Nowadays, if you talk to anyone about such far-out topics as UFOs, who really shot JFK, the Illuminati or the truth behind 9/11, you're about equally likely to be embraced or ridiculed. Even if you don't believe in any given conspiracy theory, the fact is that such topics have been infused into our culture so much that they are a normal part of the lexicon and appear frequently in TV, film and music, especially hip-hop and heavy metal.
It is no surprise that many artists have used these subjects and other conspiracy theories to create music that is a means of resistance, a political statement, or simply a way to express a story for listeners. Whether you're into ancient aliens, the New World Order, David Icke's notion of the reptilian agenda or just good old-fashioned UFO abductions, these are definitely bands worth checking out. We'll let the music speak for itself and avoid any political dogma. Just be sure to take off your tinfoil hats as you blast the following top 10 heavy metal bands for conspiracy theorists.
10. The Faceless
Although there have been numerous lineup changes over the years in this L.A.-based death metal band, the music has always been inscribed by the sounds of aggressive, extreme metal, and the lyrics have always been esoteric and mind-boggling. Take, for example, the band’s second album, 2008's Planetary Duality. The record is a solid slab of technical death metal, with hints of prog and metalcore, but the subject of this concept album is an ancient race of demonic alien hybrids known as Reptilians, who have taken over humanity through the bloodlines of the elites. The album is based on the book The Children of the Matrix by British author and researcher David Icke, who claims that all forms of power in the world today are traced back through the Illuminati to these reptilian shape-shifters. Their ultimate agenda is to exterminate 90 percent of the world’s population of humans and enslave the rest. Songs like “Prison Born,” “The Ancient Covenant” and “Legion of the Serpent” all give listeners a brutal face full of technical death metal and apocalyptic, mythical, out-of-this-world lyrics.
9. High on Fire
Guitarist and songwriter Matt Pike of doom-metal titans Sleep formed High on Fire in 1998 to let out some of his aggression, speed and interest in mythology, comparative religions and other ancient mysteries. With HOF, the speed metal and thrashy grooves of bands like Venom and Motörhead combine with the powerhouse drums and thunderous stoner metal of Sleep to create an epic wall of sound that goes well with lyrics about ancient warfare and the battle between good and evil. The title track from the band's 2010 album, Snakes for the Divine, is a direct reference to David Icke’s notion of the reptilian bloodline and creation of the Illuminati. In an interview with Ultimate-Guitar.com, Pike said, “The title Snakes for the Divine is based on the premise that Adam and Eve weren't the first people on Earth, and Adam actually having a wife that was a Reptilian named Lilith. They were the first two people to actually take the reptilian DNA and make shape-shifting human beings that go between the fourth-dimensional, the Anunnaki, and human beings. Eventually, from ancient Mesopotamia, this spawned a thing called the Illuminati.”
8. Job for a Cowboy
Since their inception in 2003 in Arizona, Job for a Cowboy's sound has evolved from metalcore into a technical, progressive and brutal-as-hell deathgrind machine. They've used their relentless, in-your-face sound to highlight some very frightening themes, such as the real use of implanted RFID chips, which some Christian groups have likened to the biblical notion of the Mark of the Beast and a sign of the apocalypse. Albums like Genesis (2007), Ruination (2009) and Demoncracy (2012) all highlight issues such as the New World Order’s enslavement of humanity, the secret societies that control all governments and wage all wars, and the massive erosion of civil liberties since 9/11.
This Swedish band, formed in 1990, is led by guitarist, singer and musical mastermind Peter Tägtgren. At first the band was a blackened death-metal unit with a focus on Satanic, anti-Christian sentiments. But Tägtgren's lyrics soon shifted to UFOS and other paranormal subjects. Hypocrisy became known for exploring themes of extraterrestrial visitations and the demonic nature of alien abductions on early albums such as The Fourth Dimension (1994) and Abducted (1996), as well as later albums such as The Arrival (2004), Virus (2006) and End of Disclosure (2013). Tägtgren has worked as a producer of such death, thrash and black metal bands as Amon Amarth, Immortal, Dimmu Borgir, Celtic Frost and many more. With the music of Hypocrisy, he gives a musical soundtrack to events such as Roswell, and movies like Fire in the Sky or TV shows like The X-Files.
6. Gamma Ray
This is a band formed by German guitar wizard Kai Hansen after his departure from the power-metal band Helloween in 1988. With Gamma Ray, Kai’s interests in sci-fi and conspiracies surfaced, even as his music continued to represent the best of powerful, melodic speed metal. But it is the 2001 album No World Order that put the band on the conspiracy-theory map — most notably because of the timing, as it was released just one day before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The concept album is based on the defeat of the New World Order and Illuminati, as humanity rises up to fight for freedom. From the opening, it is clear that Gamma Ray are in the same vein as other classic heavy metal titans like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, with a heavy sound that demands immediate headbanging. This record does not skimp on the majestic guitar work, blast-beat drum patterns and insane song structures. Songs like “Dethrone Tyranny,” “New World Order” and “The Heart of the Unicorn” give listeners a glimpse into the dark future plan of the master elites.
5. Fear Factory
Easily one of the best metal bands to come out of Los Angeles, Fear Factory paved the way for the next generation of metal bands in the early 2000s — Slipknot, Killswitch Engage, All That Remains, Lamb of God, Volbeat and tons of others. Their music was and still is aggressive, heavy, melodic and thought-provoking at the same time. Mixing industrial thrash and sci-fi, dystopian themes, Fear Factory have been at the forefront of the melodic metal scene in Los Angeles and around the world since the release of their landmark 1995 album, Demanufacture. Imagine music to go with films like Total Recall, Blade Runner and The Terminator, or classic dystopian literature like Orwell’s 1984, Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 or Huxley’s Brave New World. Fear Factory’s music, industrial and machine-like, reflects a bleak possible future in which humanity is enslaved and hunted by robots and artificial intelligence that control all facets of society. Led by vocalist Burton C. Bell and guitarist Dino Cazares, the band remains an active force in industrial metal.
With others in the early '80s, including Death Angel, Exodus, Metallica and Possessed, Testament paved the way for the iconic and now historic San Francisco Bay Area thrash scene. With their second full-length, 1988’s prophetic The New Order, the band’s musicianship and songwriting skills tightened to create what many consider to be their best album. Alex Skolnick’s intricate and complex thrash guitar work uses elements of classical and even jazz, adding flair and excitement to fast-paced metal that many bands try to re-create but few have equaled. The album is a very powerful and high-octane burst of songs that warn against a world government where tyranny is the rule and freedom is nonexistent. Songs like “The New Order,” “Trial by Fire,” “Disciples of the Watch” and “Into the Pit” are classic dystopian tales that are still included in the band’s live set after all these years.
Aside from being one of the world’s best purveyors — and practically the inventors — of thrash metal, these L.A.-based forefathers have amassed quite a following among conspiracy nerds for their critiques of Christianity, politics and the American war machine. This all came to a head with the eerie release date of the band’s ninth album, God Hates Us All, which arrived on Sept. 11, 2001. With guitarists Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King and bassist/vocalist Tom Araya at the helm, the band’s furious, pessimistic and nihilistic thrash-metal sound was given new life with images of violence, drug abuse, terrorism and global chaos, adding an even darker element to Slayer’s already bleak musical landscape. But it worked, and helped to fuel renewed interest in thrash at a time when nu-metal was dominant. Later in the band's career, they would steer right into direct controversy with the song “Jihad,” from the 2006 album Christ Illusion, which depicted the 9/11 terrorist attacks from the perspective of the al-Qaida suicide hijackers.
Al Jourgensen’s music has been a staple of the industrial/metal movement for decades. Known as much for his wild partying antics as for his iconoclastic political commentary, Jourgensen wrote dark, fast songs that lashed out against society, totalitarianism and the establishment’s form of central control. His mix of partying and political dissatisfaction won him many fans, and turned songs attacking the New World Order such as “Thieves” and “N.W.O.” into big hits. More recently, he has delved into 9/11 conspiracy theories in his thrash/industrial trilogy of albums attacking President George W. Bush, House of Mole (2004), Rio Grande (2006) and The Last Sucker (2007). He has been a guest several times on The Alex Jones Show, a syndicated radio show advocating various government conspiracy theories.
From the time a young guitarist named Dave Mustaine formed the band after being 86'ed from Metallica, Megadeth has always gone against the grain. Known as one of the key guitarists in the early thrash-metal scene in L.A. and later the Bay Area, Mustaine took Megadeth toward a classically influenced form of aggressive speed metal, while also being ahead of his time in terms of lyrical themes, which included anti-war, anti-globalism sentiments. From seminal albums like Peace Sells … But Who’s Buying? and Rust in Peace to more contemporary slabs of politically charged metal such as The System Has Failed and Thirteen, Megadeth have been pummeling on in the fight against the New World Order’s goal of global domination, one album at a time.
Mustaine has always been politically active, from the time he worked for MTV’s Rock the Vote campaign in the '90s. Although some have given him grief for becoming a born-again Christian (and for some of his more extreme conspiracy theory beliefs, like his claim that the Obama administration has staged several recent mass shootings to hasten a gun ban), Mustaine rages on with Megadeth, which currently includes veteran bassist David Ellefson along with drummer Chris Adler and guitarist Kiko Loureiro. Mustaine has also been a guest on Alex Jones' radio show and admitted that he was influenced by Jones’ work, even titling Megadeth's 2009 album Endgame after a Jones documentary about the global elites subtitled Blueprint for Global Enslavement.