Back in the 1980s heavy metal was a male-dominated, testosterone-fueled genre. Hard-rocking ladies like Wendy O. Williams, Vixen, Betsy Bitch, Rock Goddess and Girlschool were around, but their presence was usually felt more on an indie level than at the top of the charts. The tide has thankfully turned with more women jumping into the mosh pit, topping the charts and reinvigorating hard rock and heavy metal. There are plenty of talented metal maidens out there, and Playboy whittled down the list to 14 that you should get to know.
In This Moment
Maria is the poster gal for motivation. She was a single mom at age 15, and at 29 In This Moment’s debut album hit stores, which meant she had double duty as a parent of a teen and touring the country in a cramped van to pay musical dues. Since then, her group has ascended to Top 10 Billboard status with its fifth Black Widow last year. Maria has directed or co-directed the band’s recent videos and is outspoken about misogyny aimed at fellow metal maidens. She has been profiled in the past by Playboy.
SHARON DEN ADEL
Dutch rockers Within Temptation started life as a doom metal band, went more melodic and symphonic and now exhibit strong 1980s influences in their work. Sharon can tackle it all, and her charisma and intense vocals have helped make Within Temptation a global success and a Top 20 band in America. She and guitarist/husband Robert J. Westerholt balance life in the band with raising three kids. She’s into music, movies and fashion, and she likes Ren and Stimpy.
A foxy front-woman with hedonistic lyrics who could have conquered the 1980s, singer/guitarist Lzzy, along with her drumming brother Arejay, has been driving the Grammy winning melodic hard rock quartet since 1997 when she was 13 and he was 10. This year’s Into The Wild Life hit No. 5 on the Billboard charts. Beyond music, she makes DIY products for health and body care and homemade jewelry, owns a key-tar and has a “grand appreciation for the female body.”
Described as “art house nu-metal” by AllMusic, Otep’s multi-faceted music is raw and confrontational and the singer herself is a powerhouse presence. A lesbian feminist who challenges the status quo and encourages individuality and fighting oppression, Otep was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award in 2010 for “Outstanding Music Artist” alongside Adam Lambert and Lady Gaga (who won). While she said the group’s 2013 album Hydra (which was reportedly connected to a developing graphic novel) was meant to be her group’s last, one more may be in the works. Never say die.
One of the two original singers in goth-metal pioneers Theatre of Tragedy, Liv has recorded and toured the world with Leaves’ Eyes, a symphonic metal ensemble that delivers sweeping, epic songs of Viking lore. The siren soprano is one hardworking lady, recording and touring with Leaves’ Eyes and her husband’s band Atrocity while also making poppy solo albums. In 2005 she sang on Cradle Of Filth’s Grammy-nominated song “Nymphetamine.” She’s a sports enthusiast (long-distance running, swimming, yoga), painter, fan of vegetarian and vegan cooking and a dedicated mother as well.
This hardworking, blonde-haired, leather-clad German metal legend has been consistently delivering the metal goods since her former band Warlock’s debut arrived in 1984 when she was only 20. Since 1988 her solo career has taken her around the world, and she has performed on stage with the likes of Motörhead, Saxon and Scorpions. Beyond music, she is a martial arts enthusiast: Thai boxing, Wing Tsun, and most recently, Eskrima. She may look sweet, but she’ll kick your ass.
Before she joined arguably the biggest symphonic metal band in the world, Floor sang with After Forever, ReVamp and Star One. Now with Nightwish, the classically trained soprano is performing before massive audiences across the globe. Offstage, she likes yoga, reading and indulging in shows like Game Of Thrones. And she’s got nerves of steel. For her first gig with Nightwish she had less than four days to learn a 90-minute set, and she pulled it off to a warm reception.
You’ve got to get give Lita props. After a lengthy hiatus, the 1980s pop metal icon returned in 2013 with the well-received, hard-rocking album Living Like A Runaway (a nod to her original group) and toured the world. She still looks and sounds great, and next year will see the release of a new album and her autobiography Living Like a Runaway, plus extensive touring to promote those as well as the 40th anniversary of the self-titled Runaways debut album.
Fronting one of the world’s leading symphonic metal bands, the flame-haired singer has won a devoted following thanks to her soaring vocals and striking image. Simone loves food and cooking, movies and sports, and her interests all coalesce on her blog SmoonStyle, where she also shares her favorite make-up looks, recipes and travel pictures. She admits to having a dirty mind and cracking the dirtiest jokes of the band and crew. Her son is named after Vincent Price.
After Italian dark rockers Lacuna Coil burst through to the mainstream in 2003, Cristina became one of metal’s leading ladies, touring the globe later making guest appearances on songs by Megadeth, Apocalyptica and Alter Bridge. Beyond her vocal prowess, her down to earth charm and desire to connect with fans has endeared her to followers. She also boasts a cool toy collection that has been supplemented by various fan offerings over the years.
For nearly a decade, American metallers Benedictum have unleashed their classic metal stylings with the buxom Veronica roaring at the helm. She recently unveiled her first solo album as The V called Now Or Never, and she appears in the new horror movie Bite School with Ron Jeremy, Butch Patrick and Jasmin St. Clair. She’s also got an entrepreneurial spirit, running three online companies.
Unlike the other women on this list, diverse solo artist Amanda Somerville is not really beholden to one group, having recorded with Avantasia, Kamelot, former Helloween frontman Michael Kiske, and others. Her next solo album Conformity Challenged arrives in 2016. The mother, animal lover and vocal coach is also starting a suicide awareness initiative for Michigan schools, having lost loved ones in her life. Amanda is also a self-proclaimed “giant nerd” who loves Star Trek and has attended numerous Comic Cons.
NINA C. ALICE
For over two decades Nina has fronted raunchy, piledriving Berlin rockers Skew Siskin in collaboration with original member/guitarist Jim Voxx. Unapologetically old-school and in-your-face, the band has the Lemmy seal of approval (see the video above from their most recent album Peace Breaker), having recorded with him and opened for Mötorhead on numerous occasions. Nina’s main interests outside of music are birds, movies and painting, and she is a hard rocker through and through.
As part of a Swedish/Danish group with two male singers, Elize provides a melodic element to balance the vocal testosterone around her. Amaranthe could be described as thrashy pop metal; they know how to give their heaviness some radio-friendly hooks. The group tours the U.S. this fall before returning to the studio in 2016 to create a fourth album. Elize’s interests range from entrepreneurship to ecology to design. She is also an advanced scuba diver and recently appeared in a Swedish Proactiv commercial that also included Adam Levine.