Opeth’s Mikael Akerfeldt possesses one of the most brutal gutturals in metal history, so much that it became legitimately controversial when he decided to drop his harsh vocals from Heritage onward. So how did Akerfeldt become a master of the technique? He tells the story right here.

“When I started with my first band, Eruption, nobody wanted to be the singer. I was like, ‘Well, I’ll be the singer then.’ Because I couldn’t really sing like Celine Dion, I tried to do the screams instead.”

“I didn’t know if I had the technique until we recorded the first album, because that’s the only time I got feedback from somebody who knew what it’s supposed to sound like in the studio — that was Dan Swano. He said, ‘That’s the most insane death metal vocals I’ve heard.’ I was like, ‘Oh, you don’t say.’ I didn’t know.”

Akerfeldt says Morbid Angel’s David Vincent was his only real influence for guttural vocals, though Death legend Chuck Schuldiner, Autopsy’s Chris Reifert and Bathory’s Quorthon also played a key part. “Vincent was the best because you could hear what he was saying,” Akerfeldt raves. “He is the best, I think that’s a fact. It’s not a matter of taste, you can’t dispute that. He’s the king of death.”

“I based my technique on not hearing what I’m doing,” the musician continues. “The technique is based on trying to cut through the noise. It’s not so high in volume — it’s pretty low in volume — but it sounds like a beast if I get it right.”

Watch our chat with Mikael Akerfeldt at the top of the post. Opeth’s newest album, In Cauda Venenum, will be released Sept. 27. To grab a copy of the record, click here.

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