Chicks in Metal: Are You Listening with the Wrong Head?
Metal used to be a boy’s club… pioneered by sweaty, shirtless dudes in leather pants blasting out the world’s loudest and heaviest incarnation of rock ‘n’ roll for other sweaty, shirtless dudes in the pit. Nothing wrong with that! But a new type of pioneer has been creeping up into metal’s consciousness for well over 30 years now. From Girlschool to Thorr’s Hammer to Agoraphobic Nosebleed, women have been rightfully claiming their territory in the realm of heavy and extreme metal. Unfortunately, with true brilliance in progression, the trend-hoppers and money-grubbers of the music industry won’t be far behind.
Got a hot chick in your metal band that will get half-naked for press shots? Great! Sign here, here and initial here.
Now I admit that I’m a sucker for hot metal babes. Hell, I even stapled pages of the Century Media’s 2009 Maiden’s of Metal calendar to the walls of the Earache Records office. The only problem is that after labels become transparent in their attempts to cash in by signing any band with a hot, tattooed front-woman, it begins to delegitimize the truly talented women of metal. I also think that it trains the listener to accept sub-par music because they begin to listen with the wrong head. So here’s a list of some of metal music’s hottest and most popular goddesses, only I’ll be suggesting whether it’s more effective to listen with:
Katherine Katz: (Salome/Agoraphobic Nosebleed)
It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Katherine Katz. As I was introduced to her voice on the Agoraphobic Nosebleed full-length, Agorapocalypse, I felt like my brain was blown out the back of my skull. Her vicious scream further captivated the metal world on the Salome/Thou split, Our Enemy Civilization and Salome's debut release on Profound Lore, Terminal which made various Top 10 lists in 2010. Kat spoke about her biggest influence, Thorr's Hammer vocalist Runhild Gammelsæter, in a phone interview I did with her about two years ago:
I listened to her in high school and I just thought “Oh my God.” I was just in love with her vocals and when I started singing I thought, “I’m going to get my vocals as low as hers.” She was a really big influence on me, as well as Dying Fetus. I was 15 or 16 when I started listening to them… I was such a weird kid – I was always walking around school practicing my guttural vocals. It was so bizarre.
Kat's as easy on they eyes as she is vicious on the mic, but she has always let her music speak for itself. Agoraphobic Nosebleed made a name for themselves in grind before Kat joined, and Salome's Rob Moore and Aaron Deal are great musicians and songwriters in their own right, so neither band solely depend on Kat's looks to get press or sell merch. When Kat grabs the mic, she's all business, and her talent is undeniable.
Called the Praying Mantis of Metal by this very website, Landmine Marathon's Grace Perry will lure you in and eat you alive. If you've ever had the pleasure of seeing the band live in person or seen their live online videos, you'll have certainly noticed her hypnotizing and somewhat disturbing stage prescience. You'd also note her toughness as she fearlessly jumps into the crowd, being knocked around without skipping a beat. Since 2004, Landmine Marathon have crafted their style mixing thrash, death metal and doom into a truly addicting concoction. Perry's voice sounds like a mix between Arch Enemy's Angela Gossow and a jaguar; ferocious and slick with an unrelenting attack. The rest of Landmine Marathon; guitarists Dylan Thomas and Ryan Butler, bassist Matt Martinez and drummer Andy York are no different. They hold their own and each bring something punishing to the table.
Kristen Randall: (ex-Winds of Plague)
Maria Brink: (In This Moment)
Kristen Randall and Maria Brink were pictured together on the cover of Century Media's 2009 Maidens of Metal calendar, and although I had to change my pants after seeing the cover, this to me is a perfect representation of mainstream moneymaking strategies trickling down into the underground.
Maria Brink of In This Moment represents this trend perfectly. You'll rarely see her in anything more than a miniskirt and a low-cut top. Her live performances and music videos are no exception… she's even taking a lovely bath in the Beautiful Tragedy video. In This Moment are all about their image. The band are overwhelmingly lacking in originality, whether they try their hands at pop-metal or deathcore, they are merely a reflection in a shallow pool.
Winds of Plague are an even greater example of this trend. Kristen Randall isn't just showing some leg here, we're about a millimeter away from full-on beef curtains. There's no doubting that she looks absolutely stunning in any picture you'll see and she was a decent keyboardist for Winds of Plague. (In fact it is the one aspect that separates them from every other paint-by-numbers deathcore band) It's because of pictures like this however, that sent metal fans racing to their computers. Notably one topless photo taken "Myspace style" wih her camera phone. Kristen left the band in 2009, so what did they do? Replace her with another hot chick who will take off her clothes of course! Alana Potocnik, the bands current keyboardist followed suit with this picture.
Alissa White-Gluz is the sultry singer and screamer for the metalcore/melodic death metal band, The Agonist. Signed to Century Media (surprise surprise) in 2007, The Agonist have been extremely successful, especially with their 2009 LP, Lullabies for the Dormant Mind. Alissa uses an impressive combination of low gutturals, high shrieks and clean singing which she constantly interchanges on tracks such as "…And Their Eulogies Sang Me to Sleep" and "Chlorpromazine." With her multi-colored locks and piercing blue eyes, she's been scantily-clad in various magazines, calendars and "Hottest Women in Metal" lists. She's the reason I first listened to The Agonist, but does the music match up to her beauty?
The male members of The Agonist are all very talented musicians. Bassist Chris Kells and guitarist Dan Marino (yes, Dan Marino) both showcase some impressive leads along with some interesting time changes, and drummer Simon McKay can blast with the best of them. Their music however can be a bit stagnant at times with a lack of creative progression and an excess of standard metalcore palm-muted hooks. If you like metalcore or haven't heard too much of it, you might have a new favorite band, but if you've been hit by the Myspace "Core" tidal wave and decided to run for the hills, The Agonist probably isn't for you.
Let's recap: We have an incredibly gorgeous singer, a talented group of musicians, but an average collection of material. So should you enjoy The Agonist with your big head or your little head?
Hot sisters in a metal band??? Hallelujah! Let's check out their music!
Hmmm. That's a damn shame ladies, we could have had something beautiful.
Eyes Set to Kill began as an all-female post-hardcore project featuring Lindsay Vogt along with sisters Alexa and Anissa Rodriguez. The band's debut EP, When Silence is Broken, the Night is Torn, was released in 2006 by Break Silence Records, the same people who gave us musical dirt-merchants Brokencyde. To me, the EP represents the tombstone of "good cop/bad cop" vocals; the kind that made bands such as Poison the Well and Alexisonfire so popular. 2006 was also the year Brian Posehn released Metal by Numbers, which perfectly summed up what many metal fans thought of the post-hardcore movement at the time. Lindsay Vogt eventually left the band, leaving only two hot chicks in the lineup while a revolving door of musicians have kept the band afloat ever since.
Although the band has seen success, Eyes Set to Kill haven't progressed at all in the last 5 years, still clinging onto the early 2000's as if there is still something new to offer in a trend which has long been left for dead. We all know why Eyes Set to Kill are still around. Who doesn't love a hot pair of sisters? Dream on fellas.
There are obviously a ton of women in metal who I haven't mentioned in this article. Who are your favorite female metal musicians? What other bands do you believe use hot chicks to push their otherwise unremarkable music? Do you agree or disagree with my opinions on these bands? I want to know what you think. Let's discuss!