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10 Scariest Heavy Metal Albums of All Time

Posted by on October 26, 2016 at 4:33 pm

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Heavy metal is, to quote Mr. Ian Christie, the sound of the beast. Heavy metal is music made for evil; it's supposed to be Satan's favorite genre, after all. Basically, heavy metal is the music world's equivalent of horror movies. Most metalheads get that and sort of dig it. However, when we listen to heavy amplification alongside blast beats and the caterwauling of a grown-up, are we ever scared? For the most part, metal makes us feel awesome, powerful, and happier than a suidae mammal in excrement. Maybe it's familiarity, but few metal records have the power to actually terrify the headbanging tribe.

Normies are a different story.

This post is from their point-of-view. The following ten albums are guaranteed to make the flesh on non-metalhead arms crawl with legions of goose pimples. If you're suspicious of this claim, then hijack the jukebox at your local bar or kindly offer to be the DJ at a Halloween party. When the metal hits, most will be annoyed and ready to revoke your playing privileges. A sizable few will be absolutely horrified.

10. Black Sabbath, Black Sabbath


The only reason this record is so far down on the list is because Black Sabbath gets routinely played on classic rock radio, and anything on classic rock radio is definitively not scaring. That being said, the song "Black Sabbath" is still one of the most chilling things ever recorded, especially since it's widely believed that Tony Iommi's riff utilizes the dreaded "Devil's tritone." Imagine if you can what it must have been like to hear Black Sabbath for the first time in 1970. Rock and roll was certainly in, but even the hardest acts, from Led Zeppelin to The Jimi Hendrix Experience, couldn't touch the pathos of four working class lads from Birmingham. Black Sabbath was more than just a Hammer horror film come to life; Black Sabbath's first album became the blueprint for all future metal releases.

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9. Iron Maiden, The Number of the Beast



Like Black Sabbath, the fear factor of Iron Maiden's third studio album has lessened over time thanks to the advent of death metal and black metal. Still, The Number of the Beast scared the beejeezus out of people when it was released in 1982. In particular, the repeated refrain of "666" in the title track convinced many that Iron Maiden were nothing but a bunch of long-haired Satanists. The band may have denied this accusation, but the rumor didn't hurt their careers. The Number of the Beast became the band's first record to reach number one on the UK charts, while in America the record went platinum. It's safe to say that Iron Maiden ruled the early 1980s, but their popularity didn't calm any parental fears.

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8. Slayer, Hell Awaits



While Reign in Blood is the band's masterpiece, it sounds too clean and too well produced to be scary. Hell Awaits, on the other hand, combines some of the low-fi edginess of Show No Mercy with the sheer and unrelenting brutality of the band's brand of thrash metal. And unlike the band's previous studio release, the horror of Hell Awaits is less hammy, Dungeons & Dragons fare and more grizzly gore and guts. From the denim and leather vampires of "At Dawn They Sleep" to the sexual deviant at the heart of "Necrophiliac," Hell Awaits is morbidity channeled through Marshall stacks. The scariest of the bunch, "Hell Awaits," sounds like nothing less than a plunge into the heart of Dante's Inferno.

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7. Sarcofago, INRI


This is the moment when vicious, openly blasphemous black metal got its start. There is no sleazy camp a la Venom here. Brazil's Sarcofago were serious about their diabolism, and INRI is all the proof you need. Once a cherished item among tape traders in places as diverse as the U.S., Norway, and Japan, INRI combines the best of crust punk with the murderous savagery of bands like Bathory and Celtic Frost. INRI also sounds like it was recorded in a dungeon, which makes it all the more terrifying. No wonder Euronymous dug this record so much that he lifted much of its production value and repackaged it as the "necrosound" of his own Deathlike Silence Productions.

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6. Blasphemy, Fallen Angel of Doom


Blasphemy are sometimes thought of as the pioneers of war metal–a particularly caffeine-rich version of black metal. For many years, they weren't thought of at all. The Vancouver band was something of an underground commodity until the invention of the internet. The band's first record, Fallen Angel of Doom, went from being something mostly traded in tape form between pen pals to one of the classics of black metal. Fallen Angel of Doom is a Stygian assault on the senses, with instruments and vocals so compressed and intertwined that the whole album sounds like a hellish cacophony. This is TRVE CVLT before the meme even existed.

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  • Darren Elmore

    I might also throw in the Stalaggh / Gulaggh projects which included screams of mental patients and survivors of genocide.

    As well, Abrumptum's Casus Luciferi…chilling stuff https://youtu.be/mqPq0ruU8Fo

    • Geoffrey Uhal

      Good call on all of those.

  • Geoffrey Shaw
  • IanHead

    Varg wasn't in prison when he recorded Filosofem.

    • Nope. He was in prison when it was released though. Internet journalism strikes again.

  • Akira Watts

    I love Filosofem, but I wouldn't exactly call it a scary album. I'd probably cast a vote for Sepultura's Morbid Visions, mostly out of nostalgia.

  • μπουχέσας

    Maiden? Slayer? Sabbath? I thought this was about the scariest OF ALL TIME?

  • Geoffrey Uhal

    I think "First Spell" from Gehenna could be on there, also. There are some really nice touches on that album that make it quite unnerving. For instance, the opening to Morning Star with the reverse ordered synthesizer is one of my favorite openings of a black metal song.

  • rob

    no aevangelist? really??

  • evilstormer

    Morgul "The Horror Grandeur"

  • Big Norris

    Frederik Thordendal – Sol Niger Within
    For the epic head-fuckery

  • μπουχέσας

    why don't you just die?

    • Rosie O'Donnell


  • Vicente Urrutia

    I would put Silencer's "Death – Pierce Me" on this list

  • Ungodly Disfigurement

    No Cannibal Corpse or Devourment???

  • Mayhem

    Albums that got me scared back in a day were Emperor's Eclipse, Mayhem's Mysteriis and Burzum's Hvis Lyset. Those were my first black metal experiences. I am generally afraid of darkness and night, especially if I'm alone. It may sound funny, but back in a day, I used to get drunk, put any of those albums and go outside to scare myself on purpose. I could shit my pants if I went near the churches. I was really into all that Norwegian scene at the time.
    I literally had nightmares after that.

    I'm actually sad that there is no music that have same effect on me anymore. It was like half a year until black metal was a completely normal daily music to me.

    Personally for me, I don't know about the albums listed above, why would they scare anyone. Ever. Maybe, back in 70's it had different effect, people experienced different times. People were scared watching Fantomas in 1964 while everyone are laughing their asses over that movie nowadays.
    It literally takes a terror-act to scare society now, not a music or a movie.

  • Tan Shearer

    Filosofem was not recorded while he was in prison. It was RELEASED while he was in prison though. In prison he was only allowed access to a synthesizer.

  • Hanzel_II

    Ha it's funny they ranked Filosofem at 1 being a Varg hate zone and all; I guess they learned their lesson? Anyways, you want real scary albums? Bethlehem's Dictus Te Necere, Xasthur's Subliminal Genocide, Silencer's Death Peirce me, anything by Lifelover and Shining's Halmstad make excellent at giving you an uncomfertable experience, it will drive you insane.

    • Hanzel_II

      Also quite recently, I find Batushka's Lytorgia to be quite eerie and ranks up in my opinion one of the best black metal albums ever.

      • comment_guy

        Batushka is not scary tho

        • Hanzel_II

          Really? When I first saw them live, I thought they were terrifying coming from an Orthodox Christian country myself, but in a good way because the kind of thing Batushka does has never been done before, I mean yes you here Catholic lytany music in black metal and stuff but hardly the atmosphere this band creates.

    • Trve Kvlt Neil

      Hey, nice to see a fellow Bethlehem fan! I mentioned them as well, and just noticed your comment. Yeah, nothing here is really scary, but what do you expect from their lists, they tend to focus on mainstream stuff anyways.

  • Kasper Sandal Povlsen

    "Filosofem" was recorded in 1993, but released in 1996. It wasn't recorded while Varg was in prison.

  • athlonrulez

    Seriously, where's Mercyful Fate & King Diamond?

  • Brett Strohl

    That Burzum sounds like it was recorded on a 12 year old's casio keyboard.

  • Cattle Decapitated

    I went to a weird Pentecostal Christian school and used to take religion fairly seriously. One time during chapel one of the teachers told us about a teenager he used to know who listened exclusively to "something called death metal". Apparently, the music drove him insane, and he hung himself in his parent's basement. We were warned to avoid any kind of metal or "devil music". Most non metal listeners wouldn't listen long enough to most of these albums to be scared by them, but extreme metal can develop a reputation that is scarier than the music itself.

  • maqbara

    you want scary……..Marduk WhoreCrown beats them all.

    • Sleepy

      Google LecH Music.

  • The Wolf

    "The album's best known track, "Rundtgåing av den transcendentale egenhetens støtte,""

    You've lost your damn mind, you know that, right?

  • Trve Kvlt Neil

    Rundtgåing av den transcendentale egenhetens støtte is hardly Burzum's most well known song. Literally 3 seconds of research could find that out. Also I certainly would have used the Oracle EP for Sunn O))), Which is much scarier than anything found on Black One. (but I do admit that their Cursed Realm of The Winterdemons cover is one of the scariest things I've ever heard) and I would have added any album by Mortician. I agree completely with Portal, though apart from that barely anything on this list is scary, imo. One that certainly should have made it on here is Dictius Te Necare by Bethlehem. Just listen to this and tell me it's not scary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxXgrR1Rjv8

  • Morgan Y Evans

    i found the new carach angren super creepy

  • Napalm Deaf

    DEATH "LEPROSY" and CANNIBAL CORPSE "TOMB OF THE MUTILATED". I felt weird even touching those albums. Black Metal was never scary to me but I'm not at all religious so maybe that's why.
    What about SAMHAIN? That shit is still uber creepy.

  • Keith G.

    I would respectfully add Halo's Body of Light to this list.

  • Matt M.

    Blut Aus Nord will have non metal listeners fleeing to seek holy refuge. The Work That Transforms God on a good pair of headphones is actually quite frightening. I would be tempted to say some Leviathan too.

  • TreyP

    One of the few bands that I find remotely scary is Burning Witch, which is a drone doom band. Desert of Azazel by Serpent Noir is up there too, if nothing else from just how demented the vocals sound.

  • Some guy

    Don't get me wrong, those albums are good, but most of them aren't scary, except maybe Portal's and the Black One. And Darkthrone's, let's say. Sincerely, I was prepared for scarier stuff. You should have put the album from Silencer "Death, Pierce Me", Blut Aus Nord's "MoRT", Infester's "To the Depths in Degradation", Deathspell Omega's "Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice", or albums from Xasthur, Aevangelist, Ulcerate, Morbid, Carcass, Vorum, Nunfuck Ritual, Leviathan, Autopsy, Incantation, Molested, Diagnose: Lebensgefahr and probably tons of stuff I don't know, but not Maiden, Slayer, Suffocation, and Possessed, come on! Even CC's "The Bleeding" is more scary than those albums because of a weird sound of the recording.
    To me, the most frightening piece of music ever written is a contemporary classical music piece by Finnish composer Einojuhanni Rautavaara called "Angels and Visitations", that stuff is really impressive. Could also mention "Apparition de l'Eglise Eternelle" by Olivier Messiaen, but it's not exactly scary.

  • Chester Dubya

    Mariah Carey's soundtrack to the film Glitter. Scariest shit I ever heard

  • Theo Papadakis

    Woods of Belial don't get enough attention for recording what sounds like the soundtrack to hell:


  • Heavy-metal

    So, except for Burzum, which you guessed right, I only see a bunch of overrated bands trying to sound scarry. Especially those mainstream bands like Maiden, Slayer and Sabbath.. Where are Cannibal Corpse, Suicide Silence, Mercyful Fate, Devourment? I thought you could do better. :-)))

  • Josamaroo

    You went for more of an extreme metal approach which is pretty scary in general but besides 2 really old albums, Sabbath and Maiden, there's nothing mainstream here. I know mainstream is watered-down for the radio but there's one band in particular that made 2 very creepy albums, both of which deserve to be on here. Slipknot's debut self-titled album is creepy as hell. Purity is about kidnapping a girl and putting her in a box and prosthetics is about stalking and killing a girl. Also their 2nd album IOWA is even more scarier. I can't believe one of those albums ain't on here.