Metal women rock Alberta
by Sarah Kitteringham
The representation of the “other” gender in metal has come along way since the sausage fest heyday of the ‘70s.
A quick peek reveals scores of women both in bands and behind the scenes all over the world. Electric Wizard, Kylesa, Fuck the Facts, Made out of Babies, Swans, Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Girlschool, Dark Castle, Arch Enemy, Lacuna Coil, Nightwish, Otep, the Agonist, Kittie, Leaves Eyes and many more boast females in their ranks as drummers, guitarists, bassists, singers, keyboardists, and visual artists.
Hardly a boys club, the metal community in Alberta is equally aided by strong women who are playing, singing, photographing, writing about and promoting the scene. To honour the strength of these numbers, metal guru Terese Fleming, organizer of the annual Noctis Valkyries Metal Festival and owner of Scarab Productions, organized Tribute: Women in Alberta Metal — a show at the Distillery Public House on October 23.
“There is probably not a show that anyone has attended that has not been promoted, photographed or written about by a woman in the metal community here,” the longtime metal advocate said, noting that women dominate such roles in Alberta.
To recognize the community that has emerged, Fleming invited a plethora of bands featuring female vocalists and instrumentalists, alongside a who’s who of behind-the- scenes actors out to the upcoming show, which will be headlined by American sludge act Howl.
“I am really excited that this show is happening and I think it’s fantastic that Terese is recognizing that women are coming to the forefront in metal,” said Stefani MacKichan, drummer for Calgary twosome Mares of Thrace.
The duo, which is rounded out by (baritone) guitarist and vocalist Thérèse Lanz (also of grindcore act Exit Strategy), will perform at the show. Alongside new tracks, they bring with them tunes from their debut full length The Moulting, a ferocious slab of sludgy grooves juxtaposed with apocalyptic noise and waves of undulating feedback.
“If you go down the list of bands, they are all respected and accomplished quality bands,” agrees Lanz, citing Edmonton acts Kriticos (who play progressive metal) and Samandriel (death metal), the latter of which who will be releasing an album at the show. These two will be featured alongside The Order of Chaos (thrash), Gales of Avalon (blackened death), and Kobra & the Lotus (classic metal). “I also thought it was really cool that Terese is not just acknowledging singers — that was very important to me. I think acknowledging and expanding the roles of women in any community has to go beyond the roles of chick singers. I thought it was really cool that…” Lanz trails off as she retrieves a snack. MacKichan finishes “female sound-techs, photographers, promoters are all being recognized.”
Indeed, promoters and managers such as Jess Morrison and Shauna Murphy, writers such as Pamela Porosky (keyboardist for Gales of Avalon) and Allison Drinnan of BeatRoute and Absolute Underground, photographers Monika Deviat and Kat Armand, alongside artists Helen Young, Lejla Cenanovic and soundtechs Rena Kozak and Christina Milinusic, along with many more, are being acknowledged. Each woman is being given free admission to the show, along with a space to sell their wares and distribute business cards.
Both Fleming and the women in Mares of Thrace acknowledge that although the amount of female fans or bands is not yet equal to the amount of men, they will continue to encourage women to join the metal community.
“Sometimes girls or grown women come up to me and say, ‘I really want to be in a metal band, but I am nervous, or scared, I don’t want to make an ass of myself.’ I quote you on this,” says Lanz, motioning to her drummer. “I say, the drummer in my band likes to say ‘if men can do it, it must be easy.’ ” The room erupts in laughter.