Mar 102010

[Today, we’re pleased to feature a post from our occasional guest contributor from the Antipodes, Steff Metal (whose usual site you can find here). We wish we had at least thought up the wicked title to this post, but that was hers, too. And the rest of post is also pretty damned wicked. Prepare yourself to be entertained, and to discover some new music in the process.]

I went to a Cripple Mr. Onion gig. During setup I was nursing my bourbon and cola at the bar when I overheard a couple of dudes discussing Arch Enemy.

“She’s alright to look at,” one said, “but she can’t growl for shit.”

“Yeah,” his friend agreed. “Chicks can’t do extreme metal. Every extreme metal band with a chick vocalist is crap.” Therein followed a heated discussion of what chicks should be doing instead of playing extreme metal, which I’ve omitted due to the rules of common decency.

Resisting the urge to punch them both in the face, I drained my glass and wondered if I could prove his claim false. Surely there must be extreme metal bands with decent female vocals?

It’s a long-held belief among metalheads that girls can’t do extreme metal. Extreme Metal is probably the most aggressive, angry, violent form of music there is, and every study ascertains its audience as overwhelmingly male. There’s a kind of “lost boys club” surrounding extreme metal, a sort of grymm forest treehouse with a badly handwritten sign on the door: NO GIRLS ALLOWED.

I think the lack of decent female extreme metal musicians has more to do with simple maths. Hardly any girls listen to extreme metal, and of those that do, hardly any play instruments. There are hundreds of thousands of men playing in metal bands and about twenty-two girls (seriously, I counted), and if 80% of all metal is crap, then that’s only … 4.2 decent female extreme metal musicians.

No I just have to find them.  (and find them she did — read on after the jump . . .)

Exhibit A: Opera IX

I’ve never thought of Italy as a hotseat of black metal, much less black metal fronted by extremely pissed-off, growly chicks, but here’s Opera IX to prove the Italians are better at more than just clogging up the Alpine passes with suicidal drivers.

Here they are black metalling it with “Born in the Grave”:

I also found this video of Opera IX covering “Rhime of the Ancient Mariner”. This is actually really cool (the non-growly vocals are from Cadavaria, their former vocalist).

Exhibit B: Cadaveria

Cadaveria was the original vocalist of Opera IX, and having listened to some of their older, more Cradle of Filth sounding stuff, I prefer their new vocalist, but Cadaveria’s got her own band now: the vocals are quite raw, but it’s clear she can also sing.

From the album In Your Blood, “AnagraM”. I’m actually really digging this.

Exhibit C: Severed Heaven

I saw these lasses on an atrocious reality TV show “Singing with the Enemy” a couple of weeks ago, where they had to record a collaboration with a cock rock band. Although the cock rock / death metal song sounded like shit, Lauren’s vocals impressed me.

Exhibit D: Enter Chaos

There’s Polish death metal, there’s female vocals. The vocalist is quite cute, too. It’s all good.

Exhibit E: Adorior

I love a Myspace page that begins with: “Spawned of slut and abattoir semen in the festering pits of the UK”. Adorior spew forth an orgy of deranged intensity. I love the production on these tracks, which really allows you to hear Melissa’s vocals.

Exhibit F: Merlin

Mary, the vocalist from Russian death metal outfit Merlin, has a rare vocal range from contralto to soprano, which might have let her into the famous Moscow Conservatoire without need of sitting the entrance examinations had she not decided to form a brutal death metal band. She borrows heavily from John Tardy’s vocal style:

Exhibit G: Thorr’s Hammer

I think these are some of the best vocals I’ve heard. Ever. Thorr’s Hammer are death / doom from Washington, DC, but their vocalist, Runhild, is a tr00 Norwegian lass. They only released one demo, and they broke up in 1995, which is the saddest thing I’ve heard while researching this article (and I heard Black Thorn).

Yes, that is a female vocalist. She’d have Angela Gossow running for the hills.

Of the above tracks, I dig the Opera IX and Cadaveria songs the most, and I think Runhild from Thorr’s Hammer has the best vocals. I think all of these bands have merit, and I do believe I’ve proved that girls don’t suck at no clean singing.

For metal fans – who demand the utmost in honesty from their music – the true question is, how can you tell if a band is good in the truest musical sense, as opposed to a band you simply pay more attention to because they’re doing something different. Can we ignore the un-male-ness of these musicians and dissect their songs with the same rigor we apply to male musicians? Should we? Or is their womenliness part of their performance, part of the overall effect of the music? Should we stop saying “she’s pretty good, for a chick” and start saying “she fucking slays.” As a friend and lead singer of an all-female metal band once said. “Fuck, girls get angry too.”

So, I leave the verdict in your hands. Do we girls growl, rasp, screech and howls as good as you blokes?

Steff Metal

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