Hideous Divinity released their latest record this past summer with Adveniens. The album captures a sprawling collection of brutal technical death metal, along with some chaotically delicious vocal work. But behind those vocals comes a unique story from the band’s frontman Enrico Di Lorenzo. For when Enrico isn’t screaming away, he’s actually a doctor of the voice (or professionally known as a Phonetician).
Enrico actually has quite the resume as you can see from his bio:
Medicine Doctor, Audiologist, Phonetician, singer of Hideous Divinity, extreme singing teacher.
Graduated in Medicine and Surgery at “La Sapienza” University of Rome in 2006 (110/110 Cum Laude). Completed post-graduate school in Phoniatrics and Audiology of “La Sapienza” University of Rome in 2012 (70/70 Cum Laude). He focuses his assistant and researching work on the problems and the physiology of the artistic use of the voice.
I chatted with Enrico about his passion and experiences in working with voice, specifically in what inspires and intrigues him about the subject, and how to manage your voice as a vocalist.
What did you want to strive for vocally on the new record?
On the last album (Adveniens), I worked a lot on the pitch of my voice, trying to define a melodic line in the songs (even though death metal growling and screaming have no proper pitch). I think I’ll keep on working on this feature and on the dynamic [timbre] modulation. Anyway, my intention at the moment is to dig into the [vocals] of the genre, and stay true to it. Do not expect out of place experimentation [laughs].
What inspired you to be a vocalist (as well as to professionally work with the voice)?
I started singing when I was 16. I used to play bass in a metal garage band and we had no singer. So almost everyone tried to sing, with terrible results. I was the very worst actually [laughs], but it was the most amazing thing I ever experienced. I loved it and immediately decided “this is my way”. I started studying singing, even if there was no one able to teach growling and screaming [to me], so I had to transpose what I was learning in clean singing into the extreme field. I’ll never forget the day when something changed in my growl, when it started to flow easy like a soft massage, and I wondered for years what changed and why. At the same time, I started medicine school, keeping a foot in death metal and a foot in medicine until after finishing my university studies Summa Cum Laude, I found that there was a specific field of medicine focused on voice! It was an obvious consequence [to pursue] a post-graduate [degree] in Audiology and Phoniatrics, and now, after 20 years of singing and 10 years of medical studies, I run my own office. I work with singers, and other voice professionals, hold masterclass for singers and doctors and I shout my demons out on stage with Hideous Divinity. I’m the happiest Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hide on earth.
As a Phonetician and extreme singer, have you conducted specific studies on extreme singing?
Of course I did. In 2010, I presented in Italy, Norway and USA my study on Growl and Scream showing the physiology behind these special phonations. Consider that I presented this study to an academic audience but, incredibly, my colleagues welcomed my research in an enthusiastic way. After that, I made more [studies] that have been published and presented in several medical conventions. The most important ones, in my opinion, are the ones on Female Extreme Singing, and one [that uses a] High Speed Camera in the study of a growling voice. With the first [study], I showed the peculiarities of the female extreme singing in terms of physiology and acoustic analysis. With the second [study], which I conducted together with Professor K. Izdebsky in California, we showed the activity of laryngeal structures and mucosa during the growl using a high speed camera that can take from 5000 to 20000 frames each second, and we analyzed the findings with different dedicated software. What we found is amazing: during extreme singing we observe vocal folds in open positions for most of the time, with vocal folds, false vocal folds, arytenoid caps and aryepiglottic folds vibrate at the same time with multi-phonic and multi-periodic activity; that means that we have at the same time many sounds generated together on different structures, and many sounds on the same structure. Of course, the findings and the impact of these studies are not limited to the artistic fields. What I’m trying to investigate is human physiology and pathology; extreme singing gives science opportunities that the community could only dream about. These two studies have been recently published in a scientific book for ENT (ears, nose and throat), Normal and Abnormal Vocal Folds Kinematics Vol. II. So in the end, death metal seems to be a good teacher [laughs].
What do you see a lot of younger vocalist do that is dangerous to their voice?
The terrible combination internet /overproduction. A lot of young guys try to imitate what they hear on their favorite records. Too bad that, many times, what they hear is built in studio with tons of effects like distortion, chorus, pitch shifter and crazy EQ in order to give power to ineffective growls obtained with abusive muscular approaches. We [the band] had the same problem in 1996 but, at least we did not have our idol on YouTube explaining their (dangerous, ineffective) technique without mentioning the overproduction behind the final result. Nowadays a lot of people try harder and harder on the same exercises that don’t work, but “ipse dixit” [a dogmatic and unproven statement]… so they try even harder, and in the end they call the Phonetician to (try to) fix the problems.
What are some daily practices you keep in mind to keep your voice healthy?
Voice is air, it is not muscles, so always work on breathing and on management of the airflow. Once you control the effects of airflow on the larynx without hurting yourself, you can dig in the sound working on resonance an aesthetic feature in a safe way. Easy, isn’t it? Well it’s not, but it’s damn funny!
To end things on a special treat, Enrico has shared a vocal play-through of one of the new songs off the record (which you can find below). What makes this video so unique is that we aren’t just simply watching Enrico scream… but while one camera is on him, there’s another camera down his throat! This gives fans and other vocalist a really intimate look at what’s going on inside the throat when vocalists scream and growl.
Check out Hideous Divinity and their new records Adveniens if you somehow haven’t yet, and let us know your thoughts on the video in the comments.