sludge or stoner metal style of Serpent Omega clearly differs from the style of Arch Enemy. Hence, the fact that people tend to compare Högberg with Gossow clearly illustrates the male domination within the field of extreme metal vocals where Gossow may be accepted but rather as an exception from the male norm than as an example for a small but diverse group of female vocalists.

  • 22 Gabby Riches, « Re-conceptualizing women’s marginalization in heavy metal. A feminist post-structur (...)
  • 23 Ibidem, p. 266.

16The problem with the marginalization of women in death metal and other metal genres does not only concern these women’s social status, but also the gendering of cultural practices as masculine. As studies on female metal fandom have shown, « women enter into an already pre-defined discursive setting that has been constructed as masculine but these hegemonic discourses do not disqualify women’s experiences of pleasure and capacities to affect and be affected by others22 ». As Gabby Riches emphasizes rightfully in a recent article, the established notion in some earlier studies that heavy metal is a masculine culture often unwillingly tends to perpetuate women’s marginalization within the culture. Referring to her own observations on female moshers, Riches points out that these women « did not perceive moshing as a masculine practice but a male-dominated space23 ». I think that this discrimination between (allegedly) masculine practices and male domination is important, first, to avoid any overtly gendering of cultural practices and, second, to respect metal-women who do not consider their own participation in aggressive practices like moshing or growling as being something masculine. Therefore, metal scholarship has to critically review its canonical narratives about who were the most important actors in the invention and establishment of certain aesthetic practices.

The gendering of growling as a sound

17The reason for the gendering of the growling death metal voice, may partially be explained by the male domination and the discursive masculinization of the field and its practices. Nevertheless, there are even some more general aspects of sound beyond the particularities of metal culture that may contribute to the association of growling with masculinity rather than with femininity.

  • 24 I am grateful for Görtz’s illustrative demonstrations during my musicology courses at Hanover Unive (...)

18It is important to note that men and women have the same physical prerequisites for growling available. In contrast to melodic singing, growling is generally produced less by the vocal cords but rather by vibration of the so-called false cords that are situated above the vocal cords within the larynx. These false cords do not differ in size between men and women compared to the vocal cords. One can think of the sound of a cough, which does not sound that differently whether it is produced by men or by women. As metal vocalist Britta Görtz (Cripper) demonstrated in vocal workshops, growling works basically like a prolonged cough24.

  • 25 Simon Frith, Performing Rites. On the Value of Popular Music, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard Uni (...)
  • 26 Ibidem, p. 194.
  • 27 Holly Kruse, « Gender », in Bruce Horner, Thomas Swiss (dir.), Key Terms in Popular Music and Cultu (...)

19In spite of the almost gender-balanced physical precondition for the production of the sound, growling is often perceived as a rather male sound. Simon Frith has argued that, as listeners of popular music, weare used to associate voices with gender identity, even if we listen to recordings without seeing the singer: « We’ve learned to hear voices as male and female25 ». Frith refers to the performance artist Diamanda Galás, being known for her experiments in screaming to illustrate that voices like hers irritate us because they « confuse the body-in-the-voice »: the sounding voice seems not to fit with the gendered body we are helplessly trying to imagine26. It is no coincidence that Frith chose a female example for the aforementioned confusion. As Holly Kruse has argued, singing styles that are stereotypically perceived as “male” and “female” are not equally distributed among men and women: « Men in pop and rock music historically have been allowed greater latitude to use a range of vocal sounds [...] Such a range of sounds has not been open to women in mainstream music. In fact, female singers who transgress the boundaries of what is considered “nice” singing often encounter hostility from the male-dominated music industry and music press27. » Thus, a screaming woman is generally perceived more confusingly as a screaming man, and the gendering of growling does not only depend on its discursive association as just some sort of vocal expression, but also on its deviation from the relatively small range of vocal styles that are widely accepted as feminine.

20With regard to its characteristic sound qualities, I think there are three different reasons for the gendered perception of growling:

211. Although growling in its pure form lacks a clearly distinguishable pitch, it does sound at an approximate pitch level, similar to a drum for example. We could say, it is rather a noise than a tone. However, even this noise sounds at some pitch, and growling often sounds in the lower register of female voices or a medium male register. Nevertheless, the sound would not appear to be that “low”, if it would not be that rough. The rough timbre adds a note of darkness to the sound; combined with the general observation that its pitch is not that clearly distinguishable we perceive it as a relatively low-pitched sound, more similar to what we are used to identify as a male voice.

  • 28 Lucy Green, Music, Gender, Education, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1997, p. 31-44; Suzann (...)
  • 29 Cusick, « On Musical Performances of Gender and Sex », p. 33.
  • 30 Ibidem, p. 34-36.
  • 31 Tina Turner, Kurt Loder, I, Tina. My Life Story, New York, Avon Books, 1986, p. 204.

222. Roughness is also more closely associated with masculinity. Studies on gender in European and North American music culture like those by Lucy Green or Suzanne Cusick have argued that singing, meaning singing melodies with a clear voice, is the most established musical practice of women in history compared to many other practices like playing instruments or composing28. At the same time, cultural masculinity is more easily associated with non-singing, because this is what the majority of boys tend to perform after the change of their voice in adolescence. As a result, « in contemporary Euro-American culture, most adult women sing and most adult men do not29 ». Hence, as Cusick argues, rough rock vocals like that of Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam) may meaningfully be interpreted as performances of masculinity30. From the perspective of a female vocalist, Tina Turner attests such connotation in her autobiography with regard to her characteristically rough vocal timbre tending rather to rock than rhythm and blues: « [W]hen I say I can sing, I know that I don’t have a “pretty” voice. My voice is not the voice of a woman, so to speak. That’s why when I choose my music, I think of men31. » Generally speaking, a rough vocal timbre is culturally connoted with masculinity rather than with femininity.

233. The aggressiveness of the sound may contribute to the semantic connotation with masculinity. Although its aggressive character is obviously closely connected to the rough timbre, I would argue that this aspect affects the gendering of the sound in a special way because of the gendering of aggression. To the extent that aggression and aggressive emotionality and expression are associated with masculinity, sounds that are perceived as aggressive tend to be gendered as masculine sounds as well. Moreover they are not only rough, but even seemingly loud; growled sounds are not that loud themselves, but they appear to be because of the perceivably high amount of air pressure; together with electronic amplification, they sound loud. Thus, the roughness of growling differs from that of moaning, as sometimes applied by blues-inspired singers like Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, a rather fragile sound without the expressive quality of aggression.

24I think these general aspects should also be taken into consideration when discussing the gendering of growling. At the same time it is important to note that said aspects are not based on natural principles but on cultural conventions and thus open to challenge. I would even argue that the cultural presence of female growlers could potentially change our preconceptions about the gendering of vocal sounds with regard to pitch, roughness and aggressiveness.

Gossow’s individual approach to the practice and sound of growling

  • 32 Cf. Nico Heister, « Angela Gossow will neues Extreme-Metal-Projekt starten » [i.e. « Angela Gossow (...)
  • 33 Sarah Chaker, Florian Heesch, « Female metal singers. A panel discussion with Sabina Classen, Britt (...)
  • 34 Quoted in ibidem, p. 135.

25Angela Gossow was the vocalist of Arch Enemy from 2001 to 2014. Hence, we can look at her contribution to the art of death metal growling as a completed part of metal music history from today’s perspective, even though she might even reappear as a vocalist with future projects32. Although the main aim of my paper is not to investigate Gossow’s personal position about the marginalization of women in metal and the stereotyping of growling as a masculine style, I think it is important not to omit these aspects altogether. In a conference panel with female metal singers in 2009, Gossow made clear that she experienced the general situation of women in metal as having changed positively in the years of her commitment with the metal scene33. At the same time, she observes a certain continuity in the gendering of vocal styles like hers: « [S]ometimes I think it is not a compliment at all when men tell me “you sound like a man”, but it is almost an insult. I often realise this. Then you think: “Yes, but I am me!” I find it a shame that it is still so strongly associated with genders, but it definitely is a bit. But it is dissolving34. »

  • 35 Melissa Cross, The Zen of Screaming 2. Vocal Instruction for a New Breed, DVD, Loudmouth 2007.

26It is further remarkable to what extent Gossow developed an approach to growling as a professional musical practice. Although she describes her vocal activity more or less playfully as “roaring”, it is has nothing to do with the idea of somebody spontaneously screaming something on stage. After having suffered from nodule within the larynx in her early career, she took professional training, among others with Melissa Cross, a voice trainer specialized in punk and metal screaming35. Gossow places value on a healthy life-style, abstinence from drugs, daily workout and regular sleep. Doing so, she also meets the physical challenges of life while touring, being well aware of her responsibility for being healthy enough to not endanger any concert, which would result in a considerable loss of money.

Illustration 1 – Angela Gossow during her vocal workshop « Extreme, Aggressive, Female » at the international conference Heavy Metal and Gender, University of Music and Dance, Cologne, October 8, 2009

Illustration 1 – Angela Gossow during her vocal workshop « Extreme, Aggressive, Female » at the international conference Heavy Metal and Gender, University of Music and Dance, Cologne, October 8, 2009

Although her outward appearance was certainly well chosen, it is remarkable to see her wearing glasses on that occasion, divergent from her usual concert appearance. That might even be interpreted as illustrating her ostentatiously serious approach to the practice (and teaching) of growling.

Photography: Horst Schmeck

  • 36 Cf. Sarah Chaker, Florian Heesch, « Female metal singers », p. 142.
  • 37 « Ich bin keine Feministin », quoted in Gerhard Teuscher, « Arch Enemy. Ein kölsches Mädel und die (...)
  • 38 Cf. Andrea Juno, Angry Women. Die weibliche Seite der Avantgarde, translated by Kirsten Borchardt, (...)
  • 39 Joni Mitchell could serve as an example for that group; cf. Anne Karppinen, The Songs of Joni Mitch (...)

27With regard to the metal scene in general, Gossow comments critically on sexist shouts towards female singers during live concerts, although she makes it clear that she looks at herself as being tough enough to not feel offended. She distances herself consequently from practices of eroticised display of women like Revolver Magazine’s « Hottest Chicks in Metal » calendar36. In a magazine interview, she states that she does not consider herself being a feminist37. Nevertheless, a certain distance from feminism (or from its popular representations) is indeed widespread among women of Gossow’s generation (and younger) who might not think of feminism as something they could identify with but at the same time consider the social situation of women as something worth worrying about. Similar to the aforementioned Diamanda Galás or within the 1990s Riot Grrrl movement, there are indeed female artists who motivate their transgressive expressions to certain extent as feminist interventions38. Other artists, however, hesitate or even refuse to dedicate themselves to any feminist agenda although their own art might contribute no less to a more gender-balanced culture39. It could indeed be interesting to investigate why artists such as these emphasize their distance from feminism. However, for the aim of my study it is rather important to focus on the question how Gossow’s actual growling sounds like, in order not to get stuck on the rather simple observation that there even is a female vocalist who makes use of certain aggressive style. At the same time this aim is not to emphasize the “female” quality of her style in a rather essentialist approach but to characterize her style as a singular aesthetic phenomenon. In the following passages I will describe Gossow’s style alongside the categories of noise, dynamics and vowels, phrasing and the expression of diverse emotions.

Noise

  • 40 Arch Enemy, Doomsday Machine, CD, Century Media, 2005.

28The song « Nemesis », published on Arch Enemy’s album Doomsday Machine in 2005, has been a staple of the band’s live sets. As its mythological title indicates, the song includes a narrative of adopting the attitude of a goddess of revenge, a figure that is characterized as a « voice of anarchy40 ». A live recording, taken from Tyrants of the Rising Sun (2008), a DVD from a concert in Tokyo is particularly illustrative here, as it includes Gossow screaming alone, before the band comes in: She is announcing the song to the audience by first quoting the chorus line « We are one » followed by screaming out the song title. The following spectrogram of this recorded passage can be a useful tool for analysis, because it visualizes some audible aspects, occasionally even those we have difficulties to describe with words (Illustration 2). We can clearly see the noise quality of Gossow’s screaming. Any vocal tone with a distinct melodic pitch would appear as a group of parallel horizontal lines, representing the multiple overtones of a singing voice. The visualization does display something similar, at the point where the distorted guitars come in, as having multiple overtones on distinct pitches. Gossow’s screams, however, obviously have certain ranges of frequencies, too, but no distinct pitch; thus the picture illustrates the noise, or even the aggressive character of the voice, if you will.

Illustration 2 – Spectrogram of Arch Enemy, « Nemesis » live, in Tyrants of the Rising Sun. Live in Japan, DVD, Century Media, 2008

Illustration 2 – Spectrogram of Arch Enemy, « Nemesis » live, in Tyrants of the Rising Sun. Live in Japan, DVD, Century Media, 2008

The visualization is based on a so-called Fourier analysis, executed with the computer program Audiosculpt, showing the frequencies of sound on the y-axis from low to high pitches as they appear in time on the x-axis, flowing from left to right. The colour spectrum marks frequencies with high energy in lighter shades from yellow to red (dark red represents the strongest sounding pitches) and those with low energy from green to blue; silence is displayed as black. For a simplified illustration, this and the following pictures include one of two stereo channels only. Here, the three vertical columns on the left side of the picture visualize Gossow’s accentuated growls on the syllables «we are one », followed (in direction to the right) by her screamed « Nemesis! » and the incoming drums and guitars.

29A few seconds later into the song’s introduction, Gossow delivers another scream, now a very long one, rising from lower to higher pitches and at the same time from the vowels [y:]and[ε:] to a bright, biting [ja:]. The spectrogram shows that this scream is indeed reaching quite high pitch areas above 1.000 hertz (Illustration 3).

Illustration 3 – Spectrogram of Arch Enemy, « Nemesis », in Tyrants of the Rising Sun, excerpt

Illustration 3 – Spectrogram of Arch Enemy, « Nemesis », in Tyrants of the Rising Sun, excerpt

The arrow-like shape in yellow and red colour in the right half of the picture visualizes a long scream of Gossow without words.

Dynamics and vowels

30An example that Gossow commented on herself is the song « Carry the Cross » from Doomsday Machine (2005): At the beginning of the first verse, Gossow growls in a relatively low pitch with restrained air pressure. After a passage of rising loudness, she screams with full power in the chorus, mixing more of her singing voice into the basic growling, and thus matching the now escalated sound of the guitars. It is interesting to note that the lowest frequencies of her screaming reach an even lower pitch in the chorus, thus adding more “heaviness” to the vocal sound.

31Variety is not only produced with air pressure and within the different elements of the larynx, but also through a specific use of different vowels that vibrate in different areas of the upper vocal tract. In this case, the lyrics of the verse contribute to the relatively light timbre with the relatively high amount of light vowels, compared to the rhyming formula in the chorus part. As Gossow herself states, she writes some of her lyrics with a certain image of the musical figuration.

  • 41 « Carry the Cross », lyrics: Angela Gossow, quoted from album liner notes in Arch Enemy, Doomsday M (...)

[verse 1]
We walk through the ages
The world on our shoulders
A burden we carry
To the dark end of our days
A thousand eyes watching
Every step we are taking
Waiting to see us
Struggle and fall
[...]
[chorus]
Carry the cross
And suffer the loss
Hear my confession
Forever damnation
41

Phrasing

  • 42 Cf. Melissa Cross, The Zen of Screaming, cf. the audial demonstration of « Grunt » on the website o (...)

32A further aspect, which can be visualized via spectrogram analysis, but also observed with simpler methods, is time - such as the duration of the initial scream in « Nemesis » (Illustration 3). Whilst such a suggestion might sound almost trivial, I’d argue that time is a crucial element in Gossow’s individual style. To put it more precisely: Many conventional death metal growlers mainly apply short and heavy bursts of breath pressure resulting in a monotonous, punctuated, almost percussive sound. General depictions of that style tend to characterize it in such a way42. In contrast, Gossow uses her breath control more similar to melodic singing: She shapes phrases, each of them with a specific starting and end point and a development in between. Although she makes use of heavy bursts of breath pressure too, here, growling shows a great deal more variety and even converges melodic singing in terms of phrasing, despite her never singing on distinct pitched notes.

Aggression and other emotions

33In some Arch Enemy songs, the aggressive character of Gossow’s voice seems to fit perfectly with fictions of brutal physical violence, expressed in lyrics like that of the song « Ravenous ». In that exemplary case, the lyrical subject performs a lust for power in combination with cannibalistic hunger, expressed in the grotesque formula of a « carnivorous Jesus », thereby suggesting a phantasy of brutal butchery:

  • 43 « Ravenous », lyrics: Angela Gossow, Michael Amott, in Arch Enemy, Wagesof Sin, CD, Century Media, (...)

[verse 1]
I am hunting for your soul
It dwells within your heart
I lacerate the pounding flesh
Your spirits shall be mine.
[...]
[chorus]
Ravenous
I will be a god
Carnivorous Jesus
I need your flesh
43

  • 44 « The Day You Died », lyrics: Angela Gossow, Michael Amott, in Arch Enemy, Rise of the Tyrant, CD, (...)

34However, a glance at other songs from Arch Enemy’s output reveals that aggression is only one emotion within a wider range of expressions. The aforementioned « Nemesis » is less about a lust for violent revenge but rather about unity between the lyrical subject and everyone who wants to join the self-declared « voice of anarchy »: « We are one » is the centre chorus line, often shared by singing fans in live performances. Hence, the main topic of the song is community. Other songs do not include any aggressive element in the lyrics at all. For instance, « The Day You Died »from the album Rise of the Tyrant tells basically the desperate grief over the death of a beloved person, again from a subject perspective (« I feel you... I miss you so »)44. In this case, Gossow illustrates the emotional expression by applying effects such as vocal breaks.

35Taking this range of emotions into consideration, we have to state that no less than the notion of ‘aggressive vocal style’ is being challenged. Screaming has developed into a vocal style that is suitable for a range of emotions, including blatant aggression, but also emotions like grief, desperation, nostalgia and feeling connected to others. As far as the sound of her vocal style includes aspects of aggression, this kind of vocal aggression is combined with a variety of aggressive expressions, but also with expressions of despair, rebellion and collective self-empowerment.

Conclusion

36As anaesthetic practice characteristic of death metal, growling has been practiced by men and women since the early 1990s. As a critical view on death metal history has shown, female participation has largely been neglected or at least been marginalized as an exception within a male dominated field. Moreover, as with other cultural practices in metal, growling has been discursively ascribed a masculine style. In this context, Angela Gossow’s entry on the international stage with Arch Enemy in 2001 had an almost sensational effect. Until recently, she owned the status of an outstanding female exception. In addition to the discursive masculinization of growling as a practice, I have argued that the sound of growling is often perceived in a gendered way due to three different aspects based on cultural conventions: its relatively low (although almost pitch-less) register, its roughness and its aggressive quality. Growling’s very extreme character further expands the gender-confusing potential. Thus, growling could potentially contribute to a more complex understanding of how voice and gender are related.

  • 45 Phillipov, Death Metaland Music Criticism, p. 77.
  • 46 Ibidem, p. 81.

37An analytical look on Gossow’s individual style alongside exemplary excerpts from her recordings with Arch Enemy, has led to describing said style as a combination of noise with varied uses of dynamics, vowels and phrasing; growling can be depicted as an expression of a range of emotions, aggression being one of them among others like grief, despair, nostalgia and collective self-empowerment. Hence, Gossow’s vocals fit only partially into what Phillipov has attempted to characterize as “the” death metal voice. According to the author, listeners of the death metal voice are « offered identification only with sounds that are aggressive, relentless, and often, unvarying45 ». Phillipov emphasizes the radical differences of growling from conventional singing in popular music. She argues that the negation of singing’s aesthetic of expression even implies the potential for disrupting « stable and identificatory listening experiences46 ». In my opinion, it could be interesting to discuss whether Gossow’s style, being closer to singing than what Phillipov conceived as the typical death metal voice, implies less potential for disruption. However this is not the only element that must wait for future studies. We also need more thick descriptions of individual approaches to death metal growling to avoid simplistic ascription of musical aggressiveness. I think, it is not enough to refer to the most canonical examples. If Gossow, as perhaps the only female, has become part of the death metal canon in the meantime, it is time to go even a step further and take a closer look on more individual vocal styles. Thus far, the present study serves as a mere beginning.

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Bibliographie

Discography

Arch Enemy, Wages of Sin, CD, Century Media, 2002.

Arch Enemy, Doomsday Machine, CD, Century Media, 2005.

Arch Enemy, Rise of the Tyrant, CD, Century Media, 2007.

Asmodina, Inferno, CD, PHP, 1997.

Awakening : A Compilation Featuring Females in Extreme Music, CD, Los Angeles, Dwell Records, 1997.

Serpent Omega, Serpent Omega, LP, Mordgrimm, 2013.

Video

Arch Enemy, Tyrants of the Rising Sun. Live in Japan, DVD, Century Media, 2008.

Cross Melissa, The Zen of Screaming 2. Vocal Instruction for a New Breed, DVD, Loudmouth, 2007.

Bibliography

Brown Andy, « “Girls like metal, too !” Female reader’s engagement with the masculinist culture of the tabloid metal magazine », in Florian Heesch, Niall Scott (dir.), Heavy Metal, Gender and Sexuality. Interdisciplinary approaches, London, New York, Routledge, 2016, p. 163-181.

Chaker Sarah, Heesch Florian, « Female metal singers. A panel discussion with Sabina Classen, Britta Görtz, Angela Gossow and Doro Pesch », in Florian Heesch, Niall Scott (dir.), Heavy Metal, Gender and Sexuality. Interdisciplinary approaches, London, New York, Routledge, 2016, p.  33-144.

Cid, « An Exclusive Interview with Arch Enemy’s NEW Vocalist, Angela Gossow », Metal Rules, 29 March 2001 [En ligne] http://www.metal-rules.com/interviews/ArchEnemy_Angela.htm (consulté le 25 novembre 2017).

Cusick Suzanne G., « On Musical Performances of Gender and Sex », in Elaine Barkin, Lydia Hamessley (dir.), Audible Traces. Gender, Identity, and Music, Zürich, Los Angeles, Carciofoli, 1999, p. 25-48.

Erbe Marcus, « Extreme Metal Vocals », in Ann-Christine Mecke, Martin Pfleiderer, Bernhard Richter, Thomas Seedorf (dir.), Lexikon der Gesangsstimme, Laaber, Laaber-Verlag, 2016, p. 202-204.

Fast Susan, In the Houses of the Holy. Led Zeppelin and the Power of Rock Music, Oxford, New York, Oxford University Press, 2001, 272 p.

Frith Simon, McRobbie Angela, « Rock and Sexuality » [1978], in Simon Frith, Andrew Goodwin (dir.), On Record. Rock, Pop and the Written Word, London, Routledge, 1990, p. 371-390.

Frith Simon, Performing Rites. On the Value of Popular Music, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press, 1998, 352 p.

Granvik Jonas, « Vilka fan är... Serpent Omega », Sweden Rock, no 101, 2013, p. 16.

Green Lucy, Music, Gender, Education, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press,1997, 282 p.

Halberstam Judith, Female Masculinity, Durham, London, Duke University Press, 1998, 329 p.

Heesch Florian, « Extreme Metal und Gender. Zur Stimme der Death-Metal-Vokalistin Angela Gossow », in Sabine Meine, Nina Noeske (dir.), Musik und Popularität. Aspekte zu einer Kulturgeschichte zwischen 1500 und heute, Münster, Waxmann, 2011, p. 167-186.

Heesch Florian, Höpflinger Anna-Katharina, « Zwischen Spiel und Weltanschauung. Tod als Leitthema im Heavy Metal », in Christian Hoffstadt, Franz Peschke, Michael Nagenborg, Sabine Müller, Melanie Möller (dir.), Der Tod in Kultur und Medizin, Bloomington, Projekt-Verlag, 2014, p. 473-501.

Heister Nico, « Angela Gossow will neues Extreme-Metal-Projekt starten », Metal Hammer [site allemand], 13 janvier 2017 [En ligne] https://www.metal-hammer.de/angela-gossow-will-neues-extreme-metal-projekt-starten-754521/ (consulté le 24 novembre 2017).

Imbusch Peter, « Der Gewaltbegriff », in Wilhelm Heitmeyer, John Hagan (dir.), Internationales Handbuch der Gewaltforschung, Wiesbaden, Westdeutscher Verlag, 2002, p. 26-57.

Inhetveen Katharina, « Gesellige Gewalt. Ritual, Spiel und Vergemeinschaftung bei Hardcorekonzerten », in Trutz von Trotha (dir.), Soziologie der Gewalt, Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie, no 37, Opladen, Westdeutscher Verlag, 1997, p. 235-260.

Juno Andrea, Angry Women. Die weibliche Seite der Avantgarde, traduit par Kirsten Borchardt et Patricia Grzonka, St. Andrä-Wördern, Hannibal, 1997, 271 p.

Kahn-Harris Keith, Extreme Metal. Music and Culture on the Edge, Oxford, Berg, 2007, 194 p.

Karppinen Anne, The Songs of Joni Mitchell. Gender, performance and agency, London, New York, Routledge, 2016, 210 p.

Kruse Holly, « Gender », in Bruce Horner, Thomas Swiss (dir.), Key Terms in Popular Music and Culture, Malden, Mass., Blackwell, 1999, p. 85-100.

Mesiä Susanna, Ribaldini Paolo, « Heavy Metal Vocals. A Terminology Compendium », in Toni-Matti Karjalainen, Kimi Kärki (dir.), Modern Heavy Metal. Markets, Practices and Cultures. Conference Proceedings, Helsinki, Aalto University, 2015, p. 383-392.

Phillipov Michelle, Death metal and music criticism. Analysis at the limits, Lanham, Md., Lexington Books, 2012, 158 p.

Riches Gabrielle, Lashua Brett, Spracklen Karl, « Female, Mosher, Transgressor : A “Moshography” of Transgressive Practices within the Leeds Extreme Metal Scene », Journal of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music, 4, 2014, no 1, p. 87-100.

Riches Gabby, « Re-conceptualizing women’s marginalization in heavy metal. A feminist post-structuralist perspective », Metal Music Studies, 1, 2015, no 2, p. 263-270.

Schaap Julian, Berkers Pauwke, « Grunting Alone ? Online Gender Inequality in Extreme Metal Music », Journal of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music, 4, 2014, no 1, p. 101-116.

Teuscher Gerhard, « Arch Enemy. Ein kölsches Mädel und die Wurzel allen Übels », Legacy. The Voice from the Dark Side, no 62, 2009, p. 52-53.

Turner Tina, Loder Kurt, I, Tina. My Life Story, New York, Avon Books, 1986, 272 p.

Waksman Steve, This ain’t the summer of love. Conflict and crossover in heavy metal and punk, Berkeley, Calif., University of California Press, 2009, 398 p.

Walser Robert, Running with the devil. Power, gender, and madness in heavy metal music, Reprint, Middletown, Conn., Wesleyan University Press, 1999, 268 p.

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Notes

1 Certain passages of this paper are based on my previous article on Gossow published in German as « Extreme Metal und Gender. Zur Stimme der Death-Metal-Vokalistin Angela Gossow », in Sabine Meine, Nina Noeske (dir.), Musik und Popularität. Aspekte zu einer Kulturgeschichte zwischen 1500 und heute, Münster,Waxmann, 2011, p. 167-186. However, the present article includes a new systematic approach, a different methodology for the investigation of sound frequences and even some changes in interpretation. I am grateful for the critical remarks from my Ph.D students Laura P. Fleischer, Aleksandar Golovin, Chris Kattenbeck, Reinhard Kopanski, and Daniel Suer.

2 Regarding visual representations of female metal artists including Gossow in music magazines, cf. Andy Brown, « “Girls like metal, too!” Female reader’s engagement with the masculinist culture of the tabloid metal magazine », in Florian Heesch, Niall Scott (dir.), Heavy Metal, Gender and Sexuality. Interdisciplinary approaches, London, New York, Routledge, 2016, p. 163-181.

3 Judith Halberstam, Female Masculinity, Durham, London, Duke University Press, 1998.

4 Simon Frith, Angela McRobbie, « Rock and Sexuality » [1978], in Simon Frith, Andrew Goodwin (dir.), On Record. Rock, Pop and the Written Word, London, Routledge, 1990, p. 371-390.

5 See for instance Susan Fast, In the Houses of the Holy. Led Zeppelin and the Power of Rock Music, Oxford, New York, Oxford University Press, 2001, p. 159-201.

6 Cf. Peter Imbusch, « Der Gewaltbegriff », in Wilhelm Heitmeyer, John Hagan (dir.), Internationales Handbuch der Gewaltforschung, Wiesbaden, Westdeutscher Verlag, 2002, p. 26-57.

7 Katharina Inhetveen, « Gesellige Gewalt. Ritual, Spiel und Vergemeinschaftung bei Hardcorekonzerten », in Trutz von Trotha (dir.), Soziologie der Gewalt, Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie, no 37, Opladen, Westdeutscher Verlag, 1997, p. 235-260; cf. Imbusch, « Der Gewaltbegriff », p. 41.

8 Cf. Gabrielle Riches, Brett Lashua, Karl Spracklen, « Female, Mosher, Transgressor: A “Moshography” of Transgressive Practices withinthe Leeds Extreme Metal Scene », Journal of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music, 4, 2014, no 1, p. 87-100.

9 Cf. Robert Walser, Running with the devil. Power, gender, and madness in heavy metal music, Reprint, Middletown, Conn., Wesleyan Univ. Press, 1999; Steve Waksman, This ain’t the summer of love. Conflict and crossover in heavy metal and punk, Berkeley, Calif., University of California Press, 2009.

10 Cf. Keith Kahn-Harris, Extreme Metal. Music and Culture on the Edge, Oxford, Berg, 2007.

11 Cf. Marcus Erbe, « Extreme Metal Vocals », in Ann-Christine Mecke, Martin Pfleiderer, Bernhard Richter, Thomas Seedorf (dir.), Lexikon der Gesangsstimme, Laaber, Laaber-Verlag, 2016, p. 202-204; Susanna Mesiä, Paolo Ribaldini, « Heavy Metal Vocals. A Terminology Compendium », in Toni-Matti Karjalainen, Kimi Kärki (dir.), Modern Heavy Metal. Markets, Practices and Cultures. Conference Proceedings, Helsinki, Aalto University, 2015, p. 383-392.

12 Cf. Michelle Phillipov, Death metal and music criticism. Analysis at the limits, Lanham, Md., Lexington Books, 2012, p. 76.

13 Ibidem.

14 Awakening: A Compilation Featuring Females in Extreme Music, Los Angeles, Dwell Records, 1997. Regarding the feminist motive behind that publication it would be interesting to take a closer look into the paganism-inspired liner notes by Andrea M. Haugen (Hagalaz’ Runedance).

15 Regarding Gammelsæter’s growling about death in « Dommedagsnatt », cf. Florian Heesch, Anna-Katharina Höpflinger, « Zwischen Spiel und Weltanschauung. Todals Leitthemaim Heavy Metal », in Christian Hoffstadt, Franz Peschke, Michael Nagenborg, Sabine Müller, Melanie Möller (dir.), Der Tod in Kultur und Medizin, Bloomington, Projekt-Verlag, 2014, p. 473-501.

16 Asmodina, Inferno, CD, PHP, 1997.

17 Conny Schiffbauer, Interview with Angela Gossow, University of Music and Dance, Cologne, October 8, 2009, published in Rock Hard; cf. Cid, « An Exclusive Interview With Arch Enemy’s NEW Vocalist, Angela Gossow », Metal Rules, March 29, 2001 [on line] http://www.metal-rules.com/interviews/ArchEnemy_Angela.htm (retrieved November 25, 2017).

18 Julian Schaap, Pauwke Berkers, « Grunting Alone? Online Gender Inequality in Extreme Metal Music », Journal of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music, 4 (2014), no 1, p. 101-116.

19 Ibidem, p. 113.

20 « Det finns ingen relation mellan det som jag gör och någon annan sångerska, eller sångare för den delen. Men det är klart att jag får höra liknelser, som att jag påminner om Angela Gossow i Arch Enemy. Liknelsen kanske mest handlar om bristen på sångerskor inom hård musik », Högberg, quoted in Jonas Granvik, « Vilka fan är... Serpent Omega », Sweden Rock, no 101, 2013, p. 16.

21 Serpent Omega, Serpent Omega, LP, Mordgrimm, 2013.

22 Gabby Riches, « Re-conceptualizing women’s marginalization in heavy metal. A feminist post-structuralist perspective », Metal Music Studies, 1, 2015, no 2, p. 265; here, Riches refers to recent studies by Rosemary Lucy Hill and Rosemary Overell.

23 Ibidem, p. 266.

24 I am grateful for Görtz’s illustrative demonstrations during my musicology courses at Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media in 2011 and 2012.

25 Simon Frith, Performing Rites. On the Value of Popular Music, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press, 1998, p. 193.

26 Ibidem, p. 194.

27 Holly Kruse, « Gender », in Bruce Horner, Thomas Swiss (dir.), Key Terms in Popular Music and Culture, Malden, Mass., Blackwell, 1999, p. 90.

28 Lucy Green, Music, Gender, Education, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1997, p. 31-44; Suzanne G. Cusick, « On Musical Performances of Gender and Sex », in Elaine Barkin, Lydia Hamessley (dir.), Audible Traces. Gender, Identity, and Music, Zürich, Los Angeles, Carciofoli, 1999, p. 25-48.

29 Cusick, « On Musical Performances of Gender and Sex », p. 33.

30 Ibidem, p. 34-36.

31 Tina Turner, Kurt Loder, I, Tina. My Life Story, New York, Avon Books, 1986, p. 204.

32 Cf. Nico Heister, « Angela Gossow will neues Extreme-Metal-Projekt starten » [i.e. « Angela Gossow is going to start a new extreme metal project »], website of German Metal Hammer, January 13, 2017 [on line] https://www.metal-hammer.de/angela-gossow-will-neues-extreme-metal-projekt-starten-754521/ (retrieved November 24, 2017).

33 Sarah Chaker, Florian Heesch, « Female metal singers. A panel discussion with Sabina Classen, Britta Görtz, Angela Gossow and Doro Pesch », in Florian Heesch, Niall Scott (dir.), Heavy Metal, Gender and Sexuality. Interdisciplinary approaches, London, New York, Routledge, 2016, p. 133-144.

34 Quoted in ibidem, p. 135.

35 Melissa Cross, The Zen of Screaming 2. Vocal Instruction for a New Breed, DVD, Loudmouth 2007.

36 Cf. Sarah Chaker, Florian Heesch, « Female metal singers », p. 142.

37 « Ich bin keine Feministin », quoted in Gerhard Teuscher, « Arch Enemy. Ein kölsches Mädel und die Wurzel allen Übels », Legacy. The Voice from the Dark Side, no 62, 2009, p. 53. The article, a relatively long portrait of Gossow, includes a passage on her appearance at the above mentioned conference « Heavy Metaland Gender », then still a future event. The quotation is taken from her comments on that topic. Hence, her state menth as to be interpreted as a reaction to our academic intervention. That article (among several others) illustrates what is true for any ethnographic research: academic attention for metal is also reflected and commented from inside the scene.

38 Cf. Andrea Juno, Angry Women. Die weibliche Seite der Avantgarde, translated by Kirsten Borchardt, Patricia Grzonka, St. Andrä-Wördern, Hannibal, 1997.

39 Joni Mitchell could serve as an example for that group; cf. Anne Karppinen, The Songs of Joni Mitchell. Gender, performance and agency, London, New York, Routledge, 2016.

40 Arch Enemy, Doomsday Machine, CD, Century Media, 2005.

41 « Carry the Cross », lyrics: Angela Gossow, quoted from album liner notes in Arch Enemy, Doomsday Machine, cd, Century Media, 2005.

42 Cf. Melissa Cross, The Zen of Screaming, cf. the audial demonstration of « Grunt » on the website of the Complete Vocal Institute (Copenhagen), « CVT Research Site » [on line] http://cvtresearch.com/description-and-sound-of-grunt/; it is interesting to note that even here, Gossow is the only female mentioned among « Singers who use or used grunt ».

43 « Ravenous », lyrics: Angela Gossow, Michael Amott, in Arch Enemy, Wagesof Sin, CD, Century Media, 2002.

44 « The Day You Died », lyrics: Angela Gossow, Michael Amott, in Arch Enemy, Rise of the Tyrant, CD, Century Media, 2007.

45 Phillipov, Death Metaland Music Criticism, p. 77.

46 Ibidem, p. 81.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Illustration 1 – Angela Gossow during her vocal workshop « Extreme, Aggressive, Female » at the international conference Heavy Metal and Gender, University of Music and Dance, Cologne, October 8, 2009
Légende Although her outward appearance was certainly well chosen, it is remarkable to see her wearing glasses on that occasion, divergent from her usual concert appearance. That might even be interpreted as illustrating her ostentatiously serious approach to the practice (and teaching) of growling.
Crédits Photography: Horst Schmeck
URL http://journals.openedition.org/criminocorpus/docannexe/image/5726/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 284k
Titre Illustration 2 – Spectrogram of Arch Enemy, « Nemesis » live, in Tyrants of the Rising Sun. Live in Japan, DVD, Century Media, 2008
Légende The visualization is based on a so-called Fourier analysis, executed with the computer program Audiosculpt, showing the frequencies of sound on the y-axis from low to high pitches as they appear in time on the x-axis, flowing from left to right. The colour spectrum marks frequencies with high energy in lighter shades from yellow to red (dark red represents the strongest sounding pitches) and those with low energy from green to blue; silence is displayed as black. For a simplified illustration, this and the following pictures include one of two stereo channels only. Here, the three vertical columns on the left side of the picture visualize Gossow’s accentuated growls on the syllables «we are one », followed (in direction to the right) by her screamed « Nemesis! » and the incoming drums and guitars.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/criminocorpus/docannexe/image/5726/img-2.png
Fichier image/png, 944k
Titre Illustration 3 – Spectrogram of Arch Enemy, « Nemesis », in Tyrants of the Rising Sun, excerpt
Légende The arrow-like shape in yellow and red colour in the right half of the picture visualizes a long scream of Gossow without words.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/criminocorpus/docannexe/image/5726/img-3.png
Fichier image/png, 243k
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Pour citer cet article

Référence électronique

Florian Heesch, « “Voice of anarchy”: Gender aspects of aggressive metal vocals. The example of Angela Gossow (Arch Enemy) », Criminocorpus [En ligne], Rock et violences en Europe, Metal et violence, mis en ligne le 04 février 2019, consulté le 17 février 2019. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/criminocorpus/5726

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Auteur

Florian Heesch

Florian Heesch, musicologist, holds a Ph.D. from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. He is professor of Popular Music and Gender Studies at the University of Siegen, Germany. His main fields of research include music and mythology, voice and gender, heavy metal, learning popular music. Among his recent publications are Heavy Metal, Gender and Sexuality (edited volume, with Niall Scott, 2016); Rohe Beats, Harte Sounds. Populäre Musik und Aggression (edited volume, with Barbara Hornberger, 2016); « Voicing the Technological Body. Some Musicological Reflections on Combinations of Voice and Technology in Popular Music », Journal for Religion, Film and Media 2, 2016, no 1, 47–67; « Klang – Text – Bild: Intermediale Aspekte der Black Metal-Forschung » (with Reinhard Kopanski), in Sarah Chaker, Jakob Schermann, Nikolaus Urbanek (eds.), Analyzing Black Metal – Transdisziplinäre Annäherungen an eindüsteres Phänomen der Musikkultur, 2017.

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