These posts are written by: Kieran Fisher

The Devil’s Roots: LaVeyan Satanism In Metal

In America during the 1960s, times they were o’ changing. Rock n’ roll was huge, Beatlemania was runnin’ wild, the Civil Rights Movement was changing the world, hippies were doing drugs and having sex all over the place, and other countercultures that opposed televangelism and conservatism in favour of individualism and free thinking were suddenly more popular than ever. Times like these also afforded men like the Church of Satan’s founder Anton LaVey to become mainstream celebrities, both feared and adorned, and if there’s one man that was essential in the emergence of Satanic philosophy becoming known in the public consciousness, it’s Lavey.

The Devil’s Roots: Theistic Satanism In Metal

The trait which unites most branches of Satanism is rejection of a Judeo-Christian deity and the embracing of one’s individualism and strength. Satanism, for the most part, is just a sexier way of being an atheist and any notion of a Devil is merely symbolic. However, theistic Satanic belief is traditional, the type that believes the Dark Lord is a real entity whom many objectively worship and revere, and while this Satan is accepted as an extension of Christian belief, the teaching’s of the big man upstairs are rejected in favor of the Fallen One. That said, theistic Satanism is also complex; while the Devil is revered as a deity, what He actually represents differs from thought pattern to thought pattern, with some such as Mayhem’s Euronymous believing in a horned one whose followers should be enslaved to, while others don’t even necessarily believe that the Devil’s roots are Judeo-Christian at all. So, just because they all believe in and worship a Satan, that doesn’t mean that all theistic folks embrace the same variation of Him. However, for the case of simplicity, all theistic Satanism rejections atheism as they believe in a deity of some kind.

The Devil’s Roots: Thelema in Metal

If a poster was created of famous devil-worshippers then Aleister Crowley’s face would no doubt be near the front and center. Despite not actually being a Satanist, Crowley’s “wicked’’ deeds placed him in league with the Dark Lord in the eye’s of the public back in his heyday. However, he was a practitioner of Thelema, a spiritual philosophy of self-empowerment that’s often lumped in with the glorification of evil much like Satanism has been throughout the years. And like old Beelzebub, Crowley and heavy metal fit together like a hand in glove, and his influence in heavy music can be traced all the way back to the genre’s earliest years.

Soulburn – Earthless Pagan Spirit

Soulburn seem to have finally found their comfort zone – and it makes for quite the uncomfortable listening experience in the best of ways. After returning in 2014 in their current form with the impressive The Suffocating Angels, the Demonic Dutch quartet seem hell bent on bringing forth a new dark age, and may our souls be damned. Their latest effort, Earthless Pagan Spirit, is one majestic, evil beast of an album that makes the prospect of a demonic dark age sound quite appealing.

Witchery – In His Infernal Majesty’s Service

Blackened thrash veterans Witchery are back, once again with significant line-up changes. These changes, thankfully, embellish the ethos which have made the band, in all their previous installments, vital in their respective field throughout the years. With new vocalist Angus Norder and drummer Christofer Barkensjö now in the fold, In His Infernal Majesty’s Service marks a new chapter in the band’s career, a chapter which sounds as ferocious, angry and evil as ever. It’s business as usual for the Scandinavians, and the horror-themed occultisms coupled with copious amounts of thrashing are all present and accounted for. No pretenses. No nonsense.

Satanic Panic: America’s War On Heavy Metal in the 1980’s

In 1966, the advent of the Church of Satan would mark a shift in societal attitudes. Upon its creation, founder Anton LaVey declared “Annos Satanas,’’ – the first year in the “Age of Satan.’’ All of a sudden, a once feared, taboo belief system had ingrained itself in the public consensus, and its appeal extended to rock stars and celebrities whose participation in the movement would make it mainstream. However, the popularity of the Church of Satan was just one of a few countercultures shifting away from traditional, religious and wholly conservative attitudes. It is also worth noting that the Civil Rights Movement was ongoing, rock n’ roll music was massively popular and the hippies were spawning all over the world; particularly in America. The Church of Satan was merely a reflection of a society rejecting traditional values – well, a portion of society anyway.

With the rise of these movements came the response of the traditionalists who weren’t too pleased with the proposed change in norms. But the notion of Satanism was an especially terrifying one for them, to say the least. On top of the Church of Satan, the atrocities committed by Charles Manson and the Family helped instill a widespread fear of emerging countercultures across America. Throughout the 1970’s, Satanic panic was already being churned out by evangelists, but it wasn’t until the following decade where it would be given its label and become a catastrophic phenomenon.

Crowbar – The Serpent Only Lies

In 2016, if you’re still listening to Crowbar then you know what to expect: slow tempos, chugging riffs, raspy vocals, the occasional shifting time signatures, and – most of all – comforting, loud familiarity. The Louisiana sludge pioneers have been doing what they do best for thirty years after all, and even with their endless line-up changes, you can count on them to deliver the goods. After nearly three decades grinding away, they might not sound as fresh as they once were; often is the case with so many bands who don’t evolve significantly with time is they get stale. On the other hand, some bands try to evolve and end up worse because of it. But Crowbar are a band who’ve remained consistently good for the duration of their career so far without ever departing from their roots, and it’s never been to their detriment – nor is it now.

Half Life – Mogwai

Scottish post-rock denizens Mogwai are a band who thrive in chaos and unpredictability – much like the little furry creatures from Joe Dante’s Gremlins they’re named after. Boundary-pushers since their inception, their feats of trailblazing subsequently launched post-rock into the mainstream stratosphere without ever having to compromise their artistic vision. Mogwai’s success is well earned and proof that, sometimes, crafting consistently great and innovative music can get you far. To traverse their discography is to explore vast oceans and limitless skies of both welcome familiarity and unexpected delights. Whether unleashing earth-shattering audio assaults or elegiac passages of soothing soundscapes, their music is profoundly human and capable of eliciting an emotional response through instrumentals alone.