#6: Julie Christmas
MetalSucks recently polled its staff to determine who are The Top 25 Modern Metal Frontmen, and after an incredible amount of arguing, name calling, and physical violence, we have finalized that list! Writers were asked to consider vocal ability, lyrics, and live presence when casting their votes; the only requirements to be eligible for the list were that the musician in question had to a) play metal (duh), b) be a frontman or woman (double-duh), and c) have recorded something AND performed live in the past five years. Today we continue our countdown with Julie Christmas…
Julie Christmas has a beautiful, and beautifully diverse, voice. It’s childlike and wizened, meek and furious, delicate and intimidating, and never anything less than captivating.
Julie Christmas also writes wonderful lyrics. Like all the best lyricists, I’m not quite sure that my own interpretation of her words would match up with her actual intentions, but the mere fact that the lyrics could even provide such a contradictory discussion speaks to their strength. They are, indeed, poetry.
And while both of these qualities are certainly admirable, and Christmas deserves praise for possessing them, really, I’m here to try and impart one message to you: if you ever have the chance to see Julie Christmas perform live and you don’t take it, you are a goddamn fool.
Many, if not most, frontmen serve as cheerleaders for their band, always making sure that everyone in the audience is engaged and energized. They bark orders at the crowd and they go out of their way to single out the one dude who doesn’t seem to be having a good time and make sure he begins to have a good time. They are extroverted and clearly crave the spotlight.
But to watch Christmas perform is… well, it’s a whole other thing. It feels like you’re seeing something private, something that wasn’t meant for your eyes; like you’re sitting in on someone’s therapy session or something. I’ve never met Julie Christmas, I know almost nothing about her life outside of her musical work, and she may very well be the most well-adjusted, happy-go-lucky person ever to walk the earth. But one way or the other, she has access to a demon, a demon that lives inside of her, a demon that she lets loose when she steps onto that stage and grabs that mic. Banshee, siren, witch, enchantress — there’s no cliché that would really do the experience of watching Christmas perform justice. To see Julie Christmas is to watch a woman go through some sort of very intense catharsis right before your eyes — and to experience your own catharsis as a result.
I would wager that every vocalist in every genre in the world strives to be this be this raw, authentic, exposed. Tapping into that kind of thing — especially in public, in front of strangers — isn’t easy. And I’m not going to say “but Christmas makes it look easy,” either — she makes it appear every bit as rough as I imagine it is. I have, very literally, seen her bleed for her art. But her dedication pays off, and then some. She is, in a word, unforgettable.
The List So Far:
#7: Frank Mullen (Suffocation)
#8: Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth)
#9: Phil Anselmo
#10: Grace Perry (ex-Landmine Marathon)
#11: Guy Kozowyk (The Red Chord)
#12: Trevor Strnad (The Black Dahlia Murder)
#13: George “Corspegrinder” Fisher (Cannibal Corpse)
#14: Chance Garnette (Skeletonwitch)
#15: Vincent Bennet (The Acacia Strain)
#16: Mike Patton
#17: Tony Foresta (Municipal Waste)
#18: Joe Duplantier (Gojira)
#19: Oderus Urungus (Gwar)
#20: Nergal (Behemoth)
#21: Jens Kidman (Meshuggah)
#22: J.R. Hayes (Pig Destroyer)
#23: Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed)
#24: Travis Ryan (Cattle Decapitation, Murder Construct)
#25: Chino Moreno (Deftones)