The 10 most satanic metal bands of all time | Phoenix New Times


The 10 most satanic metal bands of all time

Looking for some dark tunes? Check out Morbid Angel, Brujeria and more.
What would the devil listen to?
What would the devil listen to? ChodHound/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
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No other genre can claim a connection to evil like heavy metal. Whether it's a brutal Satanic death metal band from Florida, a church-burning Norwegian black metal band or a Mexican gang of devil-worshiping drug lords, we decided to dig deep into the fiery underground pits of hell for our selection of the top 10 most satanic metal bands. This is a list that would make Lucifer himself proud.

10. Nattefrost

Roger Rasmussen, also known as Nattefrost, is the lead singer of Scandinavian black metal miscreants Carpathian Forest. But his Nattefrost solo project is even more Satanic than Carpathian Forest, who are pretty damn evil to begin with. With a caustic chainsaw, speed-metal punk fury, Nattefrost revive the eerie old-school sound of bands like Hellhammer, Darkthrone and Mayhem, with their necro-obsessed theme and call for evil entities and dark forces. With songs like "Satanic Victory," "Sluts of Hell" and "Mass Destruction," all from the 2004 album "Blood and Vomit," the band are uncompromising in lyrics and raw power. "Terrorist," an album from 2006, features more misanthropic torture, with songs like "Primitive Death," "Goat Worship" and "Satan Is Endless Satan Is Timeless." Basically, it's the type of scary music that you would hear in a born-again Christian's nightmares. 

9. Morbid Angel

Since the debut of their classic album "Altars of Madness" in 1989, Morbid Angel have mastered the art form of extreme metal, producing some of the most evil-sounding heavy metal music in existence. With a foundation of musical technicality that is nothing short of sorcery, the roots of the Florida-bred band are steeped in the occult and worship of the beast, but have moved towards more dark, spiritual and esoteric themes, such Sumerian deities, mythology and even ancient incantations and witchcraft.

Morbid Angel are included with their peers in Deicide and Cannibal Corpse as being the most successful first wave of American death metal bands. Ironically, what is considered to be the band's most satanic album, 1993's "Covenant," was the first album released by a death metal band on a major record label (a subsidiary of Warner Bros) and is still ranked among the some of the best-selling death metal albums of all time. 

8. The Electric Hell Fire Club (EHC)

Thomas Thorn, aka Buck Ryder from My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult, formed this obscure alternative/electro/ industrial metal band of evil hippies in Wisconsin in 1991. The EHC made music that repeatedly made references to serial killers, mass murder, Devil worship, carnal lust, orgies and drug abuse. Thorn is literally an ordained priest in the Church of Satan, and even gave a eulogy for the Church's creator, Anton LaVey, when he died in 1997.

7. Satyricon

Norwegian black metal band Satyricon was obsessed with medieval history since its formation in the early '90s. With the first several albums focusing on forests and castles, the band developed a sound that is today as sinister as black metal but still accessible enough to be popular. The secret arsenal behind the fury of Satyricon is the powerhouse drummer Frost, a black metal legend with piercing rhythm and inhuman speed.

Led by vocalist and lyricist Satyr, the band takes a modern approach to raw black metal such as Darkthrone, Bathory and Burzum, and music inspired by Mother Earth, ancient paganism, the occult and the nature of evil. Be sure to check out the entire band's catalog and arguably the band's best collections: "Nemesis Divina" (1996), "Rebel Extravaganza" (1999), "Volcano" (2002) and "Now, Diabolical" (2006).

6. Marduk

Taking the band name from an ancient Babylonian god, Marduk is a black metal band from Sweden formed in 1990. The band's musical themes include religious and philosophical Satanism, anti-Christianity and a dark look into the past, including brutal memories of World War II and atrocities committed by The Third Reich. One of the band's infamous early demo covers depicts a nun using a crucifix to masturbate, and the words "F**k Me Jesus." A few choice song titles include "Jesus Christ Sodomized," "Death Sex Ejaculation," "Burn My Coffin," "Blessed Unholy" and "With Satan" and "Victorious Weapons." Due to the prominent theme of World War II, many have accused the band of being racist, antisemitic and even Nazi-leaning, but the band members have insisted Marduk have no political agenda, but uses the history of fascist Germany for artistic purposes and music only.

5. Behemoth

Hailing from Poland, Behemoth formed in 1991 and earned a local following as a traditional black metal band, with early themes of Nordic paganism and the occult. Led by singer and guitarist Nergal, Behemoth merges the mysticism and image of black metal with the force, precision and brutality of death metal, with lyrical content that explores ancient anti-Christian themes, as well as other Satanic philosophies.

Key albums to check out include "Satanica" (1999), "Thelma6" (2000) and "The Apostasy" (2007). The band almost dissolved when Nergal was diagnosed with leukemia in 2010. After a long recovery, however, the band were back in full effect. Their latest album is 2022's "Opvs Contra Natvram."

4. Brujeria

Long known as a cult band, and rumored to be made up of actual Mexican Satanic drug lords, or members of bands like Fear Factory, Napalm Death, Carcass, Faith No More, Dead Kennedys, Terrorizer and others, the legendary Brujeria create some of the most sinful, wicked music known to mankind, even if you don't understand a word of Spanish. The music speaks for itself: grinding guitars, a bit of times groovy death metal, lyrics sung all in Spanish. Brujeria translates in English to Witchcraft, and the band are known for such shocking musical tales as "Narcos Satanicos" (Satanic Drug-Dealers), "Molestando Ninos Muertos" (Molesting Dead Children) "Almas de Venta"(Souls for Sale) and "Sesos Humanos Sacrificio" (Human Brain Sacrifice), among many others.

The band's most infamous album is 1993's "Matando Gueros" (Killing Whiteboys), which featured a real picture of a man's decapitated, rotting head on the cover. This led the FBI to question band members on how they obtained the gruesome photo. 

3. Dark Funeral

Emerging from Sweden in the early '90s, Dark Funeral is in the same league as contemporaries Gorgoroth and Marduk. The band came to fruition just at peak of the Norwegian black metal explosion in Norway, which was a time when the grim music matched a masochistic and violent lifestyle of black metal artists: murders, church burnings, Satanism, self-mutilation, suicide, drug abuse and even in some cases homophobia and racism.

Dark Funeral's music focuses more on literal depictions of the underworld, hell and the end times on their albums, which include many symphonic, nocturnal and symphonic black metal hymns dedicated to hatred, misanthropy, devil worship and the black arts. Dark Funeral's sound is agonizing yet melodic, beautiful yet destructive, and is best experienced in the live setting, with shows often consisting of corpse paint, blood, fire  breathing, pentagrams, leather and spikes.

2. Deicide

This American death metal band was formed in 1987 in Tampa, Fla., and from the beginning was a musical homage to Satan, offering up a confrontational, overtly Satanic attack against Christianity with each album and live show. The band's name literally means the killing of God — so there's that. Founding member, bassist and vocalist Glen Benton's throat is consistently deep and demonic while his lyrics are blasphemous. It's no shock that the band stirs up controversy among many fundamentalist Christian groups with albums titles like "Once Upon the Cross" (1995), "Serpents of the Light" (1997), "In Torment in Hell" (2001), and "To Hell With God" (2011).

Benton even had an inverted cross branded into his forehead to prove his loyalty to the Dark Lord, though former band mates have questioned his sincerity over the years. Despite numerous lineup changes, Deicide currently features drummer/founding member Steve Asheim, and guitarists Taylor Nordberg and Kevin Quirion. Early in the band's career, Deicide was hounded by church protests, animal rights groups who alleged animal torture and even several lawsuits alleging the music influenced suicide, crime and even murder.

After more than 30 years of hellish death metal, the band are scheduled to release a new album in 2024. This is one extreme metal band that will slow down when hell freezes over. Deicide is in the top three highest-selling death metal bands of all time, along with Cannibal Corpse and Morbid Angel. After all these years, these guys are on top of their game and still sound evil as fuck.

1. Mayhem

Formed in 1984 in Norway, Mayhem's hellish sound and violent lifestyle still serve as the epitome of true Norwegian black metal. The band have gone through countless lineup changes since their dark inception, initially inspired by the likes of Slayer, Celtic Frost, Venom, Judas Priest and Motorhead. But as time went on the music became faster, darker, more violent and grim, with depressing, macabre and even Satanic themes and lyrics focused on death and the occult. The band's original singer, known as Dead, committed suicide by blowing his brains out with a shotgun in 1991 (pictures taken by the band's guitarist Euronymous are on the bootleg live album "Dawn of the Black Hearts") but even Dead's death wouldn't slow the band down.

Shortly after this, more violence ensued around the band, including original bass player Varg Vikernes (Burzum), who committed a spree of church arsons to proclaim his hatred for Christianity; and the eventual murder of Euronymous, by Vikernes in 1993, just before the release of the Mayhem's quintessential album, "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas," a Latin phrase meaning Lord Satan's Mysterious Secret Rites. The record came out in 1994, when Vikernes was sentenced for the murder of Euronymous. The album also eerily contains lyrics written by Dead before his suicide, and the last songs recorded by Euronymous before he was killed.

Thirty years after the literal mayhem, Mayhem the band has survived the first decade of the 21st century, and currently features two original members, drummer Hellhammer and bassist Necrobutcher, along with longtime singer Atilla Csihar and guitarists Teloch and Ghul. The band's performances have in the recent past included blood, knives and even pig's heads on metal spikes. May God have mercy on their damned souls.

This article first appeared in 2015 and has been updated.
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