The Y! Music Playlist Blog - Archives

Heavy Metal Songs Named After Torture Devices

The human race is capable of great goodness, but we are also capable of unspeakable evil. And when you think about the greatest evils we are capable of, murder comes to mind first. But there is something worse than murder.


To torture another human being is the most depraved and cruel act that we humans can take part in. Unfortunately, torture is still practiced today in some cases, but there was a time when it was common place. The Middle Ages come to mind. No music genre explores the dark side of humanity in more detail than heavy metal does, so for this playlist I have selected 10 metal songs named after 10 gruesome torture devices. If you're an American this list should make you appreciate the 8th Amendment to the Constitution more than you ever have before. All of these certainly fall into the cruel and unusual punishment category.

Heavy Metal Songs Named After Torture Devices

1. Iron Maiden - Iron Maiden The Iron Maiden is the most famous torture device in the world of heavy metal considering the famous band of the same name. The iron maiden, unlike many of the torture devices in this list, is not from the Middle Ages, it actually comes from the late renaissance. It is a human size coffin, made of iron or wood and usually decorated with the face of a woman. Lining the inside of the iron maiden are long metal spikes. When a victim was locked inside with the doors closed the spikes would pierce the body causing extreme pain, and those unfortunate enough to find themselves inside would face a prolonged and horrible death. The Inquisition had an iron maiden carved to look like the Virgin Mary, and it was used on people accused of heresy, or blasphemy that refused to confess.

2. Head Crusher - Megadeth The head crusher was a simple and extremely cruel torture device that when used to its full extent would leave the victim dead from a crushed head, just as the name implies. The victim's head would be placed into the contraption with the chin laying upon on a flat board, and an iron skullcap on top of the head. The skullcap was attached to a long screw with a turning handle and acted like a vice. The torturer would tighten the device slowly, which at first would secure the victim's head so that escape was impossible, then by turning the screw more the victim would experience pain that would quickly become unbearable. If the torturer continued to tighten the device the victim's jaw would break, then the eyes would pop out of their sockets before the skull would eventually be completely crushed killing the victim.

3. The Rack  - Asphyx The rack is probably one of the first devices that come to mind when people think of Midieval torture. The most common rack consists of a wooden frame with two rollers to which the victim's arms and legs were tied. The rollers would tighten the rope, or chain thus pulling the victim's arms and legs further from the body. At a certain point the rack would have the victim screaming bloody murder, which was enough to fill any prisoner with terror if they happened to be within earshot. If the torturer continued to tighten the rack the joints would dislocate and muscle would rip with horrible popping sounds. Being confined on the rack also left you exposed to other forms of torture like beating, cutting and burning.

4. Scavenger's Daughter - Nights Like These The Tower of London has an infamous history as a place where a lot of horrific torture took place.The place is said to be haunted today with the souls of those who met brutal and violent deaths. Out of all of England's kings, King Henry VIII probably is the most well-known for not thinking twice about having people imprisoned, tortured and/or executed -- including some of his many wives. During Henry's rule there was a Lieutenant at the tower of London names Sir Leonard Skeffington who is credited with inventing the scavenger's daughter, also referred to as Skevington's gyve, the Spanish A-frame, or the stork. The scavenger's daughter was an iron device that would wrap around a person's body while compressed into a ball, holding the arms and legs tight. It worked opposite of the rack in that instead of pulling the body apart it would crush body together.

5. Impaled - Crucifer Bram Stoker's story of Dracula is said to be partly inspired by the real life monster Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia -- better known as Vlad the Impaler. Historians place the number of victims tortured and killed at Vlad's hands as high as 100,000. He disposed of his enemies and lawbreakers without hesitation, and in a myriad of horrific ways, but his favorite method was impalement on large stakes -- the higher the stake the more important the victim. It was an especially cruel method of death as it would sometimes take hours, or even days for the victim to die.

6. Skull Splitter - Destructor The skull splitter was a medieval torture implement that could be used to torture, or to kill in a loathsome manner. It was a metal ring with spikes on the inside, two tightening screws and two handles on the outside. The torturer would put the skull splitter over the victim's head and tighten the screws until the metal spikes penetrated the vicim's flesh. It would cause a tremendous amount of blood, and the torturer could easily lead the victim around with the handles. To kill the prisoner the torturer could tighten the device until the spikes penetrated through the skull then hoist the victim up by the device. This would result in the top of the scull being ripped off, or the neck being broken.

7. Breaking the Wheel - Eliminator The breaking wheel, also know as the Catherine wheel, was mostly used for public executions during the Middle Ages. The victim would be tied to the wheel, which is some cases could be turned slowly. The executioner was then free to beat the victim, or break bones by using a metal rod as a lever between the spokes of the wheel. Depending on the crime being punished, or how much mercy was shown, a victim could be killed very quickly with some large blows to the head or chest (top down), or they could linger for days in pain with broken bones and disfiguring bruises (bottom up). Many vitim's were left on the wheel for days after expiring to have their flesh eaten by birds. This served a dual purpose as a warning to the populous not to commit the same crime.

8. Pear Of Anguish - Oath To Vanquish All torture is a crime against humanity, but it took an especially depraved mind to design, build and use the pear of anguish, or choke pear. It was a pear-shaped metal device that had a key which could be turned. It came in two different types. The less violent type was smooth and would open the pear as the key was turned. The more gruesome version would also extend blades, or spikes as the key was turned. The pear was inserted into the mouth, anus or vagina and the key turned to stretch and break the flesh, or in the case of the bladed version, to do an immense amount of damage that would lead to a slow, painful and humiliating death.

9. The Pillory - Impaled Nazarene The pillory is sometimes mistaken as the stocks. The stocks were a lesser punishment where a criminal was held in a public place usually by the feet. Citizens who passed would ridicule and throw rotting vegetables, offal and excrement at the prisoner. The pillory would hold the victim upright by their wrists and neck, usually on an elevated stage in a public place. Here citizens would humiliate the victim as with the stocks, but a torturer could also beat, cut, burn and whip the victim. In this way varying degrees of punishment could be inflicted all the way up to death. Even without the ridicule and physical punishment, being in the pillory for days was a horrible experience since the victim had to stand on their own two feet to prevent  being choked by the device. As with the Catherine wheel the pillory was also meant to be a deterrent to crime and capitalized on mob mentality that is a sad phenomenon in the human race.

10. The Brank - Captain Cutthroat The brank, or Scold's bridle was a torture device used to punish the lesser crimes of gossiping, nagging, or irreligious speech. For the most part the punishment was reserved for women. It consisted of a metal helmet, or cage that sometimes had donkey ears, or other demeaning iconography. Inside the helmet a studded plate extruded and was placed in the mouth. If the mouth and tongue was kept still, only a small amount of pain would be endured, but speaking would cause more severe pain. In some cases the brank had a rope, or chain attached so that the accused could be led through town to be humiliated, and to serve as an example of the fate that awaited those who chose to use their tongues in ways not approved of by law. Makes you appreciate the first amendment a bit more, no?

Follow what Robert is listening to on Twitter.

View Comments