| Lists |

The ten most ferocious female pioneers in metal

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

In metal, a genre teeming with testosterone and addled by adrenaline, women have made leaps and bounds over the years. Defying dainty stereotypes, these beauties have butted heads with the best of them. More salty than sweet, these ladies are tougher than leather. Keep reading for the ten most ferocious female pioneers of metal.

See also: - The ten most influential mainstream girl groups - Otep Shamaya on having a voice when everyone says to be quiet - The ten best faceless metal bands

10. Sean Yseult of White Zombie

Sean Yseult was the first woman in a metal band who was seen more as just a member of the band rather than being singled out for being a female. But as part of a popular metal band, she was also noticed more than metal femmes had been previously.

9. Kittie

The Lander sisters (Mercedes on drums, Morgan on vocals) didn't pussyfoot around when it came to starting an all-female metal band, releasing their debut album


when they were in their mid-teens. Kittie can be credited as part of the new wave of all-female metal bands, gaining popularity with its debut album, which inspired a whole new generation of women. Plus, every metal guy has had a crush on at least one of the bandmembers at some point in his life.

8. Angela Gossow of Arch Enemy

With vocal cords boiled in a cauldron, Angela Gossow is one of the few females in metal who puts growling vocals at the front of her arsenal in one of a handful of female-fronted death-metal bands. Gossow is one of the metal queens dragging metal into the 21st century with a torch in metal darkness. The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire. We don't need no water; let the motherfucker burn. Burn, motherfucker, burn.

7. Tarja Turunen

Most classically trained operatic vocalists pursue greatness on a grander stage than as a vocalist for a metal band. Before breaking off in 2006 to pursue a solo career, Tarja Turunen was adored by symphonic-metal fans as a highly influential and powerful singer with operatic strength in the band Nightwish, a major driving force in the symphonic-metal movement of the mid-'90s.

6. Otep Shamaya

In a world where women aren't always heard, 5'4" Otep Shamaya makes sure she is, with deep growling grunts and brash lyrics. Known for her lyrics condoning aggression toward men, Shamaya has repeatedly spoken out about her avant-garde principles, saying, "I am an equal-opportunity dispenser of rage." When she was younger, in the late '90s, she didn't completely look like the aggressor, but with age came a stronger, tougher look on stage.

5. Kate De Lombaert

In Belgium -- a country the size of a guitar pick -- there was a black-metal band in the early to mid-'80s called Acid that was fronted by Kate De Lombaert, who sang about sex, hell, demons and heavy metal's unholy Satan. The band entered the scene at a time when speedy thrash metal was on the rise, and only ended up releasing three albums. Not much is known about the group, but De Lombaert's presence made it clear that women were getting involved in more aggressive metal.

4. Dawn Crosby

An underground heroine in the thrash-metal scene with the bands Détente and Fear of God, Dawn Crosby was a thrash-metal frontwoman with sandpaper vocals. Another step in the evolution of metal femmes, Crosby raised the bar for aggression. She was also a woman who didn't just cower in the background; as an impulsive and moody vocalist, Crosby became a thorny personality to work with in lineups amid a high turnover rate. As a charismatic force on and off stage, she devoted much focus to her band and the music industry.

3. Doro Pesch

Doro was the first popular female metal badass in the '80s with Warlock, and she was the first woman to be known more for her vocal musicianship than exploited as a sex symbol. Warlock was purposely marketed that way, so they wouldn't get labeled as hacks. Just the same, any metal guy with eyes (sober or drunk) and a healthy libido has had the hots for her. Pesch is now one of the endangered species of metal veterans alongside the numerous male metal greats.

2. Girlschool

For more than thirty years, this British new-wave metal band has led the charge as the first successful all-female metal band. Establishing roots in the late '70s, Girlschool has worked hard to be respected as metal musicians, not labeled like a WNBA athlete -- that is, as a lesser female musician. In the process, the act has made a strong statement in the metal community about gender equality.

1. The Runaways

Pure metal they were not. Even so, the family tree of metal femmes sprouted from the branches of the Runaways. Delivering hard rock with a "fuck you" attitude, these girls weren't afraid to push back, and their rebelliousness embodied the essence and spirit of metal.

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.