Backmasking and phonetic reversal are nothing new in music. Many times in the past, secret messages and subliminal recordings have been claimed to have been heard in the work of various arists, from The Beatles to Journey, Pink Floyd to Tenacious D
So join us as we run down some of the more famous, as well as the lesser known examples of this somewhat controversial technique in heavy music.
At The Drive-In – “300Mhz“
Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala, guitarist and frontman respectively, are no strangers to doing weird things with their records. Later, as The Mars Volta, they created an entire concept album from a diary found inside a repossessed car, and later based another around their experiences with an allegedly cursed ouja board. Before Deloused in the Comatorium was but a twinkle in their eyes, however, they recorded the track “300Mhz” for their other, perhaps more famous (and certainly more accessible) band At the Drive-In. It comes from the Vaya EP, and is perhaps one of the more obvious examples of the technique – if you know what you’re looking for.
After about a minute and a half, there’s a section in which Cedric sounds like he’s speaking gibberish (actually, it sounds distinctly German to me). Whilst this is entirely plausible for him, if you reverse the track you get the following lyrics:
“…your enamel / made no reflection in our mirror / coughing up the coffins / cotton candy coated teeth / these pockets were clinching all filled with teeth / amnesia proletariat / in the unlikely event / that sarcasm is an unfitting dress / amnesia proletariat / amnesia proletariat / amnesia / coughing up the coffins / cotton candy coated teeth / these pockets were clinching / all filled with teeth / sharpened on the fucking hides of men…”
This is actually the lyrics from the first verse. Check it:
Which leads us to…
The Mars Volta – “Eunuch Provocateur“
Okay, so they aren’t really that heavy, but they’re relevant, and well, good, so listen up.
Their very first release as TMV, the Tremulant EP, features the track “Eunuch Provocateur” (who has been provoking those eunochs, eh?) which when played backwards gets kinda creepy. They always did have a knack for the slightly unsettling…
Here’s what it says and how it sounds:
“Have mommy or daddy ever had to spank you?”, “I’m very fond of this one about an old spider friend of mine”, “The itsy bitsy spider climbed up the water spout / down came the rain and washed the spider out / out came the sun and dried up all the rain / and the itsy bitsy spider climbed up the spout again.”
Between the Buried and Me – “Disease, Injury, Madness“
This is so small that if you sneeze you might miss it, but skip forward to about 3:17 and listen for some small whispered vocal parts, that although cleanly sung, are unintelligible. It’s quiet, so you may not even have noticed it. Spun backwards, this is what’s said:
“You must wait for the rest of the non-believers/If you disagree, you will sleep/You must wait for the rest of the non-believers”
Deicide – “Satan Spawn, The Caco-Daemon“
Deicide are just fucking scary. Even the bleating lambs at the beginning of “Satan Spawn, The Caco-Daemon” are a bit freaky, especially as they are accompanied by some bizarre gibberish, which to be honest, doesn’t make much more sense when played in the right direction. Well, apart from basically being the title of the song, but my point stands:
“Satan spawn, cacodaemon, cacodaemon, cacodaemon, satan spawn, cacodaemon, cacodaemon, cacodaemon.”
Darkthrone – “As Flittermice As Satan’s Spys“
Darkthrone are one of those bands that either you get or you don’t. That goes for most black metal to be honest, and I personally don’t for the most part, but nevertheless, it’s one of the more interesting genres (I mean which is deeper – this or Emmure?), and Darkthrone are, well, pioneers.
“As Flittermice As Satan’s Spys“, from Transylvanian Hunger, is a pretty gnarly tune though, and if you listen right to the end you’ll hear some classic backmasking, complete with the Satanic messages with which the technique is associated.
It’s clear as day in reverse:
“In the name of God, let the churches burn.”
Anyone know any other good examples? There’s an extensive list on Wikipedia, of which I’ve highlighted the best here, but I’m sure it’s not comprehensive as far as obscure metal goes. Sound off in the comments!