Heavy metal is a glorious and cacophonous roar, the musical equivalent of a freight train barreling through the grimmest tunnel of doom and despair before leading fans through to the other side. Great metal bands are like a thunderclap and lightening flash simultaneously overwhelming one's senses, and it's no wonder that so many people are dedicated to the genre in ways approaching religious devotion. The extreme nature of some metal bands extends far beyond their music, as many choose to craft an image that mirrors the bombastic nature of the songs they play, which can far eclipse wearing spiked leather or makeup. Some bands create a scary mascot to help stoke the hellfire of their fans' imaginations. These (usually) monstrous creations grace T-shirts and album covers, adding another layer of visual badassery to a band's arsenal of cool. Let's take a look at some of these mascots, and grade them for their evil awesomeness.
5. ALLISTER FIEND (MOTLEY CRUE)
It's probably hard for some people to remember this ungodly horror, since Motley Crüe seemed to mostly abandon him sometime by the late '80s, but he was a crudely drawn character who looked like if Mr. Hyde from Victorian-era literature had been member of the band. Early in their career, Mr. Fiend was featured a lot, but as time wore on he seemed to show up on merch less often. Allister never reached the iconic status of some band mascots, but was a fitting personification of the Crüe's style of metal.
Cool factor: Six flying pentagrams out of ten.
Scariness: Not exactly "scary," but if you see some guy with a mullet wearing a shirt with Allister on it, there's a pretty good chance you can score some low-grade weed from him. I'll rate him as three bad tattoos out of ten.
Overall Awesomeness: Does driving around in a beat-up 1983 Camaro while you head to the arcade listening to "Bastard" sound awesome to you? If so, Allister Fiend gets a score of nine dime bags of Texas shake weed.
4. MURRALSEE (DIO)
You know, I've looked at Ronnie James Dio's album art quite a few times over the years, and I never knew that the scary giant monster/demon thing featured on them had a name. It's "Murralsee," which, according to Dio fan lore, is the one surviving member of an ancient race of giants who once battled evil cyclopean adversaries. His origin story also involves "Fakreddin Faeries" and a whole slew of other Dio-sounding stuff, leading up to the metal singer discovering "Murray" in the woods and befriending him. While the tale of Murray seems to indicate he's a kind, unjustly misunderstood creature, the album covers he's featured on seem to tell a different story. There he is on Holy Diver, chain-whipping a drowning priest while he "shoots the horns" with his other hand. Then, on The Last In Line, good 'ol Murray is standing over an enormous crowd of people in a fiery Hellscape. No one looks like they're having a good time but him, but hey, maybe they deserved their horrific fate...Who am I to judge this Murralsee guy? All of his victims could be ticket scalpers or members of the PMRC, for all I know.
Cool Factor: I guess he's cool in an old-school metal album cover kind of way; it's hard to get more Ren-Faire metal than a Dio cover unless you want to go full on Manowar or something. I'll give Murray a solid "5 golden wizard staves."
Scariness: He looks like a total giant demon, so that's worth a few points. His backstory is pretty lame, though, so he'll be penalized for that. I'm going to say Murray (lame name, too) is only scary to folks who thought the satanic panic was real. So, he gets four Jack Chick comics out of ten.
Overall Awesomeness: It's trendy now to claim to be a Dio fan, at least ironically. Regardless of whether it's cool to like him or not, Ronnie James Dio was a great singer, and anything connected with him deserves a little respect. I'll give Murray eight "Man on the Silver Mountains" for that.
3. BAPHOMET GOAT WARRIOR (SLAYER)
Slayer never had a mascot that stuck around album after album (unless you count Satan, I guess), but boy oh boy, they sure had potential with the goofy looking man-goat gracing the cover of Show No Mercy. He's sort of a silly-looking combination of Baphomet and a He-Man villain, looking suitably ridiculous wearing a big red cape while brandishing an enormous sword. This guy looks like he walked straight out of an old Dungeons & Dragons rule book, and he's pissed off. Sadly, Slayer never saw fit to dress a roadie up like this beast so that he could run around onstage with them, because that would have been excellent. Worse still, goat guy didn't make any more notable appearances after "Show No Mercy" that I'm aware of.
Cool Factor: As stupid as that drawing looks, it's definitely old-school metal, and it earns six spiked armbands out of ten.
Scariness: Sometimes less is more, and in the case of this creature, a whole lot less might have worked better. A goat/man hybrid could definitely be creepy-looking, but not this one. I give him a score of two Monster Manuals out of ten.
Overall Awesomeness: On the other hand, this beast graces the cover of an excellent early Slayer album, so that mitigates what would otherwise be Venom-level ridiculousness. At some point in time, it's also likely a Slayer fan has tried to carve a picture of the goat guy into their flesh, and that's hardcore. For these reasons, Mr. Sword Goat gets an awesome score of seven bloody forearms" for awesomeness.
2. "NOT MAN" (ANTHRAX)
Anthrax always broke from the thrash-metal crowd in ways that set them apart. They tended to mix a healthy dose of humor into their image, and weren't as dark or serious as some of their contemporaries. When it came to a mascot, the band turned their back on the usual selection of demons and skulls, instead choosing a weird-looking guy with a huge smile on his face. According to one old interview, he was based on a goofy-looking doll the band picked up at a record store. I never liked the Not Man, but at least he was different. His grimace is featured on the drums in the video above.
Cool Factor: I'll generously award him two skateboards out of ten. Anthrax was/is a cool band, but this smiling dweeb looks like a wuss.
Scariness: Zero. Not Man isn't scary at all. If you saw his face looking in your window while you slept, that might be a little unsettling, but it looks like a chihuahua could effectively chase him off.
Overall Awesomeness: Two out of ten Caught in a Moshes.
1. "CRYSTAR" SKULL (DANZIG)
The horned "Danzig Skull" is one of metal's most recognizable images. Its demonic visage has graced album covers, T-shirts, and countless other Danzig stuff since the diminutive singer launched his solo career in the late '80s. I've seen it tattooed on a whole bunch of fans, too. Until researching this article, I had no idea that someone in the Danzig camp, maybe even the devilocked one himself, seems to have just lifted the skull from a Marvel comic book cover...and not even a cool one. That's right, boys and ghouls, the Danzig Skull originally appeared on the 8th issue of The Saga of Crystar the Crystal Warrior, a 1983 comic series that promoted a line of goofy action figures. It's iconic, but I'll never be able to look at that skull the same way.
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Cool Factor: One Crystal warrior out of ten. Not cool at all.
Scariness: The skull scores "one disappointed Danzig fan out of ten" for scare factor now that we know its origin.
Overall Awesomeness: I'll give it a two comic dorks out of ten, but begrudgingly.
"What about Eddie?", I hear some of you say. Don't worry folks, there will be a second part to this one...