For some time I've been trying to figure out how certain bands come out with a specific vocal effect.
My best example will be the popular song Diary of Jane by Breaking Benjamin on their album Phobia. Right on the begining verse you can hear some kind of vocal effect that slightly distorts the voice (starting at 0:40 If I had to, right beside you, and I dont mind, do you like that, etc) Even before the harmonies and vocal arrangements you can hear that bit of distortion - modern sounding vocals at the end of each phrase.
Maynard from Tool does this as well in many of their songs.
I don`t know exactly what you`re talking about. It may be his hand held megaphone.
Maynard usually records more than one track with diferent voices. He keeps most of the times his normal voice on the center channel, and pans diferent voices (listen to lateralus at 1:38 and you`ll hear 2 voices. On Roseta Stoned he uses a megaphone and some panned voices).
I don't think it's an effect that's being "done" intentionally at the beginning of those phrases. I think there's a bit of distortion (or maybe saturation) on the vocals as a whole and certain inflections and consonants are making it kinda sound funky. Like when he sings "If I had to" the "haaa" in "had" is distorting a bit because he pushes the "haaa" in the back of his throat a bit. I can sing that without any effects really.
Also, there's a low-octave on a lot of Breaking Benjamin vocals and that might be coming through a bit more on the beginning of those phrases (might be a slow attack on the compressor or something).
Vocomotion, I think you are in the right track. I feel it has a lot to do with the saturation created by way they are doubling and compressing the vocals, the room, microphone - and of course the singer.
But I'm sure there's a way to mimic that effect using some light distortion. I honestly haven't tried it yet but now that I have a t.c. helicon voice works plus I'll be experimenting a lot with it.
There's so much you can achieve with it by mixing the different variables and therefore A LOT to learn.