Voices of Metal: Megan Orvold
Written by Brett Kihlmire
Hailing from Monroe, Wisconsin, Megan Orvold is the front woman for both Disappearance and Casket Robbery. She’s known for her charming demeanor, powerful vocals, and domineering stage presence. So how did it all begin with this rising star in the underground American metal scene?
“Heavy metal was more of a high school thing for me…since I can remember, I grew up singing anywhere I could. Actually, the only reason I went to church every week was to sing in the choir,” she says with a laugh. “Choir was actual lessons. We had an instructor that I’d go to twice a week. I actually sang in show choir in high school, so I did that too.”
As previously mentioned, Megan didn’t really get into heavy metal until her high school years. Though she started off with rock music, it was Sevendust that sent her down the path of heavy music, which eventually led to a love of bands like The Agonist, Arch Enemy, Lamb of God – ex-Arch Enemy front woman Angela Gossow is one of her big inspirations.
Though she graduated high school in the first decade of the century, Megan didn’t start playing with bands right away. When she finally decided she wanted to be in a band she didn’t set out and start one on her own. Rather, she hit Craigslist and started answering ads. The first response she received had offered her a position singing backup, but that wasn’t good enough – she wanted to be front and center.
In 2013, Megan answered an ad for a newly forming metal band that would go on to become her mainstay, Disappearance. Of course, she the band wasn’t quite what she was expecting, but that was a good thing.
“I joined Disappearance thinking it would be kind of like Flyleaf…mostly singing with a few strategic growls here and there. Slowly, I realized I realized I really liked doing it and our sound developed. It became a good 50/50 mix,” she says, before admitting, “I did the wrong thing at first. I taught myself to fry scream, or what I thought was fry screaming, off of YouTube. My problem was I had no volume. Really, I didn’t know what I was doing.”
Dedicated to her craft and concerned that singing and growling wrong could damage her voice in the long terms, Megan ultimately called upon Mary Zimmer (Santa Marta, ex-White Empress, ex-Luna Mortis) to teach her the proper way to growl, so not to damage her vocal chords and enhance her techniques.
“She is a fantastic vocal instructor. After even one lesson I went about in a completely different way. She explains everything the correct way. Personally, for my voice, I’m a soprano. I have to be careful with my voice so I don’t ruin it. That took a lot of time and I’m still learning, but that’s where I got all my harsh vocal training.”
Pushing the envelope and always looking to improve her technique, Megan worked with Mary to not only increase her volume but her range as well and warmup technique as well. As a result, she expanded into the high vocal territory.
“I have some really fun highs on this Casket EP that were fun to do,” she says. “I find myself drawn more into the harsh, more brutal stuff, so I can see what I can do vocally.”
The “Casket EP” is a reference to her work as the new lead vocalist for the brutal death metal band, Casket Robbery. Joining the band in 2017, Megan will be featured on the upcoming extended play, The Ascension. She is currently on tour with the band on the No One Gets Out Alive! tour, but has stated that she will remain with Disappearance as well.
“I’m really excited about it. I’m excited to see everyone’s reception and to be on tour for the first time. I went on tour with Casket as their merch person, but this is completely different.”
Given her experience with Disappearance and the popularity of Casket Robbery, Megan’s entrance into Casket is very likely to be well-received given the solid reputation of both bands.
“I’m definitely curious to see how people react to this Casket Robbery stuff. I’m really proud of it. I’m really excited to see where it takes my voice. Half the people I talk to say they don’t even know it’s a girl, and that’s what I’m going for. That’s a huge compliment to me.”
Bringing a great deal of personality to the stage, Megan prides herself in her ability to dominate the stage and rev up the crowd by using her natural sarcasm and head-turning transformation from a natural “little mermaid voice” to brutal harsh vocals. Least to say, when she’s on stage, she keeps the crowd locked on her set.
“Really commanding a stage is intimidating at first. Learning when and how to use banter while you’re on stage…I really don’t want to look at any of the videos of Disappearance, because I was super awkward,” she says with a laugh, but she was quick to learn. “I really feel the music. The lyrics are all mine, so that’s really awesome to really tap into that brutal, dark side. And I watch a lot of live videos from other bands I enjoy. I watch a lot of Angela Gossow. She’s a really awesome influence on me. She’s such a badass.”
Juggling two bands, touring a continent and constantly working to improve her technique and stage presence, Megan is nothing short of a dedicated professional. In her four years playing in a band she’s come a long way with her voice and she’s always improving. And with experience comes advice:
“Take lessons. Make sure you know how to treat your voice well. Make sure you’re doing the correct things, so you’re not pissed off in a year when you’ve completely blown your voice. And especially coming from a female position, you’re going to have those keyboard warriors out there who are going to say they don’t like it or whatever. You have to focus on yourself and doing what’s better for you.”
Disappearance’s debut album is available wherever killer underground metal is available and the band commonly rocks the Midwestern United States, especially the Madison, Wisconsin area. As for Casket Robbery, the No One Gets Out Alive! tour wraps up in San Jose, California on July 2nd and the new extended play unleashes hell in August.