It’s easy to forget how rad vampires are. The children of the night have been done dirty over the years, done to death over an eternity of embroidered petticoats, longing young adult stares, and harpsichord. But at the end of the day, the vampire is what so many of us wish to be, a satanic noble devoid of anything but the urge to drink. Then again, it’s also a revolting thing, cold and craven and cursed in its deathlessness, making us wonder what could lie at the bottom of our own hearts.
Since today is World Dracula Day, the 125th anniversary of Bram Stoker’s Dracula being published, we decided to round up vampire metal bands both contemporary and classic, to revel in all things nocturnal, sanguine, and evil as Hell, just as the Count would’ve wanted. But before we kick things off, we’ve noticed that some of our readers have a specific understanding of what constitutes ‘vampire metal.’ So here are the rules by which we’ve judged the bands on this list:
- Vampires need to be a recurring and prominent theme in their music.
…and that’s it.
Here are 11 bands who have us offering our necks in servitude…
The OG vampire black metallers. French duo Mütilation didn’t just write songs that focused heavily on blood-sucking undead, they coined the sound that would act as a blueprint used by vampire black metal bands for ages to come. Harsh and dusky, yet imbued with a melodic melancholy that seemed to touch on the curse of an eternal outcast, the band’s music has inspired countless imitators, few of whom have driven the nail in the coffin quite so starkly. In no way gothic or symphonic, but still in touch with the scope of endless night.
Between their fuzzy, gnarly black-thrash sound and the awesome conceptual artwork on their Feast of Blood EP, one wouldn’t be surprised to discover that Bat Magic were from one of the artsier cities in Eastern Europe. But nope, this band’s American, somehow channeling that dark vampiric energy from the States. The Feast EP definitely has more drive than many crypt-slogging vampire black metal records, and packs an aggression that reminds us of Arizona’s Take Over and Destroy. Definitely a band whose name we want on a fuckin’ shirt, that’s for sure.
Often, the dungeon-born lo-fi nature of traditional vampire black metal makes it feel a little light and airy. But Abyssos’ music manages to sound chilly and merciless without losing any of its punch. 1997’s Together We Summon the Dark definitely doesn’t disappoint when it comes to momentum, and yet one can still hear the cathedral-drenched arch-evil of the vampire in it. These guys’ atmosphere definitely errs on the side of Warhammer‘s vampires over, say, Anne Rice’s, but hey, evil comes in all shapes and sizes. Usually as a bat, though.
Sure, Finland’s Alucard make it very clear very early on that their vampiric themes come from Nintendo’s Castlevania games. But what that does is free them from the grimness of so many other vampire bands. Alucard’s music embraces both the vampiric legends of old and the spoo-ooky themes surrounding them in movies and games. The result is killer black n’ roll with wild carnival synths over it that feels more Halloween than unhallowed.
Says sole member Satanarchist:
“A bit over 10 years ago, I heard the song ‘Bloody Cross’ by the Japanese metal punk band Parasite and thought it had a bit of a Castlevania feel to it. Ever since then, I’ve wanted to try and combine ’80s Japanese hardcore worship riffs with Castlevania-inspired organs, and finally because of the pandemic, I felt I have enough time in my hands to start messing around. I liked the results and it’s been a lot of fun, so I’ll definitely continue doing it. I’ve always been a huge fan of the Castlevania series and vampires and vampire hunters in general, so of course it was obvious to base the lyrics on the never-ending fight between good and evil. Lately I’ve been playing through the Legacy of Kain games, so maybe in the future I’ll make a trip from Castlevania to Nosgoth for a bit…”
While this list uses ‘vampire metal’ as a broad term, Sydney’s Ravenous Dusk might be the band on here that most readers would hear and associate with the genre. The duo create dramatic black metal that makes one think of flashing teeth and wings spread on a castle parapet. Their new demo The Dead of Night definitely goes hard in the ominous anguish and bat-swarm pandemonium.
Responding to MetalSucks, the band said:
“Due to a fascination with the macabre, history, mythology and horror, the concept of Vampyrism was an ideal thematic direction for Ravenous Dusk to explore due to the rich and varied accounts in folklore, literature and film. The abundance of material on the subject serves to spark the imagination. The undead creature in Eastern European tales is a cruel, hideous predator, yet is largely identified through romanticized western representations. Black metal is the perfect expression of the dark, grandiose notions of the vampyre and the existential ideas explored within Vampyre lore. Conjured with bombastic orchestral darkness and furious hostility, Ravenous Dusk seeks to evoke a blood curdling cacophony of ungodly violence mixed with melancholy and despair, uniting savagery with sublime. While exploring the plaguing eternal question of, what lies beyond the veil; what is the nature of life and death? The Vampyre exists on the threshold between life and death, and they are Ravenous.”
Seeing as the first song on their 1997 debut Loreia is named “Vampyria,” one should be unsurprised to find Siebenburgen on this list. The band’s music became more symphonic over the years, but even in the driving black metal here, one can sense that ancient romance that comes with vampiric influence. The two sides of the band’s sound come together most coherently on 2000’s Delictum, which is still solid black metal but goes wild with imagery of castles, capes, and blood chalices raised at midnight. Music for people who go all-in on the vampire thing.
Take traditional gothic metal and give it an extra row of teeth, and you’ve got Italian black metallers Lord Vampyr. The band still offer listeners all the sweeping, key-spangled horror they love from classic vampire stories. Yet the band also manage to instill their music a certain harshness and ferocity that makes them an outlier at the fancy castle blood banquet. Sure, there’s plenty of baroque art here, but it’s not all ruffly sleeves – this monster has jaws.
Things get a little weirder with Baltimore’s Vinterdracul. Sure, the band’s scathing noise-oriented goth-rock is definitely less of the lush, looming sound one normally associates with nosferatu-loving rockers. More than that, though, it’s their subject matter – their obsession with the actors and directors who brought vampires to life onscreen and embedded them into our collective subconscious – that sets them apart from the usual tales of candelabras after sunset.
Explains the band’s Weirdling Batiwielder.
“We’re making music inspired by the actors and directors who’ve brought vampires to life on the big screen. Christopher Lee was the Dracula whose reign coincided with the birth of Rock and Roll and Heavy Metal, so it made perfect sense to set up our amps in the shadow of his bloody coffin.”
Order of Tepes
As you can tell by their name, Order of Tepes definitely obsess over the actual Dracula, Vlad Tepes, AKA Vlad the Impaler, perhaps more than they do about Bram Stoker’s undead nobleman. But the band’s music, icy yet lush black metal which utilizes both percussive rhythms and eerie atmospherics to great effect, definitely feels like a tribute to the Count in his masterfully undead form. The band’s later album, Dusk Bring Thy Misery, is more open-ended in its love of darkness, but continues that sense of Draculean grandeur. Impale ‘em if you got ‘em.
‘Vampire stoner metal’ isn’t a concept that would make sense to your average black-and-buckle-clad metalhead, but Sweden’s Laser Dracul pull it off masterfully. The band’s weed-friendly juds are definitely the stuff of ragtag headbanging, but the band’s dark obsessions manage to channel both old-school monsters of mythology and the cinematic ghouls we’ve come to love in a cheesy way. In that respect, Laser Dracul keep their subject matter from feeling ponderous or melodramatic – they’re here for it all, both fake blood and real.
We always love seeing a band that’s not only embraced vampires as a topic, but has gone full-on night worship for their entire careers. And cross-coastal gothic metal act Wooden Stake are absolutely the real deal. Since 2010, the band have been making eerie, mid-paced metal almost solely about vampires, werewolves, coffins, graveyards, and dark rites to the Devil. Their last feature-length album, 2015’s A Feast of Virgin Souls, is an oozing, creepy tribute to bloodthirsty monsters gathering nude peasant girls in their deepest of chambers for ancient blood rituals. So, you know, get on that.
Let’s cut all this bullshit and get with the blood. Spiter’s raging black thrash gets down to the vital, gore-caked fantasy of both vampires and old-school metal in all their unholy glory. This is leather-strapped, spike-clad undead carnage, celebrating total debauchery as a votary of night, fear, and the Devil himself.
Says Draculean footsoldier Richard Spiter:
“Dracula is the infernal and immortal Son of the Dragon. The impaler of all who stands in his way, feasting on their blood in battles glory. Though he has many brides, in his ancient castle, he truly is alone and eternally longs for more, for his lust to possess fresh souls and hearts is unquenchable. Wolves howl and the bats fly high in the moon’s fog, as the dark prince ventures out in the night in search for love, blood, and death.
“Weilding his sword in Satan’s name, carving his path trapped between the realms of mortals and the astral beyond. The true king and master. The Dragon God in whose name we kill and drink the blood of peasants. We are the disciples of the dark lord. Praise Dracula. HAIL SATAN.”