Question Of The Week: Total Satan Total Freedom?
In most cases, a mainstream metal band in the ’80s would defend itself from accusations of “devil worship.” Others would play it coy with shrugs and rhetoric. In 2014, we’ve come a long way: If a senator’s wife were to drag ten gore-spewing metal bands before a parents’ committee, nine of them would respond to their queries like, “Yeah, we do practice Satanism. Freedom, bitch.”
As such, there’s less satanism and more Satanism, less outrage over tales of ghostly devilish terror and more human faces on a vilified belief system, less hokey imagery and more … slightly less hokey imagery. But you get the point: Satanism is legit. It has well-spoken proponents, fearless agitators, and an loosely collected canon in place of semi-literate tales of virgin sacrifice. But do you buy that it’s more than contrarian young men draping themselves in symbols that are sure to offend their tormentors? That’s today’s Question Of The Week:
Inspired by the changing presence of Satanism in metal, we asked our staff:
Who is the best at Satanism?
Scream bloody gore? Or Now, Diabolical?
Slayer. Tom Araya’s Catholicism always made the band’s dedication to Satan sort of suspect — sorta like how Dave Lombardo’s Cuban ethnicity made “Angel Of Death” okay — but who cares? Slayer are way too fucking great to whine over their Luciferian rep. The band wordlessly evoke evil through their love of tritones, so speeding them up and having Tom scream some blasphemous stuff over it makes it all the better. They epitomize how metal should handle Satanism: they don’t really believe it, it’s not that important that they do, but here’s some pentagrams anyway. Let the LaVey hipsters bicker over the rest.
Emperor. Their take on Satanism was always about theater and grandiosity, but at the same time poetry and spirituality. It’s never just about dudes with hooves dancing around the fire, or warbeasts raping the Nazarene, it’s about the elements and feeling strong and standing against the laws of the status quo (part of me wants to say Behemoth, but without Emperor, Behemoth wouldn’t have been able to make The Satanist). I really dig on that dramatic horror movie-style Satanism (who doesn’t love King Diamond?), but when it comes to satanism being done earnestly and effectively in metal, no one can fuck with Ihsahn and company.
I can dig a belief system that encourages wimpy metal dudes to stand tall. I’m also into stuff that encourages wimpy non-metal dudes to indulge themselves in meaningless offense. So via that fuck-the-rules Satanism, the former gets a chuck on the shoulder; via the watch-out-behind-you satanism (lower-case S) the latter is kept busy speechifying and opposing to no effect, which leaves a larger share of money, sex, and fun for us. But somewhere in the mix, Satanism used to the same horrible ends as other religions: to make an individual feel closer to omnipotence and infinite life, to soothe pain, to nurture the impulse to increase our chances of survival by spurring the demise of others. Which is destructive. But The Crown makes it sound awesome!