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An interesting corner of the metal universe: Behold the hard-rocking women of Japan.

For the longest time, the only Japanese all-female bands I was familiar with were Shonen Knife (beloved by the North American indie scene) and The 5, 6, 7, 8’s (the band with the woo-hoo song used in so many commercials and the house band in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Part 1.)

Over the last year or so, reader Walter has been alerting me to a vast number of all-female (or mostly female and at the very least, female-fronted) bands from Japan who rock extremely hard. They’re all part of what some call the “Girl Metal Band Boom,” which began about 15 years ago. If you’re a metal fan, you owe it to yourself to check out what’s happening in that country. Here are just ten of them. (There are more should you wish to go down that rabbit hole.)

  1. The best known of these groups has got to be the adorable BABYMETAL.

2. Then we have Saiseiga.

3. Band-Maid has been around since 2013.

4. Check out Aldious.

5. Cyntia was probably the first of the “Girl Metal Band Boom” bands.

6. Bridear are from Fukuoka.

7. Here’s Mary’s Blood and their take on power metal.

8. Lovebites is a five-piece from Tokyo.

9. Destrose is no longer with us, but several members have gone on to be in other groups.

10. And finally, we should look at Dazzle Vision who were formed in 2003.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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2 thoughts on “An interesting corner of the metal universe: Behold the hard-rocking women of Japan.

  • I saw Band-Maid live 3 times in the US last year, and I’m seeing them at least 3 times this year also. They have a ridiculously deep catalog of great songs for a band not yet 10 years old. Live shows are great.

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  • Thanks very much for sharing this. There’s a decent sized international community, with a high proportion of serious musicians in it, that has come together around this scene. For example, there are literally hundreds of hours of YouTube content by musicians breaking down Band-Maid songs in detail. These are (mostly) not people with a pre-existing interest in Japanese culture, or in all-female bands.

    Some of these bands are doing something that is new to me. They’re creating music that is highly technical, intricate and progressive, but at the same time catchy, energetic and fun. Also, instead of just crossing boundaries between genres, they give the impression that the boundaries never existed in the first place. Gacharic Spin deserve a mention because they were arguably the first to do this, but they can get overlooked because of their pop sensibilities and use of electronic sounds. Nemophila are a new-ish metal band who also do this very well.

    While it’s impossible not to notice that the scene includes a high proportion of all-female bands (including the three I mentioned above), there are male/mixed bands such as Ningen Isu, Sokoninaru, Asterism and Wagakki Band, that get a lot of love in the communities following this scene. I think it deserves to be treated as an important movement on musical merit alone. It just happens to be led mostly by women.

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