How To Sing Like James Hetfield (5 Brilliant Tips)

Published Categorized as Singing

James Hetfield’s singing voice has been described as having “grit,” “distortion,” “range,” and “YEAH!”

While it can be difficult for other singers to approach James Hetfield’s forceful and wide range as the towering leader of 80s thrash metal superstars Metallica, but with the right tips, you should be singing like him in no time.

What Are The Steps Needed To Sing Like James Hetfield?

How To Sing Like James Hetfield
  • Compression and Suspension

Many singers are baffled by the concept of breath support, but it’s actually rather simple once you put it into action.

With an unsupported tone, airflow is more prevalent, while supported tones are more likely to have sustained engagement of the diaphragm rather than collapsed posture and breathing when you climb or hold a phrase.

The diaphragm’s sustained engagement is the key to a supported tone.

  • Free Yourself of any Tension

James Hetfield’s singing style relies heavily on the ability to release tension so that you don’t yell and scream when you hit those strong highs.

It’s worth checking out. James’s cruel, vicious voice is spouting vitriol without a trace of stress, and he’s just standing there.

If you want to sing all of Metallica’s songs and keep your voice in good shape, you must first learn to sing without tension and strain.

  • Articulation of Vowels

James had a natural ability to produce vowel sounds correctly, even if he didn’t realize it.

Vowels in speech are produced by the articulators (teeth, tongue, lips, etc.), but those in singing are produced by the tongue and the surrounding resonance area.

So there’s a reason why singers like James Taylor and Chris Cornell don’t have to strain to reach their highest notes, and it has nothing to do with their inherent vocal range.

  • Find a Balance Between Bright and Dark

An important aspect of singing is finding the right balance between the positive and negative aspects of each note that you sing.

The “darkness” in singing is the vowel placed in the back of the head, which has a slightly classical quality to it.

To give you bite and force for those rapid fire and violent lines, the “bright” is placed in the front of the mix.

  • Distortion

If you’re employing the appropriate technique, you can achieve James’s grit and distortion with relative simplicity.

By slightly “holding” in the glottis, you can create highly pressurized air that rattles and grinds with the overtone of distortion that we all know and love, resulting in distortion.

  • Cluster Of Consonant Sounds

To say James wasn’t a wordsmith would be an understatement.

You can plainly hear every syllable James sings, no matter what range or technique he was using at the time of the performance.

This is a result of consonant clustering, which comes naturally to some people but not to others.

  • Pitch 

James’ pitch was always flawless, even though he wasn’t the world’s most classically trained vocalist.

Pitch is not a result of what you hear but rather of the frequencies you generate.

The reason for this is that playing scales all day will not help you improve your pitch, but particular tonal and frequency exercises will do so practically immediately.

  • Style

A talented and charismatic performer, James was a natural singer.

In addition to his distinctive vocal range and timbre, James Hetfield’s versatility in the band’s history is one of the key reasons Metallica’s music has endured through the ages.

Developing your own unique singing style will make you stand out from the rest of the group!

What Voice Type Does James Hetfield Have?

James Hetfield has a large, strong baritone voice that is ideal for them.

Thrash Metal is one of the heaviest subgenres of Metal music, and Metallica played a significant role in its development.

While the vocals in this style do not need to be as sophisticated as they are in Gothic Metal, Hetfield demonstrates that he can still be fantastic in this primitive manner.

What Makes James Hetfield’s Voice So Unique?

James Hetfield’s voice is quite distinctive in that he never had to yell while singing but was yet powerful enough to ignite fires on stage and in the studio with his own distinct gravely rumbling style.

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Can James Hetfield Actually Sing?

I believe he is a competent singer.

He is an excellent vocalist who is a wonderful fit for Metallica.

Although he is not a particularly gifted vocalist, his voice and singing style are ideal for Metallica.

Although he lacks range and is not always in tune, he may not be as good if he is placed in front of another band.

However, it’s difficult to imagine anyone performing Metallica songs better. Of course, he wrote those tunes, and they fit his style well.

How Did James Hetfield Get Started Singing?

James developed an interest in music after picking up an acoustic guitar.

In high school, he founded his first band, Obsession, which had the Veloz brothers on bass and drums, Jim Arnold on guitar, and Hetfield on lead vocals; subsequently, Fernando Martinez (Alvarez) temporarily replaced James Arnold.

The band spent a lot of time jamming in the Veloz brothers’ garage, alongside roadies Ron McGovney and Dave Marrs.

Marrs and McGovney later became members of the band after the Veloz brothers left.

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What Is James Hetfield’s Vocal Range?

James has the typical vocal range spanning from B1-Bb5, i.e. around 2.5–3 octaves.

What Is The Highest Note James Hetfield Can Sing?

The highest note James Hetfield can hit is Bb5. For example, in the song “The small hours”, the live version exhibited the highest note James can reach.

What Are Some Classic James Hetfield Songs To Practice?

  • That Was Just Your Life

Metallica faced a difficult dilemma with 2008’s Death Magnetic: return to their thrash beginnings without completely abandoning everything they’d become over the previous two decades.

This was particularly difficult for James, whose early vocals sounded like a knife being sharpened and whose singing has evolved significantly over the years.

And yet opener “That Was Just Your Life” features the vocalist delivering a steadier wail to a tune that sounds like it could have been penned by Anthrax in 1989.

As a result, many Metallica fans experienced a joyful homecoming to the band, albeit one that occasionally felt lost within the band’s recent musical triumphs.

  • Nothing Else Matters 

Nothing Else Is Important is a track from The Black Album.

This power ballad is great because James paid close attention to the song’s dynamics, singing softly during the verses before unleashing his passionate, gritty voice that Metallica fans know and love during the chorus.

  • “Phantom Lord” 

Young Het is at his most ferocious on Kill ‘Em All, and few tracks demonstrate this more than “Phantom Lord.”

At times muddled in its delivery, James’ performance demonstrates a young singer with enormous promise who desired to sound like a goblin in a chainsaw orgy.

But, of course, the best part is the chorus’s “deep” vocals, which feature an adolescent James attempting to reach octaves he would eventually reside in.


It takes time and practice to sing like James Hetfield, but it is totally feasible with the appropriate approach and a pragmatic approach to vocal methods such as vowels.

By Sophie Collins

Hi my name is Sophie, I am a Singer, Producer and Instrumentalist. I also love to bake and get creative with my hands. When I am not strumming my guitar, you can find me reading a good book with a glass of wine in my hands.

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