The Worst Fonts In Metal And Hardcore
Never underestimate the power of a good font. Even in the world of rock and metal, this still rings true. Think Iron Maiden or Metallica got famous just because of their songs? Wrong: they likely wouldn’t be the superstars they are today had they not used such iconic lettering. And the biggest part of that — as anyone who used the Metallica font generator that went viral a while ago can tell you — is the font in one’s band name or album title.
Sadly, not every band cares about graphic design. In fact, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that many of them couldn’t care less. Whether it’s in terms of their actual band logo, or the fonts they use on their promotional materials and album sleeves, some bands — mainly metal and hardcore acts active between the late ’90s and late ’00s, when digital text generation was exciting and new, but before everyone realized that the MS Office suite wasn’t the best tool for designing an album cover — have made some horrific font faux-pas.
Just in case you thought we were joking, we rounded up 11 of the worst offenders. Here are the worst fonts in metal and hardcore…
Lamb Of God
Look, we adore Lamb Of God, but no metal band — or any band, for that matter — should be able to get away with using the Papyrus font. That’s because it’s probably the second most reviled font after Comic Sans, so much so that Saturday Night Live even had a sketch about the fact that James Cameron used the font as the logo for Avatar. Somehow, though, Lamb Of God get away with it. Unlike Entombed, who used it as the title font on their 1990 debut album, Left Hand Path. No, dudes. No.
Where do we even begin with the font for the logo of LA hardcore punks Rotting Out? For a start, it’s almost unreadable — and not the good black metal kind of unreadable. The lettering also looks like it could be used for some kind of tiki/beach hut bar, which probably isn’t the right look. To cap it all off, there are quotation marks — or, at least, what look like quotation marks — around the word ‘rotting’. Which usually means the word is being used ironically or insincerely. Does that mean they’re not really rotting?
Super tough! Let’s be honest, this looks like someone drew pixellated puke with the first ever version of Microsoft Paint and forgot to clean it up later. That might have been cutting edge in 1992, but Misery Index didn’t form until 2001, so we’re really not sure what they were aiming for with this. What’s even more bizarre is that it really doesn’t look anything like a death metal logo. Which is fine — defying convention is great, after all — but it still just makes us wonder what the hell they were thinking.
The Hatebreed logo — the band’s name in the Fette Fraktur font, encased in flames — is overwhelmingly in-your-face. But the Connecticut band aren’t known for their subtlety, so they get a pass for that. What’s less forgivable is combining it with an elegant and fancy script font on 1997’s Satisfaction Is The Death Of Desire. One of the basic and fundamental rules of design is that if you use different fonts, they should complement one another. Even worse, it inspired thousands of hardcore bands to use only either Olde English lettering, swirly script, or both together. Thanks, guys.
You’d think that maybe Max Cavalera would know better, but no. The font he used for his post-Sepultura outfit Soulfly looks like something you’d find on the menu of a tacky Chinese restaurant. Which is not to say that it’s racist, per se, but it comes a little close to the line. That there’s a close approximation to the Soulfly font called Karate only reinforces that. There have been 11 Soulfly albums now, and that logo ruins the cover of all of them.
A lot went wrong design-wise for melodic New Jersey hardcore act Shades Apart. The font they used for their name on their first two records looked, in all honesty, like a poor man’s version of Tool’s iconic logo. They also filled in the lettering of the title of their second LP, Neon, with hideously bright and unsightly colors. Yes, it was obviously a reference to said title, but still, it’s horrendous. And on third record Save It, they decided to go for a sort of vampiric goth look for both their logo and the tracklisting, neither of which are easy on the eyes.
Often, a band’s logo bears some kind of resemblance to the meaning behind the name. Megadeth’s, for example, is gnarly and gruesome and evil — which is just what you’d expect, given the word ‘Megadeth.’ Soilwork, on the other hand, sounds like something earthworms do, not the moniker for a melodic death metal band from Sweden. Which is perhaps why there’s absolutely nothing menacing about their logo. In fact, it looks like someone used one of those alphabet stencils we all had as kids to write out the band’s name, but weren’t particularly fastidious about doing so well.
We’re going to tread lightly here, because old school New York hardcore crew Madball could kick our asses a hundred times over without breaking a sweat — but man, are they trying way too hard to tell everyone that with their logos. The graffiti tag font they used for their Droppin’ Many Suckers album leaves much to be desired. After all, it didn’t work when the Beastie Boys used it on the cover their third record, 1992’s Check Your Head, and at least that band had fun party tunes. That’s probably because generic tags, whether on walls or as album artwork, just aren’t that cool.
Credit where credit is due — at least the logo of South Carolina death metal act Nile reflects the fact that their music and lyrics are inspired by Ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern mysticism. But take a look at that album title on Black Seeds Of Vengeance. It’s like someone just wrote it out in Word, downloaded an edgy goth font pack from VampireFreaks, and thought that would be enough. What Halloween rave are these guys throwing? Nile are the one band who could get away with Papyrus, and they do this instead…
Maybe nu-metal shouldn’t really count, because there are plenty of nu-metal bands with terrible fonts and logos…but let’s just take a second to appreciate how truly awful, well, everything is about the fonts Limp Bizkit used on their first two records. Yes, we get that you’re edgy with the whole graffiti aesthetic (see Madball above), but it’s also way too try-hard. Moreover, the title of Significant Other looks like it was written in everyone’s favourite typewriter font, Courier. Which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
The Kerrang! Logo
Jesus, who the hell approved this thing? It’s like someone took the NASCAR logo and jammed in a different word. It doesn’t even have anything to do with rock or metal — just a hard italic in a black box. And is that an exclamation point? Are we supposed to shout the name every time? What a train wreck.
Read this next:
Lamb Of God’s Mark Morton on how livestreaming is changing the game for bands and what we can expect from their two-day performance
Andy Biersack’s They Don’t Need To Understand is the “origin story of one of modern rock’s most exciting young superheroes”.