The Twelve Scariest Bands

Texas' Butthole Surfers: Kinda terrifying.
Texas' Butthole Surfers: Kinda terrifying.

Seeing that Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson hit the Verizon Theater in Grand Prairie this evening, we thought it would be a good time to compile a list of the scariest acts in music. Scary can be a relative term. One person's demented can be another's delightful, but each of these 12 scary acts has a unique way of assaulting their audience.

See also: -The Top Ten All Time Best Replacement Lead Singers in Rock and Roll -Songs That Have Hidden Messages When Played in Reverse -The Ten Best Music Videos Banned by MTV


Butthole Surfers

- When Gibby Haynes and crew first started back in 1981, shows by the Butthole Surfers were some of the best/worst acid trips imaginable. Beyond the strident psychedelics of the music itself, there was the stage presentation. Performing to old reruns of

Charlie's Angels

is one thing; playing in front of a screen showing a penis reconstruction film is quite another.



- This highly influential New York duo scared the shit out of audiences in the '70s and the best of their studio work still has a frightening edge missing from electronic music today. Check out Suicide's "Frankie Teardrop" for the creepy evidence of this decadent duo's daring depravity.


Iggy and the Stooges

- Whether rubbing peanut butter all over his body or cutting himself with shards of glass, Iggy Pop has always been one of the most uncompromising and genuinely scary individuals ever to take a stage.


The Misfits

- Sure, the songs were campy horror tunes about "Teenagers from Mars" and going to "The Devil's Whorehouse," but on stage, Glen Danzig was a raging beast of a frontman and the original Misfits followed suit. Intense and intimidating, The Misfits' best shows were both funny and frightening.




- Led by the enigmatic Michael Gira, Swans have made some of the most indisputably terrifying music ever created. Live, the band's sheer volume is enough to have some shows shut down.


Alice Cooper

- The man himself, the Godfather of Shock Rock, Alice Cooper, even at 65, still has the ability to scare the bravest of concert goers. Early in his career, Cooper would often use fake blood, snakes and even a guillotine to enhance his performances.


John Cale

- After his stint in the Velvet Underground, John Cale went on a search and destroy mission that culminated in him cutting the head off a live chicken at a concert in 1977. In protest, Cale's backing band quit on the spot. Cale responded by writing the song "Chicken Shit" for his EP

Animal Justice



Howlin' Wolf

- at 6'6" and 300 pounds, bluesman Chester Arthur Burnett was already an intimidating figure on stage. Add in the Wolf's signature, devilish singing style and you had the makings for the shock of a lifetime.



Nick Cave

- whether solo or with the Birthday Party, Nick Cave has always been one creepy character. Violent, romantic, depressing, sometimes all within the same song, Cave is the quintessential terrifying performer.



- back in 1987 when Ministry released its landmark recording

The Land of Rape and Honey

, I had the opportunity to catch a show on that tour. Whether it was setting the stage on fire or tying some poor dude to the Catherine wheel behind them on stage, Ministry was the musical version of the Apocalypse.


Captain Beefheart

- aka Don Van Vliet, this diminutive little fellow was a scary gremlin on and off stage. Sadly, the captain passed away in 2010, but his powerful (and adventurous) music lives on in its depravity.


Christian Death

- although relatively obscure, this deathrock outfit from L.A. featured the legitimately scary frontman Rozz Williams. The band's only "great" album was 1982's

Only Theater of Pain

, a shockingly original slab of anti-religious banter that is still incredibly affecting today.


may well be the scariest record ever made.

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