Horror and rock music go together like The Misfits and excessive branding. Like a good horror movie, rock can be abrasive, atmospheric, heart-pounding, and generally fucking wild. Both play off of generating excitement and tapping into the rush that comes with it. A show can totally be like a movie when you amp up the stage antics and general intensity of the experience. So when KISS started dressing up in the 70s to up their stage performance, it made sense. They were four dudes playing loud music, and their appearance reflected what was coming out of their amplifiers. Adding to that, Alice Cooper looked to push the limits of how darkness can affect a good stage show, and he wrapped that concept up into the music he makes. To this day, both entities still make it a point to build their shows up to be larger than life and to look like they're straight out of a movie.
Since those acts showed the rock world what was possible in terms of theatricality, rock has been imbued with a sense of evil and general darkness ever since. The late 70s and 80s gave way to psychobilly and horror punk, and in the 90s it hit an all-time fever pitch. Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, Type O Negative, and all the rest showed kids around the world that it was totally OK to look like you were about to be embalmed at any time during the day. Their generation gave way to the next decade of mall-emo greats like My Chemical Romance and From First to Last. Since then, it’s been really fucking easy to look goth. If you step into any mall, there are bound to be at least a couple of stores that can make you look like you’re ready to be an extra in the new Underworld sequel. With all the older bands getting either old as hell or waning away, a new breed of spookycore bands has risen to the challenge of getting everybody stoked on bats and shit. So, we took a good sample of these bands (and a few others for good measure) and scored their style on the most sensible rating: out of 666. Happy Halloween!
BLACK VEIL BRIDES
There’s no one else that is making a killing in this aesthetic like Black Veil Brides. To most, they look like a total clown show of five dudes pretending to be a gang from The Crow, but there has been evolution in their style. In the beginning, they looked and sounded like every other emo breakdown band in the scene. But as the years went on, they changed up their music to sound like some unholy cross between Hinder and Steel Panther. Their look also matched this sound shift, as they graduated from being a bunch of awkward-looking teenagers to the hardest goth-hair metal band on earth. Tons of other teenagers from Minnesota saw how big they got, and now every town has their own diet version of these guys. Thanks a lot, assholes!
SCARY FACTOR: 500/666
MOTIONLESS IN WHITE
At first glance, these dudes look like everyone else in the horror-goth scene: all black everything, tons of makeup, fake eyebrows—the works. But the dark horse in this gang of Lost Boys castoffs is their bassist, Devin “Ghost” Sola (pictured right). While the rest of the band wears pre-distressed outfits from Trash & Vaudeville or whatever boutique horror brand makes their tattered trenchcoats and vests, this dude fucking kills his outfit game. Instead of being content looking like a fan of Tim Burton movies and other spooky movies, he straight up becomes the characters. From Sweeney Todd to Beetlejuice to Cruella De Vil, there’s something legitimately admirable about his excitement to be these figures. It’s a wholehearted embrace of an aesthetic everyone makes fun of, and it sort of fucks with the cliché insults people might throw at him.
SCARY FACTOR: 174/666.
DEVIN SOLA AESTHETIC EMBRACEMENT FACTOR: 669/666
FAREWELL, MY LOVE
The scariest thing about this band is how low-budget they look. I mean, I get it. Not every horrorcore band can have gold-lined pockets like Jerry and the “Misfits.” There’s nothing wrong with trying to ball on a budget. But if your clothes look like Tripp NYC factory recalls, you’re not putting enough effort in to look as spooky as you should. When I look at you, I should think, “Man, this pack of dudes look like they know a lot about darkness, general feelings of loss, and Pale Fire, plus I could probably get a good horror movie recommendation.” But when I look at this pack of regulars at Spencer’s Gifts, I just get really bummed out to think of what could have been. What could have been if these dudes didn’t want to copy bands who already do their entire aesthetic and genre and get paid way more for it.
SCARY FACTOR: -420/666
Man, it sure is scary that these geezers are trying to stay relevant and rip a lot of people off with dumb crowdfunding attempts, amirite? No, please hold your applause. It is kind of funny that with the advent of bands like Black Veil Brides and others in their scene these dudes would try to make a another pass at fame. What they don’t understand is that everyone on the planet has moved on. People coming out to their shows in the 90s fully decked out in zippers and collars have families now and don’t have time to coordinate their pitch black 'fits. The new fans they could potentially target will also never give a shit because they’re nowhere as cute as the new groups. Orgy playing with Motionless In White would be like taking your dad to prom. Go home, guys.
SCARY FACTOR: 0/666
Alright, this is a pretty unsettling aesthetic. A dude dressing like a giant clock, or a big squid, or just in a creepy hat? If you went to a festival not ready for that shit, you would probably be a little shocked at what you were seeing. Like, “Wow I sure hope these guys don’t take me into some kind of strange ethereal plane full of horrors unimaginable and incomprehensible to the human eye!” Seriously, throw these dudes on at Coachella and let them take the stage right after Skrillhouse.
SCARY FACTOR: 666/666
For those of you woefully unaware, HIM is that one band whose logo you thought belonged to Bam Margera’s skate company. They’ve been playing “love metal” for the past 23 years which… uh, yeah. Really, they just sound like a pop-rock band led by a gangly frontman who looks like he knows exactly where to score spice in any country he shows up in. But other than that, they really aren’t that scary looking. What is scary about this band is how their logo has sort of wormed its way into some level of public consciousness. The pervasiveness of it has died down a bit (or maybe I stopped seeing that one goth theater tech kid from high school) but still, it’s a pretty recognizable logo. Marketing is terrifying. Thanks a lot, Bam.
SCARY FACTOR: $$$/666
VAMPIRES EVERYWHERE/THE KILLING LIGHTS
I kind of feel sorry for these squares. Back in the quaint days of 2009, vampire-fever had struck an all time pitch. Twilight and all its sequels were holding the box office hostage, and Edward Cullen had convinced every teenager on earth that going out with some dude who was cold, distant, slightly abusive, and emotionally manipulative was actually totally cool and okay if he was a hot vampire. So what better craze to cash in your new vampire-themed band, right? Well, Vampires Everywhere played totally boring metalcore everyone had already heard a million times that nobody really paid attention to, so they decided to cut their losses in the vampire brand, and switch their name up. Not everyone can be Brian Warner, I guess. Especially not a band of four lookalikes.
SCARY FACTOR: 25/666
Guess which band that is. We'll wait.
Wait, are you trying to tell me that these two bands aren’t the same Marilyn Manson-looking industrial ripoffs? That there’s a substantial enough difference between their music that any schmuck on the street would be able to tell the difference between their songs? The only thing that’s really scary is that people haven’t thrown eggs at these dudes to the point where they give it up.
SCARY FACTOR: 431/666
Really trying here guys, but I’m just not.
SCARY FACTOR: :( /666
BLOOD ON THE DANCE FLOOR
Given all the allegations that have come out against the singer being abusive and a pedophile, Blood on the Dance Floor could truly be the scariest band to run into on Halloween.
SCARY FACTOR: 911/666
John Hill has enough facepaint for either a juggalo or corpse paint costume and can't decide which. Follow him on Twitter - @JohnxHill