SBR Top 7 Female Vocalists of 2021

Last year we identified a duopoly emerging in heavy music and speculated that Tatiana Shmailyuk (Jinjer) and Brittney Slayes (Unleash the Archers) would be leading the charge of the iconic female vocalists smashing down the boundaries of metal. That’s before we reckoned with the emergence of Courtney LaPlante of Spiritbox and received an earful from our readership for excluding her from last year’s list.

We also reassessed our own mindset after a fascinating interview with Vexed’s Megan Targett. “Unfortunately, there is still this very toxic mentality with a lot of metal fans where there can be only one female vocalist and all others are inferior in comparison, which is bullshit!” said England’s newest rock star. Megan is right, and we hope this list is not seen as an unsentimental competition. It should be a celebration of the finest musicians of 2021. Should we even distinguish between male and female vocalists? We would say yes if it helps us acknowledge the supreme talents of a wider pool of artists.

2021 witnessed many new personalities leave their mark on metal. The voices of Britta Görtz (Hiraes) and Marion Bascoul (Aephanemer) are by far the strongest components in their band’s sound, but the music did not quite match up to the awesome quality of their vocal heroics. A multitude of talented women showed once again that heavy music knows no boundaries or limitations of range.

These are the top seven female vocalists that most impressed us in 2021…

7. Beccatron Swinney (Jackal’s Backbone)

English death metal/sludge punks, Jackal’s Backbone, released their long awaited debut album in December this year, and vocalist, Beccatron Swinney, did not disappoint. Few voices can make the floor vibrate and the bookshelves wobble like the Hertfordshire frontwoman when in full throttle. Imagine a young Chuck Schuldiner crossed with Arch Enemy’s Angela Gosssow in her prime. The surprising thing is how she first practiced her harsh vocal style on a ride at Alton Towers with her teenage sister. Now that’s unorthodox!

You can read the original SBR review of Red Mist Descending by Jackal’s Backbone here.

6. Vicky Psarakis (The Agonist)

Canadian metal favourites, The Agonist, returned with a new EP and yet another demonstration of the awesome vocal power of their lead singer. Vicky Psarakis banished the ghost of Alicia White-Gluz years ago and proved once again that her vicious bark and sultry tones put her in an elite bracket of singers that can cover all ends of the spectrum with stupefying ease.

Read the original SBR review of Days Before the World Wept by The Agonist here.

5. Diva Satanica (Nervosa/Bloodhunter)

Brazilian death thrash sensations, Nervosa, pulled off the coup of the year in recruiting Spanish vocalist, Diva Satanica, for their second coming. Many thought the band were over after the departure of Fernanda Lira and Luana Demetto, both of whom surfaced in the new death metal outfit, Crypta. Diva Satanica brings a harsher and more omniscient extreme metal voice to the group and ensures Nervosa 2.0 has at least another decade ahead of them. Her death metal band, Bloodhunter, should also benefit from her increased profile on the international stage,

You can read the original SBR review of Perpetual Chaos by Nervosa here.

4. Megan Targett (Vexed)

Vexed’s English vixen, Megan Targett, has a growl that can make you shudder and an enunciation as strong as Whitechapel’s Phil Bozeman. She can also retreat into an angelic voice when the mood suits her, as evidenced on ‘Aurora’ from the band’s magnificent debut album. One listen to her guttural rap technique and Phrygian harmonising is enough to convince us that we are in the presence of a stunning new talent on the metal scene. “There is unlimited space for women who want to be in bands, and we are not in competition with one another,” she told us in an exclusive interview earlier this year. Wise words, indeed, but we couldn’t resist a countdown of the best female vocalists of 2021.

You can read our exclusive interview with Megan Targett here.

3. Carline Van Roos (Aythis/Lethian Dreams)

The dark ethereal majesty of Carline Van Roos’ latest album under the Aythis moniker is also her most intimate. As we said of her new record, “To listen to Secrets from Below is to immerse yourself in a solitary world of snow-filled forests and picturesque waterfalls, where the promise of no human contact lightens the mood and hardens the soul.” This is the music of angels. Carline Van Roos is the coherent voice of your day-dreaming mind as it navigates its way through your consciousness like a plume of smoke.

You can read our exclusive interview with Carline Van Roos here.

2. Courtney LaPlante (Spiritbox)

2021 is the year of Spiritbox and their charismatic vocalist, Courtney LaPlante. Could their Eternal Blue debut do what Faith No More did in 1989 and what Nirvana achieved in 1991 by bringing heavy music into the mainstream on their own terms and with no hint of compromise? The Canadian-American can rival Periphery’s Spencer Sotelo for the power of her aggressive ‘belting’ technique, yet the melodious croon of her soprano voice puts her in the same bracket as Kate Bush in her quieter moments. Courtney is the newest superstar of the metal and alternative scenes, but some of you may remember her from mathcore weirdos, I Wrestled A Bear Once. Right now, the future belongs to her.

Read the original SBR review of Eternal Blue by Spiritbox here.

1. Tatiana Shmailyuk (Jinjer)

The most famous female vocalist in metal had one of the toughest challenges of her career to date – how to impose her charismatic voice on the complexity of her band’s latest record. Wallflowers is an extreme album, writhing in dissonant tones and technical rhythms that any singer would find hard to master. But not Tatiana. She embraced the band’s more progressive style with the savage aggression and breath-taking beauty it deserved. As comfortable in Portishead mode as in the grinding brutality of deathcore, the Ukrainian is the benchmark for heavy music in any gender or genre and can look forward to the 2020s with supreme confidence in knowing she’ll help to shape the decade ahead.

Read the original SBR review of Wallflowers by Jinjer here.