The launch of the innovative new songwriting ‘circle’ by the Troubadour Collective got me thinking about the way musicians approach songwriting. Songwriting often means different things to different people.

For some people, including myself, songwriting is primarily about the music. For others, and just as valid, the ‘writing’ part gives the lyrics precedence. I would also suggest that non-musicians would tend to take this view as well - given the reference to writing.

I’m not sure why I place more emphasis on the music, although I suspect that it is to avoid word fatigue given my job entails a lot of writing. I also find writing riffs is far more immediate - handy given my low boredom threshold.

Most of the metal bands I have been a part of tended towards a more regimented approach - largely because of the technicality of the music and the need to be very tight as a group.

We would start with one or two riffs written on guitar, gradually adding layers and transitions until the song was more or less complete. For the most part, I have been a vocalist, so my input during that phase was generally a case of arrangement, freeing up space for the vocals to sit.

As a footnote, I find many people dismiss harsh metal vocals as unmusical. However, I reckon that they play a percussive, rather than melodic part in the music.

Creating counter rhythms and different tones and timbres can be as expressive as hitting a high C. I admit that I am not a fun of the full-on ‘cookie monster’ death metal growl which often comes across as one-dimensional and, to be honest, a tad silly.

Given the limitations of ‘screamed’ vocals, it is important to be able to convey a feeling. At their best, heavy vocals reach a crescendo that I can only compare to soul.

Unfortunately, when it comes to songwriting, many young bands now either seem to swallow genres whole. Even those lauded as innovative are, to me, just bolting together song styles rather than using them to forge something fresh.

One of the bands who epitomise this, at least for me, is A Day To Remember.

Their schtick appears to be gluing hardcore breakdowns with pop-punk-lite choruses. I like both of those styles, but sticking them together with the musical equivalent of duck tape is horrible.

They should have a look back at Faith No More’s back catalogue - where you will find everything from thrash to funk, jazz to country, without any of ADTR’s hamfistedness.

• Vocals are always the clincher when it comes to my top bands. A powerful, emotive and original singer can raise a band up to legendary status while generic vocals can ruin an otherwise great tune.

This is another aspect of younger metal bands I feel is lacking. So many simply mimic the death metal sound and fail to achieve any emotion (and I don’t mean emo!). It often seems to be more about the technique of growling low or screaming high while missing the feeling.

My favourite vocalists play a diverse range of rock and metal. However, they do share original, gritty, almost primal voices. Top of the list is Philip Anselmo of Pantera and Down.

When he joined the glam version of the band in 1988 he was a Rob Halford wannabee with an awesome vocal range (just listen to Cemetery Gates). Pantera, unusually for a such a big band, got heavier and heavier as they got older, with Phil the main driver.

He ditched the high end and developed his hardcore style which allowed him to achieve the equilibrium between his excellent ‘singing’ voice and his furious primal roar.

Mark Lanegan is only second because he doesn’t do metal. However, there is no voice better than Lanegan’s low, weary and honest baritone - particularly when given the room to breath as on his 90s solo records.

I admit that I am a Lanegan fanboy. One of the ‘lesser’ lights of the Seattle grunge explosion of the early 90s with Screaming Trees, he wasn’t exactly unknown.

However, when he joined Queens of the Stone Age on stage at Gig on the Green in 2001, I would say that the cast majority of the crowd (without the benefit of a comprehensive online infobase) weren’t too sure who he was.

Hence why my holler of ‘give them the voice, Mark!’ was greeted with bemusement. He did indeed give them the voice!

And finally, Lynn Strait. I don’t necessarily consider Snot to be a bona-fide nu-metal band, at least not the rather limp latter end of the genre.

But that may be due to singer Lynn Strait, another vocalist who have that ‘something’ to his voice. Sadly he only recorded the one album before he died in a car accident in 1998.

Of course, the list is far longer than that. There ather notables include Huddie Leadbetter, Otis Redding, Layne Staley, Chris Cornell, Mike Patton, and Peter Steele amongst others.