Published Dec 19, 2014Mocking metal is easy, but authentic parody is hard because the truth is always more over-the-top than any caricature. Between the endless solos, hour-long doom-drone tracks, and corpse paint, heavy music is shamelessly, consistently, delightfully ridiculous. Metal may also be the musical genre least contaminated by hipster ennui — it can be challenging to tell joking from hilariously dead serious.
Find out where a few of our favourite heavy bands land on our metal comedy index (which is ranked from silly to stone cold serious) below, and don't forget to visit our 2014 in Lists section to see more of our Year-End coverage.
5 Metal Acts From Joking to Not Joking:
Babymetal is a Japanese group fronted by J-pop caricatures backed by a kick-ass metal band. They're a pure, unbridled distillation of a ruse pushed to its natural conclusion. Sometimes referred to as "kawaii metal," they fuse J-pop with speed and melodic death song structures into live shows and music videos that are as profoundly entertaining as they are confusing.
4. Devin Townsend
His vocal range and skills as a producer are matched only by his twisted sense of humour, which has birthed two records featuring a power-mad, coffee-obsessed alien overlord called Ziltoid the Omniscient. Cognitive dissonance is his comedy sweet spot: he wrote a record about a man going to hell to find the meaning of life in a cheeseburger, which he is unable to partake in as a vegetarian. You know, jokes that aliens would make.
No band balances ironic and genuine, sincere and blasphemous, glorious and revolting as perfectly as Gwar. Best known for their rubber costumes, ridiculous stage shows and commitment to on-stage personas as Scumdogs of the Universe, Gwar are often unexpectedly intelligent and authentic. They have embodied the gag so perfectly, they've come out the other side, creating a perfect joking/dead serious singularity.
This Swedish death metal group is a hoot. Vocalist Joakim Brodén seems surgically attached to reflective aviators, and wears a signature armoured chest plate that resembles industrial Ninja Turtle cosplay. Their music is bombastic and deeply influenced by the history of both World Wars. Their schtick is eerily flawless — until you realize that it is completely earnest.
1. Wolves in the Throne Room
Cascadian black metal outfit Wolves in the Throne Room seem devoid of any sense of humour whatsoever. Fiercely eco-critical and deeply inspired by the landscape of the Pacific Northwest, the shivering layers and sonic density of their black metal is unquestionably well-crafted, but wow, do they take themselves seriously. They've publicly denounced any kind of moshing or other gleeful consensual violence at their shows and abhor flash photography. At least they aren't vegans.