Metal has always pushed the boundaries of what’s tasteful.
But the genre remains compelling because of its ability to challenge what is deemed acceptable and “normal.” By delving into the grotesque, metal has challenged dialogues surrounding religion, sex, and self-expression, which is what makes the genre so exciting and groundbreaking. But it’s also what makes the art form one ripe with controversy.
A few acts in particular have truly pushed these boundaries to their limits and in turn have been forever banned in countries around the world. Here are some of metal’s most disturbing acts.
Lamb Of God
Lamb of God
In 2013 the group was banned from performing in Malaysia due to their supposedly “blasphemous” 2005 live album Killadelphia, in which Lamb of God mentioned the Quran during the show’s intro.
“It is evident (and a bit frustrating) that the groups, parties, and powers that have taken the most offense to our music and lyrics, have themselves only made a passing glance at the content and meaning of those songs,” the band wrote of the cancellation on Facebook.
The inflammatory German industrial act has always sought to irk homophobic conservatives, but their song “Pussy” in particular attracted the attention of the country’s Federal Office for the Examination of Media Harmful to Young People. The department argued that the track encouraged unprotected sex despite the risk of AIDS in 2009. To combat this, Germany proceeded to quell the promotion and display of their album, Liebe lst Fr Alle Da, which hurt the band’s album sales significantly.
The group didn’t care. After all, these are the same guys who engaged in a legendary makeout session years later on Russian soil and who once spent the night in jail after a liquid-ejecting dildo was used in a concert in Worcester, Massachusetts.
The outspoken vegan metal outfit was also banned in Malaysia for its problematic lyrical and thematic content. The band was set to perform a show in Malaysia in May of 2015, but the show was quickly canceled and the band banned due to their problematic “lyrical content.”
“Seems like your government officials still haven’t updated their calendars to the 21st century,” the group wrote on their social media. “Laughable and embarrassing. Give us a call when you get yourselves a sensible secular state. PS: If you’re reading this you’re too late, we already ‘corrupted’ your youth and played Kuching last year!”
The Bloodhound Gang
Turns out Russia isn’t too fond of having their national flag being shoved down someone’s pants. The Bloodhound Gang made such a mistake at a festival performance in 2013. Bassist “Evil” Jared Hasselhoff asked the crowd not to tell Vladimir Putin, but he found out anyway. Their festival appearance was canceled and they were soon after thrown out of the country, never to return.
Pissing off conservative Christians is a favorite pastime for Slayer. Their gory satanic thrash metal scarred religious figures in the ’80s, but in 2006 their album Christ Illusion was so triggering for Christians that it sparked a wave of intense protests in India. The album was quickly recalled and banned; but surprisingly, the group returned to perform a show in 2012.
One of the most grotesque metal groups of all time, Cannibal Corpse seems to exist merely to challenge the rhetoric of what’s acceptable. Where do we begin with this one? From the group’s gorey and graphically sexual cover art to controversial songs like “I C*m Blood” and “A Skull Full of Maggots,” the hyper-violent Buffalo-born quintet has been banned in numerous countries, such as Germany, Australia, and Russia.