The Ten Most Metal Animal Skulls
Perhaps the most overused and overly co-opted heavy metal symbol is that of the skull. Once a worldwide symbol for death, danger, carefree indulgence, and those who worship at the altar of those things, the Death’s Head has since become a badge of wannabe rebellion and occasionally enjoying Appetite for Destruction, to be held up and cooed at in every Walmart.
Thankfully, Mother Nature is basically a mad scientist on acid, and the human skull is not the only skull on earth that is in any way metal. In fact, the beasts of the land and sea often have skulls that are far more terrifying and absurd than that of our grinning headbone. So if you’re a metal band or artist, and want to step your game up in a depiction of Hell, the Reaper, or just a mutant bursting out of a tube and mutilating its makers, consider replacing that rotten skull with one of these bad boys:
MIGHTY INCISORS! For those of you who don’t know, a nutria, formally a coypu, is a giant water rat that hangs out in swamps and bogs (according to friends of mine in NOLA, they’re fucking delicious). Though these guys aren’t terribly harmful other than being a nuisance, their giant yellowed front teeth are so big and brutal that their entire skull hinges upwards and outwards to house them. Looking at that skull, all you can imagine is them teeth clamping down on one of your fingers.
9. Gila Monster
So what if these lizards are small and so sluggish their venom isn’t really a big deal—look at that skull! It looks like the Gila monster’s sole purpose is knocking down castle walls. The monster’s Latin name, Heloderma, means “skin studded with nails”, too, so this creature is basically distinct in its riveted industrial head.
It’s funny to look at extreme metal artwork and realize how many times some Satanic cultist or goat-worshipping black metal warrior has actually been wearing the skull of an ibex rather than that of a goat. While goat skulls are pretty metal, there’s something about the huge arc of the ibex’s horns and the dagger-like thinness of the face that make this skull feel wilder, stranger, and more unholy than that of a goat.
7. Vampire bat
What’s most interesting about a vampire bat’s skull is that it looks exactly like its namesake. When you strip away the big flower-petal ears and leafy nose of a vampire bat, what you have underneath appears to be Nosferatu. What the vampire bat’s skull lacks in size or adornment it makes up for in cold, simple creepiness. Imagine approaching the romantic cloak-wearing nobleman on the castle ramparts at dusk… and when he turns around, he has that for a head.
What the fuck is going on here?! Tapir skulls are proof that even God loves a freakshow. With skin, tapirs just look kind of guilty, like elephants that didn’t want to pay beyond the trial membership. But take that flesh away and you get to see the bizarre bone spur holding up this creature’s goofy-ass proboscis. An absurd and grotesque reminder that Nature is the original mad scientist.
5. Killer whale
It’s… smiling at me. While most whales’ skulls look like the bows for alien instruments, the Orca’s skull just looks like some grinning eyeless crocodile from the depths of Hell. Of course, it’s important to remember that skulls that big house big brains, and killer whales are not the killers they’re often portrayed as… but man, it’s hard to keep that in mind when that thing’s grinning at you like that.
Too late, you’ve pictured it going into your eye. Like the Nutria, the metalness of the condor’s skull rests pretty heavily on its front—but man, what a front. That beak is like the grim reaper’s scythe, and the fact that it grows so scarily at the end of this huge hinged head only makes it a more intimidating weapon. Plus, there’s just something about birds, man. They’re just spooky.
A baboon’s skull is basically how I imagine a werewolf looking—that heavy human brow atop a snout and mouth that’s just been stretched in terrifying ways. Primate skulls will always be especially hardcore because they always feature a glimmer of the humanity to come in them—a gorilla’s skull is pretty insane as well—but the baboon’s vicious predatory face adds a level of monstrousness that makes in the most metal in its class.
Jeeeesus. Never forget that even though they choke their food down whole, pythons mouths are lined with some of the scariest-looking teeth in history. And then there are the seaplane floats: because it has to eat food much wider than its head, pythons can unhinge their lower jaws so as to make themselves large enough to ingest a goat. It’s understandable why early man saw the serpent and thought, Yup, that’s the Devil.
Behold the Beast of the Apocalypse! Who knew that beneath that goofy head with its big round nose and puffy cheeks, there was a terrifying spike behemoth? A hippo’s skull looks like something out of Warhammer 4000, some kind of genetic anomaly engineered for warfare and consumption. To be fair, hippos themselves are scary as fuck, known to kill humans for sport. But this skull doesn’t say, Stay out of my territory, it says, My favorite food is scrambled baby parts dipped in motor oil and cooked over a burning hospital.