The end of 2012 is almost upon us, which means it’s time for the yearly lists to begin. In 2011, the most read article on Metalholic.com was the 2011 List for the Top Women in Hard Rock and Metal. So it is there that we begin for 2012.
While other magazines will tout these as the “hottest” or “sexiest” women in hard rock and metal, what matters to us is the talent and their relevance in 2012. While those listed here are certainly stunning, it is the talent we applaud and acknowledge.
There are many names not on this list that we admire and respect. The list below simply represents those that we felt we particularly important in 2012. Feel free to add your thoughts and picks at the end of the article, because this is a community and all have a voice.
First we throw our horns up and salute the metal matriarchs, Doro Pesch and Lita Ford. Both of these incredible icons returned in 2012 with huge albums, as they continue to remind us why they are so important more than a quarter century into their respective landmark careers. Doro released both a 25th anniversary live package and her new studio effort “Raise Your Fist”. Ford offered up a stunning post-Wonderland salvo in the form of “Living Like a Runaway“.
So now we welcome you to our third 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 Sweden’s traditional metal quartet, Crucified Barbara. The foursome has been around in one formation or another since 1998, but the band did not release its debut album, “In Distortion We Trust” until 2005. They followed that up in 2009 with “’Til Death Do Us Party”, but it was not until this year’s “Midnight Chase” that the band has really found its groove, and they have exploded. Mia Coldheart (vocals, guitar) Nicki Wicked (drums), Klara Force (guitars), and Ida Evileye (bass) have thrown down the gauntlet and made their presence known. Crucified Barbara interviews with Mia and Klara
The most searched question on Metalholic for 2012 is Maria Brink’s age. While we know the answer, it’s not polite to ask, and less polite to reveal her secrets. 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 fourth CD, “Blood”. With this release she and In This Moment have leaped in popularity. After the departure of longtime drummer Jeff Fabb and guitarist Blake Bunzel, the founding duo of Brink and guitarist Chris Howarth regrouped and hit the studio with producer Kevin Churko (Ozzy Osbourne, Five Finger Death Punch) to churn out a beastly sonic gauntlet that takes the band in new directions while keeping its foundation intact. The New York-based 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
Lzzy Hale ~ Halestorm
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. Perhaps no one on this list has been bigger in 2012 than Lzzy Hale. Aside from her band’s sophomore masterpiece, “The Strange Case Of…” Hale has found her vocal contributions on album’s that include the debut Adrenaline Mob release and the new Black Stone Cherry. So impressed was Amy Lee (Evanescence) that she joined Hale on stage each night during their tour to duet on Halestorm’s “Break In”. Hale’s powerful voice and gracious personality has found her sharing the stage with the likes of Slash, Alice Cooper, and many more. Once again she is the only female nominated in Revolver’s Best Vocalist Catergory. Then there’s that 2012 Grammy nomination… Halestorm Interview
The Commander-In-Chief is an absolutely astonishing entry into the world of hard rock and metal. The 23-year-old Norwegian is a feral 7-string shred master. Add to that she is also a dynamic vocalist with a four octave range. Since 2008 she’s studied the old school Italian Bel Canto technique with daily singing lessons. She speaks four languages, has lived all over the world (Norway, Italy, U.S., U.K.) and plays her own Ibanez prototype 7 string Falchion. And for those out there who look first and listen later, she’s also a rock goddess, who could easily model rather than metal. Thank goodness her brain is as vast as her talent and beauty. In short, she’ll rock your ass off and doesn’t even expect you to know her name. Not that she ever gave it to you anyway. 2012 has been a mammoth year for the shredder who’s been nommed for awards all over the place and tabbed as one of Metal Hammers Top 10 Modern Guitar Gods, and one of Metalholic’s Top 15 Female Shredders. TCIC 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 sixth studio album, “Hydra”, hit stores in January 2013. This fall she released her first ever live album as well, and 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 five powerfully sonic releases with them. At only 27 years of age (she turns 28 in January 2013), Simons has a bright future ahead of her with her immense vocal abilities and magnetic stage presence. Her band soared back this year with a mammoth new record, “Requiem For the Indifferent“, and a massive world tour. They were the stars of ProgPower USA this fall, and their South American tour was a huge success. Simone has stated she will never get a tattoo and prefers cupcakes to alcohol and drugs: “I don’t do drugs, I don’t smoke and I drink very little alcohol but I do eat candy and cupcakes. [laughs] I think that a lot of musicians start using drugs not because they want to be cool but because they can’t deal with the pressure of things.”
Cristina Scabbia ~ Lacuna Coil
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. Consistently 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. The tiny vocalist with the huge voice spent the year touring in support of Lacuna Coil‘s best album to date, “Dark Adrenaline”. The group spent time on the Gigantour then followed that up with an incredible headlining tour playing a huge careering spanning three-part set for fans the world over. If you missed them, fear not, 2013 finds the band right back on the road starting with a huge US tour supporting Sevendust. Scabbia tries to remain as connected as possible to her fans through social networking and Instagrams. She randomly holds fan Q&A’s on a whim through her Facebook and Twitter forums.
Most of the voices on this list hail from the U.S. or Europe, but Nolden has been hiding in the shadows, so to speak, down in Brazil. The group’s new album “Inner Monster Out” has caught global attention for Nolden and the band. Her booming voice has helped earn the group opening nods for Nightwish and Iron Maiden among others. The Shadowside vocalist has perhaps the most powerful and indelible female metal voice in Brazil, and one of the best in the world. The fact that she is amazingly charismatic and stunningly beautiful is merely a bonus for fans. It will hardly be a surprise that Nolden has done her share of modeling. She is also an avid fan of the art of tattooing as well as martial arts. Dani Nolden interview.
Angela Gossow ~ Arch Enemy
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 spent 2012 touring in support of their new album, “Khaos Legions”. 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. Arch Enemy will take it easy in 2013, but expect a massive live DVD/Blu Ray set this autumn according to the Gossow. Angela Gossow Interview
What can be said about Amy Lee that hasn’t been beaten into the ground? Her gothic, Victorian leanings give her a unique style in both her music and fashion. The 31-year-old vocalist and pianist has always set herself apart in style and ideology. After a rough few years when many fans worried that Evanescence had died a tragic death, Lee and the band re-emerged in 2011 with a new self-titled album which signaled a rebirth for Lee and company. Aside from her music, Lee is an avid fashionista, often creating her own clothing which she has worn for the Grammy Awards and the “Open Door” album cover. Lee has stated she wears her stage wardrobe to suit the mood of the music. She also dies her hair black and frequently uses colored contacts to add depth. Despite her natural beauty, Amy has notably played down her sexuality to avoid diluting the impact of the music or using it as a means to propel her career.
Jill Janus ~ Huntress
You know that dirty male fantasy you have where a goddess like witch takes you to places your body has never been before, then you awake with a start as she devours your soul and your flesh? Jill Janus is the embodiment of that twisted dream– a heavy metal fiend, Julliard graduate and former Playboy playmate. Like a dark siren she will lull you in with her beauty, then her voice will pierce your soul and you will blissfully writhe in pain impaled upon her microphone. Janus is an operatic banshee with an unparalleled four-octave coloratura soprano range and a lust for the occult. “Within me, there’s a nasty, horny old witch who runs the show. Beauty is fleeting, power and magic are eternal.”
In May, Janus and Huntress released their debut album “Spell Eater” on Napalm Records. She is fully aware of, and embraces the fact that her sexuality and looks will be what catches people’s eye. It is the music however that will keep them within her grasp; heads banging, devil horns in the air. Jill Janus interview.
Mischa Kianne & Jamie Nova ~ Witchburn
The women of Seattle’s Witchburn are simply a force. Nova’s powerful vocals and massive stage presence drive the incredible songs penned by band founder and guitarist Mischa Kianne. The group just completed a month long trek in support of Dio Disciples, and their Jack Endino produced debut album This is How We Slay Our Demons is the best metal album of the last two years that you’ve never heard. Down-tuned Sabbath-esque rock and roll of the old school…with a twist. Witchburn was born in 2006 as the longtime passion of guitarist, violinist and principal riff writer, Kianne, as an outlet to purge; “This is how we slay our demons… some people call it an exorcism, we call it a Witchburn. It’s not about religion, nor is it anti-religious, anti-pagan or anti-wiccan. It’s a figure of speech, our analogy for hunting down those things that have haunted us over the years, facing ghosts from the past and conquering personal demons.” Nova also spent time as the vocalist for the lauded all female AC/DC tribute band, Hell’s Belles. The band is currently working again with Endino on their sophomore effort.
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, 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. 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 newest 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. The 38-year-old singer, songwriter and the band spent 2012 in non-stop tour mode, while also recording and previewing a series of cover songs for a forthcoming covers album. Sharon den Adel Interview
When Anette Olzon left the Nightwish midway through its U.S. tour, Jansen jumped in to help out. She did a fabulous job. Whether that translates into a permanent gig with the band remains to be seen, but it is certainly a testament to her status that she was picked for the job. Floor has the ability to please Tarja Turunen fans while quite readily handling anything Olzon recorded. Her own post-After Forever project, ReVamp has flown quietly under the radar, which is a shame, as she has an incredible voice and a larger-than-life stage presence. ReVamp is currently in the studio recording its sophomore effort for Nuclear Blast.
Layla Brooklyn Allman ~ Picture Me Broken
One should hardly be surprised that a child born of the Allman pedigree would wind up in the music industry. Brooklyn Allman, daughter of Gregg Allman is continuing the family tradition though far away from the classic rock mold of her father and late Uncle Duane. Like her father she sings and plays keyboards. Brooklyn’s passion has taken her into the modern metal vein and her band Picture Me Broken, will release their new album, Corrupt Me in 2013 on Standby Records. The 19-year-old singer along with bassist Austin Dunn began the journey that would become Picture Me Broken when they were 12. She is an unbroken image of determination and perseverance.
“I love goal oriented people and in depth conversations about religion and writing. I love anything executed with vision and artistry. Picture Me Broken‘s music is the manifestation of my character and I want to continue to tour and write until I meet every single amazing person who supports us.”
Hailing from Gothenburg, Sweden, Sister Sin vocalist Liv Jagrell is proof that big things can come in small packages. The diminutive vocalist 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. Jagrell and company spent much of the new year working on their fourth album, Now and Forever, but once unleashed the world was listening. If you haven’t heard of Liv or Sister Sin yet, go take one listen to “Fight Song” off the new record and you’ll be an instant fan. Her thick Swedish accent should detract from the music, but instead it adds punch and charisma to each track. This month Jagrell underwent vocal node surgery giving her throat time to heal before Sister Sin hits the U.S. for a mammoth tour with Doro in February. Liv checked in with Metalholic post surgery and stated it “all went well.” When not performing with Sister Sin, Liv also models and is a professional trainer. Interview with Liv Jagrell
Manuela Kraller ~ Xandria
Manuela Kraller has everything female fronted symphonic metal fans love, from her undeniable beauty to her soaring operatic vocals which recall a young Tarja Turunen. Despite the depth and exquisite impact of Manuela’s vocals, she did not come to her life’s passion until her early 20s. Offers Kraller of her path to Xandria: “My musical life started very late, at the age of 23. In a choir in Finland I discovered singing and since then it became my passion. I began to take classical singing lessons, sang in church and gospel choirs and soon I was asked to be a solo singer in choirs, at church and also at private occasions. But as I have grown up with metal and rock music I soon wanted to combine it with my classical background. So I started singing rock and metal songs with a friend and also wrote my own songs for the first time. Soon after that I joined a metal band called Nagor Mar (Switzerland) and I also became a singer in the German band Haggard, where I had great experiences on stage and on tour. And now a ‘new age’ has begun for me and I am very pleased to be the new singer of Xandria!”
Manuela’s debut with Xandria, Neverworld’s End, she quickly laid to rest any doubts about the band’s faith in her abilities. She has helped elevate the band’s sound and is now part of what is readily the band’s most complete, and impressive effort to date.
Freeman is one of the most intriguing entries on this year’s list. The psychosocial poet and queen of quirk has been tabbed as both one of the “Hottest Women in Hard Rock” (Revolver) and one of the “Top 20 Most Extraordinary Female Guitarists” (Guitar Player). The two honors would seem to be a dichotomy, but both live within Freeman. She is a reluctant yet proud recipient of both. Freeman has released about a dozen records combined between her solo efforts and One-Eyed Doll, including two albums in 2012. The newest One-Eyed Doll effort, Committed will be released in early 2013. Prolific is an understatement when it comes to Freeman’s sonic output. In a recent interview with Metalholic she revealed she has nightmares about not being able to get all of her songs recorded before the clock runs out. Her music runs the gamut through punk, pop, hard rock, metal and anything that strikes her muse. It is all infectious as is her delightful voice and personality. Freeman has been endorsed by Tregan Gitars and she has had a hand in designing her own model. One-Eyed Doll interview.
Margarita Monet ~ Edge of Paradise
Margarita Monet (Martirosyan) is a well-traveled woman for a mere 23 years of age. At three years old the young Armenian moved to Russia, and from there to Houston, Texas where the acting bug bit. This took her to the Big Apple, but her musical soul cried out and she found her way to Los Angeles. Upon meeting guitarist/songwriter Dave Bates, she realized she’d finally found a home. Only two weeks after meeting Bates the two put together Edge of Paradise, a straight up modern metal band with nuances of industrial and punk. Margarita is the voice and face of the band. She released her own album in January of 2011, mostly piano based, but her heart belongs to rock and roll. This year she released a cover of Motley Crue’s “Saints of Los Angeles” and she the guys in EOP are finishing up recording with Bob Kulick and Michael Wagener for their new EP, “Perfect Shade Of Black,” which is due out January 2013.
Ryd is the sonically stunning voice of Swedish power metal merchants Amaranthe (formerly Avalanche) The 28-year-old brunette beauty offers a belt/high soprano voice. She began singing and dancing at the age of the three. When she was 13 she won a talent contest in Gothenburg as the youngest participant in the competition, where she received a scholarship award as “most promising singer.” Cameo appearances for bands like Falconer, Dreamland and Dragonland would cement her reputation as a voice to behold and bring her into contact with her fellow musicians in Amaranthe. The band released its well-received debut album in 2011. Ryd also spent time in 2010, 2011 and 2012 touring as guest vocalist with Kamelot. This fall she appeared, along with Alissa White-Gluz on Kamelot‘s new single and video, “Sacrimony (Angel Of Afterlife)”, as well as performing with Nightwish (again with White-Gluz) when Anette Olzon fell ill. She and Amaranthe are currently recording their sophomore album for an early 2013 release.
Sabrina Valentine ~ Seven Kingdoms
Sabrina Valentine is perhaps the most unassuming name on this list. Power metal is one of those sub-genres that has not been home to many female vocalists but that has not dissuaded Valentine as one can readily hear on the Seven Kingdom‘s new album, “The Fire is Mine“. The Florida-based vocalist came to metal late, but she came to play:
“You can probably tell by my singing that I’m not the normal female [metal] singer. My background has come from bluegrass and gospel style, so for a long time Alison Krauss was one of my favorite singers, then I moved to Sarah McLachlan… I’d never in my whole entire life heard any kind of metal until I met Camden. Then I instantly fell in love with Tobias Sammet (Edguy, Avantasia). I think he is–not only is he short (laughs) but he’s got a massively powerful voice. Then I heard Blind Guardian and my mind was blown; and then Hammerfall, just amazing. Every time I hear something new, I’m like ‘Oh my God’. So it’s an ongoing process for me. All I can say is that there’s some amazing singers out there and I can’t wait to hear them all”
Alissa White-Gluz 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. She and the band have been touring relentlessly this year in support of their newest effort, “Prisoners“. Alissa and The Agonist are also known for their social causes including environmental consciousness, with song 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 in art history. White-Gluz also kept busy in 2012 filling in for a sick Anette Olzon at a September Nightwish performance as well as making a cameo in the recent Kamelot video, for the song “Sacrimony (Angel Of Afterlife)”.
We’ve got nothing but love for Canada’s hardcore metal quartet, Kittie. While the band has endured changes at bass player and lead guitarist over the years, sisters Morgan (vocals/guitar) and Mercedes Lander (drums) have remained the band’s fiery core. The talented duo were still in their teens when their debut CD, “Spit” came out in 1999. Now hitting at 30 and 28 respectively they returned with a beastly new album, “I’ve Failed You” and spent much of 2012 scouring the Earth to drill out our brainpans with their heavy metal machinations. Guitarist Tara McLeod came on board in 2005 while bassist Trish Doan rejoined in time to tour in support of the new album. McLeod made our 2012 list of Best Female Shredders. 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
Few outside of the Baltimore/D.C. area had ever heard of, or heard Nina Osegueda before the band’s early 2012 release, “Out of the Darkness”. But with a voice that recalls a female Bruce Dickinson meets Ronnie James Dio, that is quickly changing. Osegueda has tapped into those mighty male metal vocal influences to develop her own style. You like vocalists who can attack each song in unique ways? Osegueda is a metal vocalist Swiss Army knife. However, Osegueda did not grow up on metal. “I went to my first metal show when I was 21, and I saw Dragonforce,” laughs the singer. “I was a late bloomer. I saw Dragonforce and I realized I want to do that.” However, prior to that epiphany she grew up on R&B and Gospel, and she was trained operatically before college interrupted her musical path. Early 2013 will see the release of the band’s new “Queen of Hell” EP and their next full length album, “Time’s Arrow”. Osegueda had a chance to duet with Raven’s John Gallagher on “Out of the Darkness” and will duet with Blaze Bayley (Iron Maiden, Wolfsbane) for the forthcoming record on the track “My Disease”. A Sound of Thunder interview
Heidi Shepherd & Carla Harvey ~ Butcher Babies
We close out 2012 with one of the most engaging duos we’ve experienced in a while. Vocally Shepherd and Harvey combine to sound much like Maria Brink and Alexis Brown, blending caustic growls and beautifully melodic vocals, but visually they are one part Alice Cooper, one part Wendy O. Williams and one part Penthouse Pet. Sonically, the band sound like Pantera meets Slipknot. Did you get all that down? Usually clad in flimsy clothing and electrical tape pasties, the two singers hit like psychotic porn stars, and fans, even critics are loving it. Not surprisingly the pair were selected among Revolver’s Hottest Women in Hard Rock and in their interview referred to their style as “slut metal”. Said Shepherd: “We can’t go balls out — so we go tits out! When girls are perceived as sexual or outspoken, they get labeled sluts, but we embrace those qualities and bring them to our music as well. Butcher Babies is true slut metal: We’re doing what we want, how we want.” Amen, sisters. Their debut full length will be released through Century Media in 2013.
Each year the list will be subjective and argumentative, so if we missed someone you think belongs, or vice versa. Please sound off below.
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