In Florida, 400 singers hope tune breaks world records
FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — The song is called “400” for a good reason: It boasts a mind-boggling 400 singers — all growling, screaming and doing their best to break a Guinness world record.
Seven of those singers live in southwest Florida, but the sprawling death-metal track features people from across the world, including Mexico, Italy, South Africa, Canada, Bulgaria, Argentina, Russia and across the United States.
Fort Myers singer Bryan Riquelme has just four words on the 37-minute song: “The thoughts of thee.” But he makes the most of them, screaming in a death-metal style he calls a “tunnel low.”
Several of his Southwest Florida friends are on the song, too, including two members of the band Nitheful.
“It was a dope idea,” says Riquelme, frontman for Bradenton deathcore band Grasping at the Shadow. “I was just like, I’m down if everybody else is down!”
Everybody else was down, it turns out. The finished song, “400,” was released last month on iTunes, YouTube, Bandcamp and other music sites.
Now they’re just waiting to hear back from Guinness World Records to confirm they broke the world record. A Guinness spokeswoman says their review process can take three or four months.
Cape Coral singer Paul Lyons says he’s thrilled just to be part of the project, no matter what happens.
“Even if Guinness doesn’t make it official, it’s still a cool thing,” says Lyons, who sings with local punk/metal band Kindly Shut Up and grindcore act Swamp Gas. “I just thought it was a great idea.”
That idea started with singer Fred Nylist of Canadian metal band Beyond Deviation. Nylist originally thought about collaborating with only 15 or 20 people, but then he and a friend broadened the scope: They wanted to beat the record-holder for the most vocal solos on one song.
That song, “Melancholy,” was recorded in 2016 and featured 365 singers from Nepal, according to Guinness World Records. Guinness officials verified it in February 2018.
“I was like, that would be pretty easy to beat!” Nylist says and laughs. “Well, maybe not easy…”
Nylist posted the idea on social media, and soon word spread to metal singers all over the world. Those singers started recording and sending in their vocal lines — each just 3-10 seconds long and later stitched together by Nylist into one big song.
Lyons’ contribution? It’s just one word, sung in a high-pitched scream: “Insanity.”
The Cape Coral singer loves how he fits in with the other 399 voices on the song. “It blended together a lot better than a lot of people thought it would.”
He also loves the overall song and what it represents.
“It’s crazy,” he says. “It’s unique, because it’s never been done before. You just kind of sit back and listen to it and hear all the different voices.”
It took Nylist about a month to edit together all the vocals. “400” stitches together five or six preexisting songs along with all-new lyrics and transitional music between each section.
Nylist says the result sounds better than he’d expected.
“I was surprised,” he says. “When I first started putting it together, there was a hundred voices on it, and I’m like, ‘OK, this is sounding really interesting.’ And then you get to 200 voices, and you’re like, ‘OK! It’s actually really flowing well.’