Friday, February 6, 2015

My Four Metal Crushes and the Bands They Kick Ass In

Metal is often thought of to be a man's game. A lot of the time when women are mentioned in an article, it's usually a dumb old "hottest chicks" list. However, it's becoming more common for women to be appreciated for their skill rather than their sex appeal.

Yay! Progress!

Valentine's Day is right around the corner. I figured I'd take this opportunity to do two things: to act like a googly-eyed middle schooler and to shine the spotlight on some amazing musicians. Clearly beauty and talent are not mutually exclusive. However it's the latter quality that earns them a spot on this list. Be warned: each serious overview will be followed by the puppy-love-filled ramblings of a doofus.

Number 1: Sabina Classen of Holy Moses

The talent: It's hard enough to find women in metal, but even rarer to find a woman fronting an extreme metal band. Sabina Classen proves she can run with the big dogs in Germany's thrash scene; she's been doing so for over thirty years. Not only were Holy Moses one of the founders of the scene, but Sabina may very well be the first woman to utilize death growls. Holy Moses may get overshadowed by the Teutonic Trio of Thrash but I'd be willing to argue that what they lack in popularity they make up for in their role as a foundation for those who came after. Would the German scene have flourished without them? If it weren't for Sabina, would we be graced by other angels with demonic screams like Angela Gossow, Jill Janus, and Otep Shamaya? They've had lots of line-up changes over the years, but each one has brought to the table its own brand of thrash that keeps the pit moving and fists pumping.

The crush: She's goddamn gorgeous! She could probably be my mom, but she's still got it. She was beautiful in the Eighties and still possesses that young spirit. Look at her live and she'll be jumping around and whipping that hair like it's 1985. Her viciousness onstage only adds to her appeal. She's just a badass! Someone who could probably drink you under the table and would appreciate a good dead-baby joke.

Those of you who haven't heard of Holy Moses, I highly recommend let Finished with the Dogs and World Chaos lay waste to your ears. Also take a look at their latest release, Redefined Mayhem

Number 2: Dorthia Cottrell of Windhand

The talent: I've had the pleasure of seeing Windhand twice. The first was at Maryland Deathfest, but my attention was diverted by the plethora of t-shirts and patches I was seduced to peruse. I realized just how powerful the Richmond-based doom band was in a more intimate setting in the form of an Iowa City establishment called Gabe's. The sludgy guitars and bass fill the room and you feel like you're drowning in it like quicksand. The drums, like the moon, keep the tide going and force it to crash on you without relent. Then comes a voice that can only be described as haunting. Dorthia Cottrell's singing is sure to cause a shiver to run down your spine; it's as if a ghost is passing through you when her wails rise above the gloom. When laid over an acoustic guitar, the effect is amplified. The blues is alive deep down in her soul.

The crush: Not gonna lie, I  was enamored when I saw Windhand. After their set at Gabe's, I went decided to chat with Dorthia after getting some merch. I was immediately hugged, which took me by surprise. I learned she definitely prefers clubs over festivals. Playing during the day is weird. Didn't talk to her long, but I got the feeling she'd be fun to talk to over pizza and some good green.

Windhand has two full-length albums out, Windhand and Soma. They also have a couple split albums out there, one with Cough and the other with Salem's Pot. Dorthia Cottrell's also releasing her first solo album March 3rd via Forcefield Records.

Number 3: Onielar of Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult

The talent: Another German export, Onielar (AKA Yvonne Wilczynska) and her crew did something I did not think was possible. They made me like black metal. Before DNS, I just couldn't get into it. Every recording I heard was ultra lo-fi and sounded less like music and more like someone being tortured. Then I decided to listen to them and suddenly it clicked. What I heard can only be described as pure evil. The instruments are the sounds of war, a continuous push forward while the Onielar's snarls and shrieks guide the violence, almost like some wicked sorceress weaving dark spells against the listener. Onielar embodies horror and rage in both her cries and the frantic onslaught of her guitar. The recordings bear similarity to those of old school black metal, but are done so in a way that straddles the line between clarity and muddiness that seems to work wonders. DNS is one of the reasons I will be attending Maryland Deathfest this year. I don't care who I'll be missing out on to see them (probably Bloodbath or Obituary) but nothing will stop me from bearing witness to them, which I can only assume will be a ritual of pure darkness.

The crush: Apparently I have a thing for Germans. She looks inhuman under that make-up, but I don't care. I've seen a photo of her sans-corpse paint and she is stunning. I'm under the impression that sex would be kinky, borderline terrifying. But hey, that's not the number one thing on this dude's mind. We can talk. I'm sure Onielar is also philosophical. Satanic lyrics do that to people. The brain is the sexiest organ of all, right?

Listen to them in sequential order, starting with Follow the Calls for Battle, then onto Nocturnal March, Hora Nocturna, Saldorian Spell, and finally Necrovision.

Number 4: Kimberly Freeman of One-Eyed Doll

The talent: What can I say about One-Eyed Doll? So much! They're one of those bands that you can't exactly place in a single genre. Over the years, you get an eclectic blend of rock, punk, metal, folk, and electronica. The band manages to bring fun and darkness together in a way that can only be described as "delightfully macabre". Take their latest album, Something about a Dragon?, for example. One second you're listening to a song about ponies which sounds like something you'd hear on a children's singalong CD, the next you're listening to a brutal riff off a track called "Scorpion Death". The band is a box of chocolates a la Forrest Gump: you honestly have no idea what you're going to get. And part of that has to do with one half of the duo, the amazing Kimberly Freeman. To see her perform live is to see a unicorn in the flesh. She brings childlike humor to her stage banter; you can't help but crack a smile and laugh. Then once the song starts, she turns into a whirling dervish. She tackles that guitar and a tornado of hair slaps you in the face. She's a ball of energy, constantly exploding yet never sacrificing performance. She and Junior, the drummer, put on a show that can put many larger acts to shame. The shows are always kid-friendly and the band makes everyone a part of the show. The band treats fans like family. Once you're in, you're in forever.

The silly crush: Can I just say I'm in love? I had no idea who the band was when I saw them open for Otep but I instantly became a dedicated fan after they hit the stage. I got to be a part of the show when they needed "male participation". Kimberly used me as a human footstool for a song and I had the best experience of my life. I have never had more fun at a show! I also got a smooch on the top of my head for my help. After the show, I immediately bought two CDs and she signed them and gave me the biggest hug. No idea when I'll see the band again, but I want to so bad! The show will be epic and to chat with Miss Freeman is just super fun.

One-Eyed Doll has a plethora of albums: Hole, Monster, Break, Dirty, and Something About a Dragon?, as well as lots of singles you can find. Their next album, Witches, drops this March 24 and you might be able to catch them in a city near you this spring! Kimberly Freeman also has some solo albums out there, my favorites being Sleep and Into Outer Space.

If in the off chance any of you ladies are reading this, will you be my Valentine?

Anyway, I hope I've turned some people to some new artists. Guys and gals, who are your heavy metal Valentines?

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