It takes an intense personality to create intense art. As fans of rock and metal, it’s important to accept that much of the music we love comes from very dark places. Nobody is perfect, and even those whose views and actions are considered reprehensible by society have the right to create.
People are in a state of constant evolution. Many musicians who have previously caused harm, espoused hateful views, or just said juvenile dumb shit at a time when slurs were unfortunate cultural norms. Over the years, most of them have changed and grown with greater cultural understanding and responsibility. Hell, even Phil Anselmo has apologized and tried to atone for being a jerk.
However, some musicians out there have really dug in their dickhead heels. Operating the assumption that a lack of empathy and willfully hurting other human beings sucks, these are the Worst People in Metal and Hard Rock.
5. Chris Barnes
The original Cannibal Corpse vocalist and longtime growler of Six Feet Under has ruffled his share of feathers over the years. Whether it be promoting conspiracy theories from everything from the Parkland massacre to COVID, saying that modern death metal vocalists make him “physically ill” and that he “despises what the genre has become,” or losing it on fans who ask innocent questions about the evolution of his singing style, Chris Barnes has put in the work to alienate most of the metal community at large.
Given the fact that his music has become increasingly laughable, maybe this whole thing is an act in order to stay in the public discourse. Now, that’s a conspiracy theory worth entertaining…
If being a piece of shit was a muscle to be worked out, Gene Simmons would be Arnold Schwarzenegger in Pumping Iron. The Demon lives up to his name, and not in a cool way. A prolific misogynist and anti-Islamist xenophobe who would encourage anyone with depression to kill themselves and then attempt to sell the surviving family a KISS coffin, Gene Simmons is a rock and roll comic book villain.
3. Michale Graves
Stepping into the iconic shoes of Glenn Danzig in the Misfits is an insurmountable task, but newcomer Michale Graves handled the job more efficiently than anyone expected. Nobody ever expected political correctness out of the Misfits or their associated acts, but Graves (who hasn’t been involved with the band in many years) took things to another level when he joined the neo-fascist organization Proud Boys. Although Graves was not physically present at the Capitol Building on January 6th because he was planning to perform a private show nearby for the far-right group, he nonetheless egged on on the rioters that day with social media posts of featuring pictures of representatives hiding in the rows of congress, along with the caption “When the people fear the government, there is tyranny… When the government fears the people… There is liberty.” Graves recently testified at a trial defending the Proud Boys in regards to the events of January 6th.
2. Varg Vikernes
If murdering the guitarist of your band and figurehead of your whole scene doesn’t cost you some friends, almost single-handedly starting the national socialist black metal movement will. Part boogeyman and part walking meme, Varg Vikernes has inspired terrorists and hate groups the world over for a long time. In recent years has become a surreal social media star of sorts, with a penchant for zoomer lingo and very, very bad role-playing games.
1. Ted Nugent
Worst. Adoptive. Dad. Ever.