As a female metal fan I'm always interested in female musicians in metal. The most popular job for a girl in a band is the singer, so I'm gonna do a short series of posts regarding female metal singers. This is the first part.
I have my opinions about good and bad singers/vocalists in metal. Even if someone was a good singer in some other genre, or by him/herself, it doesn't mean s/he would be a good singer in metal. A metal singer needs to have a certain kind of depth and strenght in his/her voice - mainly because metal needs to be loud in every respect. (Ballads are a different thing, as well as the so called emotional metal and other softer subgenres. I will cover some of those later.)
If we're talking about clean vocals, the singer has to be genuinely talented and know the right techniques of singing. Singing has to sound like it comes out naturally. I've heard a lot of singers with a thin voice and that just does not fit into metal (or any other kind of music, for that matter). If you need ten layers of vocal tracks to sound good, you're not a good singer.
In clean vocals in metal the girl singer can have a feminine voice, as long as it's a strong voice. A lot of goth metal bands have a chick singer whose girly voice just is not enough to sound good (e.g. Leaves' Eyes, which is a crappy band anyway). The thin girly voice might be a characteristic of goth metal though, and it appeals to its fans. (I am not a goth fan. In case you didn't get it.)
Female vocalists with unclean, raw vocals including growling, shouting, screaming or whatever, is another thing. There is a reason why it was men who came up with these extreme styles of singing.. It sounds more sinister, heavy, scary, raw... whatever; BETTER, with male singers, because they are able to go so much lower than women. Women attempting to do low growls does not sound as natural, fuck, it sounds almost painful. What a lot of women growlers do instead is keep to this steadier, higher level of growling, which actually is more like shouting than growling. That, for me, does not sound nearly as good as the lower growls.
This type of higher growling/shouting is a very popular way of singing in today's new metal genres, such as death core. Both guys and girls do this. I'm not feeling it for either sexes.. Sounds painful and fucking irritating to listen to that for more than one song.
Ok, without letting my rant go any further I'll just carry on and list bands in various types of metal with girl singers and express my humble opinion about them.
I'll start with the extreme chicks.
Walls of Jericho - A Trigger Full of Promises
This screaming girl is just what I described earlier: relatively high screaming or shouting, nowhere near grunting. I guess it's a hardcore thing but MY GOD. I just cannot enjoy that, especially with a girl doing it. A good male singer might be able to incorporate more depth into it and thus make it sound better but this is just crap. My ears hurt. No thank you.
It definately gets better when she switches to clean vocals.
Arch Enemy - Nemesis
Angela was my ultimate idol when I was around 16 years old. Back then she was the only raw female vocalist I knew, and that made her extremely special and good to look up to. However, the more I have listened to Arch Enemy, the more her voice's invariability has bored me. She has a strong voice but it is not very deep, and she doesn't change it that much. It stays the same and it gets boring.
But, I still think she's an awesome musician, one song at a time.. And she is a perfect example of a good female metal musician in the sense that she has balls. She's a great performer.
Iwrestledabearonce - Tastes Like Kevin Bacon
This is a fucking weird ass band. Instrumentally there are some parts that go way over my head, such as the extremely progressive guitar melodies and shit, but I have to give credit to Krysta, the singer. Is there anything she can't do with her voice? I really admire her variety but at the same time I'm not too excited about the type of vocals she seems to do most: again, the sort of... inchomprehensible high screaming. It's what the new kids all do. Her lowest growls and all the different experiments with her clean vocals are the best.
The Agonist - And Their Eulogies Sang Me To Sleep
Can you guess already what my problem with Alissa's vocals is... Yep, the same kind of shouting going on as with the previous girls. The lower or clearer she gets, the better. There is quite a lot of variety, yet the emphasis is again on the higher shouting. But I must say that I do like her, probably because of her incredibly beautiful clean vocals and also because she doesn't seem to be totally insane like some of the others.. And she's pretty as hell. I want her hair.
However, the longer you listen to that same... shouting... it will get annoying. I wish I wouldn't have to say that but that is the case.
Side comment: I haven't made up my mind about all these weird, energetic as fuck, deathcore or whatever-core bands such as iwrestledabearonce and The Agonist. A lot of times there is just so much stuff going on that I'm afraid my brain will blow up if I listen to them for longer periods of time. As I've stated previously, I enjoy a certain kind of simplicity in music. There isn't a lot of that in these bands.. At the same time, I love the chorus in And Their Eulogies Sang Me To Sleep. I don't know what to think..
Ok. The next ones I'm gonna introduce are the ones I like the most: girls who can both sing and shout, girls who are able to stay as girls instead of sounding like guys.
Eths - Bulimiarexia
The French language is a major factor making Candice's voice so enchanting. Also, I think with her it's about the contrast: she can choose to sound either mysterious, totally insane or like an angel. Her clean vocals are so_fucking_beautiful. Even if her shouting was quite monotone, her ability to use so many other types of vocals makes it interesting. If she shouted all the time, there wouldn't be so much to it. I'm glad she doesn't.
Recently Eths has been one of my favorite bands, I must say.
Takiainen - Saatanan sikiö
One of my absolute favorites in Finnish metal, and in female metal, is this three-piece band who made only one album (published 2004) in their time. I think they are a perfect example of combining heavy metal and feminity. In this case the singer doesn't have to sound like a guy to sound good and heavy: she has a strong, yet feminine voice. I don't know how to explain it, just listen to it.. There is something extremely real about it. I love it. And the music, heavy yet simple, with a feeling of desperateness and mysteriousness to it. Perfection?
Velcra - Memory Loss
Even though on this song Jessi mostly shouts, she also has a huge vocal range. She is a good singer. I thought about why this slightly monotonous shouting actually sounds good on this song, unlike in some of the heavier bands' songs, and I think it's because it is so clear and well timed. She has some weird way of making it sound good.. Maybe it's also about the style of music, it's not such a mess. Velcra as well is one of my favorites in Finnish metal with girls.
This is all, for now.. Part 2 coming up at some point.