Just because they've got the feminine touch, doesn't mean they can't also bring the house down. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we're counting down our picks for the "Top 10 Metal Bands with Female Leads."
For this list, we'll be looking at bands that specialize in some form of metal music, and which also happen to have a female as a frontrunner. We've based our choices on a mix of the female vocalist's recognition, the band's popularity, and what their music brings to the scene.
Straight out of Pennsylvania comes this Grammy-winning, hard rock group that have trail blazed their way into the heavy music scene. Formed by sister and brother, Lzzy and Arejay Hale, this band is well known for their nonstop touring and for managing to achieve global status despite only having three studio albums to their name. Vocally, Lzzy Hale is a powerhouse, which is easy to recognize when you hear tracks like “I Miss the Misery.” Her singing stands out so much that she was asked to provide guest vocals alongside Disturbed’s David Draiman on a cover of the Ozzy Osbourne and Lita Ford song, “Close My Eyes Forever” for his industrial metal band Device. Needless to say—she nailed it.
These lovely ladies have been rocking out for over 35 years. Formed during the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Girlschool holds the record for the longest running all-female rock band, and are still touring and churning out studio albums to this day. Frequent Motorhead collaborators in their heyday, the group has supported some of the biggest names in metal, all while holding onto a worldwide fan base and a cult standing, which have made them an inspiration for fellow female musicians. Though most of the members provide backing vocals and they should receive credit for their singing chops, extra kudos goes to founding member Kim McAuliffe for leading the charge.
Time to bring in some metalcore! Hailing from Michigan, this group remains one of the heavyweights in the hardcore metal scene, and that’s in no small part to the vocals of Candace Kucsulain. Also known for powerlifting, that strength certainly translates into her vocals, as she’s able to deliver hard-hitting tracks such as “The American Dream” and “A Trigger Full of Promises.” Though it took them almost eight years to release their fifth album No One Can Save You from Yourself, songs like “Relentless” demonstrate that they’ve lost none of their edge.
Following the disbanding of After Forever, former guitarist and screamer Mark Jansen played his part in creating one of the strongest symphonic metal bands to ever come out of the Netherlands. Known for using science, philosophy, and religion in their various tracks, what really makes Epica stand on its own two feet is the combination of Jansen’s powerful death grunts with female lead Simone Simons’ angelic vocal melodies. Balancing excessive aggressiveness with majestic harmonics, this merging of styles has caused Epica to soar. If you need convincing, just listen to “Storm the Sorrow” and “Unleashed.”
While this Italian metal band has been known for changing their names in the past, it’s their most recent incarnation that’s granted them their worldwide popularity. While originally focusing on a more melodic and disconnected sound, they’ve recently began going in a heavier direction. Due to the success of some of their later albums like Dark Adrenaline and 2016s Delirium, we’d say it’s working in their favor. Of course, their key player when it comes to singing is Cristina Scabbia. Her striking vocals impressed so much that she performed with one of the Kings of Metal, Dave Mustaine, in a rendition of Megadeth’s “A Tout Le Monde.”
How could we not include a metal band that’s named after their own female lead? With strong influences in nu and alternative metal, Otep Shamaya leads the charge with vocals that can switch between darkly harmonic and frighteningly visceral. She’s not afraid of tackling the heavier subjects either, which is proven by tracks like “Jonestown Tea,” which explores the pain caused by child sexual abuse. Powerful with their messages and even louder with their sound, we’re happy to see that with the release of 2016s Generation Doom, this LA group shows no sign of slowing down.
Their first studio album broke into the mainstream and got them two Grammy Awards right off the bat?! Now that’s hitting the ground running! While prone to gothic metal, this band has incorporated everything from hard rock to almost opera-like sounds to deliver three stunning studio albums as of 2016, and each one is filled with their own little gems. At the forefront is singer and pianist Amy Lee, whose use of classical melodies is as much a part of the band’s identity as her mesmerizing vocals. Whether it’s the soft and haunting “Lithium,” or the frenzied "What You Want," we’re pretty sure we can live with this band going on hiatus as long as her solo album heads our way sooner rather than later.
When it comes to Dutch symphonic metal, here we have arguably the Kings and Queen of the genre! While they were initially mostly popular within their native country, Within Temptation’s later outings ensured they reached a wider audience. This can be especially attributed to their 2014 album Hydra, where they collaborated with artists ranging from former Nightwish vocalist Tarja Turunen and ex-Killswitch Engage singer Howard Jones. Not to mention an odd but very successful duet with rap artist Xzibit. With Sharon den Adel’s heavenly vocals, which can be soothing or can inspire grief on a moment’s notice, this band continues to define itself as one of a kind.
You want death metal? You got it! While originally a super-group made up of band members ranging from Carcass to Spiritual Beggars, Arch Enemy eventually became its own entity. Throwing in a melodic edge to their hardcore sound and with the addition of a female vocalist, the band continued to play across the death metal scenes all throughout the 2000s. While there has been numerous line-up changes, including the departure of lead singer Angela Gossow and her subsequent replacement with Alissa White-Gluz, there has been no decline in the quality of their music, as tracks like “You Will Know My Name” clearly show.
Before we reveal our number one pick, here are some honorable mentions:
- Eyes Set to Kill
- The Agonist
They’re the Finnish superstars that have topped charts in their native country, blended symphonic metal with soprano vocals, and created songs entrenched in fantasy. Before her split from the band, vocalist Tarja Turunen provided an operatic layer to each song that gave their music a sense of elevation, as can be heard on tracks like “Wish I Had an Angel.” The group would later incorporate this singing style into their heavier pieces with other vocalists, like “Amaranth” and “Bye Bye Beautiful.” While Turunen continues this trend with her own solo career, the band itself has endured thanks to Annette Olzon and Floor Jansen, with the latter’s melodies showing that Nightwish can still create amazing tracks dripping in beautiful orchestration.
Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite metal band with a female lead? With new rocking top tens published every day be sure to subscribe to MsMojo!