Brutal Pet Sounds: Metal Bands Fronted by Animal Companions

Since the introduction of harsh vocals in heavy music, metal singers have tried to imitate the sounds of the animal kingdom, from the bark of a dog to the squeal of a pig. And although us humans have come close, nothing strikes fear in our primitive minds quite like the roar of an apex predator. Take for example the title track off of Body Count’s latest album Carnivore, which features the roar of a lion in the chorus, ripped straight from an internet video. Making these kinds of guttural noises comes naturally to animals, making them much more qualified to front a metal band than any human. Below, I’ll be discussing the metal bands fronted by pets, and their owners who provide the backing music.

You’ve probably seen the internet videos of various animals making ungodly sounds, with added distortion and blast beats playing underneath them. Just look up Death Metal Rooster or Death Metal Walrus or Death Metal Howler Monkey. Then there’s Animal Covers by Insane Cherry, a YouTube channel that autotunes videos of dogs, cats, birds, goats and other creatures, doing covers of popular rock songs like System Of A Down’s “Chop Suey,” Rammstein’s “Du Hast,” and Slipknot’s “Duality.” 

In 2012, ANIMAL New York published a video called “Pug Destroyer: Dogs Singing Death Metal.” The video caught the attention of grindcore band Pig Destroyer, who reached out to ANIMAL and offered to print Pug Destroyer shirts, with all proceeds going to a pug rescue charity in Florida. More “Dog Metal” videos started to pop up. The music videos produced by channels like The Bubbas and Beelzebuddies featured small dogs barking into microphones and close-ups of their paws slapping the strings of a bass or pressing down on the keys of a piano. 

Probably the most popular Dog Metal band to grow out of this trend is Caninus, a deathgrind band fronted by two pitbull terriers Basil and Budgie, backed by members of hardcore band Most Precious Blood. In 2004, they released their debut album Now the Animals Have a Voice, and the year after, they put out a split with the world-famous deathgrind band Cattle Decapitation. Unfortunately, the band is no longer active because both dogs have since passed away.

But before Dog Metal, there was Bird Metal. In 2003, Hatebeak (a parody of hardcore band Hatebreed) came onto the scene. The band is fronted by an African grey parrot named Waldo on vocals, with Mark Sloan and Pig Destroyer noisemaster Blake Harrison on guitar, bass and programmed drums. Their discography is full of bird-related metal puns, such as their 2015 album Number of the Beak (parody of Iron Maiden’s Number of the Beast) and their song “Seven Perches” (Possessed’s Seven Churches). But they’re not the only Bird Metal band, there’s also Naegleria Fowleri, featuring the vocals of an Amazon parrot named Luna.

Hatebeak are trailblazers in the novelty genre of animal metal. They’ve done splits with Caninus, Birdflesh (a grindcore band comprised of only humans), and mostly recently, Böar Glüe, a band fronted by Tico, Taco and Sugar, three guinea pigs. Their backing music is courtesy of Richard Christy, who previously drummed for bands like Death and the early years of Iced Earth (long before Jon Schaffer fell into the far-right deep end and participated in the Capitol insurrection). I’ve never heard of the term “boar glue” before, so I looked it up and immediately regretted it. For those who are curious, Google at your own risk. As the owner of a guinea pig myself, imagining distorted guitars under my pet Hippo’s incessant squeaking makes him somewhat more tolerable. It might be worth starting my own side band with Hippo on vocals, that way he can sing for his supper.

On the topic of pigs, the last band I’ll be highlighting is Pig Cage, a death metal band from China that uses samples of pigs squealing and grunting for the vocals. The enigmatic man behind the project, known only as Maihem, gets his pig sounds from field recordings of farms near his home, as well as from internet videos. In 2018, he put out his only album Screaming pig in China. In a way, it’s genius getting pigs to do your vocals, since the Chinese government tends to crack down on most aggressive forms of music.

It should go without saying that none of these bands have ever played live or have gone on tour. Touring is rough enough for humans, but it would be even more stressful to a confused pet. Nevertheless, the possibilities are endless for animal metal. It’s only a matter of time before a black metal band tries to get a goat to scream for them. Or maybe we can teach a chimpanzee to sing for a handcore band (just keep it away from the moshpit because those things can be vicious). As for cats, they’re not the least bit interested in joining your metal band, so don’t even bother.

Chris Aitkens, aka The Frog, is the host of SEWER SPEWER on CJLO every Monday at 12:00 p.m.