Five Great Women in Metal in No Particular Order

It’s Women’s History Month once more, and every year, I am peeved at a very blatant bias regarding the specific women who are honored throughout the month. Sure, I get it’s Women’s HISTORY Month, and they have to prioritize, you know, HISTORICAL figures. But when it comes to this current generation of female entertainment figures, they always choose people like Taylor Swift, Alex Morgan, Beyoncé, etc.; all popular, inherently appealing, and mainstream. No thanks. In order to even the playing field, I’m going to give a shout-out to several women who aren’t so saintly. I’m talking about women in the most “manly” musical genre: metal. I might not be as powerful as, you know, the media, but hopefully one young girl who gets made fun of for not playing with Barbie dolls will read this and feel better about herself.

But before we start, I need to say some things regarding the content of the post. I only came up with the idea a couple days ago, so—to be brutally, brutally honest—this post will feel a bit rushed. It’s not as big of a deal, since I would be hard-pressed to research most of my entries, as they are from a more niche industry. Also, I would be expected to post pictures of each person as I introduce them. Well, I won’t be doing that for two reasons. The first reason is that I don’t know the copyright restrictions when it comes to official promotional photos versus, say, a post that they publish on their own social media accounts. And the second reason is that I personally don’t feel comfortable Google Image searching a single, living, breathing person. I know that they would expect such a thing, but as a grown man, I don’t want to come off as a stalker. Anyways, how about I stop beating around the bush and actually contribute already?!

Oh, and RiseFromAshes, you might just get a preview of what I’m going to write about in the Music and Me Tag that I’m going to post about next Saturday! Yipee!


Brittney Slayes

I’m starting off with someone who’s quickly become one of my favorite singers of all time. Brittney Slayes is the lead vocalist from Unleash the Archers, a power metal band from Canada. She’s so darn good, I’ve wondered if they digitally alter her voice (I’ve never seen them live, so…). Her voice goes so deep, I know men who sound more tenor than that! And when she shouts… hoo boy, it feels like a volcanic eruption! If you’re curious, check out Unleash the Archers for yourself!


Maria Brink

Before I go over Maria Brink, the vocalist of In This Moment, I need to discuss one of my least favorite singers of all time: Corey Taylor from Slipknot. In case you didn’t read my old rundown of several early 2000s bands, I shall reiterate that I think Taylor is a frat-boy in a middle-aged man’s body. His combination of angsty crooning, whiny shouting, and his attempts at sounding emotionally disturbed made me laugh more than anything.

By comparison, Maria Brink is more-or-less female Corey Taylor in the way she sings. And yet, I love her? She does everything Taylor can do, only better. I’m not even being Feminist. I just really love her singing, despite the fact that I shouldn’t. If you wanna know just how demonic she sounds, check out In This Moment. Just be forewarned that she doesn’t show her true colors until their fourth album, Blood.


Elize Ryd

Amaranthe seems to be one of those bands that’s wildly popular closer to where they’re from, and more-or-less unknown everywhere else. You probably don’t even know what Amaranthe is, which is perfectly legit (and that also implies you’re from the U.S. where they pretty much don’t exist). They are a Swedish metal band that incorporates pop elements in a way that somehow still sounds metal, and I love them.

Anyway, let’s actually talk about the actual person sometime this century. Since you are so likely to not know about Amaranthe, I must explain that they have three dedicated vocalists, all with different styles. And, well, there’s a good reason that Elize Ryd is the sole original vocalist left in the lineup. That woman basically has a party that erupts from her throat whenever she performs. Ryd is just an all-around great singer.


Simone Simons

I was hesitant to include Simone Simons from Epica. It’s not an issue of whether or not I admire her, but apparently, the band’s new album has placed in the top ten in charts from all over the world, even America. So clearly, Epica is popular enough as it is!

Well, gotta talk about popular stuff sometime (and also, she’s still less popular than a lot of women today). What makes Simons stand out in metal is that she doesn’t sing in a style suitable for the genre whatsoever; she sings opera-style. Despite this clash, her beautiful voice somehow suits the very metal style of Epica to a tee. In fact, I can’t imagine the band without her. Hooray for not having to be completely masculine in order to still be an empowered woman!


Sharon Osbourne

There’s a number of articles about great women in metal, so I had to throw a curveball to try and stand out from the rest (hopefully this is an actual curveball). As such, my last entry is Sharon Osbourne, a woman who is not a member in any metal band whatsoever. What makes her qualify for this post?

In case her surname didn’t catch your eye, I should inform you that Sharon is the wife of the legendary metal pioneer himself, Ozzy Osbourne. Anyone who has a vague idea of what Ozzy’s life has been like would know that Sharon was the most important person in his life. In fact, she more-or-less saved his life and his career. Her father owned Ozzy’s label at the time. However, her dad was a bit of an ass. And to quickly sum up, she basically flipped off her own father and became Ozzy’s support. He would not be alive if it weren’t for her. That’s a fact.


Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this hastily cobbled together post. I had fun writing it, and I kind of want to write another one next year. The problem is that while there are certainly more than enough women in metal—a lot of which get even less attention than the ones I wrote about—I only have so much time to juggle so many bands. In the off chance I try to make this a yearly tradition, I’d probably have to reduce the amount of people to three. I currently have enough left for a couple more years (double that if more than two members of Lovebites made their surnames public). I’d love some feedback on this post and whether or not you’d like to see more!

The Marvelous Land of Oz: The First of Many Oz Sequels

I didn’t like The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, but I was curious about its future installments. However, when I opened up the second Oz book, The Marvelous Land of Oz, I was immediately presented with an author’s note, straight from L. Frank Baum himself. To paraphrase, it said that he was compelled to write a sequel at the behest of his fans. 

This further cements my original point with the first book. Similar to modern bad isekai, the writing was bare-bones, the characters were brain-dead and inconsistent, and the world lacked any semblance of rhyme or reason. And the cherry on top… he’s making it up as he goes along! Well, as someone who loves battle shounen, I can’t immediately rule out the possibility that Marvelous Land could be enjoyable. So without further ado, let’s begin!

In The Marvelous Land of Oz, a boy from the northern parts named Tip has a crap life. He’s stuck slaving away for Mombi, an annoying old coot that nobody likes. As a prank, Tip creates a vaguely humanoid figure with a jack-o’-lantern for a head (creatively named Jack Pumpkinhead by the way). Mombi uses this Powder of Life she (illegally) bought and brings Jack to life, after which Tip grabs him and they haul ass to the Emerald City.

Right off the bat, most of the issues from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz are present here. The story is, once again, incredibly haphazard, with every action feeling incredibly arbitrary. In fact, Tip and Jack don’t even know why they want to go to the Emerald City in the first place. 

I can at least appreciate the gumption that Baum had at the time. The creation of Jack, followed by the eventual creation of the saw-horse (a log with a horse-shaped head) is a pretty direct defiance of God. Frankenstein, which was a hip new novel at the time, did the same thing. But since this was a kids series, what Baum did was much more controversial. And while Frankenstein is supposed to be a social commentary on how humans shouldn’t play God, Baum doesn’t even remotely make any ethical quandary out of Jack and the saw-horse. Of course, now that every other fantasy world has an evil religious cult, the ballsiness of Baum’s efforts are kind of… non-existent by modern standards.

But you know what, there was something else about Marvelous Land that can be considered pretty groundbreaking. The main conflict of this novel ends up being the Army of Revolt, who usurp Scarecrow from his throne at Emerald City. The big humdinger about this is that the Army of Revolt are all women, tired of sexism. Unfortunately, like before, this is another case of an already-existing novel for older audiences conveying themes better. Feminism was already a thing thanks to Jane Eyre (thank you, Friends episode, for teaching me that without me having to read it). 

Also, Feminism is presented poorly in this novel. First off, the Army of Revolt is incredibly stereotypical. Their primary motivation for storming Emerald City is to use its tax money on clothes and jewelry. Plus, their weapons consist entirely of knitting needles, which can definitely hurt, but are still very “womanly”. Furthermore, the reader isn’t allowed any form of interpretation or moral ambiguity when it comes to the Army of Revolt; they’re antagonists, which means they’re evil.

One of my biggest issues with Marvelous Land in particular is one scene that, honestly, makes me question whether or not Baum ever received an education. Tip and Co. obtain a magic item, and the conditions to activate it require them to count to seventeen in increments of two. Since seventeen is an odd number, this seems impossible. One logical solution is to count by halves in increments of two, thus counting in increments of one whole number as a result, which sounds like the solution that actually gets proposed. However, they count to .5, then to one, then just count in increments of two from there. I reread their explanation for how that’s supposed to have worked at least five times and I legitimately did not get that logic. Does the magical item round to the nearest whole number when decimals are worked in? If you’re a calculus major or something, then please comment as to how that’s supposed to work.

Fortunately, this novel has a far better sense of humor than the previous novel… I think? The thing about media from decades’ past is that we modern people find things funny that weren’t at all intended to be funny. One line of dialogue I actually chuckled at was them encountering some asshole, and Jack casually commenting “What a nice guy!” It was funny because I had no idea if it was actually supposed to be sarcasm or not (since Jack was just born). Also, someone needs to make an Oz tier list fast. In the previous book, we learned that winged monkeys are SSS-tier, even more so than any of the Witches of the Cardinal Directions. In Marvelous Land, we learn that twelve mice are more powerful than professionally trained military personnel. Again, I have no idea if it was meant to be funny or if Baum was off his rocker (since the whole story was improvised). 

The characters are also much better… to a point. Jack would be an interesting “robot” character, but he’s pretty much sworn absolute loyalty to Tip; add breasts and he’d be no different from your typical objectified waifu. Since he considers Tip his father, it’s probably a consequence of that fact that dad was the end-all-be-all alpha-and-omega of the household at the time. Sadly, that’s about it for the cast. Tip and Mombi aren’t too interesting, and Jinjur—the leader of the Army of Revolt—is too contradictory for her ilk.

However, there is a potential silver lining. Of all the returning Oz characters, the most interesting ends up being Glinda the “Good.” Notice the quotation marks? Since she’s Miss Helps Everyone, Tip and Co. end up asking for assistance to deal with the Army of Revolt. Bizarrely enough, violence is her first solution every step of the way, despite how good she’s supposed to be. This could be setting up for a very complex character later on (since she’s the star of that ominous-looking final book and all). Unfortunately, I could be reading too deeply into this. After all, this was the time when extremism in Christianity was more prevalent, and it was understood that any heinous crime is justified as long as the victim is “evil.”

One of the biggest redeeming factors comes at the end. Of all the gutsy things Baum tried thus far, the big reveal in Marvelous Land is legitimately huge, putting the book about a century ahead of its time. In fact, I don’t even think Baum himself knew how significant it would be when he was writing it!

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Verdict: 6.85/10

The Marvelous Land of Oz isn’t great, but it’s better than The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (also, the illustrations are no longer superimposed over text). It at least gives me hope that the series will gradually get more and more trippy (and better) moving forward. Here’s hoping that I’m not wasting my time!

Shades of Magic: More Londons, More Fun. Four Londons!

I’ve never had an interest in adult Western fiction, and I still don’t, mainly because a lot of it looks the same. I don’t know why people bother taking out books that all have the same back of a car, front porch of a house, or topless man enveloping a busty woman on the cover. But if one set of grown-up books stands out, it would have to be V.E. Schwab’s fantasy trilogy: Shades of Magic. I’ve actually known about its existence for a while, but it took me until the production of the movie for me to actually read through it. Go figure.

In Shades of Magic, a young magician named Kell is an errand boy who delivers mail to different versions of London in parallel universes. One day, he ends up with a very powerful and illegal magic stone. His fate then becomes intertwined with the tomboyish thief, Lila Bard, who goes on adventures with him to stop whatever inevitable mass conspiracy theory is threatening to tear the multiple Londons apart.

The big appeal in Shades of Magic is the worldbuilding. The four Londons are color-coded, based on various properties: Magicless Grey London, Relatively Okay Red London, Dystopian White London, and the source of all the trouble, Black London. The drawback with these worlds is that none of them is particularly interesting by themselves. Grey is just our world, Red is the Harry Potter world, and White is the Game of Thrones world. Black is by far the coolest, but it’s explored the least. In fact, the potential of the multiple Londons schtick is undermined by the fact that more than half of the story is set in Red London. I hate assuming the author’s intentions, but the worldbuilding feels like they just combined two inherently appealing things—parallel universes and the United Kingdom—just because those things are inherently appealing.

Fortunately, the writing is very elegant and makes the books addicting to read. If you’re intimidated by their length, they’re broken up into pretty short chapters, with many shorter subchapters in each. The action scenes are, for the most part, pretty darn good too.

But even with great prose, the characters leave something to be desired. They don’t really have much personality beyond their established archetypes. Kell is just… a dude, and Lila is just… a dudette. Sure, Kell has some kind of battle of temptation with the MacGuffin in book one, but it’s not particularly interesting. Lila has that YA protagonist trope of being a special snowflake for no reason, AND IT’S ANNOYING. Many reviews on Goodreads have riffed on her enough, so I’d only be repeating them if I elaborated on Lila in detail. Just know that she’s a pretentious, obnoxious brat. Of all the characters, Kell’s rival, Holland, is by far the most fleshed out, but he’s not quite enough to offset everyone else. If it wasn’t for the great writing of the actual story, these people would’ve made reading Shades of Magic very tedious.

Also be wary that Shades of Magic follows the tradition of “the second book being awful” very faithfully. A Gathering of Shadows was an absolute slog to get through. The whole thing revolved around some tournament that wasn’t even plot relevant in the first place, and was chock full of rushed and unexciting fights. Only the last sixty pages or so are important, as they lead into the events of the final book.

While the final book, A Conjuring of Light, is definitely an improvement, it isn’t that much better. Despite the urgency of the situation established at the beginning of the novel, a lot of it is spent wasting time with inconsequential characters that I didn’t even remember. One thing that blows my mind is how some authors are able to write entire chapters that serve no purpose to the main story. Fortunately, Shades of Magic is nowhere near as bad as Keeper of the Lost Cities, whose seventh book spends FOUR HUNDRED PAGES IN THE INFIRMARY, but it’s noticeable.

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Final Verdict: 7/10

I really wanted to like this series. But as the old saying goes: Quality over quantity. What’s the point of having four Londons, when they each have such empty design and worldbuilding? I’d rather read Lockwood and Co., which is set in one, fleshed-out London. Shades of Magic is an example of the sheer idea behind it being what sells, rather than the execution of that idea. It’s not the worst fantasy out there, but it’s VERY overrated and outclassed. You know what, the movie might end up being a better alternative, since it’ll probably only adapt the first book; the only one that matters.

Konosuba Volume 10 and Sexiled Volume 2 Reviews

Konosuba 10

Last time on Konosuba, the crew was dispatched to dispatch another Demon Lord General, this one being a dark goddess named Wolbach. Turns out that she is A) a goddess that Megumin and Yunyun accidentally freed, B) Megumin’s idol, from whom she learned Explosion, C) that woman from volume 4, and D) half of their cat, Chomusuke. This means Wolbach is the original Explosion user! But Megumin fries her no problem, and later gets some one-on-one time with Kazuma. After it all blows over, Kazuma receives a letter from Iris…

…about how she’s getting betrothed to this guy from the Casino Kingdom of Elroad so that her kingdom can get funding to fight the Demon King. So naturally, this volume is all about Kazuma trying to put a stop to it. Fortunately, Iris invites him and his party to be her bodyguards, so he doesn’t have to sneak in. It also helps that the actual prince doesn’t want to get married either.

So, was Iris always such an amazing person? I liked her when she was first introduced, obviously, but I don’t remember her being so powerful. She hits like a truck in battle, to the point where you question why she has bodyguards in the first place. Eris was a great surprise in volume 8, but man, Iris might have her put to shame.

With Elroad being casino-themed, Kazuma has a distinct advantage due to his high Luck. He kicks more butt than he ever did before, and that includes the poor prince’s butt as well. The other girls don’t get as much screentime in favor of Iris, but they’re still fun.

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Verdict: 9/10

Even after ten volumes, Konosuba is a great, screwball comedy of an isekai. This volume has all the usual antics, despite how little the main girls’ involvement is. Let’s see how much longer it can hold this level of quality.


Sexiled 2

Last time on Sexiled, Tanya Artemiciov is kicked out of her group for being a woman. When she vents anger on some local sediment, she frees the powerful sorceress, Laplace. Laplace turns her into an OP Magi-Knight class and they agree to go get revenge against the guys… except that they’re party is too strong to enter the tournament. So, they recruit Level 3 Nadine Amaryllis and enter. Naturally, they kick butt; even Nadine, who is apparently some assassin chick (who also got crapped on for being a woman). But hey, they win the tournament, and that’s what matters. 

In classic power fantasy fashion, the main cast goes from unknown to superstars overnight. The group’s efforts in the tournament become an inspiration to women everywhere, and people start asking them for autographs and such. Life can’t get any easier for them.

But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for a new party member! Joining up in this volume is Katherine Foxxi, one of the exploited girls that they beat in the tournament. She’s got great offensive spells, and being a victim of sexism was holding her back all this time.

Laplace ends up being the big star this time. In this volume, we get her backstory with Maxwell, and some major developments happen on her part. Unfortunately, this also means that everyone else pretty much gets shafted in terms of character development. But who am I to complain? Laplace IS Best Girl after all.

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Verdict: 8.65/10

This volume of Sexiled was a pleasure to read through. However, I wonder what else can be done moving forward. It seems a lot of stuff is brought to full closure in this volume, without any groundwork for a future arc. I wonder how long Sexiled will last before its ham-fisted feminism gets old.

Sexiled Volume 1 Review

Cover of volume 1

Looking back on human history, I’d say that women’s rights have made some good headway over the years. Now that it’s the 21st Century, their universe is no longer the diameter of the kitchen! But as we close in on the second decade of this century, feminism has once again become a very controversial topic, especially in art, where creators get crap either for including any amount of men at all, or for including only women. Why am I bringing this up? Well, let me tell you. Sexiled: My Sexist Party Leader Kicked Me Out, So I Teamed up with a Mystical Sorceress!, published in English by J-Novel Club, is aaaaaaaaaaaaaaall about the infallible greatness of women! Men SUCK.

So, here’s what happens. Tanya Artemiciov is a young mage who is removed from her squad, which is led by the misogynistic Ryan Daars. Enraged, she fires off more Explosions than Megumin could ever hope to imagine, and frees Laplace, an all-powerful Sorceress who had been sealed for three hundred years. The two agree to extract their revenge on Ryan, and presumably, every man on the planet.

The elephant in the room is obviously the ham-fisted feminism, and that’s emphasized in the extremely biased cast of characters. As you’d expect, the female leads are the main selling point of the series thus far. Tanya is insane, perhaps even more so than a certain loli in the military. She doesn’t just pack a ton of powerful magic, but a powerful vocabulary as well. She curses her goddamn motherf***ing sh**ty ass off (like in this demonstration), and it’s f***ing hilarious for some reason. The writing is so tryhard and I love it!

Laplace is the Best Girl. With her being so powerful, she’s got a massive ego. She can’t stop reminding everyone that she’s an all-powerful Sorceress, even though she’s not supposed to reveal herself as one to begin with. Nadine is the weakest link. She’s a super-low level and is solely recruited because Tanya and Laplace’s average levels were too high for them to be allowed to enter a tournament. Laplace and Tanya are definitely the “Emilia or Rem” of this series (wow, what a comparison to make).

The guys are the actual scum of the Earth, especially the aforementioned Ryan Daars. Most guys in Sexiled don’t have names, and they all have the exact same personalities as Ryan himself; they’re all one dimensionally sexist and don’t think women are ever capable of anything. In fact, the explanation for Sexiled‘s use of the JRPG trope of skimpy female armor is literally because men designed it to be that way. The biggest source of catharsis in this series is seeing Tanya and Laplace continuously one-up the different men of this world and remind them that women are phenomenal and far better than men.

Along with all of that glorious feminism, there is also some lesbianism as well, a.k.a. yuuuuuuuuuuri. Well, at least according to the genre tags. Despite this being a yuri series, this volume of Sexiled only has three smooch scenes and nothing else. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if these girls form their own lesbian brothel and completely boycott men from existence, or better yet, start enslaving men (since that would be so controversial, the reaction would be priceless). But the thing is… this could be a case where the author has the characters vomit feminist dialogue ad nauseum, but use it as a red herring to get women to enjoy a series that will live entirely off of male titillation. I heard that was the whole marketing technique behind Wonder Woman (key word: ‘heard!’ I don’t actually know if it’s true, so don’t quote me on that), so it wouldn’t be that much of a surprise if it was the case for Sexiled as well.

The art for Sexiled seems to have more manga-y style despite being a light novel. It’s good, but since this IS yuri, it’s not gonna hold any water until they start illustrating some of said yuri.

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Verdict: 8.75/10

Sexiled is shaping up to be a very controversial light novel series. Probably. Even though the actual writing and the setting aren’t too remarkable, the over-the-top feminism, Tanya’s putrid vocal chords, and Laplace’s narcissism make it hilarious just the same. I can’t tell if it’s by an actual feminist, or by someone who wanted to comment on society’s current state of affairs. Regardless, I whole-heartedly recommend Sexiled if you want to see some actual, legitimate girl power, and not YA’s pretend girl power.

PS: If they actually have Tanya and Laplace fall in love with guys later, I’m going to drop this series like a brick.