The future is female, even in rock music.
Over the years, some of metal’s best acts have been led by women. Whether it be the soaring vocals of Amy Lee or the gritty belting of Lizzy Hale, women have worked to redefine and expand metal music into exciting new territories. While “female-fronted metal” remains its own, outdated genre, the women listed below can snap with more ferocity than a lot of male-driven acts. For those who equate female vocalists with softness, these women say otherwise. Here are a few underrated, female-driven metal acts worth your time.
Over the years, the Italian metal band Lacuna Coil has aged like fine wine. The Milan quintet achieved a modest amount of fame in the late 1990s. Their 2002 effort Comalies, which balanced suffocating guitars with uplifting melodies, intrigued more than just die-hard metalheads thanks to the malleable voice of lead singer Cristina Adriana Chiara Scabbia. But a year later, a small band out of Arkansas named Evanescence would turn gothic rock into a Grammy-winning, money-making machine at Lacuna Coil’s expense.
But Evanescence’s explosive popularity confirmed that younger audiences were looking for some heavier music, so the band honed in on their melodies and softened their edges. But as a result, 2006’s Karmacode felt diluted and westernized and exiled a lot of day one fans.
But when gothic music faded from the mainstream, Lacuna Coil said f*ck it and over the years dove headfirst into thrashing death metal once again. 2016’s Black Anima was the group’s grittiest and heaviest effort to date, as well as their strongest, all elevated by the versatile talents of Cristina Adriana Chiara Scabbia.
In This Moment
This alt-metal outfit out of LA is bursting with theatricality. The band’s live performances and music videos are filled with colorful costumes and visceral, gory visuals all complimented by ferocious guitars and haunting melodies from frontwoman Maria Brink.
Brink is historically enigmatic in interviews and prides herself on expressing herself solely through music. She’s found new ways to reinvent her image every album cycle without sexualizing herself, boasting eclectic costumes that express exactly what she wants to say. By speaking almost solely through her music, her creative identity has remained ever-changing and unique.
She can present herself as frighteningly demonic as well as angelic, her multifaceted voice adding to the creative allure of a lost soul straddling both heaven and hell. Not to mention, her band really knows how to thrash away at their instruments. “I think there’s something so amazing about mystery,” Brink told AltPress. “It lets your imagination work on the exciting stuff.”
Walls of Jericho
The Detroit Metalcore band is known for their snappy guitars and complex tempo changes, but it’s Candace Kucsulain’s blood-curdling growls that bring it all together. Relentless in her delivery, Kucsulain’s grotesque screams are not for the faint of heart. The band has gone through two prolonged hiatuses and multiple line up changes, but none of these switch-ups have diluted Kusculain’s natural talent for making hot-tempered metal.
A symphonic metal band out of The Netherlands, Within Temptation has remained one of metal’s most consistent acts. Forming in 1996, the band has spent the last two decades churning out great hardcore music and landing higher and higher on the charts as a result. Their sound hasn’t changed as much as it’s steadily improved, with Sharon den Adel growing more potent as a vocalist with every release.
Den Adel is a strictly melodic vocalist, rarely delving into anything grittier than angelic harmonies; but as a result, she has only gotten better in helping the suffocating instruments around her take flight. A prolific songwriter and super charismatic person, 2019’s Resist fused the band’s grimy guitar work with electronic synths and flashy hooks and was acclaimed by critics. While it sounds chaotic on the surface, den Adel’s pristine voice helps it all take flight.
The Swedish death metal act is one of extreme metal’s most successful bands, which is surprising considering the group has changed vocalists twice. But Johan Liiva, Angela Gossow, and now Alissa White-Gluz are all tied for providing some of death metal’s best vocals, with the latter often praised for her effortless switching between clean and dirty vocals. The band’s most recent effort, 2017’s Will to Power, is still a strong offering of melodic death metal, making them one of the genre’s most unlikely consistent bands.
Praised for their dynamic sound, the Boston-based extreme metal band Abnormality would be nothing without the diabolical screams of Mallika Sundaramurthy. Her gurgling growl is so deep and unsettling that it’s hard to sit through an entire album by Abnormality. But for those that can stomach it, Sundaramurthy is a talented musician that also finds a way to incorporate a unique groove into her deep bellows. Her band’s thick guitars and suffocating drums, while technically impressive, sound soft when held up to Sundaramurthy’s uncanny ferocity.