Various Artists

Quite frankly, the angelic soprano singing over metal riffs is getting a little old to me. Most of the time the bands that are doing it are doing it in an attempt to offer something different (at this point, it’s not really) and the vocals don’t really jibe with the music. But I know there have to be some other worthy women out there playing metal, so I was interested in digging into this collection.

I wasn’t disappointed with the selection here. The music ranges from the gothic tones of Lacuna Coil to the commercial sounds of Lullacry to the punk of My Ruin. As you’d expect, the usual suspects deliver the strongest performances, Lacuna Coil’s “Unspoken” from Comalies (isn’t it about time for a new album for crying out loud?), Tiamat’s “Carry Your Cross and I Will Carry Mine” (so they’re not a female-fronted band, on this song they are) and Arch Enemy’s “Leader of the Rats.” I know, based on browsing the bulletin boards, that I’m risking ostracism here by saying Arch Enemy is a highlight, but as an old thrash fan, I’ve quite enjoyed their last two albums (and am currently enjoying Doomsday Machine.)

Then there are some truly strange choices on the album – Warmen’s faithful cover of Heart’s “Alone,” featuring Kimberly Goss, for example. Couldn’t they at least crunch it up a bit? My Ruin’s cover of the Plasmatics’ “Sex Junkie” is another one that falls into this category, not because of the song choice, but because of the decision to try to duplicate the Plasmatics’ shitty sound instead of making it sound like a song that was actually recorded within the last 25 years or so. If they’d done that, this might be a highlight of the album.

So I was already familiar with a lot of the bands – those already mentioned along with Nightwish, The Gathering (who get two slots on the album) and Madder Mortem. What I was really looking for was some solid female-fronted metal that didn’t sound like the band had just pulled their singer off the stage of a Puccini opera. The album started fairly strong, if a bit nu-metalish, with Flowing Tears’ “Razorbliss.” Then we visit Lacuna Coil, Lullacry’s Joan Jett/Lita Ford-influenced “Alright Tonight,” Arch Enemy and the Gathering’s “Shot to Pieces.” All of those are known quantities for me, and all solid offerings in their respective styles (though certainly not the best songs from each band.)

So my first shot at a band that I was unfamiliar with was Scheitan’s “My Isle.” It struck me as a boring version of Lacuna Coil. I don’t like the original Stevie Nicks, so they don’t really have much hope. On to LoweMotor Corporation’s “The Flyin’ G,” a pretty straight-up hard rock song with laughable lyrics and some of the worst female vocals I’ve heard this side of a pop idol. Remember the “me love you long time” girl? Imagine her singing about being a stripper. Next, please.

With Holy Moses’ “Disorder of the Order,” I finally get somewhere in my search. It’s an old school thrasher with what sounds like a higher-pitched version of Angela Gossow on vocals. The mix is a bit thin, but otherwise, I could listen to this. Power metallers Shadow keep the good vibes going with “The Reunion in Soul Asylum.” Other than the bands I already knew, this is the first song on the album that makes me want to seek out some of their other work. Power metal with some nice snarling death vocals, this is more like it. Evenfall’s “Rawish” returns us to the operatic vocals, but it’s balanced out with some death shrieks and a musical approach similar to fellow Italians Lacuna Coil. Another winner.

The last shot at an unfamiliar band was Novembre’s cover of Kate Bush’s “Cloudbusting,” a weak cross between classical and pop, with very few rock elements at all. No thanks.

There’s also a DVD included in the package, featuring videos from some of the bands. Lacuna Coil’s “Heaven’s a Lie” and Arch Enemy’s “We Will Rise” are the big names. There are also a couple of videos from Lullacry (“Don’t Touch the Flame,” “Damn You”) and one each from Nightwish (“The Carpenter”), The Gathering (“Liberty Bell”) and Madder Mortem (“Rust Cleansing”). Again I was most interested in the bands that I was unfamiliar with. LoweMotor Corporation’s “Soul of a Pagan” struck me in the same way that their song on the CD did – as a bad lounge act in a strip club. Ram-Zet’s “Queen” was a listenable brand of metalcore, but nothing I’d seek out.

If you’re not familiar with many female-fronted bands, this CD/DVD will give you a nice overview of what’s out there. If you are familiar, it would seem to confirm that, in this case at least, the more well-known bands are also the better bands. I’ll be checking out some more from Shadow and Evenfall, but beyond that, I’ll stick with the ones I know.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Fred Phillips
May 31st, 2005


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