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I’ve been a metalhead since 1970, when I was all of three, due to my older sister’s and her boyfriend’s tastes for what was then called ‘Acid Rock’, which included my beloved Black Sabbath.


Since then, which is now 34 years, we have seen a number of unfortunate by-products of Sabbath’s dark outlook on the false lovey-dovey vibe of the ‘60’s and their occult imagery. This includes, in no small part, their use of the Bad Guy Down There as a fixture in more than a few of their songs. Now, we’ve now got a serious problem.


If you’re a heavy metal listener to any degree, by now you know that there are just too damn many bands sporting pentagrams and baphomet goats and bleeding, crucified naked women and sinister, unreadable logos that just cry out ‘Hey! We’re into Satanism! Buy this album!’


It was only truly interesting, for me, when Venom first did this to get laughs and cash. They took the most occultic themes in Sabbath’s lyrics and mixed the simplicity of punk rock with Sabbath’s doomy riffs and made albums like ‘Black Metal’ (uh-oh!), ‘Welcome to Hell’, ‘In League With Satan’ and ‘At War With Satan’. The last one, in fact, was blaring from my tape player when I rolled my first car, totalling it. Which song was it? ‘Manitou’, which was about a Native American war god coming back to kick the white man’s ass. As a Native American on my father’s side I found it an instant classic. However I took it in a healthy context, the same one in which I took Iron Maiden’s ‘Run to the Hills’ (Native Americans fighting the genocidal US Army on the midwestern plains – some things never change). Heck, I took the whole ‘Number of the Beast’ album in that context.
None of these bands meant it that way, and Venom was just trying to piss them off. Who was ‘them’? 'They' reared their ugly heads a few years later, marching behind Tipper Gore and the PMRC. Now of course they’ve got more than they can ever hope to handle with an absolute DELUGE of satanically-themed rock’n’roll albums, even reaching far beyond the scope of the Heavy Metal genre.
Now, they’ve got to cope not only with Heavy Metal but sundry sub-genres of it such as Black Metal, Gore Metal, Goregrind and good ole’ Death Metal; now there's Goth, Darkwave, Goth Metal and Goth Punk.
Even Black Sabbath, God love’em (I duck quickly from any small arms fire from the Fundie Right), can’t hope to compete with sickos like Roz Williams of Christian Death (old school Goth band). He hanged himself after recording tons of albums about things like worshipping Jeffrey Dahmer and other rotten bastards... like Satan.
If you’re curious as to how bad this situation is, pick up a copy of a magazine called Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles (http://www.bravewords.com) out of Canada but distributed fairly widely in the United States and Europe. Just flip through it and listen to the sample CD. Look at the damn ads and the articles, the reviews and the interviews.
There is just no way to be sure just how many of these musicians are really trying to say something and how many of them are just selling CD’s on shocking content. Did I ever buy a CD to piss off my parents? In fact, no. I was in high school when W.A.S.P. put out their debut via import (the only way they could release it in the USA at the time): ‘I F*** Like a Beast’ (which was also the chorus of the title track). I found it a titillating proposition to purchase it, but I felt that the music just wasn’t deep enough for me to spend my money on it.
I find that today, the existence of the hardcore W.A.S.P. fan nation is flabbergasting because its numbers are in an inverse relation to the quality of W.A.S.P.’s music (run-of-the-mill and exploitive). Back then, even with Venom, it was just a matter of shocking people and exciting the kids to be rebellious (and eager consumers). The corporations picked up on this tactic to create gangsta rap, after all, so we all know how this works.
The social damage is apparent when a band like Cannibal Corpse mocks Tori Amos for her radio spot on behalf of victims of rape by using portions of her spot in a song called ‘Stripped, Raped and Strangled’, which by all appearances takes the concept of the rape and murder of women in a very humorous stride.
But since Satan has become a major selling point in music, a lot of bands feel that it’s useless to compete unless you join the bandwagon. With the advent of Black Metal (as we understand it to be) it has even become dangerous to society to the point of burning down churches. It even gave rise to a racist strain of Heavy Metal music heretofore unseen in the genre (and unwelcome!). (See my previous article on this topic, Racist subversion in White Popular Subculture Subcultures: The Infection of Punk, Hardcore and Heavy Metal .)


One of the worst results of this trend is that music, beginning in the 1990’s, now deliberately sets a tone of despair, self-hate, misanthropy, nihilism and fatalism, even violence and homicidal satanism in order to appeal to a youth culture that these trends have created. There is even an emerging subculture called 'Rape Rock', and the monicker says it all. Misery loves company, so it’s hard to convince people that these very things are in fact bad. There is now a truly massive cultural scene built around this – the ‘Dark Music’ scene, which encompasses the darker end of Metal; Goth; Industrial; Darkwave and some punk rock, plus an emerging subgenre called Dark Ambient.


I’ve always been one of those people who could enjoy Halloween all year ‘round, but now we’re overloading on Official Dark Content. Everything is damn Dark now. There’s even http://www.thedarknetwork.com , where you can find everything culturally Dark. Dark this, Dark that. Hell, go to the mall and just go into Hot Topic already, and buy your black vinyl skirt or pants or studded gauntlet and your Marylin Manson T-shirt and be Dark already, will ya? The Devil wants you to accessorize so his most market-savvy minions can make more dollars than the televangelists he has working on the other street in the Name of God. Why? It’s an easier sell to tell people straight out who you are, I guess.


Is it really Satan? Does it matter? It’s capitalism at nearly its worst, leaving the market to determine what mainly goes into the minds of young people instead of their own life experiences, the teachings of their elders and what they develop in their own ruminations: it’s an indoctrination that’s just as unhealthy as that from the government and its media minions.



And I, as a metalhead, have had enough.


------
The Alienist
jhfurnish@yahoo.com


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Comments

The following comments are for "Overloading on Satan: How Extreme is Enough"
by The Alienist

Agree Or AgreeToDisagree
Alienist your style of writing grips the attention , wheter the issue raised is agreed upon by the reader or wheter they agree to disagree.Truth be told the whole culture of *Dark Music* scene exists for and Quoting you ***There is just no way to be sure just how many of these musicians are really trying to say something and how many of them are just selling CD’s on shocking content***.

( Posted by: RightingIt [Member] On: January 20, 2004 )

Very possible
I'd like to think that you're right, but considering the extreme behavior of some of these individuals, going all the way to mass murder and burning churches (see my other article for more on that, the Europeans are having a terrible problem with the 'Black Metal Brotherhood')... take Glenn Benton of Deicide for example...
There are some people in that scene who are seriously sick.
If you do some in-depth study of 'Black Metal' you'll uncover some truly scary stuff re: the character of many of its founders and participants (aside from Venom - I mean beginning with the really sinister fools like Mayhem and Burzum etc. ...)

( Posted by: the alienist [Member] On: January 20, 2004 )

hmm..
whats wrong with Mayhem?

( Posted by: northerain [Member] On: January 20, 2004 )

Scary stuff
Surprise-- no arguing here (from me, I mean). :) This was a good article, and some pretty scary stuff for me to learn. I think it's probably that I'm a parent of 13- and 11-year-old girls that made it even more startling and scary. Eh, you think you know music, and then...

So, how popular are these sub-genres of rock that you mentioned? And do you think they'll continue on, or fizzle out like other music trends have? Can genres like these even be called trends (I think I was just asking myself with that last sentence)?

I think this article would be a good wakeup call to parents out there who take the warm and fuzzy approach, treat their kids more like friends than parents. I know from what you described that I wouldn't allow a lot of that shit into my house. I'm sure there are a lot of people who would disagree with me on that, but I don't consider it censoring.

Ah, the PRMC. I was a teenager when their initial 'list' came out. I was listening to a lot of music on that list. Oh, the horror!

Very well-done closing paragraph. Good and thought-provoking overall. Thanks.

( Posted by: Elphaba [Member] On: January 20, 2004 )

You are forgiven, child...
>>*I don't hate Black Sabbath either.

};]


Thanks for your reply; I wonder what was the different way you reached the same conclusion?

( Posted by: the alienist [Member] On: January 20, 2004 )

Money
If a record label thought devil-worship would cost them money, satanic bands would be singing the praises of tulip-grooming instead. Yes, I think it's about money. remember the old quote: "I wish we had the money to be eccentric instead of just mad." People get away with shit because they're famous. Serial killers have jobs ranging from chocolate factory worker (jeffrey Dahmer), to truck driver (Peter Sutcliffe), to part-time clown (John Gacy). Funny, then, how no Satan worshippers sing pop or R&B. Then again, I haven't played my Elton John CDs backwards for a while now...

( Posted by: jbicko [Member] On: January 20, 2004 )

Money...
King Diamond, a 'traditional' heavy metal vocalist who has long been an avowed satanist, said early in his career, around 1982, in an interview in Circus Magazine:

"If those who have given me the opportunity to record feel that it is in my best interests commercially to avoid discussing my beliefs, so be it." This was in response to questions regarding the fact that he had, at that time anyway, cut back on his 'satantic' lyrical content.

( Posted by: The Alienist [Member] On: January 20, 2004 )

hm..x2
well...i dont think we should put all bands in the same category...i mean some bands from the extreme metal scene certainly deserve alot of respect.what about the famous ''The Eagles'' record that had hidden mesagges if played backwards?i mean...get serious, we're talking about the eagles here.

( Posted by: northerain [Member] On: January 20, 2004 )

You would think...
You would think that I have something to say to condrict you or be the other side. but hell I really don't. Awsome job

( Posted by: Mr36 [Member] On: January 20, 2004 )

Mayhem
Mayhem is the band that started the ultra-negative Black Metal scene in Norway and influenced those in Russia and Sweden, and begat all the church-burnings. Euronymous and Varg were both in that band.

( Posted by: The Alienist [Member] On: January 20, 2004 )

bright
"The Devil wants you to accessorize"...God, what a great quote!

As the proud owner all all six classic Sabbath albums, as well as albums by Iron Maiden, Dio, and other dark, spooky heavy metal types, I've always been depressed to see how quickly people eat up the ridiculous goth scene. The founders of heavy metal used weird, occult imagery because A) it interested them, and B) it was new. Now it is no longer interesting or new, just the same old, same old. It doesn't mean a damn thing, it's just a selling point, and it makes old-school fans like us look silly when these rejects prance around in black tights and claim to be the Anti-Christ. I'm sorry, no, Johnny Rotten has already filled that position.

A friend of mine, a huge fan of bands like Skinny Puppy and Velvet Acid Christ, directed my disgust towards www.cleorecs.com, which is full of exactly the sort of band you're talking about here.

( Posted by: evil_bacteria [Member] On: January 22, 2004 )

The problem is...
...they're on the march. There are tons of these bands, and more of them and their brothers coming out on the damn labels that sign them, every day.

The independent labels broke their promise to avoid the sick commercial strategies and formula dependence of the major labels after all.

( Posted by: the alienist [Member] On: January 22, 2004 )

Black Metal
Where to begin. I love black metal and all of its incarnations, from My Dying Bride to Black Sabbath and the gothy Christian Death and that's the kind of sound I go after with my band. I don't really care that there's an abundance of satanic/occult imagery in metal these days, if that's what people like then cool. I don't buy albums because they reinforce my beliefs, I buy the shit because it sounds good. You mentioned dark ambient and it's growing popularity and goddamn, am I happy for that. Some of the best music I've ever heard is from dark ambient groups like Raison d'etre, or Ordo Equilibrio, who produce instrumental tracks that are pretty creeping, or very depressing at the least. I'm addicted to the depressing stuff I guess.

Cannibal Corpse has some pretty brutal lyrics admittedly, but it IS just lyrics, and you really can't hold a band accountable for what some idiot might do after hearing it. It's kind of ironic to see such beautiful language on a track by CC or Cradle of Filth, but it's there and you have to respect the musicianship and technical arrangements.

I don't have a particular religion and I don't regard the occult as having any credibility, but I'm a pretty imaginative guy, and sometimes I refrence the occult in my fiction because I think it's very interesting. I like the black scene and see it as harmless all by itself. If people can't handle that they should go listen to Poison.

( Posted by: die_daily [Member] On: January 23, 2004 )

The only good goth band
is Voltaire. This guy's hilarious, and he's got a great sense of humor about being goth. He takes it to extreme, but he's made a joke out of it, and to be honest, that's really the only way to go. Black capes went out of style a long time ago, guys...

( Posted by: evil_bacteria [Member] On: January 23, 2004 )

Voltaire
I've met this guy (he's played at Ulana's in Philadelphia), and he's most cool. I absolutely love his stuff, and my favorite song that he does, by far and away, is (I do it all) Because I'm Evil. Hilarious!

( Posted by: the alienist [Member] On: January 23, 2004 )

metal
Very well written. I am amused at how these kids today pride themselves at being "different" by proclaiming to be goth when in fact you can look around and see throngs of them in the malls, all wearing the black uniforms. Like it or not, they are in fact the norm and not the "individuals" they proclaim to be. In a way, they are the actually the "Pop Culture" of today. I am proud to say that I was and still am a heavy metal fan. During our "age", it was indeed different to enjoy Sabbath, Dio, and Maiden.(Or maybe I just convinced myself of that - I know being a female who enjoyed this music was indeed different when I was a teenager). Any person with any TRUE knowledge of Ozzy knows that he is really a gentle soul - a starving gentle soul (or was ) and to quote "...could't conjure his ass out of bed in the morning". It is ironic that you should be writing this. As a mother of teenagers, I am dismayed at their willingness to experience all genres of music besides the Anarchist bands. I force listen my kids everything from Pavoratti to Metallica to Fleetwood Mac and the Stone (and of course, Sabbath!) My words have all fallen on deaf ears. Of course, I am trying to foster individuality instead of conforming to the popular (which they vehemently deny).I have to admit, that on one occasion in particular, I was enjoying the rhythm of the music of DANZIG and was alarmed to find they were a true satanic band.
Also amusing is the Vampire cult of the youth today. Even though I myself have always been drawn to the darker side of the soul (hence, POEsandpoetry) and do enjoy a good horror tale, for the most part, these kids are dangling their feet in the pool and don't realize how deep the waters are. Sigh, to be young again.

Also amusing is the rap personas. I just spent last evening explaining to my oldest son - 13- that he cannot possibly be a big "balla" (as he tries to portray in his IM identity) because he doesn't even know the definition of "balla". Nor can he be "Westside Pimp" as his year book proclaims. He seemed a little shocked when I defined the word pimp to him.

( Posted by: poesandpoetry [Member] On: January 29, 2004 )





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