Regardless of your personal politics, you have to admit that girls rule. I would like to quote Gandalf here and say, “I return to you now, at the turn of the tide,” but alas, I think we all know that that is not the case.

I return to this column a day following International Women’s Day, which saw decent turn out for protests and a nationwide strike for “a day without a woman” in the workplace. While the patriarchy has yet to be dismantled and we fight sexism on every label, we can conceive in the name of intersectional feminism and equality the mere fact that girls of any gender, race, creed, or religion, quite simply, rule. It’s not up for debate, whether or not you believe in the ultimate efficacy of the resistance measures that we have been pursuing in the first months of this abominable regime.

It is because girls rule that I, on the second embarkation of this journey, start with my focus on women in extreme music yet again. So prepare your worship rugs for prostration at the feet of these goddesses.

And, in case you’re wondering, you can check out last year’s streak of articles here.

Black Table — Black Table sound almost inhuman. Everything about their vocal stylings seem to stretch reality. Imagine if Cynic started doing toilet-bowls better than Job for a Cowboy and you’ll land somewhere in the universe vocally. This is all overlaid on some of the best and most atmospheric and melodic black metal I have heard in some time. Their debut full length, Obelisk, which came out at the tail end of last year, is at times crushing, expansive, avant-garde, and delicate, and it is probably the most accomplished doom record I have listened to in years.

Dead Sara – Courtney Love apologist that I am, Dead Sara hit me right in the perfect spot to satisfy my craving for sunny, poppy, straight-forward rock and roll. Like their previously-mentioned-in-this-column contemporaries in Mother Feather, Dead Sara are killing the rock game harder than just about anyone else out there. What they bring to the table, however, is a more earnest sentimentality and some emotional songwriting chops that had me thinking a lot about those early Goo Goo Dolls records I have talked about with such wonder before while staying as hard-hitting as Manchester Orchestra at their most intense. This is dirty but complicated rock and roll written for the arena audience, and it works like gangbusters. Dead Sara are halfway through their residency at the El Cid, with shows tonight (3/9) and next week on 3/16. Be sure to go and check them out if you can.

Gouge Away – I am in love with Gouge Away’s debut, Dies. It’s fast, brutal, visceral, and so well executed that it hurts. Blisteringly fast, Gouge Away churn out some Punch-levels of hardcore goodness, sharing a lot of similar vocal qualities of Punch’s Meghan O’Neil (now of Super Unison). It rocks incredibly hard. Do yourself a favor and get this record.

Pretty Polly – I came across this LA-based country duo at the Melrose Trading Post. Country, being my least favorite genre, has to be REALLY good in order for me to even tolerate it. Imagine just HOW good Pretty Polly is for me to actually LOVE it. Their music transcends the much-maligned genre through the pair’s incredible voices and harmonies and folk/blues-based songwriting chops. If you’re like me, then this will be a watershed moment for you. Check out their record on bandcamp and soon you will find yourself checking up on Dolly Parton’s old live records. They are recording their next album as we speak, according to their socials, so get stoked for whatever they release next.

Eaten Alive – Time for a personal story. One of my favorite bands, who I have talked about before in this column, is a Philly band called Kingdom. They were a woman-fronted brutal straight-edge hardcore band that specialized in galvanizing, thoughtful lyrics about modern life. I never got to see them live, but I bought one of their t-shirts online back in the day. Inevitably, I turn all my old t-shirts into punk jackets which I wear constantly. Well, I happened to be wearing it the day I went to protest President Agent Orange’s inauguration and who else happened to spot me in the crowd but Kingdom’s vocalist Davin! She ran me down, huge smile splitting her face, asking if she could have a picture with me. She was stoked. And so was I. For such a sad, horrible day, to have a completely random encounter with the lead singer of one of my favorite bands was pretty damn cool. She told me about her new band, Eaten Alive, describing it as like a more hardcore Blood for Blood. Davin’s vocals, a deep roar, have lost nothing of their fury for the last ten years and I hope I get to see her and her new band in all their glory asap.