Where would heavy metal be without the Devil? The genre’s favorite dark lord has been the inspiration for countless songs and albums, but this inspiration has wrongfully given a “Satanic” label to many acts. However, that’s not to say legitimate Satanists aren’t present in more extreme forms of metal.

“Satanic panic” in the media hit its zenith in the ‘80s, with bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath and Slayer being labeled as Satanic acts due to dark lyrics and artwork. Educated metalheads knew this wasn’t the case, but when black metal and death metal began to surge in popularity, musicians who practiced both philosophical and theological Satanism made their presence known.

The great majority of Satanists within metal came from Norway’s black circle. An epidemic of church burnings in the early ‘90s were celebrated and potentially perpetrated by black metal musicians. Acts like Mayhem, Emperor and Gorgoroth would go on to define that scene.

Sweden has been a cultural hub for Satanism in extreme music, as well, with Dark Funeral and Marduk embracing the left-hand path. Not that the U.S. hasn’t harbored some serious Satanists in music; the rise of Deicide being the most notable example.

Check out these 10 Legitimately Satanic Metal Acts above!

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