When it comes to the empowering and loud AF new vinyl/CD compilation Women of Doom, nearly every aspect of its existence was helped along thanks to girl power.
"Stand or Fall
Don't we all
Searchin' for ways to survive
We're sweatin' blood
And if you feel
What I feel
Then we will learn how to fight
For what is real"
A few lyrics from "Hellraiser" as sung by the Queen of metal, Doro Pesch of Warlock
Conceived to shine a bright light on female artists and industry professionals working within the realm of doom metal, its artwork (pictured above) was done by Lara Subterranean. Subterranean has created images for Windhand (led by another powerful woman of metal, Dorthia Cottrell), Monolord, and Dopethrone. Mastering was the job of Jett Galindo, who has worked with everyone from Pink Floyd to Green Day during her long career. Even the factory where Women of Doom was pressed, Furnace Records, employs a large number of women throughout its ranks, including VP Ali Miller, pressing officers Becky Anderson and Katie Smith, as well as a talented team of women working as assembly techs. We always knew girls could do anything, including holding roles in male-dominated industries and occupations. So on that factual note, let's find out more about the women of Women of Doom and listen to the album, streaming exclusively on Metal Injection prior to its release on April 10th. It includes tracks from Frayle; a duo led by Gwyn Strang; a duo from my hometown of Seattle, Year of the Cobra (led by all-around badass Amy Tung Barrysmith); Atlanta band Royal Thunder (led by MIny Parsonz); purveyors of fifth-dimensional riffs, Heavy Temple (led by bassist the High Priestess Nighthawk); and The Otolith, a new band comprised of four of the five members of of the much loved Salt Lake City veteran sludgers SubRosa. So, as we're already jawing about The Otolith–and since their chilling new track "Bone Dust" was the first single released in support of Women of Doom, let's start there.
When SubRosa called it a day after thirteen years, many fans shed a tear at the news Rebecca Vernon, Sarah Pendelton, Kim Pack, Levi Hanna and Andy Patterson would be moving on to work on other projects. During their time as SubRosa, vocalist Rebecca Vernon had been outspoken about the treatment and role of women in the Mormon church, referring to the culture, despite some progress, as a "holdover from the 1950s." The now foursome, who continued on without Vernon, has described their sound as "heavier than a truckload of bricks," spending the winter of 2020 writing material for their yet-to-be-titled debut. In an interview with Sarah and Kim, the pair spoke about being a part of Women of Doom elaborating they would love to see gender "dissolve" into a non-issue someday. When we asked how they would be handling vocals for their new project, Sarah, Kim, and Levi told Metal Injection they will be sharing both vocals and writing lyrics jointly. The goal is to have each song "unfold slightly differently," with some songs being led vocally by "one of us, while another song may feature equal parts of all three voices." If you want to get a sense of what that sounds like, take a listen to The Ololith's contribution to Women of Doom "Bone Dust," which should leave any lover of doom waiting to hear more.
The husband and wife duo Year of the Cobra has been a PNW staple since 2015. The she part of the duo, Amy Tung Barrysmith, started teaching music in Los Angeles before heading to Seattle to continue her music instruction, which ranges from classical piano to bass, guitar and percussion. To say Tung is a force to be reckoned with in doom is an understatement, and if you've ever seen Year of the Cobra live, you're certainly banging your head in agreement. Tung and Barrysmith are also parents of young children and have worked hard to instill in them that they too can someday find a pursuit to dedicate themselves to that will fulfill them – just like Mom and Dad's sonic waves of doom emanating from Seattle. We asked Amy Tung about her contribution to Women of Doom, "Broken," and what inspired her to write the song, which sounds a bit like a lullaby written by director John Carpenter:
I wasn’t inspired by something in particular. I knew I wanted to write something that was drone-y and sparse and vulnerable and dark. I also knew I wanted to focus on the piano because I’m known for playing heavy bass riffs and I wanted to show that I could do something different and out of the box. I really wanted to do a solo piece and while I can play the guitar, I can’t slay on it like I’d want to so I had to use my limitations to my advantage. As soon as I came up with the main riff and melody all I had to do was fall down that rabbit hole and let it take me where it wanted to go.
If you've heard the voice that comes from Mlny Parsonz, you'd be surprised the formidable vocalist initially suffered from the dreaded "mic fright" that can plague everyone from disc jockeys to public speakers. During Royal Thunder's early days in Atlanta, when the band would hold rehearsals, Parsonz would leave the living room and sing from the kitchen. Not unlike the ethereal and unique Stevie Nicks, Parsonz had difficulty recognizing her vocal talent for a long time but has since come to embrace and feel comfortable with her prowess. When she was only fourteen, Parsonz was heading up a grindcore band. After witnessing a performance by another Atlanta band, Damad, her musical aspirations came deeper into focus thanks to vocalist Victoria Scalisi (RIP). They would form a friendship, and a star would be born in Parsonz. Here's more from Parsonz's on how Victoria Scalisi helped her find her calling in doom:
"Victoria was this petite, soft-spoken, crusty chick with long hair. Then all of a sudden, they started playing, and this tiny little person let out these low, guttural growls. That was it for me. She was someone I really admired, and it opened up a door for me that made me realize that women can do whatever the fuck they want. It doesn't matter if you sound like a man, woman, whatever. Just be yourself. That's when I started pursuing who I am."
Like so many women, Parsonz is a survivor. She made it through a painful divorce with her husband, Josh Weaver (the guitarist for Royal Thunder), and made it out of a religious cult where she learned to play the guitar and sing. Her dreamy contribution to Women of Doom, "A Skeleton is Born," is a haunting track that showcases Parsonz's remarkable range and vocal style. MI asked Parsonz' to talk a little bit about how she found her voice and cultivated her distinctive vocal style:
"When I was a kid, I made scary movies using one of those video cameras that was bigger than my own head (lol). I remember playing back the footage and thinking I sounded like Bart Simpson! My whole life, people have always commented on my speaking voice, good and bad, so I guess that made me aware of it and perhaps a little self-conscious. I rarely listen to our music, mostly because it's hard not to hear an entirely different album based off of what you could have done better/more. But when I do decide to stroll down memory lane, I usually get uncomfortable when I focus on my voice.
I've come around over the past year, to a place where I have stopped being so self-deprecating and start allowing myself to love myself and accept who I am. Maybe that sounds like I'm goin' too far with it, but that's the truth. I scare myself with how much I don't give a fuck like I used to. Life is easy and good, and really, whatever you make it. With music and my voice, I think I found my sound by doing it, embracing it, and not giving a fuck. My voice came from all of my experiences in life and especially the road. The road is a fast-paced therapy session (lol). I've learned so much there. I break, I mend, I grow. And that's how I found/find my voice."
Vocalist High Priestess Nighthawk is the longest-running original member of the Philadelphia doom band Heavy Temple. She is also the band's primary lyricist. Her first experience with a musical instrument was with the piano at age seven and would move on the cello, following a path defined by classical music. High Priestess Nighthawk ditched the classical gas and upgraded to a bass guitar and starting jamming with various local bands. However, Nighthawk does not disparage her classical upbringing and believes her background helped her adapt her talent to other instruments, including her voice. Here's Nighthawk laying down some truth about the importance and brutality of classical jams:
"I mean when you look at certain kinds of metal, there's classical music all over the place. Tchaikovsky was super brutal, so is Beethoven, so I can only speak for myself, but I think that having the classical background definitely helped me."
For Women of Doom, Heavy Temple contributed the track "Astral Hand," an instantly classic, completely sonic journey through doom and beyond. Though the members of Heavy Temple have changed a bit over the years, Metal Injection has called Heavy Temple "the best doom band in Philadelphia," and we still stand behind that statement. In 2018, Nighthawk spoke to the notion of "normalizing" the idea of women who play metal, and if she thinks the metal/doom community has gotten better for women who are a part of the genre:
"By 'normalize,' I meant that I wanted it to become so commonplace that a musician's gender is no longer even worth marking as differentiation, and questions like these become moot. And, yes, I think we're getting there. More and more, there are new bands with a strong female / non-binary presence. Media coverage is evolving from reductive or demeaning 'hot girl with a guitar' stuff to "this person is a truly talented musician" regardless of gender. Though its main focus isn't metal, She Shreds has really done a lot to turn the spotlight on women in music. Women That Rock is a great Instagram showcasing a lot of talent, and Women in Music and Women in Vinyl are awesome non-profit organizations working to empower and highlight industry folks.
I've also seen the number of bands we play with that have non-male members in them increase, especially since Heavy Temple started 8 years ago (most recent favorites are Dreamswell, Crystal Spiders, Black Moon Mother, Coma Hole). And while this visibility is a good thing, I still think we face a double standard, and not just as musicians in the community. Female writers and label owners still face a lot of vitriol from those who apparently have nothing better to do. I got some hilariously awful messages when the lineup changed because it wouldn't be an 'all-girl' band anymore. If gender is what people latch onto, they're missing the point. All that being said, I do think we have more allies in the scene than detractors.
I'm looking forward to seeing the scene grow from the increasing variety of different perspectives. I appreciate everyone who makes an effort to share their voice, and I think we're on the right track to make sure everyone is heard and respected, regardless of gender."
Now that you have gotten to know a bit more about this incredible project, dig into Metal Injection's exclusive stream of Women of Doom. Both the gatefold vinyl and CD can be purchased at Blues Funeral.