Friday, 26 December 2014

Hot Metal

I was recently thinking about my favourite new rock bands; it struck me that out of six favourites (which one is THE favourite depending on mood and context) three are fronted by women. Of other highly-appreciated new bands a lot are FFM (female-fronted metal). Being me, I inevitably find myself wondering why - am I letting a pretty face override musical quality?

At the moment my favourite-favourite new(-ish) band is Within Temptation - I was given their Let Us Burn DVD for Christmas and I've just been watching the Elements concert. The music is fantastic, but it has to be admitted that Sharon den Adel is seriously hot. At the time of the above photo (try clicking on it) she was 38 years old and had borne three children!

Delain's Charlotte Wessels is also seriously good-looking, although in a rather different style. On the other hand, Danii Monroe from The Dirty Youth is pretty but far too young and cute for me to consider her hot.

Admittedly female-fronted metal's  female fronts do tend to be heavily (although not exclusively) inclined to corsets.

Rock music has always been about sex as well as music, of course, but I do think there is far more to female-fronted bands than that. Plus I find myself making some sort of mental distinction between 'hot' and 'sexual', which is weird when I think about it logically. Sharon den Adel in her initial Elements costume (above - doubtless highly metaphorical) looks incredibly hot, highly attractive, even sexy, but somehow, to me, not sexual. I'm strange, I know.

I enjoy the heavy end of rock, overlapping with the melodic end of metal, and hunger after creativity, expression, and a style which combines musical quality with lyrical interest. The contrast between crunching guitars and a rich soprano voice can be a wonderful experience, especially if seasoned with a light smattering of male 'growls'.

A common feature of many songs from Delain, The Dirty Youth and Within Temptation is that they tell a story, and express ideas in interesting ways. Stories about werewolves, deadly sins, or drunken nights out, told through tunes with varied musical structures, by highly talented musicians. All three also play songs of emotional intensity and rhythmic 'heaviness'. Dendera, Future Of The Left and The Virgin Marys (my other three favourites) share similar characteristics, in their varied and distinctive ways.

Of course there is also a lot of formulaic FFM around - it has become a popular musical style on the continent, and there are always those who are more interested in following a fashion than in creating something distinctive - but it remains a genre which, over the past 15 years or so, has attracted more than its fair share of original, creative and enjoyable artists. In my opinion, of course.

I hope you are having a great Christmas, and wish all who read this a happy, hopeful and adventurous new year. God bless.

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