Decibel published its first ever “Women In Metal,” issue this month, which offers an exhaustive look at the enormous contributions women have made to metal music (and the metal industry). If for some inexplicable reason you don’t subscribe then you can snag a copy from our store . If you are wise, you might have already read our profile of Witch Mountain in the August issue. But since we can’t get enough of Uta Plotkin’s voice — Cauldron Of The Wild has been on my playlist since I first heard it months ago — we asked her to contribute a bit more and she agreed.
Plotkin named her five favorite female vocalists and picked five tracks that best represent their style. While the women in metal issue was a first this post might be a bigger first; the first and perhaps only time both Tina Turner and the Cocteau Twins are mentioned in dB. Give Uta’s playlist a listen below and then get her breakdown of her five favorite female voices:
From Uta: I love the human voice because of all the crazy things it’s capable of and the myriad of ways it can express, so I tend to enjoy singers that have a strange quirk. Each of these women’s voices have some special quality that sets them apart for me.
Diamanda Galas is a primal operatic wailer channeling demons in order to exorcise them. Her pureness and rawness are what I love about her voice. She opens her mouth and it seems there’s no filter or self-consciousness, only something demented and dark trapped inside, now gleefully unleashed. She’s an unrelenting force and her power is intoxicating and weird. You won’t hear her full multiple octave range on “Let My People Go” but you’ll get the idea.
Elizabeth Fraser: (Cocteau Twins)
Elizabeth Fraser’s voice has a crystal clear and fluid tone, reaching notes with easy grace. What I love about her voice is what sounds like a kind of warbling bubble caught in her airway that she can activate at will. Listen for the strange trills and precise cracks. I can almost feel the textures she creates in my throat. I love the floating world her voice transports me to. On “But I’m Not”, from Cocteau Twins’ debut album, her voice shines and the lyrics are cool (for most CT songs she makes up nonsense words).
Bjork’s incredible voice has captivated me since the first time I heard it fifteen years ago – her smokiness and range, her versatility and emotiveness. She can crack her voice like a whip and really let it go. Her tone coupled with her accent makes hers one of the most unusual and pleasing voices I’ve ever heard. She’s an otherworldly pixie-alien force of nature. She reminds me of one of my other favorites, Billie Holiday, for her power and intensity conveying emotions, sculpting them sonically.
Johnette Napolitano (Concrete Blonde):
Johnette Napolitano sounds like a woman with experience. She’s earthy, strong and genuine in a way that makes me want to be her friend. Her voice has that worn in texture that I love but doesn’t sacrifice range or belting power. In the chorus of “Heal it Up”, she proves her vocal skills. Just try to sing that in one breath.
I’m pretty sure Tina Turner’s got vocal chords made of steel wool. If I tried to sing like her I’d end up in surgery. One of the reasons I love her voice is I don’t understand how she can sound that way. She’s got raw fire and buckets of soulful energy. Her raspy rockin-ness goes straight to my face, making it crinkle in time to her screeches and howls. “Steel Claw” is one of my favorites because it’s so badass and fast.