Music is a very significant part of our contemporary social landscape. It provides both entertainment and socio-political commentaries and catalyses the growth of our social ties with others.
Besides, there are many communities or subcultures within society who regard their musical taste as an integral part of their character and, thus, the very fabric of their social identity.
The history of heavy metal has been historically and mostly co-opted by the male gender, managing to perceive a few additives on the part of the female gender with cases like that of the German Doro Pesch in the 80s; the case of Lita Rossana Ford (The Runaways), a London vocalist fondly remembered in metal for her impressive collaboration with Ozzy Osbourne on 1988 classic ‘If I Close My Eyes Forever’; the appearance of Anneke Van Giersbergen who came to The Gathering in 1995, influencing what would come next for the gothic metal genre; and for 1996 with the arrival of Nightwish and Within Temptation.
Together with their vocalists Tarja Turunen and Sharon Den Adel respectively, they ended up being clear influences for the rest of the symphonic metal bands, with women at the helm, that they managed to arrive from the XXI century. The rest is until these times that we have been spectators of the remarkable rise of women within the world metal scene.
Regarding the expansion of women’s participation in heavy metal, we have to refer to the milestone of this boom, which is probably the inclusion of Angela Gossow in Arch Enemy, replacing the then vocalist Johan Liiva.
Perhaps this is the breaking point for more women to dare to venture into the various subgenres that involve the need to use growls or gutturals.
Wemention that it is likely that Angela’s participation in Arch Enemy is one of the causes of the massive female intervention for these years. It is also true that the same male vocalists have been an immense influence for all those women who enjoy the best of metal.
At the beginning of the 21st century, we saw the arrival of Simone Simons with Epica, Amy Lee with Evanescence (many people may not find it an excellent example of metal, but several artists mention it as their influence), and we began to internalize the woman as one more member of the group, with a bit of resistance that is historical.
We come to 2007 and with it the irruption of one of the best voices today, the Canadian Brittney Slayes with her band Unleash the Archers, a woman with an overwhelming and impressive singing, further empowering that significant female participation that she so much needed to gender. Brittney currently doesn’t have the recognition she should.
We can also look at Melissa Wolfe, the lead vocalist of Manchester based band, SEPSISS. The heavy metal band is a modern, progressive heavy metal led by a female. She is a force to be reckoned with and redefines the frontwoman concept in our scene without having to tend to the usual: long braided manes, head banging, and exquisite guttural.
Melissa represents technique and good taste. She knows when to sound aggressive, deep, and cavernous, or with that jazzy touch that characterizes her when she sings melodically. Right now, she represents the maximum exponent of what a vocalist in this scene should represent.
If to an obstacle course between men and women, you add barriers to the female lane, the result is an unequal fight. Many women have not even been allowed to participate. Some have not even the option of dreaming that they could.
Being a woman does not carry any explicit condition that takes us away from the field of rock or everything that surrounds it. On many occasions, it is the imposed roles that have rolled over us, silencing dreams, talent, illusions, and turning off our own life.
But many women crossed the finish line after fighting an unjust and discriminatory society designed by men. Now his fight and courage are our inspiration. Now there is no going back. The time of invisible women is over. The history poisoned by misogyny that we ignored for so long is now called present, and it is only ours. It is a matter of not letting them write the story. If there is something to invent, it must be the future.