As a result of the “Girl Metal Band Boom” in 2008, Japanese Metal has propelled all-female metal groups to the forefront of the country’s rock scene.
Many will remember the group BABYMETAL, who acquired stateside recognition after an insane performance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, but they’re far from the only rocking ladies making waves in Japan’s metal community.
The below all-female metal groups have all impacted metal in a profound way, all while breaking down barriers, shredding gnarly riffs, and dominating the charts in the process. Here are eight bands you need to know about.
In 2013, BABYMETAL made history as the youngest band to perform at Japan’s “Loud Park” Music Festival, alongside a lineup that included Slayer and Metallica. But prior to that, the trio of Suzuka, Yui, and Moa were already gaining substantial ground in Japan’s metal scene. Formed under the producer Key Kobayashi, the girls initially had no inclination for metal music, adopting the genre more as a face for the project rather than as a deep-rooted passion.
With that said, the girls quickly fell in love with the genre as they began to play around with it. Their explorations led to the creation of “Kawaii Metal,” a J-pop-leaning metal subgenre that laced clean, soaring vocals over pummeling metal grooves.
The lyrics themselves often feature cute and innocent themes (BABYMETAL’s most popular track is called “Gimme Chocolate!!”) that help “Kawaii Metal” appeal to global cultures. With that said, BABYMETAL has been noted as being the subgenre’s pioneers and is by far “Kawaii Metal’s” most popular and recognizable group.
One of the inaugural faces of Japan’s “Girl Metal Band Boom,” power metal quintet Aldious has been chugging along as the colorful face of Japanese Metal since 2008. After founding their own label Bright Star Records, the group cycled through a few lineup changes as their popularity grew, even alternating lead singers over the years until R!N’s official confirmation in 2019.
Best known for their glamorous outfits and tough metal riffs, Aldious’s onstage chemistry and splashings of punk-pop and ’80s metal have kept their records fresh and unpredictable, and their loyal fan base has been unwavering even through drastic lineup changes.
The first band of the “Girl Metal Band Boom” to sign to a major label, Cyntia has slinked pop melodies throughout their hard riffs to an exciting extent. On tracks like “Return to Myself” the group earnestly layers bubbly pop melodies atop a restless hard rock backdrop, often challenging the idea that metal has to sound or look a certain way. While the group has since halted due to guitarist Yui’s health issues, Cyntia remains one of Japanese metal’s most distinctive and recognizable bands.
Full of grandiose guitar solos and uplifting power chords, Tokyo’s Band-Maid pummels listeners with hardcore music that starkly contrasts with their docile maid outfits. But defying expectations is a core belief for the group, their music often centered around defying expectations and breaking free from what’s expected.
It’s a sentiment that makes their live shows colorful and kick-ass, as they constantly challenge their listeners to grow and think outside the box.
For those who crave a band with more of a jagged edge, Bridear is bursting with a raw, disgruntled intensity that makes their live shows an all-consuming affair. The metalcore group is often praised for their experimentation, as tracks like “Ghoul” sprinkle speedy power chords over dense waves of metal sludge. Born out of Fukuoka, Japan, the quintet doesn’t have a two songs that sound the same, as they constantly push the limits of metalcore music.
The most popular band to emerge from the remnants of the groundbreaking band Destrose, Mary’s Blood is sludgier and a lot darker than other acts on this list. The band’s commanding stage presence and nonstop energy have made them a thrill to see live, as they constantly find new ways to make their sound even more claustrophobic.
Another group to emerge from Destrose’s demise, Lovebites was made by former Destrose bassist Miho and drummer Haruna, later adding on vocalist and lead guitarist Midori. Relying more on masterful guitar solos and relentless pacing, the group uses the band as a means to communicate empowering messages about realizing your destiny and achieving your goals.
Special Shout Out: Dazzle Vision
While not an all-female group, Dazzle Vision’s brief but exciting run exposed lead singer Maiko as one of Japanese Metal’s most exciting vocalists. She could breezily switch between death growls and melodic warbles with ease as her bandmates — Tony, Takuro, and Haro — thrashed behind her. Watching her pink, cotton-candy hair whip around has never gotten old, and it’s truly a shame that the group disbanded in 2015. It’s always so exciting to see a female raging front and center in front of a group of men.