Inner Psyche Productions

musings and ramblings from the voices inside…

Women of Doom


For far too long, popular music, particularly of the hard rock and metal variety, was a nearly-exclusive “boys club.” For every Janis Joplin, Joan Jett and Ann and Nancy Wilson, countless far less talented artists achieved great success (or simply the opportunity) for no other reason than their masculinity. This is true even at the local level. I spent much of the 90’s mixing sound for both original and cover bands fronted by dudes who couldn’t – quoting my dad – carry a tune in a bushel basket. Adding insult to injury, some of these groups would have a female vocalist who was obviously far more talented than the doofus out front relegated to backing vocals. I’d often find myself thinking, “What’s wrong with you guys? Let her sing!” (I had this whole theory worked out in my head, completely unscientifically, about this phenomenon – mostly to do with insecure male egos, but that’s an essay for another time.)

Thankfully, with the turn of the century, the tide started to turn towards much greater female representation in hard rock. Doom metal, arguably metal in its purest form when you consider it was more or less invented by Black Sabbath, became an early adopter and seemingly natural home for many talented female rockers looking for a way to get in the game.  These four bands below by no means represent an exhaustive list of female-fronted doom bands, but provide a convenient gateway – especially if you are new to doom in general. As a genre, its depth and range has only benefitted, and each act brings a unique take on this oldest form of metal. Kurt Cobain once opined that the future of music was in good hands with female artists, and at least in the case of heavy metal, he couldn’t have been more right.

Witch Mountain

This is where it starts for me, with Oregon’s Witch Mountain. A band that existed for several years in the traditional all-dude format, they brought on vocalist Uta Plotkin for 2007’s South of Salem, and the results were jaw-dropping, something akin to Ann Wilson singing lead for Masters of Reality-era Sabbath. The majority of their material is S-L-O-W, and the songs are long (when I saw them open for Hawkwind in 2014, their 45 minute set consisted of three songs…), providing ample room for Plotkin to emote and embellish, alternating between blues-y runs and operatic wails, and even the occasional death-metal growl (which, oddly, bothers me far less than when guys do it). 

Sadly, Uta departed following her third album with the band, Mobile of Angels, and a cursory read through the lyrics reveal that this must’ve been her plan while the album was being written, the lyrics imbued with restlessness and wanderlust . But whoever said lightning never strikes twice hasn’t met Kayla Dixon. Brought on to record their 2018 self-titled release, Dixon’s grittier, soulful vocals and personal, angst-filled lyrics allowed her to add a unique spin to Witch Mountain’s stoic and powerful stomp. 

Essential Release: Cauldron Of The Wild

Key Tracks: Wing Of The Lord, Shelter, Veil of the Forgotten, Can’t Settle, Midnight


Doom really found its footing in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, both in the U.K. as part of the cleverly-named New Wave of British Heavy Metal (Witchfinder General, Saint Vitus, etc.) and Stateside with bands like Chicago’s own Trouble. Distilling monstrous riffs and sludge-like tempos into a genre all its own, doom provided an equally crushing alternative to speedier-than-thou thrash and death metal outfits. San Antonio’s Witchcryer leans heavily on this era, even going so far as to include a cover of Witchfinder General’s eponymous song on their debut album, Cry Witch, as well as reinterpreting Tony Iommi’s instrumental “Embryo” with original lyrical content.

Vocalist Suzy Bravo channels Pat Benatar’s soaring clarity, but with a dark and sinister twist, conjuring melodies that mesh beautifully with the equally memorable guitar riffs. Something that often gets overlooked, the best doom metal projects a dark beauty with an alluring quality that is only amplified when channeled through a commanding female vocal presence. 

2021 saw the band release When Their Gods Come For You, an album that pushed forward on everything that made Cry Witch such a standout debut, centered around a concept involving the awakening of ancient gods thought long forgotten. For reasons not yet fully disclosed, Witchcryer announced they will be entering the studio to record a new album, and then disbanding, cutting short a promising career.

Essential Release: When Their Gods Come For You

Key Tracks: The Preying Kind, For The Slaves, Quetzacoatl, I Rise

Royal Thunder

Sometimes all it takes is a useful analogy, so when I read Royal Thunder singer/bassist Mlny Parsonz described as a cross between Janis Joplin and Lemmy, I was all-in before hearing a note. Luckily, the band does not disappoint. Wedding sludge-y tempos to heavy riffs played on barely-distorted guitars with hints of psychedelia, the band conjures a trippy, stoner-vibe that provides the perfect foundation for Mlny’s gut-wrenching vocals. Who knew gargling with broken glass and Jack Daniels could sound so gorgeous? 

Lyrically, Royal Thunder shun the mythical demons, embracing the personal ones instead. There’s nary an occult reference to be found here, Mlny choosing to employ her cathartic wail in service of more earth-bound concerns, such as loneliness, depression, and relationships gone awry. Permeating it all, though, is an uplifting sense of melodicism that reflects the inner strength we all possess to rise above the slings and arrows, and be our true selves.

Essential Release: Wick

Key Tracks: The Sinking Chair, Anchor, We Slipped


Italy’s Messa take the prize for most innovative act here. Stretching the boundaries of traditional doom by seamlessly working in elements of jazz and world music in combination with an eerie melodicism, Messa do for doom what Opeth did for death metal. Speedier tracks like “Dark Horse” off 2022’s Close wouldn’t sound out of place on the latter’s Watershed. Guitarist Marco (the band does not list surnames in the liner notes…) taught himself to play the oud, lending a Middle Eastern touch to several tracks, as well as contributing mandolin, Moog bass, Rhodes piano, synthesizers, and additional percussion. Drummer Rocco kicks the whole operation into overdrive with pummeling blast beats during the bridge of “Rubedo,” most unexpected and fully welcome as a contrast to the sludge.

Sara’s vocals soar above the textures, her clear, powerful voice evoking an ethereal presence – as if to conjure ancient spirits to the material plane. Less overtly occult than Witchcryer, nor as earth-bound and angst-ridden as Royal Thunder, Messa carve a niche all their own and deserve a place among the top metal acts of the modern era – regardless of the singer’s gender.

Essential Release: Close

Key Tracks: Suspended, Dark Horse, Pilgrim, Serving Him

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