As a kid, a lot of things creep you out that really shouldn't. Shower drains, primarily, along with cryptic pictures of Jesus Christ and, of course, clowns (John Wayne Gacy, Jr. being the exception.)
Certain bands seem to play on that irrational childhood fear, making their music a year-round Halloween-style creepfest. But as you grow older? They just seem cheesy.
Here are five bands that you think will bring the fear, but wind up...lame.
Holy shit! They're like demonic superheroes with black and white painted faces! You can't even see who they are! Then you realize that the bassist with the lizard-like tongue is actually a father of two and plastic surgery fanatic. Also, their music is far from intimidating.
Music editor Jason Woodbury once told me that KISS optimized everything he was supposed to fear during his Christian upbringing. Then he realized that KISS were the dudes who sang "I Wanna Rock 'n' Roll All Night," a song he had heard dozens of times, and hadn't ever scared him. Carrying the whole demon spawn act into your 60s is actually pretty lame.
When you mix elaborate, horror-inspired costumes, taboo lyrics and fake blood and feces, you get something surprisingly laughable. I'm actually not sure if GWAR set out to be creepy, or satire by way of creepy, but it sure ended up as the latter. The whole act less offensive than it is lighthearted and amusing. Maybe that's because I always appreciate a good disemboweling of a Paris Hilton mannequin.
Calling ICP "scary" would be an insult to pretty much any horror movie ever made (including Birdemic), but back in the late '90s when I was jamming to whatever just happened to come on the radio, the idea of insane clowns was pretty terrifying. Looking back on it, what's even more frightening is that I knew all of the words to "Hokus Pokus." Not that ICP was ever heady, but as the years have progressed, ignorance has been revered among this face painted duo. When you can easily outwit the insane clown that's threatening to kill you, they're suddenly not so scary.
See "KISS," then add in some death metal.
At this point in the list, it might look like most metal falls under this creepy-turned-lame category, but it's actually quite the reverse. There are plenty of metal bands that don't need to play dress up to show they're worth something. Norway's Dimmu Borgir isn't one of them. The theatrical death metal dudes look like the Volturi vampire council from Twilight. (And if you ask me how I know that, I'll Paris Hilton you.)
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.