Almost every metal band is inspired by the darker side of existence. A million acts have tried to out-evil their predecessors, but these 10 acts have captured the fear of metalheads through sonic and visual means along with actual acts of what many would call “evil.”

The history of black metal pioneers Mayhem is riddled with blood and controversy. The most notorious crime in black metal history revolves around the murder of guitarist Euronymous by former Mayhem bandmate and Burzum mastermind Varg Vikernes. Even beyond the killing (and earlier suicide of vocalist Per ‘Dead’ Ohlin), Mayhem spread their messages of evil with elaborate stage performances wrapped in barbed wire and self-mutilation.

No singular musician is more frightening onstage than former Gorgoroth vocalist Gaahl. His stone-faced expressions and dead eyes come from his desire to become one with the song he’s performing, acting as a physical extension of the music. Gorgoroth’s 2004 Black Mass in Krakow, Poland, remains one of the most infamous performances in metal history, while later that year, Gaahl received a 14-month prison sentence for aggravated assault.

If you haven’t heard Stalaggh, we’d advise you to keep it that way. The noise collective’s albums remain the closest representation of dropping a microphone into Hell. Allegedly using the screams of mental patients, Stalaggh’s vacuum of terror can break you down mentally like no other listening experience.

Check out the 10 Most Evil Bands of All Time in the Loud List above.

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