Band names are the very first impression of a band or artist people have. Regardless of their genre, what message they’re trying to send, or even who’s in the band, the name is the initial attention grabber. Whether you are browsing your local independent record store looking for something new or heard about them from a friend, sometimes it’s the name that will give you that final push to check them out.
A band’s name can go a long way. In a society that was dominated by standard rock/pop groups with names like The Beatles, Cream, The Rolling Stones, and The Who, it was very easy for a little known band called Black Sabbath to grab a hold of the audience’s attention around the world. Think about the actual name. Sabbath is a weekly day of holy rest in Abrahamic religions, one of eight pagan festivals that occur throughout any given year, or even to signify the new moon. Black is a word that is commonly associated with the occult, horror, and the general darkness the looms in every human being. One of the previous names for the band was The Polka Tulk Blues Band. Honestly, would you ever even give a band by that name a chance? I don’t think they thought so either, which is why they changed their name to Earth, which was catchier. Problem was, there was already a band by that name, so while they witnessed a line for the movie theatre across their rehearsal space for a Boris Karloff film called Black Sabbath, they made a song of the same name that was, musically and lyrically, a complete contrast to the late 1960s hippie movement of the day. This also helped them stand out among the other pioneers of heavy metal, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. The rest is history from there.
Since that daring leap, heavy metal has flourished and divided into countless sub-genres. One genre that stands out among “artistic” band names would have to be the goregrind/porngrind genres (they only differ by their lyrical content). The first goregrind band would have to be Carcass. Around this time, bands were taking a more left-wing political approach on their music, as evidenced by bands like Bad Religion and Dead Kennedys. Carcass came to fuck shit up with their detuned guitars, vocal pitch shifters, blasting drums, and sickening and offensive lyrics on their debut Reek Of Putrefaction.
With lyrics that cover topics like death, gore, pathology, and rape, it’s fitting that bands fit their names to this. Cattle Decapitation, Exhumed, Regurgitate, Impaled, and Aborted all add to the shock value, enticing listeners to check them out because their names are so off the wall. Then comes the underground-of-the-underground genre, which is heavily populated by one-man bands. Emulsified Flesh, Coathanger Abortion, Vaginal Flatulation, Maggot Stuffed Cunt, Spermswamp and (here’s a good one) Erythrioblastosis Fetalis are all clear indicators of what genre they are.
Without looking them up, can you guess what genres Proud Of That, Borgore, We Butter The Bread With Butter, Holy Fuck and This Will Destroy You are? Probably not. Proud Of That sounds like a pop punk band, but they are actually a brutal goregrind/death metal band from Italy. Borgore sounds like a goregrind band, but is actually an electronica-infused hip-hop artist. WBTBWB could be interpreted as a pop punk band, but they’re an electro-deathcore band. Holy Fuck sound like they should rock a hardcore, or even grindcore sound, but are actually electronica. This Will Destroy You sounds like a thrash metal band, but they are a post-rock band. These are excellent examples of the age-old saying “don’t judge a book by its cover.”
In today’s age, crazy band names have lost most of their shock value, especially those who grew up with sick friends that were obsessed with shock sites like 4Chan and Faces Of Death. In the mid-2000’s bands were all about adding to the long list of names to make them stand out among the other 300 bands with the words gore, abortion and vaginal in their title. One name you can literally take to the bank is The County Medical Examiners, a goregrind band that operates in dedication to Carcass and actually contains real doctors! Dr. Morton Fairbanks, Dr. Jack Putnam, Michelle Hayes (who later left to pursue medical school full time) and Dr. Guy Radcliffe are all real doctors, even contributing to the album cover of real parts. All of the lyrics and song titles are anatomically correct, something that some bands overlook. It’s also noteworthy that the actual disc is a scratch and sniff of a rotting corpse, with regards to “John Doe #4502.” Dr. Guy Radcliffe is also around sixty years old, which makes your grandpa lame.
These days, you need to make your band name stand out and be memorable, but not really cater to any sort of shock value. Names like A Day To Remember, The Ready Set, Stereo Skyline, Monsters and New Years Day are all examples of ganre generic band names. A friend recommended ADTR to me; my little sister had a Ready Set poster in her room; I saw that Monsters were touring with other bands I really like, and New Years Day were promoted by Hollywood Waste Records, a label I follow closely. Without these outside influences, I would have never checked them out. Turns out I really like Monsters, I think ADTR are ok now but were better when they first came out, I gave New Years Day a 4.5/5 star review, and I still don’t give a flying tit about The Ready Set. Like, at all.