There are hundreds of metal bands that have made strong careers out of being dudes in black t-shirts. Having a killer look, though, can help a band build a legend before a single lyric is heard. Luckily, the performers below not only have the most awesome face paint in metal, they also have the songsmanship to back up their awesome images.
Guitarist/vocalist/band leader Nergal has built a reputation as a master of pure death-metal brutality. Appropriately enough, he does not get overly flashy with his corpse paint. The simple shade of grey he maintains is the perfect mood-setter for the darkness of their metallic mayhem. Nergal kicked leukemia's ass last year and he will kick your ass when Behemoth headlines the House of Blues in Hollywood on Wednesday, April 25th with Watain, In Solitude, and The Devil's Blood.
These Finnish lunatics titled their 2004 debut album Battle Metal. Turisas look exactly like what you would picture a “Battle Metal” band to look like. The group accentuates their mix of thrash, power metal, and symphonic elements with a red-and-black attack that gives them an edge of bloodthirstiness. Their latest album is called Stand Up And Fight. Turisas will do that and more when they headline Paganfest USA at the Key Club on Wednesday, April 18th with pirate-metallers Alestorm and local metal upstarts Huntress.
Led by vocalist Papa Emeritus, this group of Swedes look like they should be the most ferocious death/black metal band ever. Instead, their 2010 debut Opus Eponymous is full of the catchiest melodic '70s-style rock this side of Blue Oyster Cult. The band have cultivated a unique mystique with their look, but let's face it, Papa's evil pope costume would just look silly without the corpse paint to complement it. Play sing-along with Ghost when they headline the Roxy this Thursday night with openers Blood Ceremony and Ancient Wisdom (or on Thursday, April 26th when they open for Mastodon and Opeth at Gibson Amphitheatre).
2. King Diamond
While he has never strayed from his wicked brew of thrash and classic heavy metal, Danish metal legend King Diamond has changed his look a few times since bursting onto the scene with Mercyful Fate in the early '80s. We're partial to the above design, circa 1987's Abigail. Several days ago, he performed on stage for the first time since undergoing heart surgery in 2010. We hope that when he goes on a full tour he brings this look back. His most recent look was just a little too Cradle Of Filth-ish for our taste.
More specifically, guitarist/vocalist Abbath. There is a reason that whenever metal fans dress up for Halloween, a large number of them go this route. Abbath sports a make-up job that is badass and eye-catching, but simple enough that it can be emulated easily without much effort. The makers of Guitar Hero admired his look so much, they patterned the character of Lars Umlaut directly after Abbath.
Immortal was formed during the notorious Norwegian black metal scene that birthed Burzum, Mayhem, and Emperor in the early '90s. The fact that they had awesome music and continued to evolve their sound has surely played a part in their longevity. But we also cannot downplay that when you think of what a black metal band should look like, Immortal is the first band many think of.