Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Kaiser's Metal Moment - Beauty and the Beast

Thanks to Steel Legionnaire Akari Hoshi for the idea.

In the metal scene, "Beauty and the Beast" refers to the musical aesthetic of a female vocalist singing in an angelic voice over metal backdrop and has become extremely popular in recent years.  The sound had its start in the late 90s with the goth metal scene.  Wanting to take some of the elements of death metal while taking out some of the brutality of the music, goth metal bands started experimenting with operatic singing and orchestral music to develop a new sound that kept in line with gothic themes.

Eventually, many of the groups who started out in goth metal expanded their musical horizons.  The most natural evolution was into symphonic metal, as the two mutually arose from the same sources, and, to a lesser extent, progressive metal.  Today, with the height in popularity, "Beauty and the Beast" groups run the gamut of musical styles - even going so far as to have commercial based rock bands, such as Evanescence.

Which can be a problem.  The thing is, most people caught wind of this sound when Evanescence came onto the scene.  The issue is that there are other bands who have been around longer that have been labeled copycats.  Evanescence Amy Lee is talented, as she's the only reason why the band has done well, but she is not even the tip of the iceberg.

So today, I'm going to take a look at some of the bands behind the "Beauty and the Beast" sound, as well as show you some of the lovely ladies that lend their voices (it doesn't seem to be any coincidence that a lot of these women are attractive).  I'm also adding a playlist of songs at the bottom of the post to kind of give an idea of how each of the bands utilize female vocals to create their own sound.

First off, let's start with Nightwish.  Considered to be one of the premier "Beauty and the Beast" groups, they created moody, atmospheric songs that still retain a biting edge.  Actually, their bassist, Marco Hietala, is my favorite "Beast" vocalist out of these groups.

Nightwish began with Tarja Turunen, who brought a rich, operatic voice and classic beauty to the metal scene since 1997.  She was dismissed from the band in 2005 due to her husband and commercial interests creating a schizm between her and the band.  The song I picked for her tenure in Nightwish is the fantastic "Wishmaster."

After Tarja's dismissal, the band hired Swedish singer Anette Olzon, who was originally in a radio friendly classic rock group, Alyson Avenue, before joining Nightwish.  She has a more playful beauty, like some dark, mischievous pixie, which is also evident in her voice.  Her voice is not operatic, like Tarja's, but is much more versatile, which is why I prefer her (though I do like Tarja).  The best way to describe her singing would be to say it's like a "Dark Lullaby."  Most alluring is her swedish accent.  I love swedish female vocalists.  Though she is only featured on one album, Dark Passion Play, I found it hard to pick a song that really captured everything about Nightwish's new direction with Anette.  There are so many good songs I could have picked, but I chose "Sahara" because I felt it encompassed the range of sound for both the band and Anette.

Next up is Epica, who have a similar sound to Nightwish.  Even though they have explored the avenues of symphonic, progressive, and power metal, I feel their sound has been kept truer to their goth roots.

The singer for Epica, Simone Simons, is a lovely, fiery haired siren.  She joined the band in a typical fashion: her boyfriend at the time was the guitarist (nowadays, she's dating the keyboardist of power metal band Kamelot).  While Simone has that mezzo-soprano voice you hear so often in these bands, she does use it effectively to create a signature sound for Epica, which is evident in "Another Me 'In Lack'ech'."

Since we're on the subject of Epica, Mark Jansen, their guitarist, created the band after leaving another group, After Forever.  These guys are one of the most divergent of all the bands as their sound is firmly grounded in symphonic, progressive, and power metal.  They are also very fond of doing cover songs, most notably Iron Maiden's "The Evil that Men Do," but I've seen them also do Heart's "Alone" and a rousing version of Europe's "The Final Countdown."  Sadly, the group disbanded at the beginning of 2009.  It was an amiable break-up, since they all just decided that they didn't want the group to get stale.  Nowadays, they're all working on their own projects and I wish them all the best of luck.

The woman behind the driving lyrics is the sultry Floor Jansen.  I like her voice a lot.  She can passionately belt out lyrics like a rock singer or soar with an ethereal soprano.  I loved her stage presence in the videos I've seen and the way she moves is hot.  I've never seen headbanging look so sexy.  I chose their song "Discord" as it nicely showcased their symphonic and power metal chops as well as Floor's vocal range.

An adventuring party enters the village.  They seem to be weary from their flight from Dragon Plume Mountain.  This is Battlelore.  To be honest, I discovered these guys while I was doing research for this post.  They combine elements of goth metal with power metal, folk metal, and melodic death metal.  They are sometimes labeled as "Fantasy Metal," as most of their songs are inspired by The Lord of the Rings.  Not only that but, well...

They dress like they just got back from their SCA meeting (that's the Society for Creative Anachronism).  Despite the fantasy kitsch, I actually like these guys.  They're unique in a few ways.

As you can see, there are two women in the group.  Kaisa Jouhki, the one to the left, is one of the singers, while Maria Honkanen, on the right, plays keyboards and the flute.  Also, the vocals are more equally shared between Kaisa and the guttural "Beast" voice of Tomi Mykkänen.  "Sword's Song" showcases their penchant for melodic death metal and the vocal tag team of Kaisa and Tomi.

Sirenia, which takes it's name from (duh) the Sirens of greek myth, but also shares that name with the order of animals that the manatee belongs to, are another one of those bands that keep to their gothic and symphonic metal roots.  They do, however, infuse their goth stylings with healthy doses of death metal.  There have been four women in Sirenia that took up the microphone.  Now that I think about it, Sirenia has only put out four albums, which means each one had a new singer, which means the present singer better find another band soon.  On their first album, At Sixes and Sevens, Fabienne Gondamin lent her voice.  Though it looked like she was nothing more than a session singer.  I couldn't even find a single picture of her.  Oh well.

Singing on An Elixir for Existence was Henriette Bordvik.  She had a very wispy, innocent voice that went well with the goth aesthetic.

On Nine Destinies and a Downfall, Monika Pedersen presented her voice and her set of... lungs to the group.  She did the creepy little girl voice well, but also had a rich, womanly voice.  It also didn't hurt that the photos and music videos she was in showcased her breasts... I'm sorry, did I say her breasts?  I meant to say her tits - her big tits.


Finally, on their new album, The 13th Floor, they recruited Spainiard Ailyn as their new singer.  Again, the vocals are light, airy, and innocent.  They keep the sound, just change who's making it.  Enjoy your fame while you can, Ailyn.  You'll be gone before the next album.  Since I didn't want to bother with all four singers, I picked "The Mind Maelstrom" from the latest album, due to it's death metal flavor.

Earlier, I mentioned Evanescence.  Despite having a talented predominant female singer, the music is, by no means, metal.  If Amy Lee were to ever join a metal group, then that would be fine, but Evanescence is strictly rock music.  This next group would also say that they have broken free from both the "metal" and "goth" brands, as well.  Pretty much forming around the same time as Evanescence, Within Temptation started out as a more goth metal group, but have moved away from that and became what they call "symphonic rock," which sounds about right.

Their singer, the lovely Sharon den Adel, has gone from somber arias to soulful rock ballads and her voice has more than adapted through the changes.  I've included two songs from this band.  "Deceiver of Fools" gives a taste of their old goth days, while "Frozen" shows the direction they have taken.  While it does sound similar to Evanescence, I feel that the band, as a whole, make the song, unlike Evanescence, who are riding on Amy's coattails.

Finally, I bring you Lacuna Coil.  This group has already made a name for themselves using the contrasting vocals of Andrea Ferro and the gorgeous Cristina Scabbia.  Early in their career, they dabbled in goth metal sensibilities.  Nowadays, they are gravitating toward a more alternative hard rock sound, but still keep the dark themes at its core.

As for the fairer half of the vocalist team, Cristina is smoldering.  Her vocals are sultry, yet fierce.  And, holy crap, is she ever hot.  I chose "Devoted" because, while it has a more modern sound than most metal offerings, it does have that gloomy atmosphere that Lacuna Coil have proven to consistently evoke.

After looking at these bands, you may notice I'm not giving much notice to other members in these bands.  I'm focusing mostly on the ladies, whose pretty faces grace magazine covers, articles, and promotional posters.  This is exactly my point, as this is how a lot of the music industry, especially in the States, see things.  During my research, I have checked out quite a few bands that follow this exact formula.  Not all of them are good.  I watched some videos where a beautiful or sexy young woman was dancing in front of the band, holding a microphone.  But when they opened their mouths, nothing but crap came out.  There have been quite a few copycats out there and the "Beauty and the Beast" method has become a bit crowded.  I do enjoy most of the bands that I featured in this post, but one of these bands on here I don't really care for (I'm not going to tell you which one).

What I'm trying to say is that it takes more than a beautiful woman, even if she is a great singer, to make a band.  A lot of these bands are great beyond that pretty face and lovely voice.  I didn't get into this type of music just because of the ladies.  Despite the "Beauty," you still need the "Beast."

Anyway, I want you guys to check out the playlist below and enrich your appreciation for this kind of music.


Because I am fucking awesome, so, vicariously, everything I enjoy is also fucking awesome.

I thought you guys would have figured that out by now.

Kaiser out


  1. dude youve got all the bands ive been looking for in music besides evanescance and i love each and evry one of them! thanks:D

  2. Uh, you're welcome. Glad I could help. I just wish everyone else who went to this post did it for the music. No, this is the most popular post on my blog because people like to jerk off to all the women here. Granted, the ladies are hot, but I'm getting kind of sick of all the fapmasters coming here via Google image search.