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.