Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Problem With (Black) Female Fronted Metal Bands

*Sigh* I was rooting for you Straight Line Stitch. I want so desperately to really enjoy their music and proudly declare to the world 'I'm a fan of Straight Line Stitch' but...I find that if I think deep down inside-it would be wrong for me to lie to myself. Just as I tried to lie to myself to get into Wicked Wisdom. It's not that SLS is a terrible metal band-no the metalcore is decent enough but, alas, tis' the vocals.

The problem I'm experiencing with many black womem (pfft-more like the three that I know of which includes: SLS, Wicked Wisdom and Roulette) who go into the harsh vocal side of metal is that they try to imitate their angry white male counterparts and it never ends up sounding right. It's really forced and cheesy. This isn't to say that Alexis Brown cannot growl with the best of them, but it seems like if she keeps on forcing the vocals in a few years they'll be shredded up and unusable. Add on to that the awkward R&B sections in songs like 'Remission', and 'Eucharist' its' just...something isn't right. Metal is metal and R&B is R&B. I mean, can you imagine a random death growl in a BB King or Alicia Keys song? Maybe its the mixing or bad recording. Now, some of you might say that diversity in metal is a good thing-whicih I have absolutely no problem with diversity as someone who desperately looks for any faces that resemble her own in this music genre but you have to do it right. Am I highly critical? Yes. Because I know what many of these hardcore heavy metal fans are thinking when they see and hear a band like SLS:
-It's gimmicky to have a black person in a metal band
-It's gimmicky having a black FEMALE in a metal band
-It's gimmicky just for the fact that they are metalcore

And all other assorted judgements. I like a few songs of SLS's like 'Black Veil', 'Faceless and Inhuman', etc. Plus, I would much rather listen to them than that Maria bitch from In This Moment but I just can't really get into them because just like Wicked Wisdom and that myspace band Roulette-there is something off about it. And I'm not saying it's because they're black but maybe because they haven't really listened to enough metal music to really form a vocal style unique to themselves.
Never the less, I'm rooting for you Straight Line Stitch and I hope you make it big.
There will probaly be a part two to this entry or a whole 'Women in Metal' post in the future.
(By the way, when searching for this picture I tried to find the most ethnic picture of her, being as all the rest of the professionally done pictures seemed to lighten her skin -_-)

\m/.

23 comments:

Mlle Hell said...

I know what you mean. I really want to be able to get into black female fronted bands but the execution leaves much to be desired especially in metal and sometimes in heavier punk. It's not metal but the best hybridization I've heard is the former lead singer of Hells' Belles (an all chick AC/DC tribute band) her voice was more of an updated, edgier, RAW Tina Turner and that's closer to the direction I think it should be going in. As for metal, I think I'm kinda following you when you say that they haven't listened to enough metal to shape their own style but now I have to put it to you- I don't want to be something's telling me I have to- do you want to sing?

The Black Girl into Heavy Metal said...

Yeah, Hells Belles' is really raw-I dig it. I think soon I'll do just a blog on black female rock singers because The lead singer of The Noisettes and back up vocalist for Earl Greyhound have these amazing voices. I think I know what your saying about not letting anyone tell you how or what to sing like-I agree.

No Metalcore said...

You know, taking pictures tends to lighten your skin, because of the light of the camara. Especially if its professionally done and there are lights everywhere.
Also, Straight Line Stitch has bad music and vocals. It's all just trendy nonsense.

RainaHavock said...

Yeah I know what you mean don't you hate that. I know she's not Metal but i remember when Fefe Dobson came out. I was like yes a black female rocker! But at last I couldn't really get into her music like that.

Grotesque said...

I'm still keeping my eye on her and getting my hopes up. I think it's obvious she's only scratching the surface of her potential, and I can't tell if she'll fully bloom. There are a few moments within songs that I would really like to see her explore further that she sadly dipped and skipped (like parts of To Be Godlike, Antagonist, Slow Asphyxiation, etc.) At the very least, she's paving the way for someone to do it better.

RockNRollSista said...

I think one day a sister will be allowed to rock out on stage.

Lily said...

*ugh* Know what you mean about pictures lightening skin... Once, a few years back, I checked out Trivium at the behest of my bf, and my reaction was, "Is it just me or is he more of a white boy in each one???"

One thing that sucks about the whole female-on-vocals thing is, it'd be more of a feminist ideal if you had a chick shredding it on the guitar. And you have to be a *hot* chick to be in the front, no doubt about it. But I worship at the feet of some of these gals, especially Karyn Crisis. To me, she's the original thing, way more bad-ass than any of these mainstream metal girls. Just sayin'.

BTW, Metal Edge's March issue had a great God Forbid article. There's pictures of a young Byron rockin' a Malcom X shirt. Hell yeah, man.

Anonymous said...

Luke said...
It seems that it's either a black dude, or a white chick singing, never a black chick, that's actually good I mean, there's plenty of girls in metal, but the ones I like are mostly the Opera type singers, or Angela Gossow, I like a few bands with black dudes too, like Howard Jones in Killswitch Engage and Carley Coma in Candiria (which is a superb band by the way, not many people listen to em) I think one of the dudes in Sepultura is black, and of course the token black band of choice God Forbid, but I actually liked em before I knew they were black, so that didn't really factor into it for me, they're just an excellent band.

Rae_bella said...

This is sooo late, but ITA. I wanted to get into SLS, they honestly sound chesey. With that being said, I really think her voice has potential too, and really did not enjoy the idea of her singing R&B either throughout her songs. And we all know there are good metal singing voices out there, and she has not acquired that yet. She just gets sidetrack and goes into sing R&B tone of voice...

In general with most female lead singers of metal bands, they seem to try to "infuse" other genres (opera metal annoys me) as some sort of leeway.

I pretty much stray away from female metal bands in general, because there is not much that I will listen to....The closet thing I will listen to is Kittie (even though I don't view them as metal but just a long shot I guess), since I am not too fond of female black metal bands like Astrate (sorry for typo) either.

BTW, this is coming from a black girl....even thought it doesn't matter either way....

Anonymous said...

RACIST MOTHERFUCKERS GO TO HELL!!
IF THEY CAN MAKE GOOD METAL THEN LET THEM DO IT!COVER UR STUPID EARS.
ARE YOU DOING ANYTHING USEFULL! BET NOT, FUKIN NAZI LOWLIVES!

The Lord Ring said...

This mofo really had the nerve...Ok I recently have been listening to SLS. I have listened to them for about 4 months now...they have potential. There are too many barriers preventing them from advancing...Yes that she is black, a female and the type of music that is mad by them...The fact that is the problem shows the problem with the listeners...your not use to is so you want to find something bad about it and focus on it. To say she may not know much about growling is a insult...you don't get involved with a band of this nature and not know anything about the music you are singing..especially if you have a record deal.. I personaly have problems with growl music as it is sometimes called but there are some I like. I found out SLS through a Sevendust video and liked some of their stuff. If they did not have the R&B parts as you put it..their music would definitly be less attractive..thie singing adds to the music. I know most people don't want to hear growls the whole track and the whole CD enless you are straigh hardcore...that's a lot of decoding to do and just plain..there is no deviance or variaty..

Anonymous said...

Your just racist! gimmicky for a black person to be in metal! FUCK YOU! why don't you say what you wanna say you don't want niggers in your white music you can just eat a bag of baby dicks! ignorant people like you make me fucking sick!

The Lord Ring said...

You obviously need to re read my comment. How the hell did get racism out of that? I think you just proved my point even further if anything. How am I racist when explaining to you that people have a problem with black people singing rock?

Did you even comprehend the comment?

The Black Girl into Heavy Metal said...

@Lord Ring-I think he was talking about the entry, not your comment (which was a good comment by the way)
@Anon-I'm black myself, so I'm not racist. I'm just honest about what non-openminded metal heads are really thinking. Calm down.

LilliyAnnSaffire12 said...

Lmfao... so many angry ppl... but in response to the actual post... I feel as though SLS fits more into the emerging genre of American Melodic Metal not metalcore that's just my opinion. However, I do agree with the two statements about R&B vocals not being appropriate and female vocalists always trying to mix genres... Anyone whose ever heard a black woman scream and holler knows there is nothing more scary or hardcore... I would like to see someone who is musically inclined as I am not take that idea and expand on it in a way that will take the Metal Music world by the balls and lead them into the world of pain, persecution and judgment that is the life of a black woman who deviates. I think that's the key to a successful black female fronted band... it is that simple and that complicated... no pretty alicia keys' type choruses or rap riffs needed... P.S. they aren't racist if they don't control anything that they can exclude a minority from; read a dictionary. racist is the wrong word. especially, since quite a few of the responders are black themselves... they are merely expressing disappointment in a artist they had heard good reviews about. they disagreed with the critics and that's their right; and its also they right to expect more from someone who is representing their race in a public setting... Nephs

Alternative Lyn-Z said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alternative Lyn-Z said...

I deleted my last comment b/c I wanted to make it clear that this is directed to the author of this blog..

You couldn't have discribed this band better...I remember the first time I watched their video, I was jamming out to it and then all of a sudden she got all "home girl" on me...and I tried sooo hard to like it but it just wasn't a good mixture, overall her band reminds me of Sevendust which is an amazing band, however what SLS lacks is consistency...I think I actually saw this band back in 2006 perform with Flaw in a small club in VA and couldn't remember their name but had a cell phone pic of them...and just simply remember all of these elements about the band, but mostly that they were pretty damn good live. KUDOS to you, thank you sooo much for putting it into words!

Viagra said...

In my knowledge very few female vocalists have what it takes to lead a Metal Band, The obvious cases o Tarja, Simone Simmons, Angela Gossow...Which by the way has the best growls I've ever heard in my life. But it is hard to find them.

KaT NapPy505 said...

lol just like you, i was trying to get into sls, but i just could not. (repeating everything you said) she can scream with the rest of em but.....meh......dint im not gonna belittle them.
p.s. thanks to me my sister likes them. now i get to hear them all the time. yay.
Dx

Charlie said...

I am a black female rocker and I have been searching for others out there for a long time... we are talking years. And yet nothing. I have checked out the bands that you have mentioned and none of them have really stood out to me. It just always ends up going either towards pop or r&b even if the majority of the material does lie in rock. Its just not the same. We need to change that people. If you are down to join the cause and in the greater LA area. lets jam!

dazmando said...

I have got two words for you it's skunk anansie http://www.skunkanansie.net/ this band prove that black female singers can sound both different and good.

Anonymous said...

I understand the sentiment; it's why I cringe when I hear Asian pop singers rap. They're trying to imitate US rap and hip hop so badly, it doesn't work because they're trying to be something they're not. The ones that have done really well usually inject a part of their identity into it, whether it's country-specific instruments or folk like melodies.

Anonymous said...

I should add that the musicians incorporated elements of anything that wasn't metal into their metal songs, but didn't let it overpower the song itself.