Hey! Listen to Pagan Altar!

Formed in 1978, Pagan Altar are among the old guard of metal. In their early days, they were unapologetic Black Sabbath clones – just listen to the first few seconds of Pagan Altar’s “The Black Mass” and tell me you aren’t expecting to headbang to Iommi’s legendary riff. But of course, there is nothing wrong with being a clone if your identical twin is Black. Sabbath. Crooner Terry Jones sings in a distinctly Osbourne-ian croak comprising the weakest part of the band’s sound, but it shouldn’t offend anyone who can palate Ozzy. The riffs that Terry’s son, guitarist Alan Jones, offers on tracks like “The Black Mass” and “Judgement of the Dead” are as doom-laden and memorable as anything the genre could sling when the Pagan Altar demo was released in 1982.

Endless Sacrifice – Suffering, Metal, and Identity Politics, Part 1

Even though parts of the metal community might like to imagine otherwise, metal is just another identity group, albeit a wide and varied one (contrary to what other groups might think of it). It has its own dress code(s), its own language, and its own system(s) of ideals. We’re here today to talk about a specific part of that system of ideals and the way in which it manifested through recent events in our community. This ideal is none other than the ideal of suffering, a turn of phrase which might sound weird at first. However, suffering has long been a method through which membership in a community has been signaled. From the very genesis of Christianity, through various moral systems and philosophies (Emanuel Kant comes to mind), and various manifestations in popular culture (such as wrestling for example), suffering and pain are often ultimate signs of belonging. Suffering can highly ritualized and contextualized, made to mean different things and communicate different ways of belonging.

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.

First Impressions: Black Sabbath – 13

DISCLAIMER: This track by track review of Black Sabbath’s 13 was written as a one time run through listen of the new album at an exclusive listening event in L.A.. This is not definitive nor refined. A more cohesive review of the album will be released when it is available.

The Black Sabbath Blame Game

  Black Sabbath are one the single most important bands ever to have risen from the primordial goo of that bastardized form of blues we know and love called metal. Their effect upon the genre was profound — by turning the tie-dye hippy movement from peace and flower power into a bleak,…