At first glance, the Stoner Rock scene looks like a sausage fest. Bands like Black Sabbath, Kyuss, Sleep, Clutch, Queens of the Stone Age, and Truckfighters dot the Stoner Rock Mount Rushmore, and they share more in common than genre: They’re all made up of men.
But a quick glance around reveals the truth: Stoner Rock has some of the best female musicians around. Ladies from all over the world are making enormous strides in the Stoner Rock scene, and they’re blazing a path for future generations. Today we’re highlighting a few of the heroes who have helped shape the genre we all love so much.
Gina Gleason – Baroness
Gina Gleason is the shredding lead guitarist of Baroness, the band that delivered the 2012’s immaculate double album, Yellow & Green. Although she’s now in the spotlight of one of Stoner Rock’s premier bands, she’s no stranger to taking center stage. From 2012 to 2017, Gleason performed as the guitar-wielding Muse in Cirque du Soleil’s production of Michael Jackson: One. Before that, Gleason was the founder and frontwoman of an all-female Metallica tribute band entitled Misstallica. More recently, she was instrumental in the creation of Baroness’s Gold & Grey, and you can catch her pained vocals in a few songs, including “I’d Do Anything” and “Tourniquet.”
Anna Papathanasiou – Puta Volcano
Anna Papathanasiou is one of those rare talents that only emerges a few times in a generation. A Greek-Canadian based in Athens, Papathanasiou is a visual artist, model, and, most importantly (to us, anyway), the lead singer in Puta Volcano. If you’re unfamiliar with the band, here’s a primer: We picked “Dune” as the 8th spot in our list of the best guitar riffs in Stoner Rock. Back to Paparthanasiou: With a voice that powers forward like a ‘74 Firebird Trans Am, her vocals are quite a treat, especially live.
Lori Crover – Acid King
There aren’t many bands that keep it together for 10 years. There are fewer bands who stay together for 20. And you’ll have a harder time still finding a band that hits the 30-year mark. But then there’s Acid King. A true cultural touchstone in the Stoner Rock community, Acid King has been riffing between bong tokes for 27 years now. All praise goes to the band’s guitarist and vocalist (and only consistent member since its founding) Lori Crover. Crover’s fuzz-drenched riffs gallop through the cosmos, and her wailing, shrieking vocals give a glimpse of what it may have been like if Courtney Love settled into Stoner Rock instead of Grunge. With Crover leading the way, Acid King has always maintained an excellent blend of drone, fuzz, strength, and femininity.
Scandinavia has delivered more than its fair share of incredible Rock and Metal bands. Here’s another: Misdemeanor. Hailing from Sweden, this female Stoner Rock band released their first 7” in 1997, then released a few more goodies (including a song with John Garcia) until disbanding in 2004. For the unfamiliar, Misdemeanor plays a sort of radio-friendly Stoner Rock, similar to Songs for the Deaf-era Queens of the Stone Age. Misdemeanor is:
Vera Olofsson – Vocals
Jenny Lindahl – Bass
Jenny Möllberg – Guitar
Sara Fredriksson – Guitar
Mia Möllberg – Drums
Amber Webber – Black Mountain
A quick disclaimer before we dive in: Amber Webber is no longer with the Canadian band Black Mountain, but she was essential to the band’s blend of Psychedelic, Stoner, Folk, Space, and Prog in the group’s early days. With a voice that complimented Stephen McBean perfectly, Webber’s pipes ring with a pained loss that echos into Black Mountain’s riffs. If you want to hear more Amber Webber, check out the band Lightning Dust, a side project for Webber and Black Mountain member Joshua Wells.
Virginia Monti – Psychedelic Witchcraft
Confession time: We didn’t learn about Virginia Monti until we started researching this article, but man, we’re not going to forget her anytime soon. As the founder and lead vocalist of Psychedelic Witchcraft, Monti is at the forefront of writing carefully-crafted songs that burn with vocals that expand in a haze of occult smoke. The Psychedelic Witchcraft sound is as much an outlier on this list as Black Mountain: The riffs are bluesier, the chords are crisp, and the subject matter is obsessed with witches and black magic. But the band checks enough boxes on our Stoner Rock checklist to make the roundup.
Emily Burton – Fireball Ministry
As one of the founding members of Fireball Ministry, Emily Burton has managed the band’s guitar duties since the late 1990s. Burton was inspired by bands like Cream and Black Sabbath when she first starting playing at the age of 15, and those same influences still shine true in Fireball Ministry’s work—in the massive riffs, catchy hooks, and guitar heroics. Like Lori Crover, Emily Burton is an industry veteran, and she shows no signs of letting off the gas.
Like Misdemeanor, Blackwater Holylight is an all-female group, but their sound is much harder to pin down. Hailing from Portland, OR, Blackwater Holylight writes music that is meditative and entrancing and still dark and heavy, like All Them Witches with a tinge of Doom. Speaking of, Blackwater Holylight goes on tour with All Them Witches in early 2022!
Sara – Messa
From Citadella, Italy, Messa specializes in their own version of ambient Doom Metal. Their unique fingerprint is largely thanks to Sara, the frontwoman in charge of vocals. Unlike most Doom vocalists, Sara belts over the rest of the band with her beautiful, soft vocals that can quickly turn sharp and rough when the song calls for it. Sara has great range, and she often harmonizes with herself on Messa albums for great results.