Often left as the icing on the cake or as an after thought these days , particularly with metal, vocals are what I scrutinize the most and is most often the deal breaker for me. Here we are talking about singing, there are a couple on the list who incorporated screaming in various degrees into what they do , but this list are the singers that went that really poured their hearts and souls into each note.
10-Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden
This is almost more of an honorable mention as there is more strain on his highs which are not as high as well even a "Matter of Life and Death" , but then again being the Trooper , Bruce came back from a bout of cancer that could have made matter's much worse so that combined with taking his age into consideration, Bruce still does better than most.
9- Lariyah Hayes of Khaotika
Hayes dominates "the Flame Unleashed" with a range that dips down into a urgent alto before soaring up into her more power metal soaring register. She manages to pull off a classic metal vocal without getting mired down in cliches of 80s metal yodeling. Even at her most melodic she doesn't take away from the heaviness of her band and can rough it up with the boys who provide most of the backing growls. Expect big things from her in the future and check out their most recent album if you have yet to give it a spin.
8- Joy Von Spain of Eye of Nix Joy
Von Spain can belt out an operatic soprano, but isn't afraid to tighten up her vocal cords and give an anguished scream either. Her vocals set "Moros" ahead of the pack when it comes to bands experimenting with sludge encrusted metal. The dark back drop her band sets behind her compliments her voice and gives her the breathing room to belt it out as needed. Projects like Myrkur which might have gotten more press tried their hand and similar, Von Spain just executed it with a broader emotional range and a more expansive set of pipes.
7-Kennedy Ashlyn of Them are Us too
While Ashlyn's style might wear it's influences on her black sleeves. To pay such homage to Elizabeth Fraser is a feat in and of itself and she nails. You can hear who she is and she doesn't sing in her own made up language so this is not a total hero worship affair. She bends her melodies with fey grace and really made "Remain" an album I keep returning to.
It was a bold move to cover an entire Taylor Swift album. Up until this point I had respect for Adams and had a curiosity in regards to his stuff ,but the passion he injected into "1989" sealed the deal. He takes pop melodies and puts is heart into them blending a style that mixes Bruce Springsteen with Tom Petty, but much more melodious than either and allowing me to really hear his voice as never before.
5- Chelsea Wolfe
"Abyss" found Wolfe stepping out of the ghostly shadows and baring her voice in a more vulnerable manner than largely shed the effects dripping approach she did so well and showing a lot of growth. Live she was even more impressive, and her praises have already been sung on this site a hundred times over, you are probably shocked that she is ranked higher and while she had the best album of the year , she worked well within the context of the songs and got the job, where the next four singers really caught me by surprise where I saw Wolfe coming a mile away. This is not to say she wasn't awesome after all anyone who made this list really accomplished something considering all the albums I heard this past year.
4- George Lewis jr aka Twin Shadow
Here is where it gets really competitive , "Eclipse" hung tough on my iPod thought out thanks to smooth melodies Lewis had such mastery of . He was often dark yet very soulful and encapsulated everything I could want from a male pop singer as far as dynamics go, despite the fact he largely stays out his head register and I'm a sucker for a good falsetto, but we'll get to that one soon enough. His voice always goes to the perfect places in the song making for something very infectious.
3-Emma Beth Rundle - Marriages
She really came into her own on "Salome" and displayed a more emotive power and greater range. At times she sounds like Tori Amos, but this speaks more to her willingness to cut loose and pour her heart out into the songs, which earned other singers like Ryan Adams a place on this list as well. Emma just managed to make my jaw drop a few more times than most.
2- Miny Parsonz of Royal Thunder
Miny brought it on "Crooked Doors" taking her voice up into places where classic rock gods used to go. She not only flexed her pipes to a greater extent on this album , but really created melodies that stuck in my head and had me listening to this album in binges. She went to some grittier places and also back off and offered some more reserved lines that were just as emotional due to her willingness to get real lyrically and immerse not only herself in the experience , but the listener as well.
1- Abęl Makkonen Tesfayeaka aka The Weeknd
When he preforms at the Grammys this year the secret will be out of the bag. I told you I'm a sucker for falsetto, by Abel comes with a Michael Jackson like tenor, but with more of a gangster lean to it. His music is darker than any soul music has been since Marvin Gaye's "Here My Dear " album, with Abel singing out drug induced antics in a tongue and cheek manner than has a passion to it that makes you wonder where his legend begins and life ends. "Beauty Behind the Madness" is what pop should be.