With Halloween tonight, many people will be listening to novelty classics like “The Monster Mash” in order to get in the mood. But there are some musicians that are truly scary—bands that could haunt your nightmares and bring horror to real life. While we can’t really endorse much of the music on this list, here are the 13 most frightening bands and solo acts.
KISS may have turned into a novelty spectacle, selling out large arenas with their theatrics and rock and roll anthems. But consider that a common occurrence at a KISS concert is having lead singer Gene Simmons breathe fire and spit blood. And they’re even more terrifying without their make up on. Just ask Terry Gross.
Slipknot could cast their own horror movie. All nine members wear matching uniforms, but each wears a different creepy mask and are only known by numbers. Their lyrics have inspired a pair of killers and a grave robbing, making the band scarier than just a group of guys in masks.
Speaking of bands in masks, Gwar are more well known for their insane outfits and stage presence than their music. The band’s many members all known by unusual names such as Oderus Urungus and Sleazy P. Martini, some of whom are slaves. Their shows include mini-plays that include parodies of everyone from George W. Bush and Lady Gaga that usually leaves the audience covered in fake blood and worse.
Germany’s Rammstein became a surprise hit in America with their song “Du Hast,” which translates to “you hate,” but the band has been even more controversial with their offensive videos and shows. One of their music videos featured unsimulated sex acts with look-alikes of the band, and their performances at the Family Values Tour got them arrested. Their use of flames on stage have led to many burning injuries, though lead singer Till Lindermann is now a licensed pyrotechnic.
Richard David James, known as Aphex Twin, has made himself one of the most terrifying icons of electronic music. The most common image of himself, with a Cheshire Cat-like grimace is eerie enough, but his music videos, especially for “Windowlicker” and “Come to Daddy” are some of the most haunting of all time. James has even figured out to put his face in his music, as some songs include a digital image of his face when put through a spectral analysis.
Slayer has become one of the biggest names in thrash metal, but has also become one of the most controversial. The band has been accused of having Nazi sympathies, being white supremacists and Satanists. While the band has denied all accusations, their music is still shocking, such as “Jihad,” about September 11th and their album cover for Christ Illusion, which was banned in many places.
Very little is known about Stalaggh & Gulaggh, but their music seems to speak for itself. Their album Vorkuta has been described as sounding like Hell, since the band uses the crying and screaming of children and the yells of patients at mental institutions to create their music. Probably the less we know about this band, the better.
Probably the first words you ever heard Eminem rap were “Hi kids, do you like violence?” This line seems to summarize the controversy that has been behind Eminem’s extremely successful career. The line between him and his insane alter ego Slim Shady is usually confused, as he raps in detail about murdering his ex-wife while his daughter is watching, misogyny, drug use, and basically any offensive thing you can imagine. His detail and lack of a filter can make Eminem a pretty terrifying rapper.
Marilyn Manson has easily become the most famous of the shock-rockers, who seem to only want to gain controversy through their actions. With Manson, it’s worked. Manson has been constantly attacked by religious groups for his imagery and lyrics and he even had his music blamed for influencing the Columbine shootings. While Manson has become less and less scary and controversial in the past years, there were few artists in the ‘90s as shocking as Marilyn Manson.
Norwegian black metal band Gorgoroth allegedly got its start after guitarist made a deal with the devil. At a concert in Poland, the band put sheep heads on stakes, had four naked crucifixes on stage and featured 80 liters of sheep’s blood. The band was charged under the police, but were let go when they admitted they didn’t know what they were doing was illegal. The band later went on to recreate the concert for their video “Carving a Giant.”
GG Allin, born Jesus Christ Allin, used to take laxatives before sets so that he could defecate on stage and throw it into the audience. Allin was known for ending his shows covered in feces and blood, and spoke several times about how he planned on committing suicide on stage. After one performance, he walked naked and covered in said elements to ingest enough heroin that he died. But that wasn’t the end. At his open casket funeral, his will stated he didn’t want to be washed and friends could pose with him, while putting drugs and alcohol on his body. The funeral was sold on DVD to fans.
It may seems tame in retrospect, but Black Sabbath was one of the first bands to introduce the heavy use of occult and horror ideals into their lyrics. Sabbath also brought the world Ozzy Osbourne, who has also had his fair share of horrifying moments (bat decapitations anyone?). Black Sabbath was a heavy influence for many of the bands on this list and that instantly makes them pretty terrifying.
Mayhem wins scariest band easily by truly living up to their name. Their vocalist, Dead, would cut himself with knives and glass on stage and would sometimes have pig and sheep heads impaled. The band moved to a house in a forest, where Dead committed suicide. Dead slit his wrists and shot himself in the head with a shotgun. His suicide note said “Excuse all the blood, cheers” and apologized for shooting the gun indoors. Fellow band member Euronymous purchased a disposable camera to take pictures of his body. The pictures were later used for one of their album covers. It was also rumored that Euronymous ate parts of Dead’s brain and made necklaces from his skull fragments. In addition to all of that insanity, Varg Vikernes, who used to be in the band killed the band’s guitarist Oystein Aarseth. Mayhem is easily one of the most horrifying bands of all time and hopefully their place as number one won’t be beat anytime soon.