Satan wears many guises, but I think we can all agree that none are more excellent than the ones he dons in heavy metal music. Some of Satan's metal prophets are significantly more serious than others, and I'm sure some of these artists wouldn't especially like to be on the same page together...! However, in the spirit of embracing the lurid and the weird in a multitude of forms, I choose to enjoy each of these acts for the uniquely sinister pleasures they provide.
Oh my god, BATHORY. This face-meltingly heavy Swedish metal band was one of the first (if not the first) to record in the quintessential under-produced, not-of-this-earth black metal style, incorporating Satanic imagery and a confrontational attitude into their work. Their 1988 album "Blood Fire Death" is equal parts black metal fury and Viking epic, and is one of the most intense listening experiences that I can still actually enjoy.
I'd talked about Darkthrone a bit when reviewing the documentary on Norwegian black metal, "Until the Light Takes Us." The band is controversial for any number of reasons, from their connection to musician and murderer Varg Vikernes to their strict (and arguably elitist) stance on the definition of true black metal. Fans of the band seem to squabble about the difference in sound between their early albums, which epitomize the traditional primitive black metal aesthetic, and their newer sound, which has more in common with crust punk and hardcore. While I do dig the lo-fi psychedelia of 1994's "Goatlord," 2010's "Circle the Wagons" has become a go-to aggressive album for me, and "Dark Thrones and Black Flags" includes a song called "Witch Ghetto." Fucking "WITCH GHETTO." It's so good, it damn near inspires a scream-along.
These Mercyful Fate-worshiping ghouls from Sweden are making music that blends earworm-worthy power metal with over-the-top, theatrical evil. The members of the band refuse to share their names and will only appear for interviews in full-on ritual garb, but I suspect that tongues are planted firmly in cheeks, as they mention Zlad's "I Am the Antipope" as one of their inspirations in the Vice Magazine interview linked below. It takes a special kind of genius to make songs about human sacrifice and the Antichrist sound so damn singable. (Also: HAMMER OF DOOM IV is a thing that happened. Hearing about that just makes me really excited to be alive.) Ghost is on tour right now supporting their first album, "Opus Eponymous" and will be appearing in the US in New York and at Maryland DeathFest.
Believe me when I tell you that Acid Witch is relevant to your interests. Their love of gruesome horror movies and consciousness-altering substances combines with a sternum-crushing heavy, punk-metal sound. This band has a true fright flick sensibility, never taking themselves overly seriously even as they lay down their doomy sound. Bonus points: their 2010 release "Stoned" uses so many clips from "Witchcraft '70" that I think it qualifies as a tribute album.