By Addison Herron-Wheeler | Photo by Bill Crisafi
In 2018, it’s hardly necessary to dedicate an entire column to the fact that women exist in the realm of heavy metal. Of course they are there, and it can be obnoxious and trite to give a round of applause or a pat on the back every time a woman joins a band. However, as someone who has dedicated a pretty major portion of my time to writing about women and metal, I would be remiss not to point out the amazing female energy infusing the doom scene right now.
It’s no secret that doom has been a witchy endeavor since Jinx Dawson of Coven invented the genre in 1969, but it’s even more noteworthy that today, a lot of the women carrying on that trend are queer, trans, people of color, and general badasses who don’t all fit a cookie cutter formula. Beyond that, there are so many unique layers and subgenres within the world of doom right now, many of which owe their inception to female minds.
So, without further academic, self-congratulatory rambling, I give you 10 women to watch in doom this year. These are, by no means, the only women making waves, nor are their bands only notable because they include women, but they are certainly queens who should be on your radar if you enjoy the slow and the heavy.
Dorthia Cottrell of Windhand
Latching onto a sound both sonically heavy and liltingly sad, Virginia-based Windhand perfectly blend the sensibilities of classic Appalachian sadness and the heaviest and crispiest of doom. Dorthia Cottrell’s extremely husky and powerful voice is what sets the band apart—and what landed them a coveted deal on Relapse Records. Their latest offering is a Relapse split with doom darlings Satan’s Satyrs, who are from the same impressive Richmond doom scene that gave us Windhand. Cottrell also has some killer solo acoustic stuff, so don’t sleep.
Doomstress Alexis of Doomstress
If you want to be transported through time and space by some epic doom rock, then Doomstress Alexis is your girl. She heads up this Texas-based outfit, who just dropped their second record, Supernatural Kvlt Sounds – The Second Rite, via NoSlip Records. Alexis handles bass and vocal duties, and as an out trans woman, she is also an active queer advocate, recently helming a photo essay highlighting the absurdity of banning trans folks from using the bathrooms that match their genders. Keep an eye on her and Doomstress this year for tour appearances and, hopefully, more music.
Laura Donnelly of King Witch
Brand new on the scene, King Witch are from Scotland—not exactly the number one spot that comes to mind when one thinks of doom. Laura Donnelly is killing it as the vocalist of this band; she sounds like King Diamond or Rob Halford, and their riffs are just as ripping. Not only does she have a crazy powerful voice, she also did all the visual art for their self-released debut EP, Shoulders of Giants, which just dropped.
Kristina Esfandiari of King Woman
If there’s one band who embody what we really need in 2018, it’s King Woman. The name says it all: Kristina Esfandiari is king, and her heavy, breathy voice combined with the earthy, droning, shoegaze-inspired styling of their latest Relapse Records offering, Image of Suffering, is all a doom fan needs. She also has a solo project, Miserable, which deals with more personal issues like depression and is equally haunting and beautiful.
Rebecca Vernon of SubRosa
Every member of the female-led powerhouse, SubRosa, is amazing, but special kudos go to Rebecca Vernon, the guitarist, vocalist, and mastermind behind the band. While many—including myself when I first heard about them—may think that a doom band who incorporate choral vocals and violin would be cheesy, SubRosa are anything but. Their most recent record, For This We Fought the Battle of Ages—released via Daymare Recordings—is epic both lyrically and musically. Since that album dropped in 2016, fans are hoping for a new release this year.
A woman who probably needs no introduction, Chelsea Wolfe is taking the entire world by storm, not just the underground metal scene. Her blend of synth, vocalizations, and doom aesthetics have won over fans of multiple genres, and her music has appeared in well-known TV shows like “Wentworth” and “The Walking Dead.” In addition to singing and conceptualizing deep lyrics about topics like sleep paralysis, she produces and composes the music and hires a live band to make her vision come to life. Hiss Spun, her 2017 Sargent House release, was probably her heaviest record yet and still had incredible lyrical and musical depth.
Wata of Boris
Although Boris are by no means new to the doom scene, Wata—on guitar, keyboard, and occasional vocals—is still a badass who deserves our attention. The group are incredibly diverse and experimental in their sound, up there with the likes of Melvins in terms of their ability to craft varied yet strong works of art. Whatever they do in 2018 to follow up their 2017 Daymare Recordings release, Dear, it’s gonna be huge—and, judging by their body of work already, they probably stay busy.
Lori S. of Acid King
Although Acid King are another band who aren’t new to our radar, Lori S. should be revered by all, as she’s a major influence for a lot of the psych and stoner-tinged bands coming out today. Still active in the doom scene, they’ve been touring in support of their 2015 Svart Records release, Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere. Lori heads up the band on vocals and guitar and is responsible for most of the songwriting.
Jess of Jess And The Ancient Ones
Those who like their doom super psychedelic and experimental should certainly check out Jess And The Ancient Ones, if they haven’t already. Jess handles vocals for the weird and wonderful-ness that is this band, and each of their songs is heavy, trippy, and something of a sonic journey. They last released a record in December 2017, when they put out The Horse and Other Weird Tales through Svart Records.
Jillian Taylor of Ruby The Hatchet
Ruby The Hatchet, based in New Jersey, continue to make waves with their Tee Pee Records release from August 2017, Planetary Space Child. Jillian Taylor sings in this epic space rock group, and her vocals and lyrics are weird and wonderful, perfect for fans of space classics like Hawkwind. They are still hot off the release of their last album, and fans can’t wait to hear what 2018 has in store.