Seeing a woman in a heavy metal band used to be like seeing a unicorn in the wild. Non-existent. Thankfully, these times they are a changin’. Women in metal have graduated from mythical creatures--hardly seen and scarcely believed--to an endangered species fighting for a spot in the musical food chain.
It is no secret that the music industry, like Hollywood, has its fair share of rampant sexism. In terms of the world of rock and roll, women have notoriously been placed on the back burner in favor of men unless they are deemed sexually appealing to the male gaze. Google the band In This Moment and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Let’s be honest though: sex sells, and that is never going to change. Now, I’m not one to be a prude but I do enjoy a little substance in the music I listen to, regardless of what the band looks like.
Lucky for everyone, we have been blessed by badass, take-no-shit ladies like Angela Gossow, Alissa White-Gluz, and Cristina Scabbia. These leading ladies are steering women in metal in the right direction. Girls: take note, and fellas: watch out.
Angela Gossow hails from Germany and was formerly the vocalist for the band Arch Enemy. Active from 2001-2014, the band produced about one studio album every year, including a DVD special. Gossow is known for her incredible death growl, something we usually only hear in male-fronted bands. For those of you that don’t know what that is, imagine what a demon would sound like and that’s basically it. And trust me, it’s difficult to do. The song “Nemesis” will give you some insight into what the band is like. Instead of flaunting around on stage in little-to-no clothing, Gossow carved a spot for herself and the band by her musical talents alone.
In 2014, Gossow stepped down from her role as vocalist and handpicked Alissa White-Gluz to lead the band in her stead. Like Gossow, White-Gluz is also capable of producing a death growl, albeit not as evil sounding as her predecessor. White-Gluz isn’t a spring chicken though. She’s had her share of trials and tribulations from her old band, The Agonist. It seems that even if you spend a decade with a band, they still might kick you out for mysterious reasons… But I suppose in the end, White-Gluz is doing perfectly fine in her new gig with Arch Enemy and the fans are pleased.
Cristina Scabbia of the Italian band Lacuna Coil is also a heavy metal icon. She has been active with the band since 1991, releasing eight studio albums. Unlike a lot of other metal bands, Lacuna Coil kicks formula to the side and sports two vocalists, herself and Andrea Ferro. While Ferro is in charge of the growling, Scabbia sings clean lyrics with pipes any pop star would dream of. “Our Truth” is probably their most famous song and I’m pretty sure it was on either RockBand and/or Guitar Hero… that’s a sign of making it big. Just like Gossow and White-Gluz, Scabbia’s vocal talents are what has helped push the band into the spotlight.
Women’s visibility on stage in heavy metal bands is still a work in progress. Don’t even get me started on how many women actually attend metal shows… I get excited when I see one other lady in the audience. But it is artists like Gossow, White-Gluz, and Scabbia that have dealt with hardships in the industry, like being judged and fighting to be taken seriously, who pave the way for future generations. These ladies empower the girls and women who listen to them, showing them what they could accomplish with a little determination. And the best part is, they prove you don’t need to show skin in order to make it. Who knows what the future holds? But I have the feeling we’ll be seeing more and more of badass ladies like these in the spotlight as time goes on. So hold tight, keeping pushing and fighting for what you believe in, and of course, horns up!
By: Zoe Rosensweig
Zoe was born and raised in NYC and is obsessed with all things Halloween. Writing was, and will always be, the greatest outlet for her overactive imagination. If she’s not writing she’s listening to music. She’ll put on anything from Beethoven to Scandinavian folk metal so if you ask her, “have you heard of…” the answer is probably, yes. You can follow her wild adventures on Instagram @Zoetrobe.
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