A Brief History: Women In Metal
Updated: Nov 24, 2019
In 2019, heading into 2020 at the time of publishing, seeing women in metal and hardcore bands isn't quite as rare as it once was. In fact, several recent bands have gained large audiences once thought impossible for female-lead extreme bands with acts such as Arch Enemy and Jinjer leading the way and garnering millions of views on YouTube along the way. Before any of this of course, there were pioneers that blazed the way for females to have a place in the "scene". Here we will do our best to mention some of the notable trail-blazing women in metal through the years.
While women have been involved in the rock and punk scene for quite some time, the story of women in metal is a bit of a shorter story. One can argue the first woman to be part of a true metal band was White Zombie bassist, Shauna Reynolds, who was with the band from their 1987 debut LP until their disbandment in 1998. Shauna paved the way for female musicians to have a place in the often male dominated metal scene. White Zombie went on to skyrocket up the charts with hits such as "More Human Than Human" and "Thunder Kiss '65" while touring alongside mainstream beloved bands like Pantera, thus exposing mass audiences to the fact that a female could be a vital part of a great metal band. Shauna, now known as Sean, would go on to inspire another significant woman in metal, fellow bassist Rayna Foss of nu-metal band, Coal Chamber. While Coal Chamber might not have been greatly received by critics, one can not argue their success and the fact that millions of people were seeing a female go as hard as the guys was enough to inspire thousands of girls around the world to make their one attempt at getting involved in music. Coal Chamber would also go on to add a second female bassist, Nadja Peulen, in 1999 after Foss departed to start a family. These three women helped to lay the groundwork for some massive strides that were to come.
One of the most monumental moments for females in metal was when Canada's Kittie dropped their debut album "Spit" in 2000. Regardless of your opinions of the band the fact that an entirely female band mostly consisting of mostly teenagers going gold on their first record is an outstanding feat and should be celebrated for what it did for the massive accomplishment it was.Importantly, this was not used as a gimmick for Kittie, in fact, they proceeded to get heavier in subsequent releases turning them further away from the mainstream. In large part, thanks to the aforementioned bands, by the mid-2000's women in metal had become fairly common with such notable acts such as Walls of Jericho, Bleeding Through, Arch Enemy, Otep, and Winds of Plague all having women play an important role in their respective bands.
In present day, while there's still much room for improvement as far as female inclusion, there is perhaps more of a place for women in the metal scene now than there ever has been previously. There are several acts achieving both great critical and commercial successes in which a female plays one of if not the most important role in the band. Some of these acts include; arena headliner, Nightwish with vocalist Floor Jansen, Ukraine's viral sensation Jinjer with vocalist Tatiana Shmailyuk, current hardcore standouts Code Orange with bassist/vocalist Reba Meyers. These are all very legitimate significant bands in metal today and they in no way use having a female as a gimmick, which sadly is necessary to say as some bands have done so. In closing, the plight of females to find a place and feel accepted in heavy metal has made drastic strides from humble beggings and should only continue as new bands such as Sharptooth, Employed To Serve, and Venom Prison begin to make their way and push stereotypes out of the way. There is a bright future to a day where possibly nobody bats an eye when seeing a female front and center in a metal band.