Women in Metal (2017)

My daughter is total frontman material. She’s begun that timeless tradition of microphone mimicry, holding an assortment of implements up to her mouth and singing in front of the mirror. All imitation aside, she’s got a mean creative streak too, spinning her own lyrics to “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” (I’m partial to the one that goes, “Daddy, daddy, daddy, da…”).

Although Gorgonna’s musical tastes are only just now developing in earnest, I’ve begun to curate a wealth of material she can reference when she’s fully ready to step into the spotlight and accept the cold embrace of female-fronted metal music. Here are but a few of the noteworthy women in metal I listened to in 2017:

Arch Enemy's Alissa White-Gluz.


Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy)

Let’s not fool ourselves — Arch Enemy brought female-fronted screams to the mainstream, proving that ladies could growl gutturally as well as any man. And although Will to Power doesn’t do much musically that diverges from Arch Enemy’s now well-worn formula, the diverse vocal talents of Alissa White-Gluz (now three years into the gig after filling the formidable shoes of her trailblazing predecessor), shows they still have areas they can explore. Time will tell whether they’ll go full Agonist in the future, but Gorgonna had better start exploring those territories now if she has any hope of inheriting Alissa’s mantle. (Hey, if you’re gonna dream, dream big.)

Michelle Nocon of Bathsheba.
(Photo credit: No Clean Singing)

Michelle Nocon (Bathsheba)

Most doom metal makes me want to willingly enter an everlasting coma. But if every doom album had a vocal performance as entrancing as Michelle Nocon’s on Servus, my frail consciousness just might be up to the task. Nocon’s voice floats wraith-like above the rest of the band’s bone-crunching sound, but it’s her harsh vocals — a dry, necromantic rasp, full of venom yet still very female-sounding — that offer a refreshing take on the typical monstrously macho vocal style. I promise I’ll hide my initial cringing if Gorgonna’s serious musical attempts start slowing to doom-like tempos because I’ll know there’s a chance it could be like Bathsheba.

Cheri Musrasrik and the rest of Succumb.

Cheri Musrasrik (Succumb)

Speaking of atypical vocal styles — what the fuck, Cheri? Your band is already playing a type of dizzying, dissonant death metal that I can’t quite categorize, thanks in no small part to your unorthodox (for death metal, anyway) vocal style. But damned if I’m not impressed how your hoarse, reverb-heavy shouts add abyssal new dimensions to what’s already a chaos-fueled ride. If this is what madness sounds like, I need more of it.

Kelly Schilling, Lauren Vieira, and Dreadnought.

Kelly Schilling and Lauren Vieira (Dreadnought)

Like the mighty tides themselves, the entirety of A Wake in Sacred Waves ebbs and flows between sublime crushing heaviness and startling moments of beauty. I can’t help but credit much of that to the vocal performances of Kelly Schilling and Lauren Vieira (who also handle keys and guitar duties respectively, earning them a double dose of kudos). While both musicians lend their gorgeous voices, Schilling’s fearsome screams are among the best I’ve heard in all folk and black metal. Sometimes talent comes in spades — I can only hope the same for Gorgonna someday.

Brittney Slayes from Unleash the Archers.
(Photo credit: Metal Archives)

Brittney Slayes (Unleash the Archers)

My current music-listening habits leave little room for power metal. Between all things black, death, and dissonant, I’ve all-but forsaken the uplifting genre of my youth. I’ve hung my sword and artifacts of power on the mantle. And yet somehow, magically — miraculously — I have heard the summons sent by Unleash the Archers and the powerful pipes of Brittney Slayes. She inflects so much charisma, energy, and, yes, power into her performance on Apex that I’ve once again taken up my sword in the name of all things good and just and glorious. It is a legacy worth passing down.

Linnéa Olsson (Maggot Heart)

Linnéa Olsson (Maggot Heart)

Step aside, Kelly Clarkson — woman empowerment now comes in the form of Maggot Heart AKA Linnéa Olsson. Loud, gothy rock jams have only recently begun popping up on my radar, and of all of them this one-woman singer, guitarist, songwriter, and all-around badass is leaving the biggest impression. I don’t want to know the kind of hurt that inspired the music behind City Girls, but it’s got enough grit and heart for me to want to hand Gorgonna a guitar and just start recording.

Obviously, there were plenty of talented ladies with teh methulz flowing through their veins who didn’t make this list, and, with one notable exception, they’re no less deserving than the ones who did (sorry, Amelie Brunn — Islamophobia isn’t becoming of you or anyone else). But I want to ensure Gorgonna has no shortage of metal role models to look up to — if you know a killer act I missed here, feel free to make mention and I’ll add her to the list.

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