Heavy metal isn’t only for blasting out of the speakers to annoy your neighbours, or for sitting around listening in your basement wearing corpse paint as you plot a church burning or a night of smoking cigarettes in a cemetery. Throughout the years, cinema has given us some delightful gems featuring bands and fans of our beloved genre thrust into a variety of situations -- often hilarious, horrifying, or both.
Limp Bizkit are far from the most unanimously loved band to ever grace the metal spectrum. Often derided as abrasive and angst-ridden rap metal for beer-swilling frat boys, it’s perfectly understandable why they’ve never found acclaim among the purists. However, there was a time when they were inescapable commercial juggernauts with a tendency to make headlines for the wrong reasons, as well as poster boys for the much maligned nu-metal subgenre.
When I started The Devil’s Roots, it was with the intention of exploring the myriad of Satanic belief systems metal encompasses in order to distinguish their differences and find out if there is anything that unifies them. Since then, I’ve discovered that even though each school does contain a specific set of individual ideas, most do share the common theme of valuing free thinking. Like the multiple branches of Satanism itself, for the most part the Dark Lord is a metaphor for autonomy and the rejection of religious establishment having any impact or influence on our lives. A few extreme right-wing interpretations aside, I think the Devil’s influence in metal has been a positive one; His name is used to inspire individuality and symbolic poetry which has made for some pretty stellar music. And the fact that artists have used it to rifle a few feathers has only added to metal’s irresistible rebellious allure.
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 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.
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 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.