I was set the awesome challenge of compiling a top 20 Female Fronted bands list. I hate the term Female Fronted so this is gonna be my inspirational female vocalists in metal top 20 playlist !
Firstly, I brainstormed and thought where the hell do I start with this? There are so many bands that fit the bill that have been such an influence on me. Being a female musician I feel very lucky that I have so many talented ladies to look up to. I figured the best way to tackle this is to have 2 lists; the first being my favourite and more established bands. The second being the newcomers and lesser known bands that I suggest you watch out for.
Click play on our Spotify Playlist below and listen while you read why I chose these very special ladies from our metal family.
Inspirational Female Vocalists in Metal – PlanetMosh Playlist
These guys and lady have been one of my favourites for a long time. I first caught them opening up for DevilDriver in 2007 at the Camden Underworld. The second Maria Brink took to the stage and let out that first scream I was captivated; there was just so much pure emotion behind every song. Since then the band has gone from strength to strength. Every single album has a different feel to it and they have tried something new; however I am feeling I can put on one of their albums and there is one that is perfect. I spent many years hoping they would get the recognition and bigger stages they deserved; the release of Blood in 2012 made this finally happen for them. If you get a chance to see them live, there is a UK tour coming up in May, you will get treated to an unmatched visual and musical performance.
Last year Butcher Babies were one of my favourite live bands I was lucky enough to see on stage. Few match the high energy that they put into a performance; this was shown perfectly last year when I caught them on the HMS Hammer, I chose the track Igniter as the video was in-part filmed at this show; if you see a windmill of red hair at the front them that’s me! By the end of the set we were helping to hold up Heidi and Carla as they commanded the crowd from the front-lines!
Halestorm are another live favourite of mine. I have seen them play everywhere, from small stages to opening slots at arenas. Whatever the venues, they have always delivered. They are a tight and professional band and frontwoman Lzzy Hale just has so much charisma and unique voice. They are a band I will see again and again, and I am always left wanting more. Luckily I will be catching them again at Download this year.
Tarja was one of the first female vocalists I really got into from back in her Nightwish days, and now as the solo artist she has evolved into. She is one of few that has the power to really move me with her voice and music. Her solo work as it’s progressed has got braver and braver; incorporating so many different influence and styles. A few years ago when What Lies Beneath was about to be released, I was lucky enough to go to a listening party hosted by Tarja herself. To hear from herself the inspirations and what passion went into her music was incredible. I found her to be a truly kind and inspirational lady. It’s been a few years since I have seen her live, I am hoping we get treated to a tour as soon as possible.
I was lucky enough to catch up with Martijn Westerholt a few weeks ago to talk about all the exciting things Delain have lined up this year. Delain are another band I’ve seen play small venues to arenas; when they opened for Within Temptation at London Wembley Arena, that was a truly special night that really helped their fan-base grow. Frontwoman Charlotte Wessels is another with such a unique voice, I have also seen her perform amongst the other Eve’s Apples at Metal Female Voices Festival numerous times, her rendition of Janis Joplin ‘Mercedes Benz’ is something I’ll remember fondly until the day I die! Charlotte’s performance of ‘We Are The Others’ on the Sophie Lancaster stage at Bloodstock 2015 was one of the most special moments for everyone at BOA last year.
I have been around to witness all 3 main line-ups of Nightwish; I don’t really like to debate which is better; to me I always see them as almost 3 separate bands. The Tarja era will always be very special to me, I will always have the vinyl of Once on display as an album that really means something to me. I also am a big fan of what they have done since the addition of Floor Jansen. I know how incredibly lucky I am to be one of few to witness Tarja and Floor do a duet of Over The Hills and Far Away at Metal Female Voices Festival 2013; I’ll admit that left me an emotional wreck! Nightwish have stood the test of time and have always being one of the leaders in this genre.
I first came across Within Temptation in 2004 with the release of The Silent Force and got to see them rock the Iconic London Astoria. Another strong front-runner in this genre, having evolved their sound over the years and never being afraid to try something new, the last few years have included a very varied collection of covers; I’m particularly fond of the Lana Del Ray cover ‘Summertime Sadness’. Also they treated us to a duet with Tarja; Paradise (What About Us?), which truly is special. Sharon’s effortless charisma backed up with a powerhouse vocal makes her one of the best on album and on the stage.
One of the heaviest hitters in this list, I have been lucky enough to see them with both Angela Gossow and Alissa White Gluz on vocal duties. Angela left a hell of a legacy for Alissa, I’m happy to say that she really delivers live. When I caught Arch Enemy live supporting Nightwish at the end of last year from the second Alissa sprung on to the stage she just delivered an incredible performance, and the band as a whole gel and work as awesomely as they did before.
Huntress are one of the hardest working bands I know, having toured relentlessly and released 3 studio albums since 12. Live they are one of my favourite bands out there right now, I first caught them live by chance at Download Festival 2013 on the 3rd stage, I recall Jill Janus stalking the stage and screaming the first scream of Senicide in my face and me being instantly sold on them. They got a killer live presence and are a band I personally take a lot of inspiration from.
Having had such a long and one of the most varied careers out of all the ladies in rock and metal Anneke has been such a huge influence to so many. From her starting in the Gathering in 1994, to moving on to develop her solo career and all her collaborative work, she has done so much. My favourite moments from Anneke are her collaborations with Devin Townsend and one of her most recent projects ‘The Gentle Storm’; a collaboration with Arjen Lucassen. A highlight for me last year was getting to see ‘The Gentle Storm’ live, if you ever get the chance to I highly recommend you do!
10 newcomers/lesser known ones to watch!
Since forming in 2011 London based doom/pop rockers have been establishing a foothold in the scene. In the last couple years they have started gaining a bigger following; having successfully released debut ‘1917’ though crowd funding, and bagging a much coveted spot opening for Delain in London last year. These 4 ladies really are original and a refreshing addition to the female rock/metal scene. Courtesans are currently working on new material and have launched a crowd funding campaign for their new release.
Control The Storm are a Bristol-based melodic metal band; founded in 2010 the 2 years later they battled and won a spot at Bloodstock on the New Blood Stage. Last year I caught them live in Brighton and they really blew me away with their high level of performance and professionalism. If you like killer dual guitar and keyboard lead work, then this is a band for you! Currently undergoing a period of change they are on the look out for a new Vocalist and Bassist. I have complete faith when they are back making their live return in July at SOS Festival, they will be stronger than ever.
Another fantastic band I got to review last year was Mercy Isle’s Storm EP; the Dutch/American melodic metallers are fronted by one of my absolute favourite front-women Kassandra Novell. As part of Eve’s apples her vocals have blown me away at Metal Female Voices Festival. I was so happy to learn that she had formed Mercy Isle, I am yet to see them in action but very hopeful I will do soon! There is just something so unique and emotional behind the music of Mercy Isle which really makes them stand out. Currently busy working on new music, I look forward what they have for us in 2016!
At the end of last year I started to hear about Forever Still in the female metal community, when I start hearing a band name crop up I go out of my way to check them out. I picked up their most recent release Tied Down; what instantly struck me was the incredible diversity vocalist Maja Shining is capable of. What I really love about Forever Still is there are so many sides to them, from beautiful melodies to dirty guitar riffs; there really is something for everyone.
Kontrust are one of the most truly unique bands out there, live I have seen very few that match up to their level of energy. First time I saw them was Metal Female Voices Festival and they just had the whole venue explode into one big party. They have the big hooks, killer bass lines and the dual vocals of Agata and Stefan compliment each-other perfectly. At first glance they are a bit confusing in their traditional Austrian attire and contrasting blend of metal but it works. One of the most entertaining bands out there right now.
My first album I got to review this year was Bad Pollyanna – The Broken Toys; they truly are ‘the perfect mix of beauty and darkness’. There is something so empowering and beautiful about their music. From killer bass orientated hooks to the soaring vocal talents of Olivia Hyde, they really are one to watch out for.
I was very lucky and say New Years Day a few weeks back supporting Motionless In White; I can say live they pack even more of a punch. With killer anthems like Kill or Be Killed, from their newest offering Malevolence they have truly clawed their own place in the scene. Hard hitting riffs and powerful emotional music, they truly are an upcoming talent.
Kobra And The Lotus have been on my radar for a number of years; a truly hard working band having opened for big names such as Kiss and Kamelot and numerous successful tours. I’ve been lucky enough to see them a number of times at festivals and smaller venues. Wherever the show it’s incredible; what really makes them special is the incredible dual guitar work and there really is no one with a voice like Kobra Paige.
I wanted to include something on the heavier end of the scale and East Anglia based ‘Hate Fueled’ death metal. Having shared the stage already with bands such as Devilment, Desecration and Nervosa. Front-woman Nina ‘The Cuntess’ Pain is leagues above a lot of guys out there when it comes to a pure power and aggression assault. If you like it brutal and heavy with some killer lead guitar work in the mix I suggest you check them out!
Lastly but not least one of my absolute favourite live bands; another gem I discovered at Metal Female Voices Festival. I have literally no clue what genre to describe them as because there is no one quite like them. They describe themselves as Electro-Industrial metal, the transformation when you see Karolina hit the stage is incredible she commands the crowd in to a crazy metal dance party. Another band you really can’t compare to anyone else, if you ever get the chance to see them do so!