Diversity in heavy music?


After spending most of my teenage years hating metal and other heavy music genres, I’ve finally started to acquire a taste for harder riffs and cheesy wailing vocals. I always had friends who liked bands like System of a Down and Rage Against The Machine, and now I can look on that kind of music nostalgically and with legitimate enjoyment instead of dismissal and disdain. I’ve also found that I like a lot of 80’s heavy metal stuff like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Dio.

The problem I’m finding, though, is that there seems to be a lack of ethnic and gender diversity in the Metal scene, as well as other heavier music genres. I can’t shake the feeling that all the metal bands I’ve found and enjoy are headed by white, mostly middle-class males. As much as I enjoy it, I come away thinking, “What do you people have to be angry about?”

The Metal community especially has always carried this image to me, and the combo of a kind of pretentious exclusivity to the genre and very outward-facing masculinity certainly can’t be helping.
Surely there’s got to be some good metal or punk music by people of colour or women or queer people, right? Especially in today’s political climate, I can’t help but feel there’s a gap here.

Does anyone have any recommendations for bands that fit the bill here? Or any thoughts on the topic?



EDIT: Okay, my actual discourse-y take is that, well, when your music has roots with working class whites and has a tendency to only be inspired by itself (remember that a lot of first wave punk bands abandoned the genre because they found it too restrictive), whiteness will propagate pretty strongly. Now, there’s a whole lot more to unpack when it comes to this topic, and I’d recommend doing some research for yourself, but I think that’s the most basic answer.


I am the opposite, in that metal is where my music tastes started, along with Michael Jackson, but I have fallen off within the last ten years. I do know that at the beginning this year I was listening to a single from a woman fronted metal band, but I can’t remember the band or where I heard about it.
To find the diversity you are looking for you might have to look outside of the United States, and maybe add a more punk element to your search.

Late last year I started listening to the Columbian band Dead Hero.


Check out Cynic. The drummer and lead guitarist/vocalist, Sean Reinert and Paul Masvidal respectively, are gay. They’re a fantastic Progressive/Jazz Fusion metal band and are pretty inspirational to me.

Another gay man in metal I look up to is Roddy Bottum, the keyboardist from Faith No More. He even wrote about his sexuality on the song “Be Aggressive”.

And of course we can’t forget the leather god himself Rob Halford.


In terms of women there’s Megan Osztrosits of Couch ■■■■, a brutal Noise Rock band with abrasive lyrics. TW for lyrics about rape; like I said she does not hold back.

There’s also Life of Agony singer Mina Caputo who is a transwoman. Her voice is absolutely incredible. Heads up though, most of the band’s material was from when she was in the closet.





I’ve got a ridiculously large number of recommendations for metal and punk bands with women in them, but not nearly as many recommendations for ones with POC unfortunately. I know that there are US punk and metal bands I like that have POC in them, but I’m bad about remembering exactly who is in a band and the only one coming to mind right now is Algiers.

Algiers have a super cool sound, it’s really good post-punk with some gospel splashed in, I’d highly recommend them.

There are also some awesome Japanese metal bands out there.

Boris is an experimental Japanese metal band and their lead guitarist and sometimes vocalist Wata is a women and amazing. They are excellent, easily one of my favorite metal bands and they change up their sound a ton ranging from super heavy drone to pop rock. There is so much variety it’s basically impossible to pick a representative album of theirs, so if you don’t like this one there is a decent chance you will like some of their other stuff.

Les Rallizes Denudes was a Japanese noise rock band that was super ahead of their time. '77 Live is an absolute classic.

There are a lot of good metal bands with female lead vocalists out there. Here’s a couple albums I like. My favorite band in this list is probably King Woman, but since you like the 80’s stuff I feel like you might prefer Christian Mistress or Windhand.

Women in punk music is a rabbit hole I could go down more or less endlessly but I’ll try to keep it (sorta) short.

Sleater-Kinney are unbelievably good. The Woods is one of my favorite albums of all time.

White Lung is my secret weapon when going to the gym. Nothing gets me fired up as quick as they do.

EMA is a great, although The Future’s Void always kinda stresses me out (in a good way I think?)

Kim Gordon is amazing. Her work in Sonic Youth is fantastic and she has done a lot of good stuff outside of them as well.

Similarly Kim Deal is great, both her stuff in the Pixies as well as The Breeders.


there is actually a really solid thread on punk recommendations, with a healthy selection of stuff from minority artists!


Metalcore band Killswitch Engage

Zeal & Ardor


Came in here to post G.L.O.S.S. they’re excellent.

There’s some cool live shows on youtube for them as well.


There are a LOT of heavy bands from Japan, of pretty much all genres. Two that I don’t think have been posted yet are:

one of their classic albums:

These guys have been around since the mid 80s and are a super influential noise band. Could be a little more experimental than you’re looking for but they kick an insane amount of ass and have had a pretty varied career. Big influence on US bands like Sonic Youth, Lightning Bolt, and even Death Grips. Their drummer Yoshimi P-We was also the inspiration for the Flaming Lips album Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, and also fronts the all-female band OOIOO:

which isn’t always as heavy but still pretty intensely kickass and was probably a big inspiration on this next band:

Great song off their best and final album:

that album isn’t on youtube unfortunately but here’s an earlier album that’s still great, if you’re into it:

This is one of my favorite bands. Its two women (calling themselves Oni and Pikachu) on guitar and drums who hoot and holler at each other in like a frenzied, hypnotic, glittering noise explosion. Its gorgeous, primal stuff. Their energy is incredible. Also I just learned while looking up songs that they’re actually reunited after 8 years apart and have a new album out next month?? Hell yes?!?!?



Not my favourite kind of metal, but Alien Weaponry singing in Te Reo and actually getting a lot of airtime in New Zealand is a pretty cool thing. I think Makutu by Vassafor is still my favourite Maori metal track though.

Also, Gyibaaw from Canada are a really great First Nations black metal band.


Oh yeah, I heard of them recently! Hello fellow NZer!

Thanks to everyone for the recommendations! The problem I’m now facing is finding diverse heavy music that I actually enjoy listening to. I think my tastes are still a bit too particular. Some of these are up my alley, though!

I also ignorantly didn’t even consider Japanese music as falling under this category. I live in Japan so I guess I just got used to it. I really like bands like Number Girl, Zazen Boys, Les Rallizes Denudes, L’arc en Ciel, The Blue Hearts etc. Unfortunately X Japan doesn’t do anything for me, but I like Yoshiki a lot as a person and am always pleased to see him pop up on variety shows.


Cloud Rat is a very good grindcore band with a female vocalist and songs about women’s rights. Check out their compilation album Blind River




Cloud Rat fucking owns. Forgot about them until you posted, but cosign x 1000.

Also, their older work is much better loved than more recent work, but Kylesa is also a femme-fronted (at least in part) sludge metal group, and they’re just rad. Definitely pretty accessible for metal neophytes.