UPDATE: Current favorite female (and male) vocalists here :)
This was written in June 2008 for friends
who generally don't know symphonic/gothic/female-fronted metal/rock or whatever it is. Thus it is a general introduction, rather than a defense for you, dear reader, who probably already have opinions on all of these noble women.
But if you're just starting to listen to the aforementioned kinds of music, you may find this helpful. It's a numeric ranking based on how many plays I had in June of each singer. I had to factor in plays of certain songs by certain bands (Nightwish, Theatre of Tragedy) to figure this out, making it unlikely I'll ever do it again.1. Liv Kristine
of NorwayLiv Kristine
Espenaes Krull was the original singer of Theatre of Tragedy
; she sings with her husband in his death metal band, Atrocity
; she leads the symphonic metal band Leaves' Eyes
; and she has a solo career
as a pop singer.
I wrote this on Last.fm - some of it last month, some of it last fall.It'll be one year since I first heard Leaves' Eyes tomorrow - it was The Dream on Female Fronted Metal tag radio, and it had the greatest impact of any first-time listen I've ever had. The song was so uniquely beautiful that I was immediately captivated. Ten weeks later, I hadn't heard them at all since, yet Liv's voice was in my head and I was desperate to hear it.
Honestly I can't understand the common criticisms that Liv is unattractive and has a weak voice. (It's not weak per se, it's just soft! You wouldn't use starch when you wash your favorite clothes to make them "stronger." :-P)
Liv seems to be shy but very warm, friendly and unassuming. I was thrilled when I finally found a video of her speaking normally in English. I'm not sure why I wanted so badly to hear her just speaking, but it meant something to me. It really seems to me that (nearly) everything Liv's voice touches turns to gold... and if it is only fools' gold, I don't want to be wise. I even love Enter My Religion - some of the tracks have negative lyrics, but they're enjoyable to listen to nonetheless. Her better pop songs are sweet, uplifting and lovely.
I don't like all of Theatre of Tragedy's stuff, especially their earliest work, but I bought most of it any way. And I don't like some of her (especially earlier) publicity pictures, nor the fact that she considers Madonna a role model, but for personal reasons I admire the fact that she and Alex are married, and that she finished recording the vocals for Lovelorn mere hours before giving birth to their son. She seems to be a strong woman, though you might not know it by listening to her.Alex & Liv with son Leon
"Leaves' Eyes" is the way "Liv's Eyes" is pronounced with a Norwegian accent. The band is actually Atrocity with Liv leading and her husband providing death vocals, but the music they play is softer, more melodic, and more "atmospheric" (if that means anything to you; it doesn't mean much to me) than Atrocity's. Listen to their first song I heard: The Dream
. My overall favorite song of all time is Twilight Sun
- please ignore the video! Leaves' Eyes' rockinest song yet is Legend Land
. The band also did a pretty good music video for Elegy
, but, unfortunately, the last time I linked to it from a forum like this, the only reply I got was "apparently Andro loves massive cleavage." >_>
I'm now the leader of both the Liv Kristine Krull
group and the Leaves' Eyes
group on Last.fm. I actually went through Youtube and linked to just about every Leaves' Eyes video I could find for this thread
. I think I'm really more like an obsessed fangirl than a fanboy when it comes to Leaves' Eyes. ^_^
From Theatre of Tragedy's early gothic metal, my favorite song is probably Poppaea
. My favorite electropop ToT song is Envision
From Liv's solo career as a pop artist, my favorite song which actually can be heard on demand is "Over the Moon," available on her MySpace page
. There's also a music video for Fake a Smile
And as for Atrocity, they don't always just play (symphonic) death metal; they've released two albums of metal covers of 80's hits, on which Alex unadvisedly uses clean vocals. (He's my favorite growler, but one of my least favorite clean vocalists!) The second cover album was just released earlier this year. The music video for The Sun Always Shines on TV
worried a few Leaves' Eyes fans that the band might be heading this direction, but I'm not worried, since Atrocity has always had a different sound from their alternative persona. One fan also complained that Liv (who turned 32 this past Valentine's Day) looks old in the video. I recently wrote this response on Last.fm:I like The Sun Always Shines on TV video; I especially like that they're singing a duet as a loving couple. Liv definitely looks (relatively) old in the video, but I'm fine with that as long as she doesn't lose her voice. I find middle-aged women quite attractive, and Liv will obviously still be beautiful into her old age. I'll be very interested to see what becomes of all these female-fronted metal bands I've been listening to since a year or less ago. A number of classic rock and metal bands are still performing with members in their 40's, 50's or 60's, but with the recently obvious instability of bands in the genre which aren't controlled by their singers (as LE and WT fortunately are) and the general cultural bias against aging women (which is much stronger than the bias against aging men), the now-distant future does not look very bright.
I set out in 2006 to explore different types of music, starting with genres such as classical, jazz and world music, and then exploring the various sub-genres of metal, only to eventually discover that female-fronted symphonic metal is the kind of music I've always wanted to listen to. But the genre in its true form is barely over a decade old now, and rapidly gaining in popularity worldwide; Nightwish, in particular, has nearly 1/3 as many total plays as Radiohead or The Beatles. Hopefully the genre will continue to prosper in years to come.
Side note: Another Liv with a lovely voice is Liv Tyler
She took vocal lessons to perform this song
for The Return of the King, but it was cut from the film. It was later used in the Extended Edition of the film for Eowyn and Faramir in the Houses of Healing, and appears on the highly expensive Complete Recordings of the film. It'd be great if she were to record, say, a new age album. 2. Tarja Turunen
Gothic diva; opera diva.
I associate her (positively) with Morticia of The Addams Family. Once, someone who was recommended her said, "Nah, I don't like vampires."
Tarja was trained as a classical opera singer and joined Nightwish
, then an upstart folk music project created by Tuomas Holopainen. The group was intended to play the kind of music you'd hear around a Finnish campfire, but after the release of only one EP, Tuomas decided that Tarja's voice was too strong for the style, and they became a power metal band. Tarja is regarded as having the truest opera voice of anyone in the metal scene. I was introduced to Nightwish (after having been aware of them for a long time) through the purchase of their "End of an Era" live album from eMusic in August of last year. At first her voice sounded weird to me, but before long she was my second favorite singer. I came to love the album so much that I bought the DVD of the performance - the only music DVD I've ever bought. (Update: I've since bought WT's Black Symphony and Skillet's Comatose Comes Alive. :P)
yoshi wrote:My favorite NW song - "Ghost Love Score" :P - I'll give this song 20/10 for the atmosphere. ;)
GHOST! LOVE! SCORE! RULES! Musically it's my favorite song ever.
I also recommend Nemo
and the older power metal song, Wanderlust
. Tarja also has a solo career as both true classical singer
and (more recently) symphonic rock project leader
. She has concentrated on her solo career since she was fired from Nightwish, releasing the album "My Winter Storm" last November. Check out one of my favorite music videos ever for one of my favorite songs ever, Die Alive
. I've played that song 70 times since I first heard it four months ago.
Those who would know say that Tarja's voice is really average as opera singers go; she only seems amazing because of Nightwish. This may very well be; I love her unique voice for what it is, and an objectively "better" voice isn't better to me at all. Even when she sings "boring" traditional opera, I'm far more interested in hearing her sing it than any superior singer. 3. Sharon den Adel
of the Netherlands
...And a couple of photos I took of a live video: X-D
[I didn't write much about Sharon, because someone else had already introduced WT in the thread I was posting in.]Within Temptation
is, like Nightwish, just there
as soon as you listen to any of these artists on Last.fm. I heard Our Farewell on Last.fm's female fronted metal tag radio and loved it, then later heard Our Solemn Hour and was hooked. Sharon has quite a wonderful voice; it's perfect for Within Temptation and I wouldn't change anything about it. (I might change how
she sings on Mother Earth... there she seems a bit shrill on high notes.) One Amazon user review calls Sharon's voice a "freak of nature" for its extreme range and versatility.Jillian (I'd Give My Heart)
- one of my favorite songs ever, 56 plays in the last six months. Amazing. Tells the story (from a series of book) of a man doomed never to die until he sets right a mistake he once made, from his point of view. He sees his true love, Jillian, being reincarnated over and over through the centuries. Our Solemn Hour
- set in World War II, very well done with dialogue from Winston Churchill woven into the song.
And for the fans of 80's music, I love this cover of a Kate Bush song
. 4. Sabine Edelsbacher
Another Sabine. Sabine is a lovely name, isn't it? :D Makes me think of "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers." Sabine Edelsbacher (which, I suppose, must be pronounced like "Edelweiss") fronts a power metal band called Edenbridge
. I once said that comparing Edenbridge to Within Temptation is like comparing a Baroque harpsichord piece to a symphony. They did employ a full orchestra as backing on their latest album, though. Sabine's voice is quite unique. I'm not sure if it qualifies as operatic or not, but it has a natural feel to it and is gentle without feeling weak. Some have said she lacks emotion, but I've never felt that to be a problem. You might as well say a traditional opera diva lacks emotion because she maintains the composure required to sing that way, rather than reacting the way a real person would in such a situation. Edenbridge's songs are like chronicles of lost kingdoms, and Sabine is sometimes the storyteller, sometimes a character in the stories. I love the song Color My Sky
(sorry for the bad anime video), and Evermore
was my favorite song since I discovered the band until last week, when I decided that the new song Remember Me
is even better. Edenbridge has actually never released any music videos, which seems strange since they constantly employ the most outlanding fantasy imagery in their album artwork.5. Nell Sigland
Nell founded and fronted a gothic rock band called The Crest
in the mid 90's, but came to fame more recently by becoming the new vocalist for a band called Theatre of Tragedy
. Theatre of Tragedy used to be a mainstay gothic metal band, releasing three true gothic metal albums which even had lyrics in Early Modern English
(Shakespearean language). Then they suddenly switched to electropop, to many fans' chagrin, though I actually prefer their electropop stuff.
The newest album, Storm, has a sort of hybrid electronic gothic metal sound which I absolutely love. Unlike Nightwish, they chose a singer very much like their old one: Nell has a soft, "airy fairy" voice, and only sounds somewhat less angelic than her predecessor. Check out the music video for Storm
, or watch a video I shot and edited using half of the song "Ashes and Dreams
."6. Floor Jansen
of the Netherlands
No one ever seems to talk about the fact that this lady's name is Floor.
It's even (as far as I know) pronounced just like the English word. Floor Jansen, who fronts the symphonic metal band After Forever
, might be considered the opposite of Cristina Scabbia: she's not exactly a supermodel, but her voice is awesome. I would describe her voice as strong and clear, as well as beautiful. Check out the After Forever music video
for "Energize Me," or listen to my favorite AF track, Envision
. Envision's lyrics say that sometimes the only way to relate to others is through the imagination, which is the same thing my acting professor always stresses.7. Anette Olzon
Anette is a
pop rock whatever
singer, controversially chosen by Nightwish
to replace classically trained opera singer Tarja Turunen as the band's lead vocalist. Whether it was a good move to choose a pop singer or not is a highly subjective matter, but she is at least a very good pop singer. A majority of fans seem to feel that some Nightwish songs will always sound better with Tarja, while others are actually better suited for Anette's voice. Tuomas Holopainen, the band's founder, composer and lyricist, has said that he had to write Dark Passion Play
, the new album introducing Anette, with Tarja's voice still in his mind, and consequently much of it would be better suited to her voice. Hopefully the next album will be better suited for Anette's vocals.
Critics say that Nightwish is already veering in that direction - towards pop - calling the Dark Passion Play single Amaranth
(for which the band lost credibility in much of the heavy metal community) simply pop music. I doubt that many Americans would consider it "pop music" on first listen. I think of Amaranth as symphonic pop metal, and I really like it, but I was particularly impressed by Anette's voice
on a much poppier track, For the Heart I Once Had
I own Leaves' Eyes' two albums, one EP, and four of the five existing bonus tracks, with 1,024 plays total. I own 49 tracks of Theatre of Tragedy with Liv and have 266 plays from them. I only own six tracks of her solo work, but combined with Last.fm radio play I've listened to it 247 times. I own three atrocity albums, with 100 plays of the songs which feature Liv. Liv Kristine's combined total is 1,637 plays. A Leaves' Eyes DVD is coming later this year, hopefully to be followed before long by a third album, and I cannot wait.
(Update: more like NEXT year!)
I owned 12 Nightwish tracks with Tarja until I bought 33 more six weeks ago. I've listened 991 times to songs performed by Tarja with Nightwish, plus 405 times to her work as a solo artist; the combined total is 1,396 plays.
I own Within Temptation's second, third and fourth albums, with 859 plays between them.
My top three singers' combined total over the past year is 3,892 plays.
I own 50 Edenbridge tracks, with a total of 358 plays.
I got Storm less than two months ago, and currently have 252 track plays from the album. With 61 plays of The Crest, the total is 313.
I have one After Forever album, 209 track plays.
I have 391 plays of Dark Passion Play, but only 170 of those featured Anette, because I bought the $18 double-disc edition which comes with instrumental versions of every song on the album.
My college allocates $40 of our tuition to a printing account, so at the end of the year I spent surprisingly little of my remaining balance on this stuff (and various other posters). The large poster consists of twelve separate pages, and took me about three hours to assemble (no Leaves' Eyes posters are available for puchase). My Nightwish DVD is also visible.
(...as are my Beanie Baby cicada and scorpion, and a toy Portuguese Man-O-War, and a certain inflatable spider....)Other Artists MentionedSirenia
- 99 plays total
I own three Sirenia albums and there is a different singer on each album, and they all sound about the same to me, that is, not particularly remarkable. Good stuff though.Epica
- 52 plays
Simone Simons is an extremely young mezzo soprano known for a) extreme appeal with young male metalheads and b)
struggling with high notes
. Hopefully her voice will improve with age. Epica's music is great, with strong orchestral and choral elements not unlike the Medieval: Total War battle music,
but I find it hard to enjoy, as it somehow always sounds uncomfortably unnatural and forced
. My friend tryingtofly
loves them though. :D
[UPDATE: Since writing this I have changed my mind about both Simone and Epica, she sounds awesome on The Classical Conspiracy, and I now enjoy Epica's music as much as I feel I should. :-P]To-Mera
- 53 plays
Vocals: Julie Kiss. A great progressive metal band using heavy gothic imagery. I was introduced to them via this video
. I was just becoming interested in the gothic at the time and the video rather helped. :)Xandria
- 62 plays
Vocals: Lisa Middelhauve (who recently left). I really like her voice, particularly on "Mermaids" (video
). It can be very soft and comforting. Not particularly compelling music, but enjoyable. Elis
- 86 plays
Sabine Dunser was their vocalist until she suddenly died of a brain hemorrhage. She had, in my opinion, one of the best voices I've ever heard. By far my favorite song of theirs is Innocent Hearts (video
). Emilie Autumn
- 91 plays
Weird! Weird, weird woman! She's one of the most unique, original artists to have gained some measure of popularity in the U.S. Her first album, "Enchant," has a somewhat traditional foundation and has deen recommended by one reviewer to "the more adventurous fans of Enya." Since then she's switched to a style of music she calls "Victoriandustrial." She's weird. Perhaps my favorite song of hers is Juliet (video
). "Save You" and "What If" are excellent as well. (Update: Opheliac is on Emusic now, but I haven't got it yet.)Sarah Brightman
- 165 plays
I bought Sarah Brightman's newest CD, Symphony, because I heard it had "gothic metal" influences. On the one hand you'd think that would be a natural move for her, since she got her start with the classic goth pop musical Phantom of the Opera... but on the other hand you have to wonder if she's just jumping (back) onto the gothic bandwagon, as gothia seems to be rather in vogue at the moment. Thing is there are only two gothic tracks on the entire album: the one-minute instrumental intro, "Gothia," and the symphonic rock single, "Fleurs Du Mal
," which is totally awesome, at least during the chorus. It'd be great to see her providing operatic vocals for a symphonic (often mistaken for gothic) rock/metal band. I don't like Sarah's "pop voice" (the way she sings on the verses) nearly as much as Liv Kristine's, though.
Some other tracks on the album are, while neither gothic nor rock, great as well, particularly "Running" and her cover/duet with Andrea Bocceli, "Canto Della Terra." There's also a Dead Can Dance cover, Sanvean, which I suppose could be considered gothic by association.Lacuna Coil
- 206 plays
Lacuna Coil is just okay. Their main claim to fame seems to be Cristina Scabbia's sex appeal. Her voice is good, but in my opinion no better than any other good female singer; and they play pretty normal rock music with only slight metal and even slighter gothic elements. In fact my favorite song with Cristina Scabbia isn't even by Lacuna Coil; it's her duet with Dave Mustaine on the 2007 re-release of A Tout Le Monde
- 231 plays
Vibeke Stene (pronounced vi-bekkie AFAIK), who recently left this genuinely gothic metal band, has a wonderful operatic voice which would, on their first two albums, sound right at home in a medieval cathedral, if it weren't for the fact that women weren't allowed to sing in churches then - only boys and castrati. :P So I read through their lyrics, as I almost always do before I buy anything by a secular artist, weeded out the overly negative or blatantly anti-Christian songs, and ended up with 31 tracks, several of which I really love. "Beyond the Veil" and "Angina" (video
- be sure to listen to the entire first minute if you can make it that far) are my favorites. You can recognize that it's gothic metal by the "beauty and the beast" (harsh male / operatic female) vocals, choir, and the style of metal, which takes the slow, plodding sound of doom metal and speeds it up to create a sort of fast plodding sound, if that makes any sense. :mrgreen:
The most egregiously-mistaken-for-gothic-metal band ever is The Gathering
offers some suggestions for what they actually are; I don't really care. I was introduced to their (now ex-) singer, Anneke, through her guest performance on "Mighty Rivers Run" with Globus
(video with that song
). I like The Gathering's music, particularly the album Mandylion, but it doesn't hold my interest the way symphonic metal/rock does.
Lastly, Stream of Passion
- 108 plays
Another prog metal band with gothic elements, and they are really, really good. Mexican singer Marcela Bovio has a lovely voice. Check out their official video
for "Out in the Real World".
Update: The two artists I would add now are Draconian
. I've liked Evanescence for a while (I was interested in them for years, but didn't heard anything by them until late 2006), but I recently gave them another chance and now love several songs off Fallen. I enjoy Amy Lee's voice more than many of the other singers mentioned here. Draconian produces stunningly beautiful doom metal; highlighted by Lisa Johansson's B&B duets with Anders Jacobsson, every song is a masterful tragedy. Good for catharsis, the purging of emotions.
EDIT: To avoid further pestering about Angela Gossow, who I don't like at all, I'll include these comments here:
24 Nov 2008, 08:45
And what about Angela Gossow(Arch enemy) ???
24 Nov 2008, 11:14
Meh, 100% harsh female vocals kinda defeat the point for me. I do enjoy some Bloodlined Calligraphy, Still Breathing, a little Kittie, and Lacey Mosley's occasional screaming in Flyleaf. Arch Enemy I haven't really bothered to look into yet. :)