It’s that time of year where people search for the scariest haunted houses, Halloween-themed amusement parks and creepiest horror movies for a thrill. But there are others who seek this darkness through scary, occult music — most notably, extreme heavy metal.
For the following 13 bands, this music is an expression of darkness and misanthropy based on spiritual or philosophical ideas. Whether you believe in him or not, Lucifer has inspired much of the heavy metal music we know today. In fact, most of the bands on this list aren’t just making songs about Satanists — they are real Satanists, or at least they often espouse Satanic ideas and philosophies through their lyrics and imagery.
Basically, these bands make rockers like Alice Cooper, Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie (no offense) look like innocent toddlers by comparison. Here are the 13 most Satanic metal bands.
Von are one of the first American black metal bands to fully embrace Satanism in a religious sense and create a raw and relentless sound that is heavily influenced by early Scandinavian black metal bands like Darkthrone and Hellhammer. Von’s music is a fast, guttural, necro-style black metal, full of inhuman vocals and blast beats over chainsaw speed metal riffing. Based in San Francisco, and formed in 1990, there is still a lot of mystery behind Von. After putting out various demos and small releases, the band split up a few years after forming, and only reappeared on the scene around 2010, with the release their infamous 1992 demo as a full-length album, Satanic Blood. In 2013, Von released their second album, Dark Gods: Seven Billion Slaves. Many argue that Von, who came up in a Bay Area scene that was otherwise dominated by thrash, was one of the first, if not the first American black metal band to emerge.
Beherit is a black metal band from Finland formed in 1989. Their name is derived from the ancient Syriac term for Satan. Although the music is in the style of brutal, unfiltered black metal, there is an added a dark spiritual vibe, and the music is both hellish and experimental. The band used synths and distorted, whispered vocals to create a super-eerie, at times almost avant-garde sound. The band’s debut album, 1993’s Drawing Down the Moon, is a mix of almost industrial doom meets Satanic Norwegian blackened death metal. In the mid-'90s, Beherit took a turn to exclusively electronic, industrial-tinged music with two albums which are not extreme metal but very dark ambient music. But then in 2009, the band reformed to return their evil black metal roots.
Hailing from Sweden, Watain came into existence just before the turn of the last century with a mission to deliver pain-inducing yet catchy melodic black metal that is spiritually based in Theistic Satanism (which, unlike other forms of Satanism, believes Satan is an actual entity, not just a symbol of a non-Christian belief system). The band’s live performances are literal rituals, in the form of a black mass. Watain concerts commonly feature incense burning, candles, fire and inverted crosses as well as animal skulls and animal blood. Watain have five full-length albums under their spiked belts and a sixth one due in early 2018. They will infamously be forever known for getting mainstream exposure, through TMZ, for a performance in New York City in 2014, involving dead animal heads and ritualistic use of animal blood sprayed on the crowd, which made some concertgoers puke. Footage of the concert can be found on YouTube for those interested.
An American black metal band from Louisiana, Goatwhore mix elements of thrash, death metal and grind with a swampy, murky brand of caustic black metal approved by Satan himself. This music is fast, Southern sludge, punk-infused at times and just all-around evil and malevolent. The band, always relentless on record or live, features members of other groups including Soilent Green, Acid Bath and Crowbar. Known as one of the hardest working bands in metal, Goatwhore are always on tour, playing shows opening for bigger bands or headlining their own gigs. With album titles like A Haunting Curse, Carving Out the Eyes of God and Vengeful Ascension, you can tell that unholiness is a recurring theme throughout the band's work.
In demonology, Belphegor is one of the Seven Princes of Hell, who helps humans sell their souls to the Devil. In modern extreme metal, Belphegor are a blackened death metal band from Austria, formed in 1991. The band’s music is a furious firestorm of speed and aggression, all focusing on black magic, the occult, and apocalyptic and sexual themes relating to evil. The band has toured the world many times over, spreading their musical darkness with everyone from Amon Amarth to Sepultura. Their music has been banned in parts of Asia and Eastern Europe for violating some countries' blasphemy laws, and lead singer and guitarist Helmuth was physically attacked and spit on by an orthodox Christian activist leader in St. Petersburg, Russia in 2016 while Belphegor was on tour with Nile. The band’s logo is two inverted crossed dripping with blood.
Finnish black metal band Archgoat are overtly Satanic in their lyrical content. Since forming in 1989, they have been hellbent on spreading their eerie, haunting music to anyone willing to listen. Within two years of forming, Archgoat decided the black metal scene had become too trendy and disbanded. But in 2004 the band resurfaced, intent on bringing their evil, blasphemous black metal music back to life. Since 2004, they have released three albums, the most recent being 2015’s The Apocalyptic Triumphator.
7. Deströyer 666
This Australian band dishes out a blend of thrash and death metal that violently opposes God in a very angry way. Formed in 1994, the band soon relocated to Europe. Destroyer 666’s use of relentless old-school thrash, speed and classic metal vibes in their songs creates a fist-pounding sense of urgency. Frontman K.K. Warslut got his start in the ultra-underground cult war metal band Bestial Warlust.
This Florida death metal band's lead singer, lyricist and bass player Glen Benton is known for branding an inverted cross in his forehead, the scar of which can still be seen today. The band’s music pushes anti-Christian sentiments and chronicles the deeds of Satan on Earth. But are Benton's lyrics meant to be taken literally or just in the name of artistic expression? It’s up to each listener to decide. But with song titles like "Kill the Christian," "When Satan Rules His World," "Bible Basher" and "Homage for Satan," Deicide represents the American pinnacle of Satanic-themed metal.
Formed in Norway in the early '90s alongside such notorious black metal bands as Mayhem and Burzum, Gorgoroth have always been among the genre's most fiercely anti-Christian bands. The band's former lead singer, Gaahl, once said in a Canadian documentary on heavy metal music that Satanism represents "freedom." He and other members of the band have openly expressed their support for the 1990s Church burnings in Scandinavia that rocked the metal world. With nine full-length albums to their credit, Gorgoroth are one of the few O.G. Norwegian black metal bands still in existence. The band have stirred controversy over the years for their live performances, which often include impaled sheep’s heads, blood-letting and mock crucifixions.
4. Dark Funeral
Since 1993, this Swedish Satanic black metal band has undergone many lineup changes, but the same fury, flames and relentless music have remained consistent throughout. Their sound has evolved over the years but still retains heavy doses of blast beats and dark melodies embracing the Devil and death equally. They've been popular in the metal underground for decades, but are now entering the black metal scene internationally and spreading their anti-Christian message to a wider audience through songs like "Nail Them to the Cross," "666 Voices Inside," "Open the Gates" and "Enriched by Evil."
Also from Sweden, Dissection are the real deal when it comes to truly Satanic music, with a sound full of scary, monstrous riffs, raspy vocals and blast beats, but also hints of melancholia and a medieval sense of darkness. They were excellent at balancing a sound that was equal parts maleficent and melodic. Lead singer and songwriter Jon Nödtveidt was not screwing around in his devotion to Satan; he was a self-professed Luciferian who practiced devil worship and other occult rituals (he also served seven years in prison for murder, from 1997 to 2004). In 2006, he took his own life in an apparent Satanic rite, leaving this planet by way of a self-inflicted gunshot wound and ending Dissection's run as one of the most Satanic bands in existence.
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This Finnish black metal band was born in 1994. The music is epic and symphonic but simultaneously brutal and raw. They perform covered in blood and corpse paint and use their music as a conduit to conjure Satan and other demons. The band’s music is overt and literal in its promotion of Satanism and devil worship; singer and lyricist Hoath Torog is an avowed Satanist and album titles like By the Blessing of Satan and My Soul for His Glory are not meant to be taken metaphorically.
Over the years, Polish band Behemoth have risen from the underground extreme metal circuit in Eastern Europe to become one of the metal world’s biggest, hardest working bands, most recently touring with heavy hitters like Slayer, Danzig and Cannibal Corpse, with a blackened, technical death metal sound entirely their own. In 2010, frontman Nergal was diagnosed with leukemia, but he recovered, and after a three-year hiatus, the band returned and released the epic, critically acclaimed concept album, The Satanist. The band’s shows mix ritual and rage, often using incense, tribal chanting and drumming, and other esoteric elements to give their performances an atmosphere of evil and occult menace. In doing so, they've created a soundtrack to Satanism that is definitely not for the faint of heart.