Satan - He's the one...

Reflections on heavy metal and black voodoo...

It’s no secret that metal and black voodoo go together like cheese and pickles, or to use a darker metaphor, like torn virgins and bloodied sacrificial altars – but what is the allure of all that spooky imagery that metal bands seem so keen to sing about – and just why does The Devil always have the best tunes?

As both a powerful wizard and a metal fan I often ponder whether it really is inevitable that howling, overdriven guitars and the invocation of dog-faced demons must always go hand in hand, much like the angry Satanist and his imaginary nemesis god. Must metal and the supposed dark side be forever linked in unholy matrimony? I asked my good friend Robert Johnson, and in his deep southern accent, awash with the muddy waters of the Bayou, he made an interesting point, observing that “Old Nick likes to play the fiddle. Those wussy, spotless white-washed angels play the harp; both the fiddle and the harp are essentially piss-weak instruments but Nick, he plays with feeling – and ironically with soul.” He broke off at this point to indulge in a wheezy laugh at the hilarious contradiction of The Devil having no soul but playing with soul (Yes, Robert; we get it) before adding “Them there angels are just fluffy, gutless harp-strumming dickweeds. They’re in heaven so they got no pain and you need a bit of pain to play with integrity.” Thanks Robert – that’s a very good theory.

The logical progression of this idea is that nothing sums up pain like a viciously over-driven Gibson SG pumped through a thousand watts of Marshall valve amp. Howling mother-fucking pain reconciled with an E chord. Combine that earth-shaking riff with some violent head-banging and/or moshing and you can verily thrash your pain away. It’s a powerfully cathartic experience and what’s not to like about that? But surely it’s an over-simplification to make a sweeping generalisation that all metal-heads are in pain and the music eases their pain? Not that I’m suggesting that every metal fan is a blubbering bundle of agony but who hasn’t cranked up their favourite riffage to obliterate some emotional/mental thorn at some point in their life? Indeed, who hasn’t called up some foul denizen of the pit for the same purpose?
Moving on from notions of pain and suffering, another point to recognise is that Satan is the original revolutionary non-conformist, and it could definitely be argued that your average metal fan likes things that are outside of the mainstream. If God and Jeebers are the equivalent of (utterly ploppy) commercial music then Satan is definitely heavy metal (you know what I like) so it’s no mean leap of the imagination to presume that one who digs metal will also dig The Devil (unless that metal-fan happens to be a massive Stryper fanatic with no sense of irony) – even if it is just a case of digging the Horned One as just another symbolic act of rejecting mainstream culture.

A case of “Your music is shit and so is your god”, perhaps? And anyway, a strict Christian up-bringing should inevitably lead you to a point of revolution where you reject your God and seize upon anything that revolts your parents – and surely heavy metal fits this bill more than any other type of music? (what about Nickelback? -Ed). When you live in a world of vanilla and beige, anything remotely alternative starts to look exceedingly attractive. Anything to jolt you from the monotony of your shit job, your inane boy/girlfriend, your dull existence etc, etc…

So far we’ve touched on pain and the need to transcend the mundane as reasons why metal and the occult are such fine bed-fellows but there’s one more theory to explore and that’s simply that both metal and voodoo magick are bloody, bloody interesting. This point can be proved by the following: for the next party that you go to, dress in robes decorated with mystical symbols (don’t forget to allow the Slayer or Watain shirt to be just visible too), wear corpse paint and sit in a corner on your own. Top this off by quaffing any form of animal blood from a skull goblet and muttering incantations to yourself while burbling on about ‘the Goetic demons’ that surround you. Now see how many folk come over to talk to you because ‘you look like the most interesting person here’ – people will be falling over themselves to have a conversation with you. Or perhaps not. Either way it’ll make for a pretty amusing night.

There are plenty of other reasons why metal and the occult go together so well; a Thelemite acquaintance of mine mentioned how Ozzy’s Mr Crowley had probably done more for recruitment than any mysterious advert placed in the back of a pulp fiction magazine – and this is despite dear old Ozzy not really having much of an idea about who Frater Perdurabo actually was. Go back a few years and you see the mighty Black Sabbath mooching about sporting huge crucifixes as a form of protection against the evil demons that Geezer Butler ‘accidently’ invoked – curiosity killed the cat but satisfaction brought him back, as the saying goes. Quite frankly I’m exceptionally glad that metal bands sing about all this spooky stuff as it wouldn’t be quite right for Venom or Mayhem to sing about how they kissed a girl and they liked it. Regardless of whether it’s tongue in cheek or deadly serious, rock bands like Satan and Satan likes rock bands, which is a boon for everyone because if you’re ever subjected to a session of fiddle music courtesy of Old Nick, you’ll quickly realise a few things: 1) he can’t play for toffee 2) Satan’s fiddle music is still way better than piss-weak harp strumming, and 3) both black voodoo magickal invocations and heavy metal will always make you feel better after a particularly bad break-up. So next time you split from a partner, stick on some Motorhead and call up Asmodeus.

Hail Satan!