2015 was a spectacular year for women in aggressive music, and not in a babes-who-rock way. Along with defying the constraints applied to "women in metal" (symphonic metal bands fronted by a soprano wearing an illegal amount of eyeliner), these bands were spectacularly, dick-rip-off-ingly good. In honour of all the women who laid waste, here are some of the best releases of last year — including an assessment of the misandry they wreaked upon their feeble male counterparts.
This all-women death metal project is definitely the most delightfully misandrist. Their No Victim EP featured tracks that focussed on violence and horror that typically targets women, from the abjection of pregnancy to the grotesquery of honour killing; they also sing about chopping off dicks with a kill-your-local-rapist glee. This would be enough to earn the love of many, but their seething, wickedly acidic death metal is also fantastic.
There's something deliciously misanthropic about black metal solo projects, from the rejection of collaborators to the image of tortured genius. Myrkur (Amalie Bruun of Ex-Cops) seemed blissfully nonplussed by endless criticisms for operating in the way all-dude black metal projects always have ("She's just doing it for attention"). Her debut full-length M was one of the most hotly anticipated releases of the year, and sweetly shoved her triumph in the face of dudes and doubters.
Hole Below, the latest from these Bay Area death metal warlords, is like successful plastic surgery via a brick to the face: surprisingly well-executed, and you ultimately are better for it, but it doesn't make the impact hurt any less. The violence from Leila Abdul-Rauf and company is also extremely pointed: tracks like "Hole Below (A Dream of Ritual Abuse)" and "Empty Breast" conjure moral repugnance and darkly misandrist body horror.
Distrust, betrayal and profound survivalist joy characterizes the psychedelic metal of Royal Thunder. Bassist and vocalist Mlny Parsonz is an integral part: in a Metalsucks podcast, she recalled abusive religious experiences during a vulnerable time in her life. The rejection of patriarchal power structures, religious and otherwise, and a refusal to be misused and manipulated adds a sharp edge to the otherwise thick, smoky guitar tones and a discomfort to the fuzzy edges that makes their latest release, Crooked Doors, stand out.
Dorthia Cottrell is the sorceress behind this Richmond, VA occult and doom metal band's magic. Her voice is vast and deep, cavernous and sepulchral at some moments and urgently incantatory at others. Their third full-length, Grief's Infernal Flower, is atmospheric and deeply affecting, and as much as the huge, sludgy guitars and wicked snare drum shake you open, it's her voice that crawls inside. They get misandry points for witchery; I fervently believe Cottrell has the power to turn your sexist ass into a toad.