Study shows metal singers and babies share vocal techniques

Behemoth in concert
Behemoth in concert

New scientific research has discovered that heavy metal vocalists and babies instinctively protect their voices when making loud noises.

The study was carried out by Krzysztof Izdebski of the Pacific Voice and Speech Foundation who used hi-tech, high-speed imaging of the throat in his research.

He discovered that when most people shout or scream, their vocal cords collide which can cause hyper vascularisation, ulceration, bleeding or swelling – but that’s not the case in both infants and singers.

Izdebski tells Inside Science: “Heavy metal singing is essentially what a baby does.

“A little baby has all the sounds – it has the sounds of scream and growl, and inhalation and high pitch and whistle and low pitch. We learn from the beginning. We have it and then we somehow lose it.”

He continues: “A heavy metal growl is one of the most aggressive sounds – and singers can do it over and over again.

“The images that we recorded clearly show that it’s produced predominately by structures above the glottis. So, the vocal folds open and vibrate but actually don’t collide.”

Izdebski says his research has given him a newfound respect for heavy metal vocalist and adds: “These guys produce really very specific tasks and very specific melodies that are then supported by instruments.

“And it’s not just kind of going on stage and screaming and doing sort of random stuff. They really compose this stuff.”

Scott Munro
Louder e-commerce editor

Scott has spent 35 years in newspapers, magazines and online as an editor, production editor, sub-editor, designer, writer and reviewer. Scott joined our news desk in the summer of 2014 before moving to the e-commerce team in 2020. Scott keeps Louder’s buyer’s guides up to date, writes about the best deals for music fans, keeps on top of the latest tech releases and reviews headphones, speakers, earplugs and more. Over the last 10 years, Scott has written more than 11,000 articles across Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog. He's previously written for publications including IGN, the Sunday Mirror, Daily Record and The Herald newspapers, covering everything from daily news and weekly features, to tech reviews, video games, travel and whisky. Scott's favourite bands are Fields Of The Nephilim, The Cure, New Model Army, All About Eve, The Mission, Cocteau Twins, Drab Majesty, Marillion and Rush.