Dark Glam Metal Bands
Glam Metal is clearly a genre that had a lot of emphasis on the visual aspect. Although visuals were an important aspect of the genre it does not mean the music was not prioritized as many like to claim. The strongest lasting visual impression of the genre is usually remembered by the Hair Metal bands of the 80′s who had a more widely accessible appearance visually. Hair Metal bands of the mid/late 80′s usually maintained the spiky teased hair topped with good old fashioned leather, cowboy boots, and the whole biker rocker or gypsy esque look. Some bands maintained using makeup styled in an androgynous fashion.
Although Glam Metal became more accessible and widely distributed in the mid/late 80′s, the genre did have a few dark horses. In this list I will gather the Glam Metal bands with a darker image that seemed to mix the visuals of Alice Cooper/Kiss with the other, more androgynous Glam Rock bands. Usually the dark glam metal bands accompanied their visuals with more aggressive music to suit the dark theme.
Kinda freaky, and kinda girly: Here’s a list of the Dark Glam Metal Bands.
Fatal Attraction was formed in 1988 so they are a relative latecomer to the dark glam image. Non the less, the self-proclaimed ‘Original Hollywood Vampires’ have a badass image. Think Motley Crue Dark Too Fast For Love era mixed with vampires. Their stage antics were very Alice Cooper inspired. Blood sacrifices, drinking blood, gravestones, and drinking blood were all a part of Fatal Attractions live show. They disbanded in 92′.
Krank’s debut album “Hideous” is accurately titled. Krank are some of the scariest transvestites I have ever seen. Picture a freaky/dark version of Twisted Sister. The band was formed in 1983. Musically, Krank was very heavy and had an extremely aggressive sound. Krank was heavier than a majority of the 80′s Thrash Metal bands but of course, because they have a Glam image they were not embraced by the Thrash audience of the time. The band floated in a sort of limbo, too heavy to be packaged within the mainstream Hair Metal category, and too much image to be endeared by the hypocritical thrash audience. They thrived in the underground but split due to creative differences.
The Crue needs no introduction. They can be cited as one of the first Glam Metal bands to experiment with a dark and satanic image. Motley Crue’s late Too Fast For Love era saw them experimenting with dark imagery, satanic symbols, fire and a haunted house type stage. The late Too Fast for Love era conveniently transitioned into Shout At The Devil. The Shout At The Devil era was immersed in an apocalyptic theme and a full-fledged dark glam image. Too Fast For Love and Shout At The Devil were definitely part of Motley Crue’s more aggressive sounding albums so the image reflected the music accurately.
Rankelson formed in 1984 in the UK. Glam deniers will state the band is simply NWOBHM; however, their image says other-wise. The band is true to the early Glam Metal style. Traditional Heavy Metal mixed with an aggressive Glam image. Rankelson’s image is similar to Motley’s SATD with a little less decadent makeup but still with a post-apocalyptic theme. Their first release “Hungry For Blood” in 1986, is most representative of their style
Many of you are either completely unfamiliar with them or know the band very well. X-Japan is unquestionably the biggest rock act to dominate Japan. Formed in 1982 by band leader/drummer Yoshiki and singer Toshi, X-Japan is widely renown as the creators of the Visual Kei genre. For those who will annoyingly cry “They’re Not Glam Metal, They’re Visual Kei!!!!!!”, too bad. Early Visual Kei is basically the Japanese equivalent of Glam Metal.
X-Japan’s image remained in the dark vein until the early 90′s and the release of their third album “Silent Jealousy” where most of the members opted for a rocker image while filling the 50,000 seat capacity Tokyo Dome multiple times. Before X-Japan recorded their debut “Vanishing Vision” and established their successful line-up (Taiji Bass, Hide Guitar, Pata Guitar) they had a very similar image to Wrathchild (UK).
X-Japan is known for their visual shock image. They have some of the largest hair imaginable fused with an ‘anything goes’ image anywhere from punk, to rock, to heavy metal. Musically, the band is just as diverse. They can go from Heavy Speed Metal epics, to anthemic Rock N Roll, to Extravagant Piano Ballads all on the same album. While putting a soft ballad right after an extremely aggressive/heavy song may be taboo in the Western music scene; X-Japan and their success seem to be representative of the Japanese culture and their limited taboos. Listen to Vanishing Vision, Blue Blood, and Silent Jealousy and you’ll see what I mean.
If you are reading this list and don’t know WASP, shame on you. WASP is one of the most aggressive Glam Metal bands in both image and sound. WASP’s work followed Motley Crue in a very parallel fashion. Their Dark imagery was gone with the release of “Electric Circus” which is coincidentally similar to Motley’s circus themed “Theatre Of Pain”. However, Blackie Lawless was using dark imagery in his music since the late 70′s. Sister (one of Blackie’s earlier bands before WASP, which also featured Nikki Sixx) is credited as the first band to use the pentagram for the band’s logo.
Another dark glam metal band formed in the early 1980′s. Witch had a similar image to Motley’s SATD with crazy hooker heels, fetish leather clothing, and shock rock stage antics. Another heavy glam metal band, Witch headlined over some big acts which include Lizzy Borden, Megadeth, Keel, exciter, Exodus, and Slayer. “The Hex Is On” is one of the only releases from the band. Their music is styled in the vein of traditional heavy metal.
Another heavy glam metal band that represented it’s music through dark imagery. Although their stage antics seem a little cheesy, Halloween still looks and sounds pretty badass. Their stage is very Halloween holiday inspired with gates and gravestones. Halloween remained a big underground in Detroit but never saw mainstream success.
The self proclaimed “Rock N Roll Freak Show” was a horror rock glam metal band limited to the underground scene of the 80s. Formed in 1981 the band looked allot better than they sounded. Vocally the band falls flat.
Wrathchild is widely considered one of the founders of the Glam Metal style. They were formed in 1980 and were very similar in image to their American counterpart Motley Crue. The band had a very raw punky/metal sound which is featured on their Stackheel Strutt EP. The band immersed themselves in heavy image based stage antics including pyrotechnics, platform boots, sky high hair, and fetish studded leather gear.