Metalholic’s Top 25 Women in Hard Rock and Metal for 2011
Each year numerous magazine’s and websites offer up their take on the hottest or sexiest women in hard rock and metal. As if somehow melting our faces and rocking our collective asses off is not as important as whether or not they can make us raise our flags and salute.
For decades women have been an essential part of music, but hard rock and heavy metal has always had something of a barbed wire ceiling. Metal was a man’s world, though ironically most men in metal looked as feminine as the groupies that worshiped them. That all began to change in the 70’s when women like the outrageous Wendy O. Williams, and the leather clad ladies of The Runaways; Lita Ford, Joan Jett, Cherie Currie and Sandy West, began to make their voices heard. But still they were the exceptions. Over three decades later more and more women are picking up microphones, guitars, and drumsticks. While we will always have the lulling voices of women in metal like Charlotte Wessels and Sharon den Adel, there are now a great many bands with women thrashing their guitars, and crushing their drums. Seattle-based Sabbath-inspired sludge metallers, Witchburn not only feature the fiery vocals of Jamie Nova, but furious guitar and bass work from Mischa Kianne and Jessica Bos. In Phoenix, the fledgling but crushing metal act, Hellen is led by Mindy DuPonte, a teenager who can scream like Angela Gossow and destroy a drum kit like Vinnie Paul. Oddly men seem far more accepting of women in metal than female fans of the genre. Metal’s sexual equality is making great strides, but until we see the visual female equivalent of a Lemmy Kilmister getting her deserved accolades for talent over tits, we still have a ways to go.
Of course all the women on our 2011 list happen to be beautiful, hot, sexy, etc. You can pick your own complimentary sequitar. Let’s face it, metalheads will tolerate an ugly man onstage, but if you’re a woman you’d better have the entire package. And these women all have the talent, drive and animal magnetism that we expect from our rock and roll heroes.
So now we welcome you to our second annual Top 25 Women in Hard Rock/Metal list. They are in no particular order. We are not ranking them, for they are all talented in their own unique ways. We’ll leave the rankings to our readers.
We start our list of the Top Women in Metal with Canada’s hardcore metal quartet, Kittie. While the band has endured changes at bass player and lead guitarist over the band’s 15 year career, sisters Morgan (vocals/guitar) and Mercedes Lander (drums) have remained the band’s fiery core. The talented sisters were still in their teens when their debut CD, Spit came out in 1999. Now at 29 and 27 respectively, the sisters are hard at work recording their sixth metal masterpiece, due out later this year. Word is the still untitled record will be their most personal and heavy to date. It also marks the first time the band will take the same line-up into the studio for a second album. Twenty-seven-year old guitarist Tara McLeod came on board in 2005 and has recorded on the band’s previous two records, while bassist Ivy Vujic joined in time to record 2009′s In The Black. Don’t let their good looks and soft countenance catch you off guard, they can put the hammer down as heavy as any other metal band out there. Morgan Lander Interview
Maria Brink is the adorable heart-shaped face and pouting lips fronting In This Moment. But don’t let the Alice in Wonderland facade fool you. This tattooed metal vixen can carve the heart out your chest with her voice. From lulling and sweet clean vocals to ferocious growling and screams, Brink takes no prisoners when she has a mic in hand. Off stage she’s all girly-girl. She and the band are currently touring in support of their third CD, A Star Crossed Wasteland, on the Hell Hath No Fury Tour. She and the band are currently writing their fourth record, and hope to enter the studio again later this year. The ??-year-old (never ask a lady her age) metal maven has been repeatedly nominated as one of the sexiest women in metal, and she once appeared in Playboy Magazine. However, her voice and songwriting skills are her premier talents…aside from being one of the world’s coolest Moms. You would be hard pressed to find a more competitive soul out there. She plays hard, and she plays to win. Welcome to her gun show! Maria Brink Interview
When you start your career at 13-years-old, enlisting your 10-year-old brother as drummer, that’s initiative. When you sign your first record deal 8 years later, that’s impressive. However, when you are nominated as best vocalist alongside metal’s signature voice, Ronnie James Dio, well, that’s unbelievable. When you can do all that before your 26th birthday, as a woman in a male dominated musical genre, that’s Lzzy Hale. Elizabeth ‘Lzzy’ Hale was born October 10th, 1983, and there has been no silence in her family’s world since. She is not only the face and earthshaking voice of Halestorm, but she plays a mean guitar and is in incredible songwriter as well. The band’s debut album was one of 2009′s best, and Lzzy’s, Benatar/Joplinesque voice will be booming for years to come. The band is currently out on the Avalanche tour before they had back into the studio to record their sophomore effort. The band recently released a 6-track covers EP Reanimate to tide fans over, but it only made them hungry for more. If Lzzy can make Lady Gaga‘s “Bad Romance” a crank-it-up rocker, imagine what she could do simply singing the phone book. Halestorm Interview
Alexis Brown, lead singer of Straight Line Stitch has the voice of an angel, the stage presence of a metal goddess and the looks of a model. Though she’s done away with her trademark colored braids, it’s always been her incredible voice that brings the fans to the shows. Her vocal range is what sets her apart. She can do hardcore and then flip smoothly into a soft melody without batting an eye. Her lyrics are super powerful and thought provoking and should inspire any young girl to pick-up a microphone and rock out. Alexis and her bandmates just released their newest effort, The Fight of Our Lives, which is a further testament to her vocal and songwriting prowess. There are few people in the music industry as connected and considerate of their fans as the members of Straight Line Stitch. Before a show, after a show, or through social media apps between shows, Alexis and the band are constantly chatting with and hanging out with their fans. Alexis Brown Interview
Otep Shamaya ~ Otep
If one were to define Otep’s avant-garde personality, it could be summed up as “power of conviction.” As front person and voice for her self-named artcore metal band, Shamaya lays her soul bare vocally and personally for her fans. Much like the tattoos that adorn her body, her messages are there for the world to see, read, and hear. Not many female metal voices can be heard giving a speech at the Democratic National Convention, nor can many claim to have been nominated by CNN.com for their “People You Should Know,” feature. Otep Shamaya can claim both those honors. Otep uses her microphone and gift of poetry to make her activist voice heard around the world. “I am an equal opportunity dispenser of rage,” Shamaya says of her often angry lyrics. Otep’s fifth studio album, Atavist, hit stores in April. This time around she’s without longtime bassist eVil J., but that hasn’t softened her music or her message. She remains a vocal force to be reckoned with, and always on her terms.
Ginger-haired Simone Simons was inspired to take up the metal calling when she heard vocalist Tarja Turunen on Nightwish’s Oceanborn album at the ripe young age of 15. Now barely more than a decade later she is one of the premiere mezzo-soprano symphonic metal vocalists, alongside her other Dutch counterpart Sharon den Adel of Within Temptation. Simone is the blazing voice behind Epica, and she has recorded four powerfully sonic releases with them. She has also performed frequently with Kamelot the band her keyboardist boyfriend performs in. At only 26 years of age, Simons has a bright future ahead of her with her immense vocal abilities and magnetic stage presence. recent health issues kept her off stage, but this month she has returned to the fold. She and Epica will return to the studio later this year to record their fifth album. So far 14 musical tracks have been written for the record which should be released early in 2012.
Cristina Scabbia is not only known as one of the two singers of the Italian gothic metal band Lacuna Coil, she is also an accomplished writer, whose former Revolver Magazine column alongside Vinnie Paul (Pantera, HellYeah) received rave reviews. Consistantly regarded as one of the hottest women in metal, Cristina is much more than a beautiful woman with a killer voice. She has been featured alongside a variety of metal artists including the unique instrumental band Apocolyptica and thrash metal legends Megadeth. Italy has definitely stepped up in recent years as a thriving metal hotbed, and Cristina is proof of such. Lacuna Coil are currently in the studio recording their follow up to the highly successful, Shallow Life. Offers Scabbia of the new record: “Collectively, we did so much in between Shallow Life and this one. We have lots of different experiences between us. We’ve been loved and hurt, we grew up, we shrunk inside a little keeping ourselves together and our roots watered and are alive. I still can’t believe that the energy in between us is getting better and better, but I guess that’s what being a real family means.” ”We’ve been loved and hurt, we grew up, we shrunk inside a little keeping ourselves together and our roots watered and are alive. I still can’t believe that the energy in between us is getting better and better, but I guess that’s what being a real family means.”
The former Distorted front woman has returned with her newest band, System Divide, founded with husband and co-vocalist Sven de Caluwé (of Aborted fame). The extreme metal band’s first full length release, The Conscious Sedation is turning heads, as does Miri’s physical and vocal beauty. Raised in Bat-Yam, Israel just outside Tel-Aviv, the one time graphic designer started playing piano at 5-years-old, eventually learning guitar as well. Miri originally auditioned as a keyboardist for Distorted, but it was her voice that the band latched onto. She has a husky and rich quality to her singing. Miri’s not a screamer, but she’s quite powerful and melodic in her delivery. In an extreme metal field filled with growlers, her style is a fresh counterpoint. Miri has also performed live with another famed Israeli metal band, Orphaned Land, whom she is close friends with. Miri Milman Interview
Unlike many of metal’s most powerful women, Angela Gossow’s voice is not pretty to listen to. At least not in any traditional sense. As the ferocious voice of Swedish melodic death metallers, Arch Enemy, she attacks every song with sweet brutality, as if wringing blood from a rock. Her growling throat can make the bowels of hell shiver, and somehow you’re drawn all the closer to her because of it. Says Arch Enemy guitarist Michael Amott of Gossow’s 2000 audition, “she wiped the floor with all the other contenders.” She was 25 at the time. A decade later, any list of women in metal is sure to contain Angela’s name. While Gossow sports a mezzo-soprano vocal range, her screaming is deliciously caustic. The band is set to release their new album, Khaos Legions, on May 31st via Century Media. She is also the band’s principal lyricist, and her Atheist and anarchist ideologies represent strong themes in the band’s music. Gossow is an intensely passionate person when it comes to personal freedom, and she uses her microphone to spread her message, of taking personal responsibility for your own lives. Angela Gossow Interview
While women are not extremely prevelant in a genre as hardcore as heavy metal, Jeanne Sagan has made her mark as a masterful musician. One of the only women on our list who is not a lead vocalist, Jeanne has proven herself as bass player for not only The Acacia Strain back in 2003, but now with current metalcore powerhouse band All That Remains. Jeanne hails from Springfield, Massachusetts and went from simply working merchandise tables for Prosthetic Records, to being on stage with one of the most popular acts today. No matter how you cut it, you would be hard pressed to find a more talented female bass player in the entire genre. All That Remains are currently out on tour in support of their fifth studio album, 2010′s We Are The Many. They will finish up May with some U.S. festival dates, before spending June in Europe with appearances at Rock Am and Download.
Sabine Scherer ~ Deadlock
Sabine is the hypnotic voice of the beauty to the harsh assault of Johannes Prem’s beast. The two are the vocalists for Germany’s Deadlock. Despite nearly a decade and five albums with the band, Scherer (formerly Weniger) is one of the lesser known talents among women in metal. Much like the woman herself, her voice is both mysterious and haunting, yet it is the magic ingredient that gives Deadlock‘s sound its extra edge. Their newest release, Bizarro World is not only their best offering to date, but one of the best albums of 2011 so far. Says Scherer of the new album: “‘Bizarro World’ is a place where all good is bad and all ugly is beautiful and vice versa. Sad but true, we often find that this ‘Bizarro World’ often corresponds to the world we actually live in, way too often. It has become quite common not to question the things we’re confronted with and we’re accepting the presented solutions in a non-critical and non-constructive way. For example, we’re trying to heal so-called diseases by poisoning ourselves, states go bankrupt but spend a horrifying amount of money on weapons and the war industry, everybody is talking about saving the environment but who’s actually doing something? This is ‘Bizarro World‘.”
Doro Pesch ~ Doro
The genre of women in hard rock may have begun with Wendy O’Williams, Joan Jett and Lita Ford back in the 70’s, but German born Doro Pesch took it to the next level when she and Warlock burst onto the scene in the early 80’s. Her roaring voice can shake the rafters and over 25 years later she can still rock as hard as any of her male counterparts. March 13th, 2010 saw Doro play her 2500th show in her hometown of Düsseldorf, Germany. Her 15th studio album, 2009’s Fear No Evil is as heavy as ever, and Metal’s reigning Queen still sounds and looks incredible even at 46 years of age. Doro even wrote the “Wacken Anthem” for the 20th birthday of Wacken Open Air in 2009. She also recently performed a duet with Ji-In Cho on Krypteria‘s new album.
Ji-In Cho ~ Krypteria
Born in Korea, the front woman for German-based Krypteria brings a unique voice and perspective to her band’s over-the-top dramatic metal music. Ji-In, who is fluent in German, studied vocals and piano at the renowned Musikhochschule in Cologne. While in Germany she connected with guitarist/producer Chris Siemons, bassist Frank Stumvoll, and skin-meister, S.C. Kuschnerous. Krypteria formed in 2004, and have been blowing audiences away with their sound, style, and stage performances for the last half-decade. Their new album, All Beauty Must Die continues to elevate their status among Europe’s goth/symphonic metal bands.
Smithson is the newest name on this vaunted list, but time will prove out that she belongs here. While it might be easy to dismiss her as a product of American Idol (she was a finalist in 2008), the Dublin, Ireland native packs a serious set of pipes and a knack for songwriting. Born Carla Hennessy in September 1983, the 26-year-old began her professional music career in 1990 and released an album on MCA in 2001. A couple years ago Smithson found camaraderie with former Evanescence founder Ben Moody. Carly was the hard-to-find final piece of the puzzle for Moody’s new band, We Are The Fallen. The first song she brought to the group turned out to be the quintet’s debut single, “Bury Me Alive.” While many will compare her to Moody’s former singer, Amy Lee, Smithson is edgier and more compelling. The band’s debut album Tear The World Down was a hit with fans and critics alike. Carly Smithson Interview.
Sharon den Adel ~ Within Temptation
In the world of symphonic/gothic metal there are an extraordinary number of female fronted bands who sport excellent vocalists. Some are on this list. Yet there is arguably no purer, richer, or more accessible voice than that of Within Temptation’s Sharon den Adel. Born in South Holland, July 12, 1974, the Dutch mezzo-soprano began singing professionally at 13, eventually meeting guitarist Robert Westerholt in 1996. The couple and the band have been together ever since. The 36-year-old singer songwriter gave birth to her third child this spring, and she and the band have just released their epic new album, The Unforgiving. Despite no professional vocal training, the scope of her voice has been hailed as epic and cinematic. As anyone who has heard den Adel perform live can attest, she is definitively not a product of the studio. Every soaring vocal and emotive nuance comes out as excellent as it does on the band’s albums. On the Within Temptation‘s new record, the singer says they wanted to explore new directions in their sound, and The Unforgiving combines the best elements of their signature style with their passion for 80′s music. Sharon den Adel Interview
In 2007, Anette took on the task of fronting Nightwish, one of the most well known Finnish symphonic power metal bands in the world. The Swedish born Olzon has a soprano vocal range and originally took vocal lessons at the Copenhagen Music Conservatorie, in Helsingör, Denmark. She was formerly the front-woman for the Swedish AOR band Alyson Avenue. She is a self proclaimed fan of other female metal icons like Sharon den Adel of Within Temptation, and Epica’s Simone Simons, but she has cited artists such as Celine Dion, Natalie Cole, and Sarah Brightman as being inspirations for her singing. Since joining Nightwish, Olzon has also appeared in guest spots on albums by Entwine, The Rasmus, Pain and Brother Firetribe. Olzon recently began adding her vocals to the new Nightwish album Imaginarium due out in early 2012. The recording process was slowed first by Olzon’s 2010 pregnancy then by a fall which led to some broken ribs.
One cannot talk about Nightwish without discussing the powerful voice that almost singularly created the band. When founder and keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen contacted his former classmate about singing with him, (the two shared the same music instructor), he was working on an acoustic mood project. It was only upon hearing the powerfully dramatic and operatic singing voice of Turunen that he realized she needed an epic band to do her voice justice. Hence Nightwish was born. Interestingly, Tarja’s first musical love was soul music in the Aretha Franklin vein. It wasn’t until hearing the likes of Sarah Brightman that she chose to focus on a more classical path. Since parting with Nightwish Turunen has released three solo albums, and appeared on several others including the Scorpions final studio release. Holopainen knew he would not find another comparable voice to Tarja’s when the band looked to fill her role, so he chose to find a different style of singer.
Hailing from Gothenburg, Sweden, Sister Sin vocalist Liv Jagrell is proof that big things can come in small packages. The diminutive has a feral and commanding voice that immediately garbs the listener’s attention. The former Hysterica singer (known as Sinderella) uses her edgy and booming voice to bring Sister Sin’s classic NWOBHM sound to life. The band’s most recent album, 2010′s True Sound of the Underground is a driving juggernaut of headbanging anthems. When not performing with Sister Sin, Liv also models and is a professional trainer. Says Jagrell of her female singing heroes: “When I started to play, there weren’t many females. There was a band from Sweden called Drain STH. They were like my gods because they were girls and they played really heavy. Most of the bands with female singers were punk rock and I’m not so into that. Of course I loved Doro because she’s like the only one pretty much in Europe. I’d have to say Doro and Drain STH. Then today I very much admire Arch Enemy. I sing, and she [Angela Gossow] doesn’t sing the way I do. But I do admire her. She’s so cool and awesome.” Interview with Liv Jagrell
Charolette Wessels ~ Delain
Wessels is only 24 years old but her voice has already made a noticable impact in the metal scene. First as singer for the short lived To Elysium and since 2005 as the face and voice of Delain. The band will be releasing its third studio album later this year. The Zwolle, Netherlands born vocalist has been both classically and jazz trained. She is not one to rest on her laurels though. She is currently wrapping up her bachelors degree in art history. Says Wessels of the process: ”I lost count of all the times I tried to study in the tourbus in between hungover bandmembers throwing dirty socks at each other, or duct-taping each other to their chairs. Most of the times I gave up and put away my books halfway the tour to join the sock throwing competition. The only point where I could benefit from my studies on tour were the times we had a day off and I could be all smart-ass when we went in tourist mode visiting museums and old churches.”
The second set of sisters on our list. Alexia and Anissa started Eyes Set To Kill in Tempe, Arizona in 2003, along with their former vocalist Lindsey Vogt. Alexia is the band’s lead guitarist, while Anissa handles bass duties. Upon Lindsey’s departure in 2007, Alexia took on the role of vocalist as well. Alexia also plays piano. While the ladies have been the band’s consistent members, along with drummer Caleb Clifton. Finding that stable fourth member has proven a difficult task. In 2010, the band released their third full length studio album Broken Frames to critical success. They plan to release another EP sometime in 2011. The Rodriguez sisters have already found themselves among the Golden God Award nominees for Hottest Chicks in Metal. Alexia has also released her own solo album, Lexia: Underground Sounds, which shows off more of her songwriting skills, as well as displaying her less metal side. The album includes some acoustic version of ESTK tracks as well as material not conducive to the band’s sound. Said Alexia of the project: “Lexia was an outlet where I could create songs that were solely for me. I wanted to show people that I can do more than just write heavy songs and that I’m a versatile songwriter.”
Vivian Slaughter and Risa Reaper ~ Gallhammer
And then there were two. Japanese crust punked, blackened doom metal outfit, Gallhammer has gone from trio to duo this winter with the departure of guitarist Mika Penetrator. That will not slow the remaining members down one bit, as they prepare to release their second album on Peaceville Records, The End. Bassist and vocalist, Slaughter has said the band intends to continue as a two piece, so what that means for the band’s sound or live performances is anyone’s guess, but given the already raw and moody vibe of the band, it can only lead to more intrigue. Says Slaughter of the band’s sound: “I want to make raw and primitive sounds. I was influenced by Amebix very very much, and I love 80′s and early 90′s black metal too. Other members like many kinds of music like progressive rock, old techno too. So our sound has very various elements. I can say that raw feelings make a good sound. Because we are not machines. We could shed blood, could vomit and have feeling of hate.”
The blond, Nordic soprano vocalist first came to the notice of symphonic metal fans with her turn in Theater of Tragedy, whom she spent seven years with. In 2003, she formed her own band, Leaves’ Eyes, with husband Alexander Krull and members of his band, Atrocity. Liv’s captivating voice is both powerful and Earthy, a lulling call luring us into her clutches note by note. She released her third solo album, Skintight last year, and this year, she and Leaves’ Eyes have returned with their fourth studio masterpiece, Meredead. Of which she says: “It was very important during the recording process that each song gets its own individuality, and that’s what makes the album so diverse.” This spring the band has been touring with Tarja Turunen and Midnattsol. The latter is her sister Carmen’s band. The band recently went to Gothenburg, Sweden to film the video for their new single, a cover of the Mike Oldfield tune, “To France”. Liv was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2005.
Lacey (Mosley) Sturm ~ Flyleaf
Like so many musicians we feel a kinship with, we relate to Lacey. She grew up in Texas, poor, and emotionally lost. Dabbling with drugs as early as 10-years-old. A devote teenage Atheist, Sturm once considered suicide like so many of us did at that age. When her grandmother dragged her to church, she suddenly found a renewed sense of purpose. Though not overnight. The end of a bad marriage led to the beginning of what would soon become Flyleaf. Though she plays bass and piano, it is her contralto voice that fronts the band, and has made her famous in hard rock and alt-metal circles. Her angsty songs and lyrics strike chords with others now going through what Lacey herself once struggled with. Mosley (now Sturm) recently married husband Joseph, and the two had a baby boy earlier this year. The band began preproduction this winter, preparing to record their third studio album, which they are currently tracking.
Alissa is one of the newer members to the metal hierarchy. She fronts the Montreal, Quebec melodic death metal outfit, The Agonist. She uses a mixture of guttural metal growling and clean vocals. Like many of the ladies on this list she’s been nommed by Revolver as one of metal’s hottest chicks, she’s a vegan, and she once appeared on Canadian Idol. Joining her in the band is guitarist Danny Marino, nephew of guitar legend Frank Marino (of Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush), bassist Chris Kells, guitarist Paco Jobin, and drummer Simon McKay. She and the band have been touring relentlessly including recent spins with Epica and Otep. Alissa and The Agonist are also known for their social causes including environmental consciousness, with song’s themes often revolving around moral concerns such as animal rights, societal dilemmas, and the state of our world. She is also currently working on a degree, like Wessels above, in art history. The band is set to release their third album in 2011.
Christine Davis ~ Christian Mistress
Ms. Davis is probably the least known entrant on this vaunted list, but she may be the most intriguing for that reason. As the dusky and powerful voice of Olympia, Washington’s Christian Mistress, she fronts one of the metal scene’s favorite up and coming bands. Ask anyone who has heard or seen the band, they will rave about these guys, especially Christine’s ballsy singing. She and the band bring back the original excitement and sound of the early NWOBHM scene. Davis’s singing is raw and throaty, and extremely memorable. There is no affectation here, and neither she or the band are in this for the fame. It’s all about the music. Davis describes the band’s sound as, “a cyclone in the mind’s eye. A riff, that could make you die: precarious, ravaging, all-surrounding.” The band just signed with Relapse Records and should be recording their sophomore CD soon.
Some of 2010′s alumni have dropped off this year’s list: Candace Kusculain and Walls of Jericho are on hiatus. Mary Magdalan’s newer work is less metal and more dance/techno. Floor Jansen’s new project ReVamp just isn’t After Forever, and Quinn Weng’s Serephim has fallen off the radar. But we still hold them in high regard. Each year the list will be subjective and argumentative, so if we missed someone you think belongs, or vice versa. Please sound off below.