Chicks in Metal: Are You Listening with the Wrong Head? Part II
Hello and welcome to the second edition of Metal Injection's favorite game… Are You Listening With The Wrong Head!? Where we analyze the rise of women in metal music and decide whether it's more effective to listen to their bands with…
This time we'll be taking a listen to the bands featured in Revolver's upcoming Hottest Chicks in Hard Rock: Hell Hcath No Fury Tour, kicks off in Santa Ana, California on April 22nd with headliners In This Moment (who we wrote about in Chicks in Metal: Part 1). For a few years now, Revolver have been infamous for heavily featuring female musicians who are easy on the eyes and make you hard in the pants. Metal front-women such as Angela Gossow of Arch Enemy and Katherine Katz of Agoraphobic Nosebleed have been critical of the "Hottest Women in Metal/Hard Rock" features, arguing that the focus on sex appeal over talent delegitimizes female musicians who contribute more to their bands than just a pair of tits. The foundation of the Hottest Chicks in Hard Rock tour is unquestionably based on sex appeal, but that doesn't mean we should immediately discredit the bands on the bill. So let's listen to these acts and decide if there lies substance behind the makeup and cleavage.
When I first heard about Sister Sin, the idea of a Swedish cock-rock band with a female vocalist sounded somewhat promising, but when I checked out their music on youtube, I saw that little white bulldog staring back at me, which as far as I'm concerned should be accompanied with the caption, "Abandon hope, ye who enter here." Victory Records has been polishing turds for over two decades, so I'm not surprised that they've hopped on the hot metal chicks bandwagon. Much like you'd expect from a Victory metal act, Sister Sin are all style and no substance. The majority of their music sounds like a Motley Crue or Twisted Sister cover band who never get around to playing the classics. They seem like a fun band to see live if you just want to chug some beers and take in an 80's heavy metal atmosphere, but if you're looking for something original or progressive Sister Sin probably isn't for you.
It's not difficult to find a picture of vocalist Liv Jagrell showing a lot of skin, in fact it's almost all you'll see in a Google Image search. In their video for "Sound of the Underground" Liv Jagrell shouts her vocals while wearing leather lingerie. In the "One out of Ten" video she's scantily clad in a slutty nurse costume which looks better suited for a sorority girl on Halloween. Even playing live you'll see her wearing schoolgirl skirts and leather hot pants. So with the research on her leaving me with a wildly-fluctuating semi, it's clear that Sister Sin and Victory Records rely primarily on Liv's looks to promote their music.
Black musicians are rare in the world of metal. Although black musicians occupy crucial spots in bands such as Suffocation and God Forbid, just as metal is a boy's club, the overwhelming majority of metal bands consist of all white members. Alexis Brown has been on vocal duty for Straight Line Stitch since 2003 and is the only prominent black female singer within the genre (except for Jada Pinket Smith's Wicked Wisdom, but obviously that doesn't count). Straight Line Stitch combine nu-metal, pop metal and all different kinds of core, finding a solid fan base and general acclaim from critics and fans alike.
Alexis definitely captures your attention with her multi-colored hair and tough demeanor. She's got many fans swooning over her, but it's not because she flaunts her ladybits in skimpy clothing. You'll rarely see her in less than a jeans and t-shirt… in fact the only skin I've seen her show is a tiny bit of stomach in the "What You Do To Me" video, but she's also wearing a sweet tuxedo-looking thing with suspenders that no white devil enchantress could ever pull off. She deserves our respect for her powerful scream, impressive singing voice and for not acting like a cheap stripper in a Lil Wayne video. I'm not a fan of Straight Line Stitch or their style of metal, but if you aren't overly analytical and are looking for an accessible "core" band with range, they're worth checking out.
Miri Milman: (System Divide)
System Divide are a supergroup containing members of Malignancy, Antenora and Distorted, the last of which Miri Milman contributed her vocals for a decade. More impressive is the inclusion of Sven de Caluwé, the vocalist of the incredibly important death-grind band, Aborted. Sven and Miri actually started System Divide as somewhat of a collaborative celebration after they married in 2008. Supergroups usually raise a red flag to potential listers in the first place, but when the two vocalists are married, its like being beaten over the head with the flag pole. The good news is Sven and Miri aren't staring into each others eyes singing "Endless Love," but they did manage to cram another watered-down, heard-it-before metalcore acts down our throats. Analyzing their music would be pointless… Sven screams, Miri sings… the rest is textbook.
Miri is definitely a talented singer. She doesn't have a unique voice, but she hits her notes and doesn't sound flat or shaky in her delivery. The problem is that her parts are slow "good cop vocals" 101. At times you barely notice her presence in the music, yet she is constantly pinpointed as the main entity of the band in visual promotions, seen here in exhibit one above:
Once again, if you're a casual metal fan and don't mind easy to digest metalcore, then be my guest, but System Divide suffer horribly from Supergroup Syndrome, in which deep thought and creative progression are comparable to the last U2 album.
Your other head!
For the Hottest Chicks in Hard Rock tour dates click here