I’m not a metal connoisseur, and by that I mean I neither know what the best line up of Slayer was, nor do I have any particularly strong opinions regarding aluminum. But I know what I like. And what I like is when bands do away with convention. For instance, I always loved when a band just randomly had, like, a fiddle player or a banjist (that’s a banjo player, right?) just sort of hanging around. Or that guy from The Mighty Mighty Bosstones who just dances. But, if you follow this to the logical extreme, this means that my favorite bands out there that would theoretically have members that aren’t even human. But that’s not possible, right? Right?
Nuh-uh. They’re out there, and they’re awesome. Today, we’re showing you our three favorite metal bands featuring non-human lead singer.
Birds of a Feather Shred Together
Normally, you’d expect metal musicians to have names like Beefcake the Mighty or Hans Orifice or Balsac the Jaws of Death (confession: I’m just reading names off the Gwar wikipedia page). But not Waldo. No, Waldo is a name that’s most commonly either preceded by “Where’s” or followed by “Emerson.” But Waldo does not a metal musician make.
Tell that to Hatebeak. Hatebeak is a metal band featuring two audio engineers and a 21-year old African grey parrot named–of course–Waldo. They’re a studio project (bandmates Blake Harrison and Mark Sloan insist that the decibels of a live show would be torture on poor Waldo) so they record, and release, and that’s it. To date, they have three albums, each one titled more impressively than the one before (Beak of Putrefaction, Bird Seeds of Vengeance, The Thing That Should Not Beak.) They also don’t have any lyrics to speak of. Typically, they just turn on the microphone and let Waldo do his thing. The results are, well, this. Go ahead. We’ll wait. (Note: this music just got my dog riled up something fierce.)
When he’s not screeching into a microphone, Waldo sounds like a perfectly normal parrot. According to parrotchronicles.com (holy crow, they really do have a website for everything these days, huh?) when he’s not singing metal, Waldo likes “whistling the Andy Griffith theme song and imitating a ringing telephone.” See that? That’s the most charming thing you’ve ever read about a bird. Heavens.
Dogs of War
If you’ve ever thought that metal vocals were nothing but low, guttural growls, then have we got the band for you. Caninus is a metal band fronted by two pit bulls. And their lyrics sound, honestly…not dissimilar from a human-fronted metal band. Take a listen. It’s pretty radical. Even cooler? They were contemporaries of Hatebeak, and the two bands actually released an album together.
Funny enough, underneath all the vicious music and snarls lies a deceptively kind, gentle band. For instance, the two pit bull lead singers? You’d think their names were, I dunno, Bloodpit and Steelfang. NOPE! Basil and Budgie! Doesn’t that sound like a show on Nick, Jr.? Like the kind of show that’d give Dora the Explorer a ratings challenge? “Come along with Basil and Budgie” as they learn what it means to melt faces!”
Even more surprising? The entire band was vegan. Their story, per their website, is that Basil and Budgie were saved just days before being euthanized in a kill shelter. The site contains links to vegan websites, petfinder, and more. Huh. That’s…surprising.
And then, the sad part. The part that I have trouble typing even though I never met this pup. Y’see, Caninus isn’t a band anymore. Basil developed a brain tumor in 2011 and had to be…y’know. *Sniff*. My only hope is that Basil is waiting at the Rainbow bridge, where she can one day reunite with Budgie, and together with Ronnie James Dio, they’re going to rock the f$&% out of the afterlife for eternity.
You’ll notice that my byline at the top of the page mentions that I really, really like robots. This is true. I think robots are pretty much the most radical things out there. Decepticons, Terminators, the R2 unit that Luke didn’t take–all awesome. That’s why I’m out of my mind excited for Compressorhead.
Click play. Listen to all 2:45 of it. AND DON’T COME BACK UNTIL YOU DO.
THERE. SEE. WASN’T THAT AWESOME? It’s unsurprising how much better four arms can make a person at drums (Goro was always the best member of the Mortal Kombat Starlite Band, after all). But what is surprising as that the actual geniuses–no sarcasm–that built these guys pre-programmed him in to headbang! That said, my vote for band MVP is the little fella that’s holding the hi-hat cymbal in place at 1:51 so the drummer (Stickboy) doesn’t annihilate it.
Now, my personal fa- OH. METAL BAND. I GET IT. YOU GUYS! METAL BAND! Anyway, they play covers of popular rock songs, but with all due respect to Finger (guitar) and Bones (bass), the best songs are the ones where Stickboy can lose his mind. Er. Circuits. Skynet? I hope you’re taking notes because this is what we need robots to be doing, not time traveling and murdering humans!
The only thing we’re missing? MORE OF THESE BANDS. Three is not enough, universe. The results of non-human metal to date have been promising, so I can only hope we’re about to embark on an era when bears and dogs and chickens and things are able to take center stage and rock our collective asses. One can dream.
Brian Cullen really, really enjoys robots but doesn’t understand how they work. He also enjoys drinking beers, and has a pretty solid understanding of how that works. You can read about his musings about both on Twitter @BucketCullen.
Brian loves cyborgs as well as robots, as proven in The Little-Known History of RoboCop.