Every Metal Mascot, Ranked From Worst To Best
Maybe it’s that gang mentality within extreme music that has driven metal bands to become so obsessed with mascots. Heavy metal culture has always fostered an us-against-the-world mindset that’s similar to that of most sports teams; it’s only fitting, then, that bands would want to come up with characters that represent their music. Whatever the reason, metal is more mascot-focused than any other genre of music, going so far as to give its horrific visual allegories backstories and personalities.
Given the sheer number of metal mascots out there — and the emergence of new ones that some old-school heads might not be familiar with — we decided to rank these symbolic characters iin order. First, however, we laid down some ground rules:
— They need to be metal mascots. Milo, the Crimson Ghost, and the Less Than Jake Pez kid can hash it out in another list.
— They need to be mascots, not just logos or symbols. Black Sabbath’s Henry and In Flames’ Jesterhead are cool, but they’re sort of just images. These guys need to be actual characters, with their own atmospheres and roles within a band’s history.
With those guidelines in place, here’s our definitive ranking of the metal mascots…
22. Baby Seal (Riot)
What…what are we even doing here? For some reason, even though they sound like Raven and Exciter, NYC-based classic metal act Riot use a baby seal as their mascot. Not only that, but their attempts to make the seal anthropomorphic are super awkward and bizarre — one minute he’s squatting like a sumo wrestler, the next he’s turning into an evil businessman. Is the seal evil? Are seals into metal? How’d this even happen?
21. Deathbat (Avenged Sevenfold)
This is homework that was done on the bus the morning of. The Deathbat not only feels like a rip-off of Overkill’s Chaly, but its initial incarnation looks like two different Dingbats placed on top of one another. While it’s certainly iconic, and provides Avenged Sevenfold fans something easy to get as a tattoo, it doesn’t really have an identity beyond being the most basic of skull graphics. Fine as a logo, but worth little more than a shrug as a mascot.
20. Bill Z. Bubb (Dangerous Toys)
I DO COCAINE! The mascot of Austin sleaze metallers Dangerous Toys heralds the genre trying to adapt to the oncoming ’90s — nothing too satanic or gross, but kind of kuh-razy. The result is the heavy metal jack-in-the-box clown that every dude in the mid- to late-’90s got inked on their shoulder blade. Bill Z. Bubb was pretty harmless overall until 1995’s The R*tist 4*merly Known As Dangerous Toys showed us a lot more of him than anyone wanted to see. Skip the circus.
19. Jack O (Helloween)
On paper, Helloween’s Jack O seems like a sure thing — an impish spirit with a Jack O’Lantern head. But the truth is that the band have used him in such a bizarre number of ways that he feels kind of ridiculous. More so, for a pumpkin-headed mascot of a band named after a spooky holiday, Jack O doesn’t feel very Halloween-y, and instead acts as a proxy for every power metal cliche out there. Not a character we need on a shirt any time soon.
18. The Reaper (Children Of Bodom)
Sure, he’s fine, but, Children Of Bodom’s recurring character comes off as kind of incidental. The Bodom Reaper looks like the band got a friend to dress up in a spooky outfit for their first album, and then kept going with that idea. Still, there are occasional moments where the Reaper gets reinterpreted well, as on the cover of this year’s Hexed. Passable, but nothing special.
17. Captain Morgan (Alestorm)
Whether or not the rum company knows it, Alestorm’s mascot is the one and only Captain Morgan, swiller of grog and wearer of floppy hats. The character allows the band to put him in all sorts of hilarious scenarios, from traveling through time to kill Vikings to sinking to the bottom of the ocean (see above). However, while this undead pirate is cool enough, the fact that the band didn’t really give him much lore lands him many leagues from the top of this list. A lot of fun, we’ll give them that.
16. Set Abominae (Iced Earth)
At the end of the day, the demonic mummy Set Abominae who appears on the album covers of American power metal band Iced Earth is a pretty solid metal mascot — you can pose him throughout time, he’s got glowing eyes, the whole nine yards. But he’s a blatant Eddie rip-off, and though he’s distinct from Iron Maiden’s mischievous zombie in many ways, he’ll always be a shade of Eddie rather than his own unique entity. That said, as far as B-list metal mascots go, this guy’s pretty solid.
15. Mad Butcher (Destruction)
Sort of what it says on the label. The Mad Butcher feels like a kind of weird mascot for an icy German thrash band, but Destruction have run with it pretty hard, to the point where they have someone dress up as the Butcher and come onstage at their shows. That said, unlike other mascots, it’s hard to put a chubby one-eyed cleaver-waver in lofty cosmic situations, so you’re sort of just stuck in the butcher’s shop. Not bad, kind of cool.
14. Iron Mask (Quiet Riot)
Hair metal mascots are a little harder to find, and those that did exist were often just hard rocking Joe Camels posing with cartoon bimbos. But Quiet Riot’s Man In The Iron Mask actually has a lot of character to him, and feels like he represents a lot of metal fans out there whose thoughts and feelings are silenced or fall on deaf ears. The mask has eventually become more important than the mental patient behind it, but its Hannibal Lecter-ish qualities continue to represent metalheads’ constant questioning of their own sanity.
13. Knucklehead (FFDP)
What if Eddie was jacked and loved to crush energy drinks? feels like the concept behind Five Finger Death Punch’s Knucklehead character. But unlike many more contemporary bands, FFDP have remained admirably loyal to their cartoon representative, and in all honesty the character does very much look like the band’s music sounds, which is really the goal of a metal mascot. As such, Knucklhead has become an important figure in the mascot pantheon, and is perhaps the most contemporary character on this list. The kids are all right…sort of.
12. Statutory Ape (The Black Dahlia Murder)
There are several incarnations of The Black Dahlia Murder’s killer gorilla mascot Statutory Ape, depending on who’s wearing which suit at what show. But the one we know the best is the workout ape, rocking gym shorts, a sleeveless tee, and the inevitable sweatband. That mixture of brutal predator and ‘80s beefcake is what the band has always been about at heart, and endears them to scenes ranging from death metal to pop-punk. Like Richard Simmons, only cool(er).
11. The Guy (Disturbed)
It takes some balls to take a notebook-doodled late-‘90s “crazy dude” face and turn it into a franchise-long mascot. But Disturbed did surprisingly well with it, using The Guy on four straight album covers from 2005 to 2015. Even more impressively, they’ve sort of used him in the same context on every album — wiling out or hulking dramatically in a stony wasteland — without making it feel repetitive. Maybe not as versatile as some of the other mascots on here, but definitely iconic for nu-metal.
10. Violent Mind (Kreator)
One gets the sense the Kreator fell into their Violent Mind character after he made his first appearance as a simple barbarian demon on the cover of 1986’s Pleasure To Kill. It wasn’t even until 1990’s Coma Of Souls (see above) that his full identity seemed to emerge with the view into his twisted brain. However, the band have continued to use him as a grotesque embodiment of society’s ills, and have expanded his identity from simple war-monster to noxious, ferocious beast of the apocalypse. A weird one to be sure, but a worthy inclusion.
9. Sargent D (S.O.D.)
While several bands use undead soldiers as their mascots (keep reading), only one is a sneering, smoking drill sergeant straight out of Full Metal Jacket. In a lot of ways, S.O.D.’s Sargent D represents both the evils of war and the obnoxious, faux-ignorant stance taken by the band. And yet, while he’s grody and straightforward, there’s something kind of endearing about the Sarge — he doesn’t feel as elevated or as serious as other mascots, making him a character you can have a beer with…even if he’s urging you to kill yourself.
8. Chaly (Overkill)
Chaly’s strength is that you already know him. A devil skull with bat wings is what every metalhead has at some point doodled on something, whether it’s the margins of a term paper or the wall of an abandoned building. Overkill took the idea and ran, making it a radioactive green and using it as a crest, character, or signature as they saw fit. It just depends on whether you like him as a dungeon monster, a scientific experiment, or just a symbol of industry.
7. Knarrenheiz (Sodom)
Now we’re talking! Not only is Knarrenheinz, the gasmask-sporting gun-toting mascot of German thrashers Sodom, a symbol for the band’s militant music, he also acts as an all-purpose thrash mascot. He’s got all the hallmarks of the genre — nuclear-powered, covered in spikes, driven by war and a contempt for mankind. Much like Eddie, Heinz has gone through several incarnations, but they’re always battle-oriented; though silent and observant on the covers of early albums like Agent Orange, he soon became a total death machine. Rad.
6. Not Man (Anthrax)
The Not Man’s story is in many ways Anthrax’s story. The goofy mustachioed stereotype is based off of one of those weird rubber finger puppets you can buy at every New York drugstore or stationary shop. That feels indicative of Anthrax’s whole scrappy career in the outer boroughs during the ‘80s, as well of their bizarre senses of humor and inherent skate-park nerdiness. Not a mascot who gets used a ton, but one that’s hilariously immortal.
5. Murray (Dio)
Only Ronnie James Dio could name a being so mysterious and arcane ‘Murray.’ The Dio demon, a supernatural being somewhere between Satan and Set, is awesome in part because it doesn’t try to be edgy the way every other metal mascot does. There’s an implication on the covers of albums like Last In Line or Dream Evil that Murray is an ancient spirit, not an interdimensional gadabout. Murray doesn’t drink with mutants at future-bars or ride motorcycles with buxom women, he watches over the nighttime world. In that respect, he’s both more laid-back and more evil than most of the other figures on this list.
4. Ghost Of War (Slayer)
While the Baphogoat from Slayer’s debut Show No Mercy has become an icon of late, Slayer’s real mascot is the Ghost Of War — a screaming demonic skull wearing a WWII helmet. Chilling, iconic, and adaptable, the Ghost represents the heart of Slayer’s dark, bloody message: that humanity and the horrors we create are the true devil in this world. Originally created as a goofy decal for the band’s fanclub, the screaming skull soon took on a more fearsome expression, and eventually became the ultimate representative of evil thrash metal.
3. Vic Rattlehead (Megadeth)
At the end of the day, there’s nothing more evil than ignorance. That’s what makes Megadeth’s Vic Rattlehead so powerful — he’s not a good guy. By having his ears, eyes, and mouth permanently riveted shut, Vic can see, hear, and speak no evil, making him the embodiment of death by lack of knowledge. While he puts on his suit and plays politician, Vic is also selling the United Nations out from under us and meeting with suited sociopaths over the corpses of hidden aliens. He’s a reflection of what’s wrong with the world, reminding fans that to see, hear, and say nothing leads to despair on a global scale. That extra bit of skin-crawling commentary makes him a powerful representation of thrash, where metal stopped focusing on wizards and reacted to the world at large.
2. Eddie (Iron Maiden)
The gold standard. Iron Maiden’s Eddie is the truest metal mascot of all time, and the one against which all other metal mascots will be judged. He touches on horror, society, sci-fi, ancient history — name a location or aspect of culture, and you can be there’s an Eddie for it. So why is he only at the number two spot here? For that very reason: Eddie’s awesome, but he’s everywhere. He’s everyone’s mascot, embraced by everything from stadiums to soccer teams. And while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it just means that he doesn’t have that esoteric metal quality, that underground vibe that represents not being like everyone else. An undying figurehead of metal for the entire world, to be sure — even if that’s sort of the problem.
1. Snaggletooth (Motörhead)
The face that launched a thousand tattoos. What makes Motörhead’s Snaggletooth especially awesome is that it’s not a creature that exists outside of the band’s world. It’s not a zombie or a demon or an animal, it’s a tusked war pig that wears a military helmet and has its teeth pierced. Whether you put that face on a body or wear it on the front of your riding mower, Snaggletooth is a monstrous emblem of rock’n’roll at its most dangerous and attitude-driven. It exudes a belligerent outsider status, because it’s just too stark, spiny, and aggressive for anyone looking to ironically wear a metal tee. Like the band it represents, Snaggletooth is louder, meaner, and cooler than what the world at large is comfortable with, making him the ultimate representation of metal music at large.
Here are 13 times that metal bands proved they were still changing the game.
A Japanese Twitter account for the instrument makers issued a public service announcement.