Monsters. Monsters rule, right? I thought you’d agree. In case you’re wondering, yes, yes you can study monsters for something maybe like a living. It’s called Cryptozoology, or the study of “hidden” animals. You may have seen a cryptozoologist on TV before. More than likely it was a program about Bigfoot and the guy with the coke bottle glasses and the shirt pocket bulging with pens and pencils was the channel’s go-to cryptozoologist. His job, and the job of most of cryptozoologists, is to be the credentialed name that says something similar to Hamlet’s advice to Horatio: “There are more things in heaven and earth…Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” In other words, don’t count out Bigfoot’s existence so fast. After all, what about the coelacanth?
But we came here to talk about metal cryptids, not actual sea beasts or Shakespearean characters. Obviously, cryptozoologists study cryptids, or “hidden” animals. According to cryptozoologists, cryptids are animals that have yet to be conclusively identified by mainstream science, despite decades upon decades of eyewitness accounts. Well-known cryptids include Bigfoot/Sasquatch/Yeti, El Chupacabra (literally “goat-sucker” in Spanish), the Loch Ness Monster, and others. Some popular cryptids will appear in this list, but many might be unfamiliar to you. So much the better. All cryptids, even those that make a rational, scientific explanation damn near impossible, are pretty metal, but the following ten are the most metal of all.
If Sasquatch is supposed to be a giant, prehistoric ape (Giganthropithecus to be exact), then Sheepsquatch is a giant…sheep. According to Rosemary Ellen Guiley, author of Monsters of West Virginia (which sits proudly next to my john, by the way), the dreaded Sheepsquatch of West Virginia and southwestern Virginia is “about the size of a bear with woolly white hair.” Its front paws are “more like hands,” while its tail is “long and without hair.” Worst of all, the Sheepsquatch’s ugly mug has a “doglike snout and single-point horns like those of a young goat.” A horned giant sheep that apparently smells like sulfur? That’s totally metal.
Making Sheepsquatch all the more terrifying is the fact that many sightings have been reported in the so-called TNT Area of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, which just so happens to be the location of the Mothman sightings in the mid 1960s. Like a house in a Stephen King novel, the TNT Area was just born bad.
9. The Ozark Howler
The Ozark Howler makes its home in the remote woodlands of Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas. Also known as the Ozark Black Howler, this “dog of death” is known for its coal black fur coat, curved, goat-like horns, and its howl, which has been described as one part wolf’s howl and one part elk’s bugle. Like the various black dogs of British folklore, the Ozark Howler may be something of a omen – a type of spirit warning travelers of their impending doom. Although widely considered a hoax by many cryptozoologists, the Ozark Howler has had its fair share of sightings over the years. Then again, the Ozark Howler may be nothing more than Fadades lost in the woods.
8. The Thunderbird
While the 1963 Ford Thunderbird is rock and roll, it’s not quite as cool as the mythical Thunderbird. A giant, supernaturally strong bird, the Thunderbird is a staple of Native American mythology. Beyond that, the Thunderbird has cousins throughout the world, such as the ravenous Roc of 1001 Arabian Nights. In the not-so distant past, it was fairly common for people to take pictures of gigantic birds and try to pass their carcasses off as the Thunderbird. Take this guy for instance. While most of these snapshots were elaborate hoaxes, they did not alter the fact that people remain interested in the idea of a massive bird that presages the coming of disastrous weather conditions. Speaking personally, when I think about the Thunderbird, I hear Judas Priest’s “The Hellion.”
7. The Beast of Bladenboro
Although North Carolina does have a Transylvania County, the vampiric Beast of Bladenboro calls the southern county of Bladen home. The story all began in 1953, when a woman living in North Carolina’s swampy and pine forest-rich countryside noticed that an abnormally large cat was bothering her dogs. Then, on December 31, 1953, Bladenboro Police Chief Roy Fores got multiple calls about dogs being attacked all throughout the county. Some eyewitnesses claimed that a strange and very large creature dragged the frightened dogs out into the night. One eyewitness said that the animal was like a “bear or a panther” and was “three feet long, twenty inches high, with a long tail and a cat’s face.” As if this weren’t bad enough, the dogs were later found drained of blood.
Newspaper accounts of the “vampire beast” attracted the attention of hunters from as far away as Tennessee, but within a week and with nothing to show for their trouble, the hunters went back to their homes, trailers, and cabins. As for the Beast of Bladenboro, it’s a Tarheel State legend that may still be active.
6. The Loup-Garou
While werewolves can exist anywhere, only the Loup-Garou prowls Louisiana's foreboding bayou country. Described as a creature with the body of an incredibly hirsute man and the head of either a wolf or a dog, the loup-garou probably came to Louisiana via settlers from French Canada. According to their superstitions, the loup-garou was a type of punishment for those French-speaking Catholics who did not adhere to the rules of Lent. The loup-garou could also be a type of vampiric curse that could be passed between individuals. Whether or not the loup-garou is a fictional bogeyman conjured up to warn little Pierre and Marie or a real shape-shifter, it’s as much a part of Louisiana as Eyehategod, Crowbar, and Goatwhore, which makes it very metal.
5. Lake Worth Monster
In the humid summer of 1969, the residents of Tarrant County, Texas started going ape over a supposed “goatman” near Greer Island. On July 9th, a couple of teenagers claimed that some unknown savage beast attacked their car and even tried to pry a girl away out into the night. The creature, which looked part-man and part-goat, supposedly sported scales and long, bird-like talons. These eyewitness reports, along with the big gash left on the side of the teenagers’ vehicle, helped to stir up plenty of eager Texans with quick trigger fingers. The next night, the miffed creature threw tires at the onlookers and would be hunters until it was chased away by sheriff’s deputies.
With so many newspaper reporters and amateurs alike around Greer Island, a picture was bound to be taken. In October 1969, Allen Plaster snapped a photo of what is reportedly the Lake Worth Monster. A large, all-white Texas version of Sasquatch, the Lake Worth Monster can today be seen leading the popular band the Texas Hippie Coalition. While a 1999 KDFW TV report went a long way towards explaining away the events of 1969 as a prank, some doubts still remain.
4. The Beast of Bray Road
Besides cheese, beer, and the Green Bay Packers, Wisconsin is also known for a werewolf. Commonly called the Beast of Bray Road because of numerous sightings on or around Bray Road in the rural town of Elkhorn, this Midwestern monstrosity is know for being large, having dark brown fur, and pointy ears. Basically, this isn’t your average canine. Originally seen sometime around 1989, the Beast of Bray Road has become a national phenomenon. There was even a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad movie made in 2005 about the beast. Much of this exposure is thanks to Linda Godfrey, a Wisconsin reporter and writer who has gone to great lengths to detail every eyewitness account regarding Bray Road’s most famous resident. So far the Beast of Bray Road hasn’t gone all blood simple, but when Kenosha’s Jungle Rot finally break up, all bets are off.
3. The Flatwoods Monster
Yet another monster from this writer’s home state, the Flatwoods Monster first touched earth on September 12, 1952. On that night, some young residents of Flatwoods, West Virginia saw what they believed to be a fiery UFO spacecraft land on a nearby hilltop. When they went to investigate, they were met with a gross, nauseating fog, a disturbing hiss, and a large creature with bright, unnatural eyes. A later sketch of the monster is proof enough that he probably stunk to high heaven. Not long after surviving their encounter with the stinky alien, many of the boys involved became inexplicably sick, which of course they blamed on the monster.
At the time, UFOs and aliens were all the rage, and it’s entirely plausible that the young Braxton County boys may have been under the undue influence of too many movie serials about men from Mars. Whether or not the Flatwoods Monster was a figment of collective imagination or not, he continues to be studied and appreciated. Clearly, the guys who created Amagon were fans of the monster.
First Sheepsquatch, now Batsquatch. Clearly, Sasquatch gets around. Anyway, Batsquatch is a flying cryptid that was first seen around Washington’s Mount St. Helens in the early 1980s. Most descriptions of the creature speak of a type of flying simian with the large, membranous wings of a bat, a horrid baritone yell, and purple skin. Furthermore, Batsquatch is supposedly 9 feet tall and can negatively effect the objects that are within its vicinity. Not surprisingly, little physical evidence of the Batsquatch exists, and despite Washington hiker Butch Whittaker’s assertion that he took pictures of a real Batsquatch in 1994, no images of the winged beast exist. Cry not, Batsquatch is doing alright with his day gig as a model for dudes in Pantera shirts who like to draw.
1. The Jersey Devil
Whenever “devil” is in the title, you know it has to be pretty metal. Plus, the Jersey Devil is from Jersey, which has given our shattered ear drums The Dillinger Escape Plan, Overkill, all of Glenn Danzig’s bands, God Forbid, and others. (Jersey had also bequeathed to the world Bon Jovi and Skid Row. Emphasis on the queef in bequeathed, mind you.) The Jersey Devil has a lot of origin myths, from being the demonic heir of the wealthy, but religiously fallen Leeds family to an ancient spirit that was feared by the Lenape tribe, the original inhabitants of New Jersey. Whatever the true story, the Jersey Devil continues to haunt the state’s impenetrable Pine Barrens as a chimeric monster with bat wings, a horse’s head, a dragon’s tale, and other wonderful bits. The Devil’s only problem now is that he might be too commercialized. We should make him evil again.