Worn out or retro already?
If I think back about ten years ago, there were Within Temptation & Nightwish entering the charts with songs like ‘Ice queen’, ‘Nemo’ & ‘Wish I had an angel’. Both, Tarja & Sharon, had this – in pop music – almost unique opera style and people loved it. Of course, both bands were famous in metal scene for many years and since they started & got more and more known for this opera stuff, bands came who tried to compose music similar to their’s.
Then, something happened: Tarja was kicked out of Nightwish & not that much time after that, Within Temptation changed their style & Sharon didn’t sing in that soaring highs anymore, using the deeper parts of her vocal range. Also other singers who were known for their operatic vocal style tried something else and female fronted bands with – let’s call it normal – singers started they way to the top of the genre: Delain, Lacuna Coil, Autumn, Draconian; just to name a few. And bands who start their career nowadays don’t necesserily follow the footsteps of the sirens who planted the way for women to dive into metal music. Look at Huntress, Lucifer, Battle Beast, Unleash The Archers.
So I think, it is time to ask this question: Is opera metal dead?
Well, if we look at the examples given, there of course is much more room for women in metal to sing like they want to, not having to fit in the role model of the girl’s part with a light voice, wearing huge dresses like the gothic metal cliche. Women are not reduced to their sex anymore by expecting this special style of singing. And it’s getting more & more normal that women even growl – of course, Sabina Classen from Holy Moses did it years ago already, but when Angela Gossow started in Arch Enemy, many were surprised.
Luckily, we now have singers like Alissa White-Gluz who just replaced Angela Gossow, or her successor in The Agonist, Vicky Psarakis or Cripper’s Britta Görtz. They show the crowd out there that girls, too, are able to use this guttural style of singing & to create very strong & aggressive music. I come back to the example of Floor Jansen again: she learned how to growl some time ago for her own project ReVamp; Marcela Bovio from Stream of Passion is learning the same technique.
A lot more diversity.
If we look at this development and the fact that women like Delain’s Charlotte Wessels don’t try to follow the footsteps of the opera singers, we’d have to say opera metal was an era that came to an end now. But that’s only one side of the coin! There have been bands like Epica, Diabulus in Musica & Xandria who never changed their opera attitude. When Nightwish & Within Temptation were successful in so-called mainstream music, there was Evanesence who’s Amy Lee didn’t sing opera at all.
We can also see (or listen to) newcomer bands & new found projects like Elvellon, Dark Sarah, End of the Dream who love & create metal with an operatic touch. Many other bands sometimes put high vocal tunes in their songs without reducing their vocalist to this style of singing.
So let’s say the range and the possibilities for women in metal have widened a lot – everything is possible. And that’s why opera metal might be reduced nowadays, but it’s still there for those of us who want it & search for it. Female fronted metal is not just opera anymore. It’s so much more! And that’s wonderful.