Banshee – a self-made alternative musician – has singlehandedly created a safe space for women and queer folk inside the predominantly male metal scene.
CONTENT WARNING: This article contains discussions involving sexual assault.
As we get closer to Halloween, it’s only fitting that I talk about a musician that can be appreciated during spooky season. Someone who has fought tooth and nail for women who have experienced sexual assault (SA) or harassment of any kind and has actively been speaking up about how terrifying it is to be a woman in the predominantly male metal scene. Because ghosts, zombies and demons will never be as scary as the real-world monsters: men who abuse, hurt, and seek to destroy women.
Rachel Knight, better known by her stage name Banshee, is the creator of her self-made genre “Fairy Metal.” This genre mixes key components from those such as Witch House, Hyperpop, Trap Metal and symphonic black metal. Marrying visceral screeches with melodic vibratos, Knight hoped to encapsulate her stage name and create her own space inside the metal scene.
Joining the metal scene in her mid to late teens, Knight was assaulted and had several instances of aggravated harassment by men in that same circle. For a long time, she avoided the genre altogether as it caused her to have severe PTSD episodes and panic attacks. However, she was determined to continue her love for music and opted to create a sound of her own.
In 2018, she debuted with her first single titled “F*ck with a Witch,” where she explored with trap beats and premiered her signature metal vocals. Accompanied by ruthlessly critical lyricism on the “alpha male” mentality, Knight made a solid statement as to who she is as an artist and what she wishes to convey in her work, while setting her stage name to Banshee.
A banshee is a fae creature from Irish folklore who is told to be an omen of death. Often having been born from the spirit of a witch, they are known for their blood-curdling, glass-shattering screams that harrow death to people’s doors. Only hearing their screeches would serve anyone as a warning of impending doom: more often than not, an inescapable, bloody death.
Not only does the singer Banshee tackle real-world issues regarding toxic masculinity, but she also brings forth the argument that most cis, straight men are the problem. And women should be allowed to fight back against their abusers without repercussions. In 2020, she uploaded her first EP titled “May He Rot” with these songs: “Catharsis,” “Birth of a Banshee,” “U Were in My Dream,” and “Don’t F*cking Touch Me.” This EP pinpointed her “rebirth,” a pivotal moment in her personal life where she found herself being able to talk about how she feels about her past trauma and how it affects her on a daily basis.
In 2022, Banshee gained much of her fanbase from her TikTok account. Videos went viral that primarily focused on an upcoming song titled “Death of a Predator,” which would be part of her album “Fairy Phonk.” She wrote the song when she found out her abuser died on the same couch he assaulted her on. This is the song that drew me into her work and had me listening to her entire discography. She dropped her third album right after “Fairy Phonk” and titled it “Fairy Metal.” Here, she reclaimed the passion she had lost for the metal genre and truly made it her own. There is no better way to describe it than feminine rage in its most powerful form. It is cathartic and empowering for both victims of SA and women.
Today, Banshee has decided to newly explore with her music and create unique melodies. Inspired by the “sirencore” aesthetic, she created an entire album titled “Birth of Venus.” A second coming of sorts, she speaks in the title track of how “she’s made peace between the moon and where she stands,” but was forced to adapt to the “crashing waves.” She taught herself to “breathe underwater.” Evolving from a Banshee to siren, she continues to proclaim that “his secrets were never safe with her,” and she “screams towards the sky that is listening.”
Musically, she has shifted into a more phonk style similar to her “Fairy Phonk” album from 2022 (think of dark, underground rave music). However, she has newly merged a symphony of vocals, truly sounding like sirens singing sailors to their doom. As a listener, I get the energy that Banshee creates music for fellow mythical beings that seek vengeance against those who have hurt them. An extremely unique artist, I’ve yet to meet a woman in the metal scene like her. She has gone as far as starting fundraisers in one of her concerts for the RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network), fighting against white supremacy and homophobia in the metal scene as an openly Jewish, queer artist.
I wholeheartedly recommend Banshee to anyone who is into metal, phonk or the feminine rage genre. As a victim of SA myself, she has helped me find a proper way to articulate the complex emotions that come from trauma. Banshee’s new album “Birth of Venus” is currently out on all streaming services, alongside her entire discography which is available on Spotify.