Although metal music has traditionally been male-dominated, over the past couple of decades we have seen a significant rise in all-female and female fronted metal bands. These powerful female figures have made their definitive mark on the music industry, playing a critical role in the continuous innovation of the metal genre into an increasingly inclusive voice of expression for millions of fans worldwide.
Derived from psychedelic and blues rock, metal is perhaps one of the most diverse genres within modern rock music. Artists such as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Alice Cooper, and Motörhead pioneered the sound as early as the late 1960s which has since expanded far beyond its shiny roots. The genre has since developed an array of subgenres and fusion genres, such as black metal, death metal, power metal, gothic metal, and progressive metal. In the rest of this article, we’ll be looking at the best female metal bands of all time.
Here Are the Best All Female and Female Fronted Metal Bands
|Years Active||1980 to 1992; 1997 to 1998; 2001 to Present|
|Band Wikipedia||Learn More About Vixen Here|
Originally formed in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Vixen is considered one of the earliest female bands to emerge within the Los Angeles, California glam metal scene.
Though Vixen was created in 1980 by guitarist Jan Kuehnemund after leaving her high school band Lemon Pepper, it wasn’t until 1987 that the iconic lineup came to be, featuring vocalist Janet Gardner, drummer Roxy Petrucci and bassist Share Pedersen.
The group was signed to EMI Manhattan the following year and went on to release their debut eponymous studio album which featured one of their greatest hits to date, Edge of a Broken Heart. The band went on to headline their own tour the following year, but also supported Bon Jovi, Ozzy Osbourne and Scorpions on their tours.
In 1990, they recorded their second album, Rev It Up, which led to another successful tour alongside bands Deep Purple and KISS. The group disbanded a year after the tour, supposedly because of “musical differences” between the members. The group had a small reunion in 1997, briefly replacing Kuehnemund and Pedersen with Gina Stile and Rana Ross. They released their 1998 third studio album, Tangerine, before splitting again shortly after its release.
In 2001 the group reunited again with the return of Kuehnemund and new bassist Pat Holloway. They released their final studio album in 2006, Live & Learn, just two years following their appearance on VH1’s show Bands Reunited.
In 2012, Kuehnemund gathered the bands original members to reunite the iconic original lineup. However, just days before the reunited band was about to make their reformation public, Kuehnemund was diagnosed with cancer and passed away ten months later at the age of 59. The remaining three members decided to carry on with the band’s reunion in her honor.
Though they haven’t released new music in over a decade, Vixen has left their mark on the early glam metal sound, serving as one of the truest and most iconic female metal bands.
|Years Active||1995 to Present|
|Band Wikipedia||Learn More About Evanescence Here|
Perhaps one of the most well-known and praised gothic metal bands of all time, Evanescence has become a household name since their early formation in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1995.
Vocalist Amy Lee and former guitarist Ben Moody formed Evanescence (meaning “fading away” or “disappearance”) after Moody heard Lee play I’d Do Anything for Love by Meatloaf on the piano at a Christian youth camp. Inspired by artists such as Nirvana, Björk, Nine Inch Nails, Pantera, and Danny Elfman, the duo released three EPs the following year, Evanescence, Sound Asleep, and Whisper.
In 2003 the duo was permanently joined by their friends Will Boyd, John LeCompt, and Rocky Gray just before the release of their debut studio album, Fallen. Executives for Wind-up Records refused to release the album unless the group agreed to a full-time male co-vocalist, however, Lee and the band disagreed and eventually settled for having male vocals featured only on their single, Bring Me to Life.
The album went on to spend 104 weeks on the Billboard Top 200 chart, became certified 7x platinum in the United States, and ended up selling over 17 million copies worldwide. It became one of the only albums in history to spend at least a year on the Billboard Top 50. The albums two singles Bring Me to Life and My Immortal received audience acclaim, with each peaking at number 5 and 7, respectively, on the Billboard Hot 100.
Following the success of Fallen, Moody left the band with Lee later reporting to the Sydney Morning Herald that “if something didn’t change, we wouldn’t have been able to make a second record. I wanted to do the more artistic weird thing and he’d want to do the thing that people would want to hear.” A year later the band released a CD/DVD compilation, Anywhere by Home, which sold over a million copies worldwide.
In 2006 the band released their second studio album, The Open Door, reached number one on the Billboard Top 200 chart. In 2011 the band released their third and long-awaited eponymous studio album. As said by Lee in an interview with MTV News, the album’s themes included “the ocean, quest for freedom and falling in love.” In 2018 they released their fourth studio album, Synthesis, which contained the song Hi-Lo which featured violinist Lindsey Stirling.
Most recently, the band released their fifth studio album, The Bitter Truth, in March of 2021. The music video for the album’s single, Wasted on You, featured shots of each of the band members at home in 2020. The album’s other single, Use My Voice, featured Taylor Momsen (The Pretty Reckless), Sharon den Adel (Within Temptation), and Lzzy Hale (Halestorm) which encouraged Americans to vote. Evanescence is without a doubt one of the best metal bands with a female singer of all time.
3. Arch Enemy
|Years Active||1995 to Present|
|Band Wikipedia||Learn More About Arch Enemy Here|
Classified by Kerrang! and AllMusic as melodic death metal, Arch Enemy emerged in Halmstad, Sweden in 1995 when Michael Amott left the band Carcass. Joined by his younger brother Christopher, drummer Daniel Erlandsson and vocalist Johan Liiva, the band released their debut studio album, Black Earth. The album featured their first single, Bury Me an Angel, which was on heavy rotation on MTV.
The band released two more albums before vocalist Angela Gossow replaced Liiva in 2000 after interviewing the band for a German webzine. She gave the group a demo that she believed to be “poor quality,” but the band called her in for an audition and was immediately chosen. They went on to release their fourth studio album the following year, Wages of Sin. The band went on to play at Japan’s Beast Feast 2002 concert alongside Motörhead and Slayer.
Just before their tour to promote the album, Gossow was diagnosed with vocal cord nodules which led her to attend vocal therapy where she was able to successfully recover voice. She was able to recover in time for the release of the bands next album the following year, Anthems of Rebellion. In 2004, they released the EP, Dead Eyes See No Future, which featured covers of songs by Megadeth, Carcass, and Manowar.
In 2007 the band played at the Bloodstock Open Air Festival and on the Black Crusade tour alongside Trivium, Machine head, and DragonForce. The following year they released their first DVD, Tyrants of the Rising Sun, which featured a live performance in Tokyo, Japan.
In 2009 the band released their first compilation album, The Root of All Evil, which featured twelve re-recorded songs which spanned the bands career before Gossow had joined as the lead vocalist. They went on to perform at the Loud Park Festival the same year alongside Rob Zombie, Judas Priest, Anthrax, Megadeth, and Slayer.
In 2014 Gossow stepped down as the bands lead vocalist and became their business manager instead so that she could “be with her family and pursue other interests.” Gossow recommended Alissa White-Gluz of metalcore band the Agonist, who gladly accepted, saying in an interview with Metal Hammer that “music is forever, metal is limitless and this is only the beginning.” They released their ninth studio album shortly after, War Eternal.
Their latest album, Covered in Blood, was released in 2019 and featured a compilation of songs they had covered over the years. Most recently, the band announced that they will be performing at the European Siege Tour in 2021 with Carcass, Unto Others, and Behemoth.
4. Within Temptation
|Vocalist||Sharon den Adel|
|Years Active||1996 to Present|
|Band Wikipedia||Learn More About Within Temptation Here|
Known for their “gloomy, doomy, slow moving, atmospheric, symphonic gothic metal,” Within Temptation was formed in Waddinxveen, Netherlands in 1996 by long-term partners Sharon den Adel and Robert Westerholt.
The duo originally formed the doom metal band The Portal which featured guitarist Michiel Papenhove, bassist Jeroen van Veen, drummer Ivar de Graaf, and keyboardist Dennis Leefland before renaming themselves as Within Temptation. The band released their demo, Enter, before being signed onto DSFA Records later that year.
Named after their demo, the band released their debut studio album in 1997, which was generally well received, leading to a tour across the country and a performance at the Dynamo Open Air which helped to elevate their profile in the metal scene. While taking time off to build their own recording studio, they released their debut EP, The Dance, which featured three songs and two remixes.
In 2000 the band went on to play at numerous Dutch festivals while working on their second album, Mother Earth, which became a moderate success, as the single Ice Queen became their breakthrough release, reaching number 2 in the Netherlands and number 1 in Belgium. In 2002 they went on to headline their first show in France and Mexico City. Later that year they won the Dutch Silver Harp which pushed them to embark on an international tour.
The band released their third album in 2004, The Silent Force, which became an instant number 1 in the Netherlands and charted across Europe. They went on to headline their first festival, Bloodstock, the following year in the UK. In 2007 they released their fourth studio album, The Heart of Everything, and embarked on their first US tour, kicking it off in Boston, Massachusetts, and ending in Tempe, Arizona.
For the band’s 15-year anniversary in 2013, they covered fifteen songs in their own style, some being Behind Blue Eyes by The Who, Grenade by Bruno Mars, and Titanium by David Guetta featuring Sia. The following year they released Hydra, their sixth studio album and first to chart outside of the Netherlands, reaching number 16 on the US Billboard Top 200.
Most recently, the band has teased the upcoming release of their eighth studio album, though they released their newest singles in 2020, Entertain You, The Purge, and Shed My Skin. In my opinion, Within Temptation is easily one of the best female fronted metal bands of all time.
|Years Active||1996 to Present|
|Band Wikipedia||Learn More About Nightwish Here|
Described by Metal Hammer as “mainland Europe’s most successful metal band, give or take a Rammstein,” Nightwish emerged from Tuomas Holopainen’s plan to create a solo project based on the experimental acoustic music he’d written while in the Finnish Army.
Holopainen recruited Erno “Emppu” Vuorinen as a secondary guitarist and vocalist Tarja Turunen. Nightwish was the first song the trio recorded and became the band’s name before the release of their debut demo the same year.
They released their debut studio album, Angels Fall First, the following year. Jukka “Julius” Nevalainen joined just before the album’s release, which added the band’s heavy metal elements to their experimental style, “forming the core of the Nightwish sound.” They made their live debut in their hometown of Kitee, Finland.
The band released their second studio album, Oceanborn, in 1998 which became an instant success, reaching number 5 on the Finnish album charts. The albums single Sacrament of Wilderness reached number 1 on the Finnish singles charts. The album was originally released solely in Finland, however, with the album’s wide success, it was released internationally the following year.
After receiving international success, the band released their 2000 third studio album, Wishmaster, which went gold after settling at number 1 on the Finnish album charts for three weeks in a row. The band went on to perform their song Sleepwalker in the Finnish Eurovision Song Contest, finishing in third place.
The band released their fourth studio album in 2002, Century Child, which featured a cover of The Phantom of the Opera from the musical of the same name by Andrew Lloyd Webber which quickly became a fan-favorite. The song became a staple for their live set-lists until Turunen was replaced with Anette Olzon in 2006, as the band stated they’d never play the song live again.
Olzon went on to leave the band in 2012 following an illness that left her unable to perform. Floor Jansen joined as the band’s permanent vocalist in 2013. Troy Donockley was also made a full-time member at this time, making the band a sextet. Two years later the band released their eighth studio album, Endless Forms Most Beautiful, and went on a world tour starting in New York City and ending in Saitama, Japan.
Most recently, the band’s ninth studio album, Human. :II: Nature., was released in April 2020. The band also announced that they’d joined forces with an international conservation charity organization named World Land Trust, which focuses on raising money to protect and purchase threatened habitats. In July 2020, a new crab species was discovered by Dr. Adiel A. Klompmaker of the Alabama Museum of Natural History, who named the species Tanidromites nightwishorum after the band.
The band has since become the third-best-selling Finnish band of all time, selling over 9 million records and earning over 60 platinum and gold awards, earning them the title of the most successful Finnish band worldwide.
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|Years Active||1996 to Present|
|Band Wikipedia||Learn More About Kittie Here|
Heavy metal band Kittie formed out of Ontario, Canada when Mercedes Lander and Fallon Bowman met in their high school gym class. Landers sister Morgan joined as the duo’s vocalist after a few weeks of the two jamming together, and Tanya Candler completed the band later as their bassist.
The band began making demos and playing live shows in 1998 and were signed to Artemis Records the following year. Kittie released their debut studio album, Spit, in 2000 and went on tour with Slipknot. The album and supporting tour received favorable reception, earning them coverage in Metal Edge magazine, where they won five awards, including Home Video of the Year and Female Performer of the Year, New Band of the Year, Most Underrated Band, and Who’s Going to be the Next Big Thing.
The band continued their rising success until 2017 when their bassist since 2005, Trish Doan, died at the age of 31. Two years later, Morgan Lander expressed her concern about the band’s future, saying that “she didn’t feel right moving the band forward without Trish Doan.”
Though Kittie is known for being a widely successful all-female band, drummer Mercedes Lander said in an interview with MTV News that she wants Kittie to be known simply as a metal band, saying “You don’t call Machine Head a ‘boy metal band,’ you call them a metal band… why should they make an exception [for us] just because of the gender? It’s almost exactly the same kind of music, except we don’t have penises.”
|Years Active||1997 to Present|
|Band Wikipedia||Learn More About Halestorm Here|
Founded in Red Lion, Pennsylvania, Halestorm became one of the most popular heavy metal bands of the late 2000s and beyond.
Vocalist Lzzy Hale and her sister Arejay began writing and performing music since the ages of 10 and 13 years old, respectively. The siblings released two EPs while they were still in school, Forecast for the Future in 1997 and (Don’t Mess With The) Time Man in 1999.
The band finally came to be in 2005 when they were signed to Atlantic Records and released their debut live EP as Halestorm, titled One and Done, the following year. Their eponymous debut studio album was released in 2009 and featured the singles I Get Off and It’s Not You, which received generally favorable reviews.
The band released their second studio album, The Strange Case Of… in 2012 and went on to support Bullet for My Valentine the following year. During one of the band’s live shows, Lzzy was told that the band had been nominated for a Grammy in the best hard Rock/Metal Performance category for their song Love Bites… (So Do I). The band won the award on February 10, 2013, becoming “the first female-fronted band to both be nominated and win in that category.”
The band’s success has been on a steady rise ever since, appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live in 2013, and most notably, performing nearly 250 shows each year. The band has released two more albums, Into the Wild Life in 2015 and Vicious in 2018. Most recently they released an EP in 2020 titled Reimagined which features six songs, one being a cover of Dolly Parton’s I Will Always Love You.
|Years Active||2000 to Present|
|Band Wikipedia||Learn More About Otep Here|
Described by AllMusic as “art house nu metal,” Otep got their footing after Sharon Osbourne watched one of their earliest live performances.
The band formed in Los Angeles, California in late 2000 and started playing regularly at Ozzfest before releasing their debut EP, Jihad, in 2001. They released their debut studio album the following year, Sevas Tra with record producer Terry Date who’s known for his work with Deftones, White Zombie, Slipknot, Soundgarden and Limp Bizkit.
In 2004 they released their second studio album, House of Secrets, which peaked at 93 on the American Billboard 200. The music video for their single Warhead reached the top ten on MTV Headbanger’s Ball the same year. Otep went on to tour for three consecutive years before releasing their next album in 2007, The Ascension.
The band was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Music Artist for their 2009 album Smash the Control Machine. In 2011 they released their fifth studio album, Atavist, which peaked at number 10 on the US Independent Charts, number 19 on the US Rock Charts, and number 61 on the Billboard Top 200.
In 2013 the band released the studio album, Hydra, which vocalist Otep Shamaya stated would “be her band’s final album,” in an interview with The Gauntlet. However, Otep went on to sign with Napalm Records which ignited a fire within the band, leading them to release their seventh studio album, Generation Doom, in 2016.
Most recently, the band released their eighth studio album, Kult 45, in 2018. Shamaya discussed the album, saying “it’s important for fans to know that this record is not just an indictment of Trump. The idea is rather to empower people to stand up and remind them this is our country and we have the power.”
|Vocalist||Lacy Sturm 2002 – 2012; Kristen May 2012 – 2016|
|Years Active||2002 to 2016|
|Band Wikipedia||Learn More About Flyleaf Here|
Founded in Bell County, Texas, Flyleaf has become one of the most popular and admired metal bands with a Christian message of the mid-2000s and beyond.
Lacey Sturm, James Culpepper, Jared Hartmann, and Sameer Bhattacharya founded the band in 2002 and played over 100 shows across Texas in a span of two years. In 2004 they were signed to Octone Records and went on tour with Skillet, 3 Doors Down, Staind, and Breaking Benjamin to promote their eponymous EP. They released their eponymous debut studio album in 2005 which featured Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction.
Flyleaf became well known while touring across the country and performing at numerous festivals over the years with bands such as Three Days Grace, Stone Sour, Sick Puppies, and Seether.
The band released their second album Momento Mori in late 2009 and their third, New Horizons, in 2012. Vocalist Sturm left the band later that same year after the birth of her son and the death of one of the band’s lead audio engineers, Rich Caldwell. She was replaced with Kristen May. The band released their first album with May as their vocalist in 2014, Between the Stars. May ended up leaving the band two years later, saying on Facebook that she “never really felt as if she was part of the band.”
|Years Active||2002 to Present|
|Band Wikipedia||Learn More About Epica Here|
Epica’s attraction, according to AllMusic, “ultimately hinges on exploring the sonic contrasts of light and dark,” due to their skillful blend of death grunts and airy female melodies.
Formed in Reuver, Limburg, Netherlands in 2002 after Mark Jansen left the band After Forever, Epica was assembled with vocalist Simone Simons, a small choir and string orchestra and were immediately signed to Transmission Records. The band released their debut studio album the following year, The Phantom Agony.
After the release of their second studio album in 2004, Consign to Oblivion, Epica went on their first North American tour with power metal band Kamelot. In 2007 they headlined their first North American tour and released their third studio album, The Divine Conspiracy, followed by their first live album in 2008, The Classical Conspiracy.
They released their fourth studio album in 2009, Design Your Universe, which received generally positive reviews both critically and from fans, reaching number 8 in the Dutch music charts, which was their highest ranking yet. In 2012 they released their fifth studio album, Requiem for the Indifferent. AllMusic stated that it was “incorporating copious amounts of choral work and classical arrangements into the band’s neatly established blend of goth, progressive, power, and symphonic metal.”
The band continued to receive wide acclaim, going on to create their own music festival, Epic Music Fest, in 2015. They were joined at their inaugural festival by bands such as Fear Factory, Periphery, Moonspell, and DragonForce. They also released their own book in 2019, The Essence of Epica, which details the band’s beginnings with exclusive interviews and photos.
Most recently, Epica released their eighth studio album, Omega, after it was postponed. The band also performed on a livestream titled Omega Alive to promote the album in June 2021.
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11. In This Moment
|Years Active||2005 to Present|
|Band Wikipedia||Learn More About In This Moment Here|
Formed in Los Angeles, California, In This Moment emerged when vocalist Maria Brink and guitarist Chris Howorth met at an audition in 2005. The duo recruited drummer Jeff Fabb, guitarist Blake Bunzel, and bassist Josh Newell before recording a few demos and posting them to MySpace. Rob “Blasko” Nicholson, the bassist for Ozzy Osbourne, came across their online profile and became their manager. They went on to release their debut studio album later that year, Beautiful Tragedy.
The band went on to perform on numerous tours throughout the mid-2000s and early 2010s, including The Hottest Chicks in Metal Tour 2007, Ozzfest, and Rob Zombie and Ozzy Osbourne’s tour.
They released their second studio album, The Dream, in 2008 which became their debut on the US Billboard 200, reaching number 73. The release followed a tour with Mudvayne, Papa Roach, Five Finger Death Punch, and Filter. The band has since toured extensively across the world, performing at festivals such as the Soundwave Festival, The Hellpop Tour, and The Mayhem Festival.
In 2018 the band’s sixth studio album, Ritual, debuted at number 23 on the US Billboard Top 200. Most recently, in 2020, the band was nominated for their first Grammy award in the Best Metal Performance category for their son, The In-Between. In 2021 the band announced their next tour which is scheduled for September 2021 alongside Black Veil Brides.
|Vocalist||Suzuka Nakamoto, aka “Su-metal”|
|Years Active||2010 to Present|
|Band Wikipedia||Learn More About Babymetal Here|
Perhaps one of the most unique metal bands to emerge from the early 2010s, Babymetal has been credited for pioneering the genre known as kawaii (cute) metal, which merges elements of J-pop and traditional heavy metal.
Consisting of Su-Metal, Moametal, and Yuimetal, the trio was brought together in Tokyo, Japan by Kobametal, a long-time heavy metal enthusiast who longed to create an idol/heavy metal fusion group. Though none of the girls were familiar with metal, they quickly grew to enjoy the genre before the release of their 2014 eponymous debut studio album.
The album featured thirteen tracks and was additionally sold as a limited-edition DVD with live performances and music videos. It was well received by critics and reached number two in Billboard Japan, selling almost 40,000 copies during its release week. It also reached number 187 on the US Billboard Top 200 chart and number four on the Billboard Heatseekers chart. The trio went on to perform two concerts at Budokan in Tokyo, Japan, becoming the youngest-ever female group to perform at the arena.
The band has since garnered cult status, becoming one of the most popular Japanese acts of all time. In 2016, the band’s album Metal Resistance became the first Japanese album to chart in the US Billboard Top 40 in over 50 years. In 2019 they became the first Asian group to top the Billboard Rock Albums chart with their third studio album, Metal Galaxy. The Los Angeles Times has stated that Babymetal is “the most diverse thing in heavy music right now,” and Judas Priest’s Rob Halford said that the group is “the future of metal.”
That does it for this list. Let us know your favorite female and female fronted metal bands in the comments below.
My name is Chris and I’ve had a passion for music and guitars for as long as I can remember. I started this website with some of my friends who are musicians, music teachers, gear heads, and music enthusiasts so we could provide high-quality guitar and music-related content.
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