As part of our package on the city’s thriving, diverse metal scene, we’ve hunted down the top places for metalheads to grab a drink. We’re not talking about punk holdovers or rock dives that occasionally spin the genre’s cuts, but bona fide metal bars, the kind of institutions that always blast the hard stuff and act as a sort of home away from home for touring headbangers. Not that you need to be a devotee of dark tunes to enjoy yourself. “We get people here who aren’t wearing the uniform—all-black tight pants, black vest, long hair, tattoos—but they’re having a great time,” Saint Vitus co-owner Arthur Shepherd told us back in the fall. And he’s right: In our experience, each one of these spots has been friendly and welcoming—even when we left our Slayer jacket at home.
RECOMMENDED: Metal music in NYC
About a second after descending into this garden-level haunt in the south ’Burg, you’ll realize you’re in metal country. If the red lights lining the ceiling don’t give this away, the crunchy power chords blaring from the speakers and the tattoo-covered clientele downing PBRs (a mere $1 a pop before 9pm) will. (Those crucifixes, shrunken heads and skulls should tip you off too.) Metal celebs like Anthrax ax man Scott Ian have been known to drop by. And the joint’s jukebox is pretty impressive, leaning heavily toward hard-hitting, ghoulish stuff, of course (think Cannibal Corpse, Mastodon, Cro-Mags), but also with some nonheadbanging tracks by the likes of frat-rock ’60s groups and primitive rockers the Cramps. (Psst…on Sundays, you can play whatever seedy songs you fancy for free.)
Creepy baby dolls and clown masks; posters of Ministry, Metallica, White Zombie et al.; horror-movie pics; a pummeling soundtrack…wait, we’re still in Park Slope, right? Despite its locale, Lucky 13 Saloon is about as far a cry from the clichés of this brownstone- and kiddie-packed ’hood as it gets. Order the White Trash Special (can of beer and a shot of whiskey, $6) or a draft by a craft brewer like Smuttynose and Magic Hat ($5–$6) while basking in the red lighting along the U-shaped bar. You may notice a steel rod jutting from the top of the bar. Yes, that’s a stripper pole, where scantily clad ladies (like Japanese horror actress Cay Izumi) occasionally provide go-go action.
This place is easy to miss; there’s no sign on the exterior, and nary a light from the bar is visible on the street. It’s dark. Inside, you’ll find metaly touches like upside-down crosses, red candles, stained-glass artifacts and a 150-year-old Bible. And along the bar, you can work through a solid draft selection—New York staples Kelso and Brooklyn ($6) are regularly on tap—and amusingly titled beer-and-shot specials, like the Pope (a Coors tall boy, a shot of Tullamore Dew and a Brooklyn Brine pickleback; $9). In the back is a full-fledged (and completely black) live-music venue, now the go-to for many an NYC metalhead, which hosts about five shows a week, ranging from local upstarts to internationally touring heavy-hitters.