Unlike punk rock, for some reason the world of heavy metal has not always been the most accepting of women, unless they are scantily clad or topless dancing in the background. However, this post aims to prove to all of the closed minded chauvinists that women can rock just as hard as men, if not harder.
The rise of women among metal and hard rock music continues on to our delight, despite the fact that many females still face an uphill battle in a mostly male dominated genre. But, that didn't stop some of the front women listed below from become pioneering figures in deathrock, power metal, metlacore, and even death metal. We now present our list of the Top 10 Female Metal Singers.
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10. Candace Kusculain (Walls of Jericho)
Formed in 1998, in Detroit, Walls of Jericho might be lumped into the metalcore genre, but they are much more. Blending in elements of hardcore with some thrash and punk, the band gained a rabid fan base from the beginning, which flocked to see the band's gripping live shows. Taking homage from Madball, Hatebreed and even Sepultura, the band was fronted by vocalist, Candace Kucsulain, whose fury and urgency can be heard in her screams. Kusculain has a very heartfelt, heavy voice full of strength and passion.
Kusculain has proven herself to be a veteran of the hardcore/metalcore scene, and can often insight crowds into a frenzy of a circle pit when Walls of Jericho perform live. On later albums such as With Devils Among Us (2006), and The American Dream (2008) the band explores new territory with more rock based ballads that include Kusculain switching to epic, yet more melodic clean vocals.
9. Eva Ortiz (Super Heroines, Shadow Project)
Eva Ortiz is known for her pivotal role in the early '80s LA punk/deathrock scene. Her distinct vocals carry a mysterious, deep, eerie, anguished nuance that has remained throughout her career, now over three decades in the making. In the early '80s, Eva formed her first band, the Super Heroines, one of LA's premier deathrock bands at the time, alongside 45 Grave.
As a guitarist and lyricist, Eva O. did some work with her husband Rozz Williams and his early incarnation of Christian Death, contributing vocals on the band's debut album Only Theatre of Pain, from 1982. Williams and Ortiz also collaborated on the experimental, darker Goth inspired band, Shadow Project. Sadly, Williams committed suicide in 1998. Since the late '90s she has managed to remain a cult like figure for her gloomy, Black-Sabbath-meets-the-Cure sound and still puts out underground music for fans and plays occasional shows.
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8. Bianca Halestead (Butt Trumpet, Betty Blowtorch)
Bianca Halstead, a.k.a. Bianca Butthole, played bass and sang in LA's rude and crude, sexually explicit '90s hardcore punk band Butt Trumpet. In 1998, she formed the band Betty Blowtorch, an all-girl hard rock metal band oozing with hedonism, sex, partying and rock n roll. Imagine an all-female Gun N Roses mixed with an all-female Motorhead with 10 times the libido. Early on, the band created a name for itself with its LA club appearances. Halstead led Betty Blowtorch with the perfect balance: the raw energy of punk, mixed with the sexy flare and edge of metal/hard rock. Betty Blowtorch saw some success; with the band's sleazy, hard rocking debut album is You Man Enough (2001).
But then, in Dec., 2001, after a successful Betty Blowtorch tour of club shows, a senseless tragedy then struck. Halstead, who was 12 years sober, was killed in a horrific car accident in New Orleans. Her spirit, music and legacy live on however through the musicians she worked with and befriended, and the loyal fans that adored her, as the 12-year anniversary of her tragic passing approaches.
7. Kim McAuliffe (Girlschool)
Girlschool was one of the up-and-coming New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) bands that formed in the mid to late '70s. This all-female hard rock band launched a career in metal that soon had them touring with Saxon, Deep Purple, Iron Maiden, The Scorpions and even the legendary Motorhead, who became friends and supporters of the band. Led by guitarist and singer Kim McAuliffe, Girlschool endured for over thirty-five years. McAuliffe not only founded the band in the late '70s, but also is one of the band's main lyricist and songwriter. Without a doubt, Girlschool's influence has inspired bands such as L7, The Donnas and even Hole, among many others.
6. Betsy Bitch, a.k.a. Betsy Weiss (Bitch)
Betsy Bitch was the front woman for the metal band Bitch, formed in LA in 1980. Bitch was known as the first band signed to Metal Blade Records in its early days, on the Metal Massacre compilation, which also featured Metallica. The band was controversial from the get go, due to the sadomasochistic and sexually suggestive themes and visuals at concerts. The group was an early target of Tipper Gore and the P.R.M.C. (Parent's Music Resource Center). Betsy Bitch led the band to perform in LA in the '80s alongside other LA metal bands like Armored Saint, and WASP. Even though Bitch founder Robby Settles passed away in 2010, Betsy Bitch keeps the metal spirit of Bitch alive with a new line up of the band, featuring members of LA thrash band Anger as Art.
5. Angela Gassow (Arch Enemy)
When it comes to venomous, Swedish death metal, look no further than Arch Enemy. Formed in 1996 by Carcass guitarist Michael Amott, the band blended brutality and melody, with early releases such as Black Earth and Burning Bridges. But in 2000, vocalist Angela Gossow stepped up to the plate, leading Arch Enemy for over 13 years and counting. Gossow's signature death metal growling style showcases her wicked talent and ravenous ability to spit out brutal vocals in the style of bands such as Obituary, Death, Carcass, Nile and Morbid Angel.
The band's albums, such as Doomsday Machine (2005), Anthems of Rebellion (2003), and other classic like the Wages of Sin (2001) are rich and powerful full of apocalyptic and dystopian themes, and topics such as evil, tyranny and technology. Gossow's vocals are intense, evil sounding yet empowering when performed live. Gassow can handle her own fronting the band as they tour extensively worldwide, sharing the stages with Anthrax, Iron Maiden, Hatebreed Slayer and Motorhead.
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4. Tairrie B. (My Ruin)
Before she was the front woman for Southern-tinged LA-based rockers My Ruin, Tairrie B.'s career can be traced back to 1990, when she recorded a rap album for Easy-E, entitled The Power of a Woman. Shortly after this album, she decided to pursue a different sound, and formed the alternative metal band Manhole, which later morphed into the darker Tura Satana, and eventually My Ruin, in 1999. Today, My Ruin's music is a head banger friendly blend Black Sabbath, Motorhead, Type O Negative and Corrosion of Conformity with whiskey, weed, aggression and religious themes and imagery. The band also features Tairrie's husband and musical partner, guitar virtuoso Mick Murphy. Tairrie has always had an intense voice, which just screamed for metal, reminiscent of a female Phil Anselmo mixed with Bon Scott. Tairrie's confrontational lyrics often attack hypocrisy, sexism and misogyny, while remaining personal, and sometimes religious in nature.
3. Dinah Cancer (45 Grave)
Founded in 1979 by singer Dinah Cancer, 45 Grave was one of the bands responsible for a new subgenre known as deathrock: a darker, gloomier version of horror punk. The band is still led by the beautiful singer today; as she is the only original member. 45 Grave's classic debut album Sleep in Safety(1983), is a concoction of old school LA hardcore, surf rock and deathrock, molded into a cohesive collection of songs that set the foundation for Goth music. Her iconic image as a zombie, vampire or bat is notably encompassed within the music, art lyrics imagery of 45 Grave.
After the band broke up in 1985, Cancer's triumphs over personal issues, raising a family, and a hiatus from the music industry through the 90s led her to come back into music in the late 90s, at first with the project Penis Flytrap and later Dinah Cancer and the Grave Robbers. But in 2004, she reformed 45 Grave, with a new line up. Today, the band has released a new album; Pick Your Poison (2012), with a lineup that also includes Frank Agnew (TSOL, Social Distortion, and the Adolescents) on guitar. 45 Grave recently played Rob Zombie's Great American Nightmare, opening for Rob Zombie the last two nights of the horror festival.
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2. Doro Pesch (Doro, Warlock)
This German-born heavy metal vocalist is known worldwide as the 'Metal Queen,' and can still fill up stadiums and arenas when she tours. Doro Pesch was also front woman for heavy metal band Warlock, and has maintained a powerful, vibrant and melodic vocal range that fans have adored for decades. She has earned a fan base of millions with her solo band, Doro, especially in Europe, where in many countries, she is known as the female counterpart of Ronnie James Dio.
Since her early days in Warlock, Doro has evolved as a singer and songwriter, with a dozen studio albums under her belt. Doro remains at the top of her game, with a passion for the stage that few can come close to matching and an epic live show. With a career lasting well over a quarter of a century, she is still producing albums and touring; her latest album Raise Your Fist (2012) was dedicated to the late heavy metal singer.
1. Wendy O. Williams (The Plasmatics)
Years ahead of her time, Wendy O. Williams was a pioneering spirit in the world of explosive, in-your-face shock rock that mixed the attitude of punk with the menacing, raunchy edge of metal. Think equal parts Alice Cooper, Sex Pistols and Motorhead and you have the Plasmatics, a band that Williams fronted from the late '70s to the early '80s, after which she also had successful solo career. Williams was known to be one of the most beautiful, dangerous, and provocative heavy metal performers of the '80s, bridging a gap between metal and punk rock, while paving the way for such acts as Twisted Sister, GWAR, Marilyn Manson, Rammstein, Slipknot and hordes of others who follow in her path of rock, lust and sonic mayhem.
Williams was a non-conformist, and pushed the limits of sexuality, destruction, violence which was manifested when she performed live with the Plasmatics; concerts often featured chainsaws used to destroy guitars, sledgehammers to smash TV sets, pyrotechnics, collapsing lights as part of the show, and various explosions, including a car being literally blown up on the Tom Snyder show in 1981 on major television. Some of her music was focused on hedonism, while others questioned authority, police brutality and other Orwellian aspects such as Big Brother.
Tragically, Williams committed suicide in 1998, at her home in Connecticut. She was found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head and a suicide note. Her iconic mohawk, slender physique and catalog of timeless confrontational songs, with the Plasmatics and her solo albums, ensure that her legacy lives on, earning her a place in rock and roll history forever.