Ultimate-Guitar's Scariest Bands Of All Time

We at Ultimate-Guitar thought it only appropriate to pay homage to those bands that have frightened the bejesus out of millions with a list aptly titled The Scariest Bands Of All Time.

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Ah, sweet music. You are truly a cathartic, emotional release from the week's trials and tribulations. When life gets me down, I just whip out that old Appetite For Destruction CD and I'm goldenWell, until I start dwelling on how Axl parted ways with Slash, but I digress. Most of the year I'm surrounded by a safe haven of classic music, but something wacky happens right around the time I flip my wall calendar to read October. Friends (not to mention the trusty, yet flawed resources Wikipedia and YouTube) introduce me to bands that have the sole intention of taking listeners on a dark, seedy musical journey. Rather than giving you a musical high, these artists are more likely to transform you into a babbling 5-year-old that keeps a nightlight and crucifix on standby.

We at Ultimate-Guitar thought it only appropriate to pay homage to those bands that have frightened the bejesus out of millions with a list aptly titled The Scariest Bands Of All Time. The artists come in different packages (although inverted crosses and/or milky-colored eye contact lenses are always winners when accessorizing), and their sounds range from being subtly creepy to necessitating holy water in the room during each listen. You might not agree with every selection on the list and there might be a few missing that you feel should have been a shoe-in for the Scariest, so we highly encourage you to add your own picks to the comments section. Go ahead. Scare the s*%t out us.

Classic Terror

  • Black Sabbath

    Thank you, Tony Iommi and gang. Without you, there might not be the thousands upon thousands of black, death, goth, and overall heavy metal bands that are prevalent today. While contemporary rock bands often measure their scariness by the amount of ghoulish makeup they can plaster on their faces, this old school metal band could give you chills with a single riff. Black Sabbath or War Pigs may have a subtler approach to anything from Cradle of Filth or Deicide, but Iommi had an amazing way of taking you to the darkest (and coolest) places - and it's still effective in 2008.

  • Slayer

    Some people talk about the first time they ever heard The Beatles or The Rolling Stones, but it was hearing Slayer's South Of Heaven that made a massive impression upon me. At the age of about 12, I was shocked and awed hearing Kerry King's insanely cool intro riff blast through the car speakers.

    It wasn't necessarily fear that I was experiencing, but the proceeding songs I heard on the South of Heaven album were darker and more menacing than any of the benign hair metal I had been exposed to in the past. While Slayer's purpose isn't always to be intentionally scary, they hit the bull's-eye with the Ed Gein-inspired track Dead Skin Mask. Even if it didn't revolve around a serial killer, hearing the voice of a desperate victim crying out tends to be deeply unsettling.

  • King Diamond

    The master of horror concept albums is none other than Kim Bendix Petersen, aka King Diamond. At the height of his dark creativity was the classic 1987 offering Abigail, which has everything you could want in a nightmarish bedtime story: witches, possession, and the trademark falsetto of a black metal icon.

    In reality the present-day King Diamond leads far from a sinister life, and actually voiced his deep concern for the welfare of children in an interview with Ultimate-Guitar earlier this year. That being said, he still has the ability to chill musically, as is evident in his latest release, Give Me Your SoulPlease.

    Welcome To Their Nightmare

  • Marilyn Manson

    Disturbing music videos in which torture devices are a highlight? Check. An album featuring the word antichrist, complete with a pose on a crucifix? Check. Shoot a video in which you don a pair of fake breasts while simultaneously looking like an alien? Whoa, whoa, whoa - I'm not sure if that can count as scaryAfter further pondering, in Manson's case, yes. Yes, it can. Marilyn Manson is an obvious choice, but the shock rocker vacates a well-deserved slot on our list. When it comes to producing a downright sacrilegious stage show or projecting haunting video images that will disturb you for weeks to come, Manson is your man. The shock factor has eased up over the years due to being overexposed and his latest album Eat Me, Drink Me was more seductive than scary, but we would probably be fools to think Manson doesn't have at least a little more spookiness up his straitjacket.

  • Rammstein

    Okay, a lot of us probably cracked a slight smile when conjuring up an image of the all-that-is-man ubergroup, Rammstein. The German natives walk a fine line between being an amusing topic of conversation and a truly frightening mass of testosterone. Either way, much of Rammstein's music manages to create quite a dark mood.

    Case in point is the song Mein Teil (often translated as my part or my penis), which tells the story of 2 men who cut off and subsequently cooked and ate another poor soul's Johnson. Combine the story with the grinding guitars and the disturbingly hushed vocals of Till Lindemann, and you've got yourself one hell of a scary song.

  • Aphex Twin

    While at first this artist (otherwise known as Richard David James) seems to just be laying down a random assortment of drum beats and samples to fit nameless-nightclub-number-whatever, it soon becomes obvious that Aphex Twin has more ominous intentions. With songs that feature lyrics such as I want your soul; I will eat your soul, and an industrial-synth sound that often sounds like screaming banshees, James has mastered the art of creepiness. If you dare, check out the videos Come To Daddy and Rubber Johnny.

  • Cradle Of Filth

    This British metal band has inched away from the black metal genre over the years, and some might say that its affect on the senses has lessened since that time. But going through the Cradle of Filth catalog, there is still some seriously eerie material. If you doubt they could deliver a sinister track, look no further than Dinner At Deviant's Palace. The disquieting voice we hear is apparently guitarist Paul Allender's son reading The Lord's Prayer - in reverse, of course. The verdict is out as to whether Cradle of Filth can maintain the dark creativity, but we should find out this week when the latest album Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder is released. Vocalist Dani Filth has said that everyone who has heard this album has bruised their jaws on the pentagram-bejeweled floor." A bejeweled pentagram? Well, count me in.

  • Stalaggh/Gulaggh

    Is it music? That's up for debate, but whatever we hear on the Stalaggh (now defunct) and Gulaggh recordings is raw, brutal, and emotionally draining. The Dutch, possibly Belgian anonymous musicians behind the projects are surrounded in an air of mystery and have used mental patients and screaming children to provide the vocals in their songs. Don't expect these guys to show up and impress you with a creepy stage show, either. After all, they've stated in a past interview, Concerts make people socialize and that is not to be supported.

  • Mayhem

    There are black metal bands that chill with a melody and others that captivate audiences with a ghoulish wardrobe. Then there is Mayhem. This Norwegian band could probably be considered one of the most sinister groups in black metal or among humans in general. While Mayhem's music had all the ingredients for the best in metal, their taste for evil got the best of them.

    With frontman Dead committing suicide, guitarist Euronymous allegedly eating part of Dead's body, and bassist Count Grishnackh eventually murdering Euronymous, Mayhem is possibly the most terrifying band ever to walk the Earth.

  • Khanate

    If you like your metal equivalent to that of a deranged horror film, look no further than Khanate. Although the quartet disbanded back in 2006, they still managed to produce some seriously disturbing material during the 5 years they were together. The tempos are achingly slow, vocalist Alan Dubin sounds like some sort of pissed-off goblin, and the guitars groan with a thick layer of feedback. In summation, Khanate is the perfect Halloween soundtrack if you desire to scare the crap out of children.

    Lucifer's Spawn or Just Loveable?

  • Alice Cooper

    Back in the early 1970s, Alice Cooper paved the road for all shock rockers with his blacked-out eyes, marionette-like mouth creases, and shows featuring the likes of guillotines and dancing teeth. His songs never quite matched the horror that his image conveyed, but Marilyn Manson still owes Cooper a big thank-you for the inspiration.

    The shock had all but disappeared when Cooper appeared in Wayne's World as the resident expert on the Indian root meaning of Mil-wau-kee, but that's not such a bad thing. Not only have we gained an entertaining screen actor, rumor has it that Cooper is one hell of a golfer as well.

  • Ozzy Osbourne

    Yes, we already mentioned Black Sabbath in the Classic Terror category, but Ozzy has evolved into a completely unique entity as a solo artist. If you were walking and talking in the 1980s, you won't be forgetting the bat incident anytime soon. When Ozzy took a big ol' bite into a bat that was thrown onstage during the Bark At The Moon Tour, that incident seemed to seal the deal on the frontman's spawn of Satan claim - or more accurately, his monstrous drug problem. Fast forward to 2008 and Ozzy is still a force with which to be reckoned. Of course, now the self-proclaimed Prince Of Darkness is pushing 60 and it's hard to not be entertained by every word (or vague utterance) that Ozzy makes. Hey, the man's a reality TV star, a family man, and part Energizer Bunny - after all, he's still holding his own with the likes of Zakk Wylde every year.

  • Gwar

    If we went by looks alone, Gwar would have earned a special slot at the top of the list. Of course, every time Oderus Urungus utters a cornball line (particularly when on Jerry Springer or the now defunct Joan Rivers Show), it's hard to see the horror behind the humor. Given the fact that we've had a couple of decades to get used to the whole notion of Gwar, it does seem the scariest part about the sci-fi inspired band might be its stage shows.

    That favorite T-shirt of yours won't survive all the decapitated heads and slain dinosaurs, which will undoubtedly ooze gallons of delightful Gwar juice. Um, I mean blood.

  • 264 comments sorted by best / new / date

      TomD03
      Wtf, Venom???? Where is venom??? Back in the day, they were the scariest. Or how about Gorgoroth????
      nuncautnumquam
      are people not taking this list a bit too seriously? i'm sure a fairly sizable amount of the board could reel off a few 'scarier bands' (by inevitably plundering their knowledge of death metal or black metal, however limited that is). Its a bit of fun, can it not be treated that way? Ta babes.
      slitan
      i grew up on horro and metal...and parbola(TOOL) was the first song i heard growin up but if u guys want some f-d up shzt go listen to some SKR lables komatose and sicktanik are goth/horor/death Rap but the should be on there
      AEnima18
      they should also mention mudvayne and slipknot (from their early careers when they were actually scary) and what about mushroomhead?!
      DoteStudios
      Horrible Alice revue, it wasn't just theatrics that got him famous. More people know he plays School's Out than know what he does or looks like, although it's sad it proves his music is legendary as well. Also where are the Misfits? They are halloween and are the best Alice rip offs.
      trashbeast
      where are venom, death, cannibal corpse? These bands aren't even scary.. king diamond? most people laugh the first time they hear his voice and think it's a joke..
      any14doomsday
      Good call on Khanate, most people here were probly like WTF who are those guys ? but they are truly terrifying
      nesveikuolis
      Corpse for sure - how many other bands have been banned that much and received so much criticism?
      DyingToFish
      um... Cannibal Corpse!?! cmon! Slipknot also Venom Ill give credit for Cradle of Filth... but cmon
      SG Man Forever
      Why is Behemoth not on this list? They are ****in scary. Also Burzum belongs here if you're talking about Norwegian black metal
      .6.bullets.
      Throbbing Gristle, man. THAT is some freaky shit, listen to the songs SlugBait and Urge To Kill. But, all in a all it's a decent list. Needs Rob Zombie though.
      DonCorleone72
      i still dont get how the **** king diamond is black metal. i could never get into it besides, the vocals always seemed like a joke to me
      no. 1 maggot
      if you go by lyrics, the berzerker are a definite candidate. the song forever is pretty sick. not the good sick, either. cradle of filth and mayhem are right on the top of my personal list. sabbath, alice cooper, ozzy - not so much. Arch Enemy is pretty scary, after all it's a chick making that horrible noise
      megaganj
      Where the hell is cannibal corpse? nobody tops them for sheer brutality. I think I get the same kind of kick out of listening to frantic disembowelment as I do watching a good zombie movie. The name of the band even means zombie!
      el_psycho
      Come on, Slipknot actually wear Halloween masks, and they don't deserve a mention? Mudvayne? Even Mushroomhead? Even if your judging this by music you can't include Cradle of Filth and ignore Slipknot.
      voidSkipper
      Come on, Slipknot actually wear Halloween masks, and they don't deserve a mention? Mudvayne? Even Mushroomhead? Even if your judging this by music you can't include Cradle of Filth and ignore Slipknot.
      Scarily commercial, maybe.
      Thedarkchild
      slipknot is not scary at all...but they are a good band cannibal corpse isn't scary either...they are funny to me...can't take them serious...
      MrGoodyear812
      and here i was half hoping the Jonus Brothers would be on the list.....than it hit me! they were talking about music groups only!!!!! haha
      billybusa
      Roopelatvalafan wrote: where is britney spears? come on!
      you are not original nor funny slipknot - (515) is a pretty scary song same with the live performance of scissors
      roarinflames
      im surprised noone said anything about NIN their old stuff was pretty ****ing creepy like "big man with a gun"