The New Generation of Japanese All-Women Metal Bands
“Girl Power” has never been as apparent in music as in Japan right now.
While many of these groups are poppy idol groups put together by a management team (there are said to be over 3,000 such groups in Japan with over 10,000 individual idols), the ones listed here are actual bands who have mastered guitar, bass, drums, and keyboards instead of memorizing choreographed dance moves. What’s more, they write their own music instead of relying on a nameless “backing band” and an army of pro songwriters.
This is the new generation of all-women metal bands and they are ready to take the world by storm.
When visiting the Akihabara district in Tokyo, you will find an assortment of maid cafes with such names as Maidreamin. Here you can enjoy the company of young women dressed as maids as they serve you kawaii dessert items and occasionally perform song and dance routines. Band-Maid brings the maid aesthetic onto the big stage with distortion not present at the rather innocent cafe setting, playing undeniably catchy hard rock. The group was started by former cafe worker Miku Kobato, so you can be assured that these maids are the genuine article. They refer to fans as either “masters” or “princesses” and their concerts as “servings.” The group has experienced some international success, doing shows in Mexico and Europe. Next time they come to your town, make sure you get a serving or two from these talented hostesses.
Formed in 2016 from former members of the band Destrose, Lovebites are a power metal group influenced by NWOBHM legends like Iron Maiden and, unsurprisingly (given their moniker), Judas Priest. The all-white wearing group have some serious chops in all areas of instrumentation, but their speed metal riffing and the powerful, operatic voice of Asami stand out; she would not seem out of place rocking out next to a grinning Dio hologram. As for their songs, their track “Holy War” could nearly rival Megadeth’s tale of spiritual conflict while “Thunder Vengeance” could crack Thor’s hammer with its pulverizing attack. The lyrics are in English even though the members don’t speak it fluently, showing that Lovebites are hungry for the international acclaim that may be on the plate for them shortly.
Aldious are a power metal band from Osaka. Formed in 2008 by guitarist Yoshi and vocalist Rami, they released their first album, Deep Exceed, in 2010, cementing themselves as one of the original pioneers of the next generation of all-women Japanese metal bands. Over their 10-year history, they have ignited the stages of some of Japan’s largest festivals, such as Summersonic, Loudpark and Visual Japan Summit. They are now ready to smash boundaries overseas as they have a U.K. tour planned for late 2021 featuring their new vocalist R!N (with whom they re-recorded songs with for their new album, Evoke 2010-2020). Aldious is ultimate, Aldious is melodious.
Named after the cocktail, Mary’s Blood formed in 2009 out of four former members of Destrose (an early all-female band whose members also joined Lovebites). Mary’s Blood have released five full-length albums, with their sixth, Re>Animator, featuring covers of such bands as X Japan. Their sound is fundamentally rooted in hard rock with thrash influences, with a bass sound that is as thick and slap-happy as Korn’s. They have made a few waves outside of their native country, headlining Metal Matsuri in London. The band’s guitarist, Saki, has been making waves in the international scene lately, starting the band Amahiru, featuring former DragonForce bassist Frédéric Leclercq, while also appearing in an IronBunny music video.
Newcomers Nemophila began in 2019 when vocalist Mayu joined forces with ladies from various other metal groups, including Mary’s Blood’s prolific guitarist Saki. The face-melting track “Dissension” features some deathcore shrieks which would make any fans of Suicide Silence’s late vocalist Mitch Lucker perk their ears in enthusiasm, but there is enough clean singing to keep things dynamic. The group has a penchant for covers, with several videos from their jam space performing songs like Kiss’s “Detroit Rock City” and T-Rex’s “20th Century Boy” in song-appropriate outfits.
Doll$Boxx, formed in 2012, are the side project of lead vocalist Fuki (formerly of power metal band Light Bringer, currently with Unlucky Morpheus and Fuki Commune) with members of Gacharic Spin. They mix electronic, pop and metal influences to create noisy, colorful tracks which are a Disneyland of dynamics. The band have released music videos for almost all of their songs, which do well to convey the natural chops these young women possess. For bass enthusiasts, four-stringed samurai F Chopper Koga has released two DVD instructional videos to guide you into learning her signature slap-bass technique.
The quintet of black-dressed bridesmaids known as Bridear formed out of Fukuoka in 2012, utilizing diverse influences ranging from Helloweento Muse and the melodic hooks of J-pop to create a sound unique amongst their peers. Songs like “Ignite” showcase catchy guitar licks accompanying a hook-filled chorus with certain lyrics highlighted in English, while “Bloody Bride” demonstrates the change-ups the band is capable of. This year will see Bridear take their bridal train to Europe, with the band playing 10 shows stretching from September to October.
Fate Gear, formed in 2015 by guitarist “Captain” Mina, are one of the more unique acts sailing around the Land of the Rising Sun, as their aesthetic is based on steampunk (their instruments included; take note of their keyboard, bedazzled with rusty brown cogs). They also subscribe to the swashbuckling fashion style of pirates, wearing hats and uniforms straight out of Jack Sparrow’s wardrobe. The band’s music has a slight pirate metal sound as well, keyboard-heavy and voyage ready, so calling Fate Gear “steam punk pirate metal” would be fitting3. Don’t miss your ride on the Fate Gear ship, or maybe giant mechanical spider.
The illuminated pandemonium of Gacharic Spin reminds me of a trip to the Robot Restaurant in Tokyo. At this insane establishment, there is an overwhelming amount to take in and look at, just as there is with this band. One of the earliest defenders of the Japan’s women-led rock faith, founded in 2009, the five instrumentalists in Gacharic Spin take turns on lead vocals, making each song have a different, excuse the pun, spin. If you think that the band members look a little familiar, don’t worry, you aren’t losing your mind: four of them are also in Doll$Boxx. The members also have another alter-ego group called Metallic Spin, featuring Saber Tiger vocalist Takenori Shimoyama, in which they play covers. As they have been around the block a few times, Gacharic Spin have a Boxx full of experience, more than most of the newer rock or metal groups on this list, playing shows in South Korea, Anime Matsuri in Texas and Japan Expo in France.
This Chiba-based punk duo’s slogan is “The Power and Sound,” an apt description of their tight, fast, crunchy tunes that don’t skimp out on hooks. Their most identifiable trait is the vocals — sounding as though the singer huffed some helium before recording — making the band sound like a punkier version of Melt-Banana at times. Once you get into this cute, upbeat sound, though, you will find it hard to resist rocking out to the punky chipmunk sound of Anarchy Stone.