As an additional activity, I’ve long since been helping to administrate a symphonic metal group on facebook, so believe me when I say that every time another god damn ‘Nightwish’ clone rears their head, I hear about. Did you catch the Finnish ‘Katra‘? No? Well they sucked. How about ‘HB‘? Christ-pushing suckage. Did you hear about how Nightwish’s crappy singer left only to be replaced by a vocalist for a different, less popular shitty band (which, ironically, she joined after leaving one which wasn’t that bad; where these guys covered Maiden, her new band covered Lady Gaga. Kinda says it all, doesn’t it?). No? Good. It probably means your a fan of actual metal, and not one of those people who claim to love the genre then turn their nose at anything fronted by a man. Even the male backing vocals in ‘Nightwish’ seems to be enough to turn off some.
Given that most such artists these days just play basic rock music with some keyboard synths (having dropped all gothic and metal elements), it’s impressive that people seem to get so obsessed with them. I once met a guy who did an entire tour of Europe, not to see the sights, but to watch ‘Within Temptation’ every god damn night. There is a forum I know of that removes the likes of ‘Alas’ for not resembling the framework close enough (playing a progressive form of the style that y’know, didn’t suck). It’s fascinating to study, as I can think of no equivalent niche genre that obsesses so much about the novelty of an attractive woman, save perhaps pop music. When was the last time you heard of a punk band getting famous by flaunting some woman’s cleavage (I mean actual punk, not Paramore’s pop-punk)? It doesn’t happen, and I find the practice rather deplorable; artists garnering recognition by parading around a pair of tits rather than on their musical merits.
I don’t begrudge the bands themselves for this. Certainly I wish them to do well, and sex does indeed sell, even though it seems like this should be the last place where it matters. How many are familiar with the Japanese band ‘Sigh?’ The cover model, vocalist and sax player Dr. Mikannibal often steals much of the limelight, but when in their two decade career did she join the band? 2007. Just in time for a tribute EP they did for Venom. It was only with their 2010 release, “Hangmans Hymn”, that she became an official member. Yet she’s already been in so many photo shoots, you’d have thought it her brainchild. Chthonic’s ‘Doris Yeh’ falls much into the same trap, being the centre of attention despite playing the bass, and I don’t mean to diminish her contributions here (I may well be wrong), but the bassist doesn’t typically have the greatest of influence on a bands material.
Perhaps even more depressing is the fact that metal fans seem so starved of feminine presence, that they fawn over those that aren’t anything particularly special; Cristina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil) might admittedly look pretty good for her age, but for a legion of up and coming fans, she’s old enough to be their mother! Slap her in a rock band and nobody would care, but call them ‘metal’ and suddenly she’s the world’s hottest. Clutching at straws, mediocrity suddenly becomes majestic when there are so few apparent options to choose from; the horny male fan base crying out in desperation, which can ironically only deter more women from admitting their musical preference in public.
Now lets look at the flip side; ‘Aliases’ made waves amongst some circles for having the guitarist from Sikth on board, but did you know that on the guitar opposite him is a woman called Leah? What about Runhild Gammelsæter (Thorr’s Hammer, Khlyst) – when was the last time you heard of her doing a solo photoshoot? Or Sfinx (Ram-Zet)? Wata (Boris)? Vivian Slaughter (Gallhammer)? Liz Buckingham may be Electric Wizard’s current guitarist, but nobody attributes their success to the fact they flaunt a pretty woman on stage. You can be both attractive and a member of successful band without fans demanding scantily clad photos, noting a physical attraction and then judging them objectively on their ability to create music, which is of course the whole point.
This is a call to all metal fans: fucking stop it. Stop acting like dogs in heat, humping the leg of anything with a pair of tits. Stop caring about how tight their top is. Stop being so surprised when an actual woman admits to liking metal that you scare her away, and for the love of god if you only listen to ‘Nightwish’ clones, just admit that you’re really just a lonely old man who can’t handle actual metal. It’s ok, there’s nothing wrong with being a rock fan, just stop lying to yourself. You don’t judge a painting by how it sounds when you shit on it, so stop caring about what musicians look like, because only then will they stop parading women around like pop princesses, undermining an artist’s actual abilities. I don’t care if you look like a sewer troll, if you can actually play your instrument, I’ll think you’re far more awesome than the prettiest dumb blonde trophy. We’re surely capable of that aren’t we?