Ahhh, it’s that time of year again. The now infamous Hottest Chicks in Metal — er, Hard Rock – issue has hit the stands, and legions of people who would otherwise be hard-pressed to remember the last time they even read an issue of Revolver are up in arms over its sexist, dehumanizing, and overall mad weak (Evanescence? Really?) content. In all the uproar, judgements, and debate about womens’ place within the world of heavy metal, though, it seems like a lot of people have forgotten the most important point: the women who are actually out there in the trenches laying down riffs, holding down the low end, wrangling the mic, and hailing Satan. In the interest of steering the conversation back towards the actual music, my next few posts are going to highlight some of the baddest bitches in the game — in doom, in black metal, in death metal, in occult rock, in grind, etc. There are so many crucial female bands and musicians who have made indelible marks upon this genre that it’d take a lot more than the sliver of time your attentions spans allow for me to write about ‘em all, so here are just a few of my favorites. This week, it’s all about the heavy…



Flaxen-haired vocalist Runhild Gammelsæter spends her days running a massive biology lab back home in Norway, but is best known for her work with Thorr’s Hammer and Khlyst, and, of course, for her inimitable, earth-shaking demonic growl. I have had the privilege of witnessing three of Thorr’s Hammer’s recent reunion shows (at Supersonic in Birmingham, with Corrupted (!) in London, and at Roadburn 2010) and can say for sure that this petite blonde woman is in possession of one of doom’s most powerful, brutally unhinged voices — and she makes it look damn good!

The band, which included pre-Sunn 0))) Southern lords Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson, coalesced in Ballard, WA in 1994, and was together for exactly six weeks — just long enough to change the world of doom forever. After those six weeks, during which Thorr’s Hammer released the Sannhet i Blodet demo and recorded their sole LP and magnum opus, Dommedagsnatt, the band split up, because seventeen-year-old exchange student Runhild had to return home to Oslo, Norway. Dommedagsnatt was released soon afterwards in 1996 via Southern Lord Records, and was reissued fairly recently. Go buy it.


Chiyo Nukaga has one of the sickest resumes in doom/sludge — she’s drummed for both California sludge nightmares Noothgrush and miserable doomhaulers Graves At Sea (seriously, none more heavy). While Noothgrush split up in 2001 and Graves At Sea sadly called it quits in 2002, the former have risen, and are finally enjoying the kind of popularity they’ve always deserved but never quite grabbed hold of. Her drumming style is fluid, forceful, and balanced; she holds it down way, way low, and keeps the her gloriously teetering wreck of a band from crashing and burning into complete chaos. Nukaga has also worked with with Amber Asylum and Nostra Cornu, and is an all-around badass West Coast lady. Catch her behind the kit when Noothgrush crash this year’s Maryland Death Fest!



And now for something completely different. Acid King are fuzzed-out, riff-worshippin’ whiskey and weed lovin’ biker doom, fronted by a denim’n’leather-clad devil woman with one helluva set of pipes and a wicked way with a guitar. Lori S. dominates any stage she stalks onto, summoning up the spirits of Black Sabbath on downers and Pentagram in hell, drenching it all in distortion and pure fucking attitude, and turning it up way past 11. Her voice is sultry but spacey; she’s singing to you, but she’s only got eyes for that big black Harley waiting for her outside the bar. Lori’s  riffs were made for slow-motion headbanging; I’m sure she and fellow axe goddess Liz Buckingham from Electric Wizard have compared notes once or twice. Acid King roared onto the scene in 1994, released a handful of stoner doom classics (the unholy trinity of Zoroaster, Busse Woods, and III are straight-up essential for anyone who counts Sleep and Orange Goblin amongst his/her favorites) and have recently been getting back into the swing of things on the touring circuit. I’ve seen ‘em live a couple times so far, and goddamn was it a good time.


Sharie Neyland is a new addition to UK doom prodigies The Wounded Kings, and fans were skeptical when she was announced as a replacement for much-loved original vocalist George Birch. Happily enough, it turns out we had nothing to fear; Sharie’s husky, expressive voice is an incredible asset. Thoroughly unique and utterly entrancing, it soars above the occult-obsessed, psych-tinged, slab-dragging doom conjured up by her compatriots, and adds a certain depth and range of emotion to the songs that earlier releases would’ve killed for. As far as I can tell, this is her first foray into the world of metal, but it’s one hell of an introduction! The Wounded Kings’ new album, In the Chapel of the Black Hand, is out soon on I Hate Records — go buy it. Pick up their other records, too, especially 2010’s absolutely perfect The Shadow Over Atlantis and their more recent split with Cough. Doom or be doomed.



I’ve been hearing good things about this band for ages, but never quite got around to checking them out. Turns out I was fucking up HARD this whole time, as their performance at this year’s Fall Into Darkness festival made abundantly clear. Laudanum’s nihilistic, wild-eyed blackened sludge epics are so far up my alley they’re practically knocking on my window asking to be let in for a shot of bourbon and a couple of floorboards to call home. Becky Hawk hits her drums so hard you can almost feel them shudder, and contributes vicious, menacing vocals of her own alongside the frenzied, throat-scraping invocations spat out by main vocalist Nate Misterak (formerly of Graves At Sea!). Her pounding, almost tribal rhythms anchor the entire outfit, and it’s impossible to tear your eyes away from watching her play- her raw power and focus is awe-inspiring. Their latest record, The Coronation, is out now on 20 Buck Spin; get ‘em while they’re hot.

What do you think? Are you annoyed that I didn’t spend more time talking about Electric Wizard, Mythic, or Witch Mountain?  Do you love Jex Thoth as much as I do and hope I get around to writing about her eventually? Do you still honestly believe that “girls don’t like metal” (lol @ you)?


Kim Kelly (or Grim Kim, if we’re being formal) scribbles for a number of sweet metal publications (Terrorizer, Brooklyn Vegan, Invisible Oranges, Hails & Horns, and tons more), promotes wicked records with Catharsis PR, and road dogs for your favorite bands. Keep up with her exploits & numerous band recommendations on Twitter, or peep her blog Ravishing Grimness.

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