Pits of fire that never go out, monumental skulls, an angel of death that cries black tears — these are some of the most “metal” places in the world. So if you’re looking to shoot your next intense album cover for some heavy guitar driven aggression, or just want to experience a brush with darkness, get out to these 13 intense locales.
GATES OF HELL
Karakum Desert, Turkmenistan
The Turkmenistan Gates to Hell (photograph by Tormod Sandtorv)
In 1971, a Soviet drilling project went horribly wrong when it hit a natural gas cavern and collapsed. To keep from spawning an environmental catastrophe, the pit was set in flames. To this day the 328-foot-wide fiery chasm burns, earning it the nickname, “The Gates of Hell.”
One of the world’s most gruesome natural wonders is the five-story “Blood Falls.” The slow ooze of crimson from Antarctica’s Taylor Glacier is actually sourced from a trapped lake of ancient microbes, but it looks like the ice has a festering wound.
THE CHAPEL OF SKULLS
The Chapel of Skulls (photograph by Merlin/Wikimedia)
The macabre Chapel of the Skulls has a ceiling of bones formed Jolly Rogers-style in a lattice of death, while alongside skulls gaze with vacant sockets at any visitors. And if that wasn’t unsettling enough, open a trapdoor in this Polish church to reveal the packed skeletal remains of 21,000 people in the crypt.
THE HASEROT ANGEL
The Angel of Death Victorious (photograph by Ian MacQueen)
In Cleveland’s Lakeview Cemetery, the angel of death weeps black tears. The monument for Francis Haserot — known as “The Haserot Angel” or “The Angel of Death Victorious” — is in reality a victim of the eroding elements, but the weathered cheeks stained with a silent cry are a harrowing memento mori.
Mother Motherland statue (photograph by Roland Geider)
As far as aggressive monuments go, it doesn’t get better than the 340-foot-tall Mother Motherland in Ukraine. The silver lady with her sword held high is approached through a path soundtracked by ominous Soviet music.
Fire Mountain & the moon (photograph by Frokor/Wikimedia)
Similar to the Gates of Hell, this constantly burning hillside in Yanar Dağ, Azerbaijan is fueled by natural gas reserves. The 32-foot-long wall of fire is most impressive at night, when the flames put visitors in strange otherworldly silhouettes in the darkness.
Denisov District, Kazakhstan
via Google Earth
Viewed from above, this abandoned summer camp in Kazakhstan looks like a satanic symbol. However, the pentagram — long used across cultures for a variety of reasons — is actually the Soviet star, and is as far as the camp got in its failed construction out on a windswept peninsula.
Le Serpent d’Océan (photograph by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra)
Artist Huang Yong Ping created this fearsome metal snake that raises its fangs from the waters off the shore of the French town of Saint-Brevin-les-Pins. It’s 400 feet long; and its rows of slithering silvery ribs cut right into the waves.
Clermont-Ferrand Cathedral (photograph by Fabien1309/Wikimedia)
Up on a hill in the center of the French city of Clermont-Ferrand is this ominous black cathedral. Built from lava rocks, the Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption looms above a 10th century crypt hidden beneath its stark architecture.
LAVA LAKE AT NYIRAGONGO VOLCANO
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Lava Lake of the Nyiragongo Volcano (photograph by Cai Tjeenk Willink)
The world’s largest fluid lava lake has a recorded depth of 10,700 feet. In 1977, it burst open, consuming everything in its path at 60 mph. Since 1882, it’s erupted at least 34 times.
PARK OF THE SLEEPLESS
Skull in Estella, Spain (photograph by Lanpernas Dospuntozero)
From 1971 to 2009, artist Luis García Vidal filled this Estella, Spain, landscape with monumental skulls. It’s as if some menacing giants are being uncovered from a mass grave, and is intended as a public art memento mori.
CURTAIN OF FIRE
The most active volcano in the world — Kilauea in Hawaii — regularly creates what’s known as the Curtain of Fire. Through fissure vents, magma shoots up in waves above the rolling ground of dried black lava.
RELAMPAGO DEL CATATUMBO
Catatumbo Lightning (via Wikimedia)
For as long as anyone can remember, Relámpago del Catatumbo in Venezuela has been swarmed with lightning storms. Between 140 and 160 nights of the years have lightning storms that can have as many as 280 strikes an hour, and last for up to 10 hours.