Top 15 Female Hard Rock and Metal Bassists 2014
Another year is fast coming to an end and it is once again time for the year-end lists begin. During the month of October, Metalholic celebrated the women of hard rock and metal with voting lists for top performing bassist, guitarist, drummer, and overall. This is the first year that fan voting has been included as part of the selection process, and you offered up a fantastic selection of talented artists. The voting ended October 31st, and the results have been tallied, duplicate votes deleted, and staff input included (to ensure it is not merely a popularity contest) to form this year’s amazing and diverse list.
As always these lists are about celebrating and recognizing women in hard rock and metal as they continue to make a bigger impact each year. This is not about how “hot” or “sexy” they are, but rather about the talent, the influence, and the impact they bring to the music and perform on stage.
Each year’s list is based on the present: The here and now. If an artist was not actively recording and/or touring in 2014 they did not qualify for this year’s list. So if you are looking for names like Trish Doan from Kittie, Jo Bench from Bolt Thrower, or Lena Abe’ from My Dying Bride, note that while we respect and admire all these artists, they were not really on the radar in 2014, but all have appeared on previous lists and we expect to see them on future lists as well.
This list below represents the Top 12 fan vote getters as well as three staff inclusions. They are not ranked by votes or perceived talent and they are in no particular order. Those listed here span the diversity of heavy music from alternative hard rock to extreme metal. In rock and roll, style and presence count as much as technical precision, and all these bassists are dynamic performers and worthy of note.
The Amazing Doris Yeh has become a staple on our Top Bassist lists. She has an amazing gift for bringing just the right nuance to her performances in the studio, and she is a delight to experience on stage. This year, she and her Taiwan-based band, Chthonic toured in support of last year’s highly regarded release, Bu-Tik; the band’s seventh full-length studio album. Yeh is one of Chthonic’s co-founders, and this year they celebrate their 15th anniversary. She admits taking to the bass by default as her father played the four-string beast, and there were always basses floating about the Yeh home. Her set up includes an ESP – Andromeda 5-string signature bass, Ampeg SVT 450 amp head and Ampeg SVT 410HLF cabinet. She also uses an MXR M80 BASS DI effect.
It is no surprise to find Anzai on our list again this year, or that she was our top vote getter from fans. Her talent is undeniable and her fan base is loyal and loud, and they came out in droves to vote for their hero. 2014 proved to be a strange year for Emma Anzai and Sick Puppies as they chose to cut vocalist/guitarist Shimon Moore from the trio even as they enter the studio to record their next album. Anzai’s unique bass style has earned her the nickname “the female Flea”; a nod to the Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist. A complement she holds in high regard as she lists Flea as her primary inspiration due to his versatility. She also throws inspirational nods to Les Claypool and Victor Wooten. While she has been known to use her fingers or occasionally play some slap bass, Anzai primarily uses a pick when she performs. Emma admits she used more slap and funk in her playing early on as she was learning different techniques, but over the years has become more focused and consistent. She has often said that it is her job to serve the song and be complementary to it.
Becky Baldwin is the epitome of the professional bassist. She began on piano as a young girl and switched to bass at 13. The now 23-year-old UK native attended Bristol Institute of Modern Music Bristol at 18, where she earned her Bachelors degree in Professional Musicianship. She has kept herself busy with numerous projects, including metal acts, Triaxis and Control the Storm. She is a finger-style bassist who takes influence from the likes of Geezer Butler, Steve Harris and Cliff Burton. Becky asserts that practice is a great thing, but to really learn to play you have to get out there and perform, which she does with about a half-dozen projects, on top of teaching bass as well. 2015 will see the release of Control the Storm’s debut album, Beast Inside.
Raised in Poland, Seattle-based Dagna Silesia is one of the more intriguing names on this year’s list, garnering more votes than all but Emma Anzai. Pretty good for someone who most hard rock and metal fans have probably never heard of. She works with Sanctuary and Nevermore frontman Warrel Dane, and toured with the latter in 2011. She has been recording with Ghost Ship Octavius this year and is also a member of The People Now; a more alternative hard rock act. Perhaps most interesting is the fact that Dagna is a professional luthier who designs instruments for her own company, Silesia Guitars. Check her out below performing with the legendary Uli Jon Roth.
Heather Shallowpoint is one of this year’s surprise entries to the list, added by lotaly devoted and rabid fans. She handles the low-end for Tennessee based metallers, Shallow Point. Heather picked up the 4-string at the age of 16, having been influenced by such bassists as Jason Newstead, Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu (Korn), Sean Yseult (White Zombie), and Gene Simmons (Kiss). Though not a bassist, Heather cites Joan Jett as a major musical inspiration, and she draws further influence from artists metal artists as varied as Metallica, Megadeth, White Zombie, Rammstein, Hellyeah, Sevendust and Five Finger Death Punch. 2014 has been an exciting year for Heather and Shallow Point, kicking off with the release of their full length debut album, Infringement, followed by a series of shows opening for the likes of Sevendust, Tantric, and Fuel. Heather plays a Schecter Devil Tribal bass, and uses Hartke cabs with an Ampeg head.
Musicians who perform in tribute bands are often overlooked or dismissed, which is regrettable, because it takes some amazing talent to faithfully bring the music of our musical heroes to life in a manner that is faithful to the masters. In the case of Wanda Ortiz she has the tougher task of bringing to life one of metal’s most respected and legendary bassists, Steve Harris: A task she handles masterfully. Wanda began playing bass in school at nine and by 11 she was teaching herself electric bass for jazz band. After playing bass all through school she eventually went on to earn a music degree. Prior to her longstanding gig as “Steph Harris” for The Iron Maidens (she joined in 2002), Ortiz was in Rotten Rod & The Warheads, Heartache City, Field of Vision and has been the bassist for The South Coast Symphony Orchestra for nearly two decades.
Chela Rhea Harper may best be known for her stint with the reformed Coal Chamber, but in 2014 the formidable bassist metalled it up when she joined Paul Allender’s new band, White Empress. Her performance shines on the band’s debut release, Rise of the Empress, giving fans a taste of her true abilities. Her style adds depth to each performance. Harper has music in her genes. Her father Carl Harvey is an amazing guitar player and singer-songwriter who is best known for his work as a member of legendary reggae band Toots & the Maytals. Surrounded by music her entire life, her early tastes found her gravitating toward dark and heavy bands like Tool, System of a Down and Rage Against the Machine. However, Harper has her own unique solo project for which she released as an EP, called Sarasvati, which blends hard rock with Eastern influences. Chela also plays guitar and sings for the death/doom metal band VII.
Marloes Voskuil is the face, the voice, and the thick bottom end rumble for Dutch death-thrashers, Izegrim. Originally a guitarist she switched to bass as her implement of metal destruction 10 years ago near the time she joined the band in 2004. When the band’s vocalist departed in 2008, Marloes stepped up to handle those duties as well. This year has found the band touring heavily in support of its third album, 2013’s Congress of the Insane, a record that features a concept based on the evil in the deceiving nature of humanity: “Nowadays everyone seems normal until you get to know them” offered Marloes. “Some Freaks are here, they’re real, they are alive!” Marloes’ gear set up includes; a 5-string ESP LTD F-415FM stbk bass, Markbass Little Mark III Basshead, Hardwire CM-2 pedal, Line 6 Relay G 50 Wireless, DR strings and InTune Custom picks.
Ida Haukland is an amazing talent. The Norwegian vocalist and bassist co-formed Triosphere a decade ago and this year they will release their third album, The Heart of the Matter, produced by Jens Bogren. Ida also performed a duet with Evergrey’s Tom S. Englund on Epysode’s 2013 release, Fantasmagoria. Haukland began as a guitarist in an all-female band at 16, but wanted to learn more instruments. When another band asked her to play bass, her path was set. She admits to having a deeper connection with the bass and feels it was the natural choice for her. “The first time a bass guitar really caught my attention, was when I accidentally heard the bass-solo in “Maxwell Murder” by Rancid. I had not begun playing in a band at that time, but remember being flabbergasted by it. Later on, Les Claypool amused me quite a bit together with Primus, and my jaw dropped pretty hard when I heard Billy Sheehan with Steve Vai and David Lee Roth in “Shy Boy” (and then it of course kept dropping to really anything Sheehan plays),and of course Geddy Lee.” Ida’s gear: The only bass she’s ever owned is a black Washburn MB5 Mercury-series 5-string.
Brazil’s hard-driving thrash trio, Nervosa decimated fans this year with its debut album Victim of Yourself. Leading the way is frontwoman—bassist and vocalist, Fernanda Lira. Her approach is a no-holds-barred, fiery attack and her performances leave it all on the stage. The 25-year-old Lira began playing bass at 13, inspired by her father, also a bassist. Among the bass legends she hails as inspirations are Rudy Sarzo, Steve Harris and Steve DiGiorgio. Fernanda is a bassist who plays with passion and feeling, which she infuses into who band’s aggressive sound. He favorite weapon is an Aristides 050 5-string.
Ida Evileye returns to our yearly list hot on the heels of Crucified Barbara’s fourth and newest album, In the Red. Evileye (born Ida Stenbacka) formed Crucified Barbara with guitarist Klara Force (Klara Rönnqvist Fors) in 1998 in Stockholm, Sweden. The 33-year-old bassist primarily uses a Sandberg bass with Rotosound strings and an Ampeg V4 amp with an Ampeg 4×12 cabinet. She is married to Meshuggah drummer Tomas Haake. Ida hails Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister as her favorite musician and she is an avid literature fan. She and the band are currently out touring in support of the new record and have plans to return to the U.S. in 2015.
Swedish bassist Madeleine Gullberg Husberg is the newest member of melodic death metal outfit, Frantic Amber. She also splits time with fellow Stockholm metal band, Dwarf. At 13 Madeleine saw Cliff Burton performing “Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth)” and immediately knew she had to play bass. Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris is another prominent influence, and like her hero she is a finger-style player. Her equipment consists of– Bass: Ibanez SR300, Peavey Cirrus 4 Bolt-on; Amp: Hartke HA4000 amp, Sunn 215, Laney Hardcore Max HCM160B. Among her personal favorite artists she lists; Metallica, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Sortilège, Dismember, Death, and Six Feet Under.
The 31-year-old Serbian born Ivy Jenkins began her notable career as bassist for In The Wake before joining Canadian extreme metal quartet, Kittie in 2007. Ivy appeared on two of Kittie’s albums, In the Black and I’ve Failed You, before her departure in 2012. Ivy moved to Michigan where she married her husband Geoff Jenkins, with whom she started her a new band, Speedgod, in 2013. The band spent last year working on demos and is currently performing and writing for its debut album. Ivy is also co-owner of Umeus Cloth which she manages with her husband. Ivy’s weapon of choice is a Warwick Corvette $$ 5-string bass.
Anissa Rodriguez is the quieter and lesser known of the Rodriguez sisters, but her 4-string rumble speaks loud enough to get her point across in style. Last year she and Eyes Set to Kill released their fifth studio album, Masks. It marked the band’s first for new label, Century Media, and is arguably the band’s strongest overall effort to date. They spent much of 2014 on the road in support of the record. Anissa found herself temporarily sidelined this summer when a blood clot in her left eye forced her off the band’s tour to recuperate. She is a big time foodie who loves to cook, and she shares that Thrice had a big influence on her desire to play bass and perform music.
Jeanne Sagan, who from hails from Springfield, Massachusetts, began her journey as a merch girl for Prosthetic Records. She has been the bassist and backing vocalist for All That Remains since 2006 first appearing on the band’s third album, The Fall of Ideals. She and the band just completed recording their seventh as yet untitled studio album, due out in early 2015. Sagan is also the former bassist for The Acacia Strain. Jeanne plays a black cherry Spector Legend 4 Classic 4-string bass with EMG 35DC active pickups, and Ampeg SVT bass amplifiers. Sagan admits to being a bit of a tomboy and is at home in t-shirt and jeans, but admits she likes to girly it up a bit when not on the road. Things you might not have known: When she was young Sagan played trumpet and was part of the drum corp. She also has a huge love of animals and earned her bachelor’s degree in Animal Science.
There is our/your list for 2014. There were many names deserving of a place on the list, but there is only so much space and only so many votes. We acknowledge and admire you all for your talent and hard work and look forward to what you bring us next.
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