It’s only appropriate that in this era where "The Voice" is a hit TV show, we pay tribute to "the voices" of rock. We can all appreciate those transcendent voices that can mine our emotional core and make the hair stand up on the back of our necks. As such, we felt compelled to pick the best of the best for your enjoyment. Using a purely unscientific judging method that accounts for range, tone, timber, and spelling proficiency, let’s see which singers made it to our list, shall we?
[Disclaimer: Yes, we absolutely love and adore Robert Plant, John Lennon, Roger Daltrey, Axl Rose, Ozzy Osbourne, Chris Cornell, Eddie Vedder, Layne Staley, Anthony Kiedis, Scott Weiland, etc. However, we're focusing this list on guys (and gals) whose output in the 2000s has been stellar, in our humble opinion. Feel free to debate though ;-) - We encourage it in the comments!]
Jonathan Davis - Korn
It’s not often you can say a band or singer has reinvented rock music at all, but to do it twice in a career is downright unheard of. However, Mr. Davis has done just that. At the start of their career, Korn broke through with their entirely different and downright weird mix of metal, funk, hip hop, and scat-style vocals that were unlike anything else. What is that singer doing? A growl? A primal scream? Weeping? It changed hard rock at the time. Now, with their new album The Path of Totality, Korn have melded dubstep and metal into a surprisingly perfect blend. Even metal magazines like Revolver named it their album of the year. Here’s to Jonathan Davis- a true pioneer of music and a voice unlike any other.
Ivan Moody - Five Finger Death Punch
Whether it’s a crooning baritone or a primordial heavy metal roar, Ivan Moody displays a freakish range of vocal abilities. It’s purely sickening to think what he can do vocally- he’s just as comfortable singing an acoustic ballad like “The Bleeding (Acoustic)”as he is screaming on a brutally nihilistic metal tour de force like “Burn It Down.” He’s almost Pantera meets Sinatra, if you can imagine that. And his voice rings true every time. I guess that’s why 5FDP have so quickly become the biggest band in hard rock today.
Maynard James Keenan - Tool & A Perfect Circle
We all know Maynard’s voice from the very first note- brooding, injured, yet beautiful. Maynard has taken the term “inventive” to new heights in the world of music- creating a stage presence, reputation, and sound as progressive and different as you can imagine. Here’s to what the future holds for MJK- we’ll all be watching, and definitely be listening.
Gerard Way - My Chemical Romance
Not only can Way belt out hooks that scorch the heavens, he's something of a conceptual genius. The Black Parade came to life as an instant classic with all of the grandiosity of a classic film, while it's follow-up Danger Days: The True Lives of The Fabulous Killjoys feels like The Who's Quadrophenia on steroids. Way can scream, he can sing, and he can write a moving modern rock opera. He's pretty much the man all around...
Myles Kennedy - Alter Bridge, Slash
Kennedy displays a range and timber utterly pleasing to the ear. When he’s soaring vocally or darkly contemplating his melodies, it’s just plain great rock and roll, and he knows what he’s doing. It may only be rock and roll, but we like it!
Lacey Sturm - Flyleaf
Anyone who has seen Lacey Sturm in person has the same uncanny thought: “How does someone so tiny have such an unbelievably powerful voice?” That, my friend, is a query for the ages. Whatever the reason, Lacey booms beautifully in a larger than life fashion. Speaking of which- Flyleaf are finishing up their third studio album, expected to be out this year. We can’t wait to hear what’s on the docket from Flyleaf this time!
Billy Corgan - Smashing Pumpkins
Corgan has as distinctive a voice as you can imagine. As Billy’s integral voice from the nineties emerged from Chicago, it’s influenced countless musicians. Now, Corgan and his Smashing Pumpkins are back with an experimental concept album called Oceania, set for release June 19th. The buzz is palpable, and we can’t wait to hear this groundbreaking piece of art. If history is any guide, Mr. Corgan will have done it again with another incredible musical work.
Corey Taylor - Slipknot & Stone Sour
Like his friend Ivan Moody, Corey Taylor displays an absolutely supernatural vocal range. After establishing himself and Slipknot early in his career as metal gods stooped in brutality and bereft of melody, Taylor has subsequently shown that he has the vocal chops to go up against anyone. Slipknot and Stone Sour have both woven melody into their music in a surprisingly and utterly beautiful fashion. Who knew? Well, we all should have seen this one coming judging from the talent displayed by Taylor.
Aaron Lewis - Staind
No one can nail a hard rock ballad quite like Aaron Lewis, the tortured leading man from Staind who also has a thriving solo - and even Country! - career. Whether it’s just him, his guitar, and the truth or the full electric backing of Staind, Lewis knows how to use his voice to convey beauty and pain to all listening.
Cedric Bixler-Zavala - The Mars Volta & At the Drive-In
Bixler-Zavala is a force of nature, and a singer that has transformed his sound throughout his career. Beginning as the frenetic front man for At The Drive-In - a hugely influential band from the early 2000’s that burned bright but faded fast - CBZ was pure punk. However, with the onset of his next project, The Mars Volta, he helmed a prog-rock outfit with the voice and incredible range of a pure banshee. It was as if Henry Rollins started to sing like Robert Plant halfway through his career. It certainly makes for one of the most interesting and impressive pair of vocal chords in rock today.
Perry Farrell - Jane’s Addiction
Farrell could be called the voice that launched a thousand bands. As the godfather of Alternative music, Farrell has a howl that’s entirely his own, yet belongs to all of us. As an icon who forever changed the course of music, we salute you, Mr. Farrell.
Tim McIlrath - Rise Against
With McIlrath at the helm, Rise Against have always sounded like a wounded animal backed into a corner- that is, if a wounded animal could make intense, present and beautiful music. McIlrath has one of the most unique voices in rock, with an urgency that comes across in his songs and makes them utterly irresistible.
Chester Bennington - Linkin Park & Dead by Sunrise
Bennington remains one of the most dynamic voices in 21st century hard rock. From Hybrid Theory's now classic one-two punch to A Thousand Suns sprawling glitched-out concept, Bennington carries darkness and light with power. In Dead By Sunrise, he tapped into a punk metal energy that felt like Alice in Chains and The Misfits scoring Blade Runner. With every successive release, he evolves, and we can't wait to hear what's in store on Linkin Park's forthcoming single "Burn it Down" and new album...
There’s our look at some of hard rock’s most incredible voices today. Who do you think deserves to be on our list? Tell us!