I have to give credit to instrumental bands for not fucking up their sound with a vocalist. I love bands with vocalists for sure but if I had a nickel every time I previewed something and said, “wait for the vocals,” I would be rich.
In the world of prog, every band has to be able to play. It comes with the territory. But having a vocalist is like adding another instrument to an already complex situation. It needs to fit just like anything else. And so we are clear, I mean ANY vocals, be it clean or harsh or both.
Nothing is more unfortunate than hearing a song start and the music is so good, and then the singer opens their mouth…and they aren’t as good as the music they are singing over. To be clear, prog vocalists are rarely horrible. Even Charlie Dominici could sing, he just was clearly weak. That tends to be the case.
Prog bands will be great musically but rather than demand a singer that fits what they are capable of, they get someone who can sing in general. Getting a pop singer or a folk singer just doesn’t work in the world of prog. But bands seem to just want anyone who can hold a tune and navigate through their music. Oceans of Slumber come to mind.
On the other hand, instrumental bands have a “fuck it” attitude. The music comes first and last for that matter. Nothing is worse than an instrumental band who suddenly thinks they need a singer. If you have a sound that works, why add a potentially fatal ingredient? Look what happened to the band Intervals. Yes the singer was good but it basically tore the band apart. If you don’t know the story, read here.
So when I do a review and express how bummed I am about a singer, this is where I am coming from. There are plenty of great singers out there and yes it might be hard to find them, but isn’t it worth the search? Why settle? And if you are in a band, get feedback on your vocalist. They need to be the face and personality of your band.
And sure, sometimes a singer can “grow” on you. Why depend on that? It seems rather risky in this day and age when there’s so much music out there. As a progressive music fan, I love all types of bands. So I am hopeful when I preview a track, the singer won’t be the death knell for an otherwise great sound.