female metal singers
Entertainment & Playlists

37 Best Female Metal Singers of All Time

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Written By Will Fenton
Entertainment & Playlists

37 Best Female Metal Singers of All Time

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When it comes to music, assumptions are a thing best left behind. Whether you’re a neophyte or an acolyte or the metal universe, you may still have blinders on and not realize it.

Metal is more than Iron Maiden and it’s more than a few guys bashing their heads into walls and posturing like idolatrous heretics.

Metal is also a terrain of courageous boundary-breaking and philosophical meaning-making.

Metal is a space for those who don’t resonate with the dominant culture, or find our status quo too bland, staid, and oppressive. 

In the spirit of this mission, female metal singers break a further boundary, rupturing the restrictive gender divides that keep so many genres in their vise grip.

Female metal singers and bands introduce a new fearlessness and dynamism to an already boisterous musical space.

Today we’ll sing the praises of the twenty best female metal singers.

1. Kim McAuliffe of Girlschool

Formed in the glory days of 1978, British glam act Girlschool is the longest-running female rock band of all time, with a 40+ year career.

They had an unrepentant punk-infused sound yet they were new wave and pop enough to garner significant radio play.

Their sound is a veritable time capsule back to the days when a nexus between new wave, street punk, and metal was alive and fertile. 

Long regarded as the ‘sisters of Motörhead’ due to their sartorial silhouettes and alcohol-fueled misadventures, Girlschool lives on as icons in our time.

2. Amy Lee of Evanescence

If you were alive, moody, and misunderstood in the noughties, then Evanescence needs no introduction.

Amy Lee’s expansive, haunting vocal range brought Evanescence to the fore of the gothic metal movement and lent their songs a mesmeric, hallucinatory cadence.

They weave in industrial elements and symphonic arrangements to create a potent and alluring sound.

Their debut studio album Fallen was wildly well-received, spending 104 weeks on the Billboard Top 200 chart and selling 17 million copies, as many sales as some bands claim over the course of their whole careers.

3. Floor Jansen of Nightwish

The publication Metal Hammer dubbed them Europe’s most successful metal band with the exception of Rammstein, which is an impressive honor for a group of brooding creatives from rural Finland.

Indeed, the moody, unforgiving, cryptic wilderness of Finland inspired their sound, which can best be described as elusive and eclectic.

Nightwish is the third-best-selling Finnish band on record, and they’ve earned over sixty awards during their multi-decade tenure. 

4. Andrea Ferro & Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil

When you hear the phrase Italian gothic metal band what do you think of? Campy Giallo B-films? Melodrama and theatrics? Getting warmer.

Milan-bred Lacuna Coil is the last word in Italian metal, and they have sold over two million albums during their two-and-a-half-decade careers.

Their sound is rich in metaphor and symbolism, featuring dense melodics and an unceasingly overwrought ethos.

Their sound is unflinchingly harmonic, with ghostly vocals and a sinister ethereal cast.

Andrea Ferro and Cristina Scabbia’s blended harmonies make for captivating, mind-altering listening.

5. Morgan Lander of Kittie

Coming out of the cold and oppressive winters of Ontario, Canada Kittie had an incorrigible energy and an unflinching verve.

Their 2000 debut Spit made positive and promising critical waves and earned them a tour with industrial metal heavyweights Slipknot.

Founder Mercedes Lander once said “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 their gender? It’s almost exactly the same kind of music, except we don’t have penises.”

6. Sharon den Adel of Within Temptation 

Sharon den Adel is one of Metal’s most revered female vocalists in the band’s native Netherlands and beyond.

Their sound is gloomy, gothic, droning, and heavy on atmospheric flourishes. 

Their music has a symphonic gravity to it, raising the stakes and producing a sound at once harrowing and elegant.  

Their 2004 album The Silent Force became a sensation in Europe and showcased a band at the height of their visionary prowess.

7. Maria Brink of In This Moment

Los Angeles-bred In This Moment was born in the glory days of MySpace, back when bands created individualistic profiles and got scouted the Y2K way.

In This Moment are glam, excessive, and brazenly metalcore.

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They blend nu sensibilities with screamo, post-hardcore, industrial, and even electronica, creating an unconfined, electric sound.  

Their 2012 album Blood was their mainstream crossover success story, debuting at 15 on the Billboard 200 list. 

Their 2017 album Ritual is riotous and packed with bone-crushing vitality.

8. Simone Simons of Epica

Dutch? Check. Symphonic? Check. Dark eerie magic? Also, check.

Epica adopted more purist death metal conventions as their careers progressed but they never abandoned the densely layered soundscapes that made their arrangements so inimitable.

Their themes were surreal, disconcerting, and delightfully sinister, with a tantalizing blend of somber, droning instrumentals and serene, ethereal female vocals. 

Begin your hero’s journey with 2009’s Design Your Universe.

9. Otep Shamaya of Otep

A nu-metal act with an unmistakable art house eclecticism, Los Angeles-based Otep was a strange band for strange, discerning audiences.

Start with their 2004 album House of Secrets and 2007’s The Ascension to get a taste of their anti-establishment, avant-garde majesty.

Their most recent album had a heavy political stake, of which lead Otep Shamaya said:

“[I]t’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.”

10. Janet Gardner of Vixen

Minnesota has been known for many things, but metal was never one of them.

Vixen changed all that when they came on the scene in the heady, glitter-spangled, audacious year of our lord 1980. 

They were foundational to the glam metal scene that was blossoming in the U.S.

in those manic, excessive days.

Their most famous lineup is their post-1987 incarnation, featuring vocalist Janet Gardner, bassist Share Pederson, and drummer Roxy Petrucci.

They toured and performed with glam heavyweights like KISS and Scorpions, and are best known for their anthemic “Edge of a Broken Heart.”

11. Floor Jansen of After Forever

The Northern Europeans dominate metal, don’t they?

After Forever is another Dutch band with a lush, symphonic soundscape and a propensity for animalistic, atavistic growls and unsettling vocal flourishes.

Their sound is distinctly gothic in content and atmosphere but it also has a power metal verve and restlessness.

Their luminous, luxuriant, compellingly bizarre 2000 debut Prison of Desire is required listening for female metal lovers.

And we can’t resist adding Floor Jansen to the list twice due to the sheer creative scope of her vocals and her influence over an entire subgenre.

12. Sara ‘Chibi’ Taylor of The Birthday Massacre

A pungent name that only the heaviest of metal fans could find intriguing, The Birthday Massacre hail from Canada and has a new wave-inspired sound all its own.

Often hailed as one of the leading darkwave acts, they incorporate strong, restless electronic currents into their metal base and they show no fear when it comes to using synth and taking cues from new wave goth royalty The Cure.

Their vocalist Chibi described their style as “Light and dark. Cute and evil”, giving newcomers a look into their charismatic, sardonic philosophy. 

13. Suzuka Nakamoto of BABYMETAL 

Japanese kawaii metal female power group BABYMETAL does not do half measures.

They are kitschy, campy, and tongue-in-cheek and they marry their zany aesthetics with dizzying speed metals and high-voltage arrangements. 

Their 2013 debut Ijime, Dame, Zettai, is a must-listen with its melodic speed metal sound and its inclusive lyrical themes.

BABYMETAL is one of the most popular Japanese bands, and they have a curious and quirky fan base like none other.  

14. Angela Gossow of Arch Enemy

A Swedish melodic death metal band that encompasses all the gloomiest, most erudite, unsettling qualities of the Scandinavian cultural ethos? Mais oui.

The band started out as an all-male act but brought on charismatic and performative lead Angela Gossow in 2000.

They have a loyal cult following among metal fans, and they maintained an amicable, down-to-earth aura despite their relentless and fearless arrangements. 

Start with 2003’s harmonic, intoxicating Anthems of Rebellion to get a sense of what Gossow can do.

15. Lacey Sturm of Flyleaf

A Texan-based metal act with a Christian message, Flyleaf demonstrates how metal is a come one, come all affair, and that it does its best work when it is inclusive and open to original new currents.

Newcomers ready to taste some down south metal should start their journey with 2009’s Momento Mori and 2012’s New Horizons. 

The band has rejected its strict classification as a Christian band, inviting listeners to keep an open mind and parse out the other themes and philosophies that inform their thoughtful output.

16. Emma Gelotte & Jonna Sailon of All Ends

Straight out of – where else – Sweden, All Ends is alternative and dark to the bone, with melancholic, disarmingly intimate lyrics and a dense, brooding instrumental style. 

Their somber, alluring 2010 album A Road to Depression is a great listen for a cold, rainy, lonely evening.

The band broke up and sporadically insinuated that they would be regrouping to create new music but as of now, it seems like they have moved on to other, non-musical, projects for good.

17. Heidi Shepherd & Carla Harvey of Butcher Babies

Ravenous, unrepentant, and delightfully brash, Butcher Babies play up the eclectic, audacious stereotypes of metal, and they delight in their Vaudevillian silhouettes and uncompromising originality.

They are one of the most enduring, commercially renowned groove metal acts and they embody the fearless nonconformity of their female icons like Wendy O. Williams and Joan Jett.

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Trashy horror film classics like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and House of 1,000 Corpses inform their sleazy, provocative sound and stage antics.

18. Elizabeth ‘Lzzy’ Hale of Halestorm

Formed in the monotony of small-town Pennsylvania, Halestorm quickly made waves in alternative circles and became a mainstay of the noughties metal scene.

In 2013 they became the first female-fronted band to win the Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Grammy for their raucous “Love Bites… (So Do I).” 

Their 2012 album The Strange Case Of… was a fearless and meticulously focused example of alt-metal at its moody, emotive best.

19. Prika Amaral of Nervosa

A Brazilian thrash metal band to shake things up for you, Nervosa is tough, gritty, and unbound from niceties and conventions.

They are pure death metal with occultist themes, fantasy symbolism, and brooding, somber lyrics.

Their 2013 debut Victim of Yourself was self-assured, boisterous, and viciously dynamic, proving that Scandinavia and Germany don’t have monopolies on hard-hitting, scathing metal sounds.

20. Asami of Lovebites

The newest addition to the list, Lovebites was founded in 2016 and has quickly become one of Japan’s most popular and commercially successful power metal acts.

Their most recent release, 2023’s Judgement Day hit number 5 on Japan’s Billboard charts and has strong references to Iron Maiden and the seventies new wave of British heavy metal.

They intentionally style themselves in all-white and sing in English, despite none of the members being fluent in the language.

If that doesn’t sell you on their outlandish self-assurance and charismatic appeal, I don’t know what will.

21. Doro Pesch

She began her music career in the early 1980s as the lead vocalist of the band Warlock. 

Warlock achieved commercial success with their albums Burning the Witches and Hellbound, which featured Pesch’s incredible vocals.

With her powerful and distinctive vocals, Pesch quickly established herself as one of the era’s most talented and dynamic female metal singers.

Pesch’s music combines elements of heavy metal, hard rock, and even pop, demonstrating her ability to experiment with different sounds and styles.

She released her debut solo album Force Majeure in 1989, followed by a string of critically acclaimed albums that showcased her versatility as a singer and songwriter. 

Doro Pesch’s impact on the world of heavy metal cannot be overstated.

22. Alissa White-Gluz

White-Gluz began her music career in the early 2000s as the lead vocalist of the Canadian metal band The Agonist.

In 2014, White-Gluz was recruited to join Arch Enemy, replacing the band’s longtime vocalist Angela Gossow. 

Her versatile vocals and powerful stage presence quickly gained attention within the metal community.

Her debut album with the band, War Eternal, was released in 2014 and featured some of her most memorable performances.

Her music touches on personal struggles and overcoming adversity, making her a source of inspiration for many fans.

She remains one of her generation’s most respected and beloved female metal singers, inspiring countless musicians and fans with her fearless and uncompromising approach to music.

23. Tarja Turunen

Tarja Turunen is a Finnish singer and songwriter best known as the former lead vocalist of the Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish.

She began her music career in the early 1990s, singing in various local bands before joining Nightwish in 1996.

Her high vocals and theatrical performances helped to elevate the band to international stardom, earning them a loyal fanbase.

Turunen has released several successful albums as a solo artist, including My Winter Storm and Colours in the Dark.

Her lyrics are often poetic and introspective, reflecting her own life experiences and struggles.

24. Candice Night

She was the lead vocalist of the folk-rock band Blackmore’s Night.

Night’s vocal style is characterized by its warm, soothing quality, which perfectly complements the band’s folk-inspired melodies. 

Night has released numerous successful albums, including Shadow of the Moon, Fires at Midnight, and All Our Yesterdays.

In addition to her work with Blackmore’s Night, Night has also released solo albums, including Reflections and Starlight Starbright.

25. Liv Kristine

Born on February 14, 1976, in Stavanger, Norway, Kristine began her music career in the mid-1990s with Theatre of Tragedy.

Her lyrics often explore love, loss, and spiritual themes, focusing on introspection and self-expression.

Kristine’s vocal style is characterized by its hauntingly beautiful quality, which perfectly complements her music’s dark, atmospheric sound.

Some of her most notable works include Theatre of Tragedy’s Velvet Darkness and Leaves’ Eyes.

26. Anneke van Giersbergen

Anneke van Giersbergen is a Dutch singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist best known as the former lead vocalist of the progressive metal band The Gathering.

Van Giersbergen’s vocal style is characterized by its versatility, ranging from delicate and ethereal to raw and powerful.

Her most notable works include The Gathering’s Mandylion, and her solo album Everything is Changing.

Her talent and dedication to her craft have earned her widespread recognition and respect in the metal scene.

27. Ailyn

Ailyn began her music career in the mid-2000s with her first band Charm Pänic before joining Sirenia in 2008.

Throughout her career, Ailyn has released several successful albums with Sirenia, including The 13th Floor and The Enigma of Life. 

Her lyrics often explore themes of love, loss, and fantasy, with a focus on storytelling and creating immersive, cinematic experiences for the listener.

Ailyn is also known for her work as an actress and model, appearing in various films, television shows, and magazines in her native Spain.

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28. Vibeke Stene

Stene was born in Norway on August 17, 1978, and began singing at a young age. 

She received formal training in classical music and joined Tristania in 1997 as the lead vocalist.

She left the band in 2007 to focus on her family life and pursue other interests.

During her tenure with Tristania, Stene recorded four albums, including Widow’s Weeds, Beyond the Veil, World of Glass, and Ashes.

Stene is still considered one of the most influential female vocalists in the gothic metal genre.

29. Veronica Freeman

Freeman began singing at a young age and was influenced by classic rock and heavy metal bands such as Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and Black Sabbath.

She formed Benedictum in 2005 with guitarist Pete Wells, and the band quickly gained a following in the heavy metal community. 

Freeman’s powerful and soulful vocals were a standout feature of the album and helped establish Benedictum as one of the most promising new bands in the heavy metal genre.

They released their debut album, Uncreation, in 2006, which was met with critical acclaim. 

She has been praised for her ability to combine raw power with emotional depth and has inspired many other women to pursue careers in heavy metal music.

30. Martina Edoff

Martina Edfu is a Swedish rock singer and songwriter who has been active in the music industry since the 1980s.

She began her career as a singer in the pop group Her By Her Van in the late 1980s.

She released her debut solo album, Martina Edoff, which mixes rock, pop, and dance in her music.

Her music has been compared to classic rock acts such as Heart and Pat Benatar. 

She is praised for her powerful and versatile vocals.

31. Sabina Classen

Sabina Classen is a German singer and songwriter, best known as the lead vocalist and founding member of the thrash metal band, Holy Moses.

Classen formed Holy Moses in 1980, and the band released its debut album Queen of Siam in 1986. 

Classen’s vocals are characterized by her powerful, aggressive style, which helped establish her as one of the leading female voices in the thrash metal genre. 

She has lent her vocals to various projects, including the German metal band KMFDM, and has also released solo material.

Classen remains an active musician and performer and continues to tour and record with Holy Moses.

32. Kobra Paige

Kobra was born on January 18, 1988, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. 

She formed Kobra and the Lotus in 2009, and the band released their debut album Out of the Pit in 2010.

Their music features heavy guitar riffs, powerful vocals, and a mixture of traditional heavy metal and contemporary hard rock influences. 

Paige’s vocals are the band’s standout feature, and her range and control have been widely praised by fans and critics. 

She has lent her vocals to various projects, including the Canadian metal band Blackguard.

33. Jill Janus

Jill Janus was an American singer and songwriter, best known as the lead vocalist of the heavy metal band Huntress.

Janus formed Huntress in 2009, and the band released its debut album Spell Eater in 2012.

Their music is characterized by Janus’s powerful vocals, which blended traditional heavy metal with elements of thrash and death metal.

She used her platform as a musician to raise awareness about mental health issues and to encourage fans to seek help if they were struggling.

Janus’s death was a shock to the metal community, and many fans and fellow musicians paid tribute to her legacy as a performer and an advocate for mental health. 

Her band Huntress continues to be remembered as one of the standout acts in the modern heavy metal scene, and her powerful vocals and outspoken advocacy continue to inspire people.

34. Charlotte Wessels

Wessels was born on May 4, 1987, in Zwolle, Netherlands.

She joined Delain in 2005 and the band released its debut album Lucidity in 2006. 

They released several more albums including April Rain, We Are The Others, and Human Contradiction.

Wessels is also a Visual Artist, having designed her album covers and merchandise for Delain and other bands.

Wessels said she left Delain in 2020 to focus on her solo career, and since then she has released several of her lone singles, including “Lizzie” and “Victor.”

35. Lita Ford

Lita Ford is an American musician, and singer, best known as the lead guitarist and vocalist of the all-female hard rock band The Runaways.

Ford joined The Runaways in 1975 and the band released several albums including The Runaways, Queens of Noise, and Live in Japan.

Her music is characterized by energetic guitar playing and powerful vocals combining hard rock, heavy metal, and pop elements.

Over the years, Ford has worked with many musicians, including Ozzy Osbourne, Nikki Sixx of Mötley Crue, and Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath.

36. Wendy O. Williams

Williams joined the Plasmatics in 1978, and the band quickly gained a reputation for their outrageous live performances, which often included smashing televisions, cars, and other objects on stage.

Their music is characterized by Williams’s powerful vocals and aggressive, high-energy punk sound.

They released several albums, including New Hope for the Wretched and Beyond the Valley of 1984.

She is also an outspoken animal rights advocate and has been involved with several animal welfare organizations.

Williams’ death sent shockwaves throughout the rock community. 

She will be remembered as a seminal musician and performer who broke barriers for women in rock music.

37. Karyn Crisis

Karyn Crisis is an American singer, visual artist, and writer, best known for her work with the metal band Crisis and her solo project Karyn Crisis’ Gospel of the Witches.

She was known for her powerful and dynamic vocals ranging from melodic singing to intense screaming.

Crisis is also a visual artist and writer and has exhibited her artwork in galleries and museums.

Best Female Metal Singers – Final Thoughts

Metal is not only disruptive, provocative, and offensive.

It is also inclusive and expansive, allowing rarefied, unadulterated talents to carve out a niche for themselves and share their strange, entrancing creativity with the world.

The twenty best female metal singers are just the beginning.

If you truly want to get into metal, start now – you have a lot of catching up to do.  

You may also like: Best Heavy Metal Songs

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Will Fenton

Introduced to good music at a young age through my father. The first record I remember being played was "Buffalo Soldier" by Bob Marley, I must've been six years old. By the time I was seven, I was taking drum lessons once a week. The challenge but the euphoric feeling of learning a new song was addicting, and I suppose as they say the rest was history. Favorite album of all time? Tattoo You by The Rolling Stones Best gig you've ever been to? Neil Young at Desert Trip in 2016 Media mentions: Evening Standard Daily Mail

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