Metal is one of the most notorious and controversial music genres out there. The genre has been associated with violence, and it’s not hard to see why. To the average listener, metal songs can sound rather hostile and angry.
Metal bands are synonymous with loud music, weird costumes, and radical behaviors. Some have even gained so much notoriety that they have been classified as dangerous and satanic. Here are ten exceptionally vilified metal groups.
10 Murder Junkies
The Murder Junkies are not as notorious today as they were in the 1980s and 1990s. Today, the band is known for its lewd lyrics about drugs, rape, and serial killers. Dino, the group’s drummer, is famous for drumming naked. The current band used to be the backing of the former one that hit infamy in the 1990s.
GG Allin was the most notorious and controversial member of the Murder Junkies. He regularly stripped naked onstage to defecate, and he would then fling his feces into the audience. He also got into fights with members of the audience. Things sometimes got so tense that the band feared they would be attacked after shows.
The first time GG Allin pooped onstage, it was a mistake. He had taken some laxatives before the show and just had to go. He did it right then and there and flung it into the audience. He thought it was cool and added it to his performance. To complete the insult, he proceeded to beat any audience member he could lay his hands on.
Allin planned to commit suicide during one of his shows. That never happened because he always ended up in jail. When he finally died in 1993, it was not onstage. On the day of his death, he was midway through a show when the power was cut. Covered in feces and blood, he trashed the venue and left for a friend’s house, where he died of heroin overdose. Before his death, he ordered that he should be buried unwashed, with the blood and feces on his body.
Mayhem is a black metal band from Norway. The group used to be notorious and controversial during its early days, although it is less so now. However, their shows still sometimes turn violent, no thanks to their lewd lyrics in support of drugs, suicide, and Satan. They have also been accused of using Nazi symbols and making racist remarks.
In 1991, the singer, Per “Dead” Ohlin (left above) committed suicide. Guitarist Oystein “Euronymous” Aarseth (right above), who had started the band, found Dead’s corpse. He did not call the police right away but proceeded to take part of Dead’s brain and skull, which he sent to several other metal musicians. This fact remained a rumor until Morgan “Evil” Steinmeyer Hakansson of the metal band Marduk confirmed receiving part of Dead’s brain from Euronymous.
There are also reports that Euronymous put part of Dead’s brain in his stew and made a necklace with parts of the skull. This has not been confirmed and might never be, since Euronymous was stabbed to death by a former bandmate in 1993. The killer, Varg Vikernes, was sentenced to 21 years in prison for the murder and the burning of several churches. He was released after 14 years.
Nu metal band Slipknot is notorious for several things, including their habit of defecating everywhere. The band DJ, Sid Wilson (Ratboy), once defecated in his studio during a live radio interview. The band members also defecate, urinate, and masturbate onstage. During one show, they pooped onstage before proceeding to fight each other with their own feces.
Another band member, Corey Taylor, aka The Sickness, is also known for inhaling the odors of dead animals he keeps in a jar just to induce vomiting during shows. The band is also guilty of injuring themselves and their audience. During one tour, they ended up with 45 broken ribs, largely injuries they had inflicted on themselves. During another show, Ratboy jumped into the audience from a 9-meter-high (30 ft) balcony, leaving a lady with serious injuries.
Besides their radical behavior, their songs have also inspired some dark crimes. In California in May 2003, Jason Lamar Harris and Amber Rose Riley stabbed Terry Ray Taylor to death before cutting his throat. The duo had listened to Slipknot’s “Disasterpiece” before the murder. The opening line of the song says “I wanna slit your throat and f—k the wound.”
At Nic Diederichs Technical High School in South Africa in 2006, a student dressed as Slipknot’s drummer, Joey Jordison, sliced the throat of another student with a sword and stabbed three others. The same year, the lyrics to the band’s song “Surfacing” were found at the scene of a grave robbery in the US. Psychologists have warned that Slipknot’s songs might negatively impact depressed teenagers, while Christian organizations say the songs promote the Devil.
7 Sex Pistols
The Sex Pistols were a notorious British punk metal band. Formed in 1975, they hit the limelight on December 1, 1976, when a drunk Steve Jones (the guitarist) used the f-word twice during a live interview. This caused national outrage. Many of band’s concerts were canceled, and their audiences walked out on them while they played. This culminated in the band losing their record contract with music label EMI on January 6, 1977.
The Sex Pistols were undaunted. They even recorded a diss track they named “EMI,” where they called the label’s executives “stupid fools.” On March 10, 1977, they signed onto A&M Records but lost the contract few days later after they wrecked the label’s office while celebrating the new contract. On May 18, they signed onto Richard Branson’s Virgin records, under which they released their controversial single, “God Save the Queen.”
“God Save the Queen” strongly criticized Queen Elizabeth II, causing another national outrage. The BBC banned the song from its studios, while newspapers denounced both the song and the group. Band member John Lydon (stage name: Johnny Rotten) was attacked with machetes and broken bottles on the streets. On June 7, the Sex Pistols were arrested after playing on a boat that sailed past the House of Commons.
6 Electric Eels
The electric eels (the band wrote their name with the lowercase e’s) was a proto-punk music band that was formed and disbanded in the 1970s. The band lasted for three years before it broke up in 1976. During that time, they never released a single album and only managed five shows, which often ended prematurely because club owners sent them packing mid-performance.
The reason was that the band’s guitarist, John Morton, was fond of fighting with the audience and other band members while onstage. Besides fighting the audience, the electric eels are also known for their use of the Nazi swastika and some bizarre musical instruments. They usually went onstage with chainsaws and lawn mowers, which they used to amplify their sound.
5 Mashrou’ Leila
Mashrou’ Leila is an indie rock band from the most unlikely of places: Lebanon. Over here in the West, they might seem tame, but they are considered notorious by the governments of the Middle East because of their lead singer and style of music. Unlike other Middle Eastern bands that focus on romance, Mashrou’ Leila focuses on societal and political issues. Hamed Sinno, the band vocalist, is also gay, and he is not hiding it.
The band is banned in Syria and Palestine. They are not banned in Jordan, but the fact that Jordanian radio stations avoid playing their songs and that the government stopped them from touring the country in 2016 and 2017 means they are not welcome, either. Mashrou’ Leila isn’t banned in Saudi Arabia, either, but they know they will not be allowed there. These days, they play in their native Lebanon and tour the US, France, and Britain.
4 Body Count
Thrash metal band Body Count wasn’t really notorious, but one of their songs was so controversial that President George H.W. Bush complained, and the FBI added Ice-T (who founded the band) to its National Threat List. The song was “Cop Killer,” released in 1992.
The album was released around the same time a Los Angeles court had acquitted some police officers who had brutalized Rodney King during an arrest. The acquittal caused serious riots. This happened to be the same time that Body Count decided to release its debut album, which featured “Cop Killer.” The notorious song was written from the perspective of a police brutality victim who decided to kill a police officer in revenge.
Police and law enforcement groups around the US found the lyrics very controversial and called on Time Warner to withdraw the album. Time Warner refused, and the associations turned to bullying businesses to stop selling the album. A store in Greensboro, North Carolina, was told that police would not respond to their emergencies unless they withdrew the album from their store. They complied.
President Bush also criticized the album, and Ice-T was number two on the FBI’s National Threat List. Ice-T’s claims that the song was targeted at bad cops did not help matters. Time Warner and Ice-T later agreed to pull the album from the shelves. “Cop Killer” was replaced with “Freedom of Speech,” which was directed at everyone that called for the removal of “Cop Killer.”
3 Cannibal Corpse
Cannibal Corpse is famous for the controversial lyrics of its songs and the questionable artwork of its album covers. Many have complained that the band’s songs promote violence and sexual violence toward women. With songs like “Stripped, Raped, and Tangled,” it is no surprise that they have been banned in Russia, Germany, and Australia at different times. In 1995, Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole said the band’s songs “undermined the character” of the US.
On November 28, 2014, a Russian court ruled that the band’s songs and artwork could “damage the mental health of children.” The court did not ban their songs outright but stopped them from being translated into Russian. Their questionable album covers could not be used in Russia, either. The band had toured Russia prior to the ban. They were supposed to hold eight concerts but held only two because their Russian partners always came up with flimsy excuses.
Swedish band Shining (not to be confused with the Norwegian band of the same name) credits itself for creating the suicidal black metal genre. The band is notorious and controversial, just like the genre. The current Shining is actually the second band of the same name. Both were formed by Niklas Kvarforth, who is the only member who was in both bands.
In 1996, Kvarforth formed the first band, but it soon broke apart over infighting that the band’s website blames on his “mental health.” Kvarforth later created the second band, but it looks like his mental health is still getting in the way. In May 2017, one of their tours in Portland, Oregon, was canceled over his excessive behavior.
Before an earlier show in Boise, Idaho, Kvarforth had gone to a bar where he got drunk. Between his time at the bar and just before the show, he drugged a lady’s drink, attacked a man, sexually assaulted a woman, made racial remarks, and threatened to stab and rape people. To complete his notoriety, he did the Nazi salute.
1 Suicidal Tendencies
Hardcore punk band Suicidal Tendencies gained notoriety after they were accused of being members of the Venice 13 street gang. This accusation came after the band used the logo of Venice 13, a criminal gang based in Venice, Los Angeles, where they were founded, for their album cover.
The band never confirmed being gang members, but the brother of their former bassist Louiche Mayorga is known to have been member of Venice 13. In 2013, they released an album titled 13. Whether it was in reference to the year of release or their membership in the gang, no one can say. But plenty of their critics probably assumed the latter.
Aside from the suspected gang affiliation, the band has sometimes gotten into trouble because of their lewd songs. This has, at times, gotten them blacklisted from performing at several venues. At one point, they were even banned from performing anywhere within Los Angeles. At another time, they found the FBI at their front door after releasing a song called “I shot Reagan.” They later changed the name to “I Shot the Devil.”