Is Heavy Metal Really The Devil's Music?
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See also: Megadeth's Dave Ellefson: "Why I'm Trying to Become a Pastor"
Last week, I found myself in an awkward conversation with douchebag with a popped collar and frosted tips.
He asked me if I worshipped "the Devil," looking at my iPod's screen, where the gloriously disgusting cover of Cannibal Corpse's The Wretched Spawn was displayed. Or you know, maybe I practiced Wicca? Was I a witch? Like, in The Craft? Because Neve Campbell was so hot when that came out.
I couldn't help messing with him a bit, even with the weak come-on.
After shooting him a sideways glance that I hoped would be conveyed as Satanic, I thoughtfully sipped my Jack Daniels. Then I leaned in closely, asked if my black nail polish gave me away, and added that, duh, everyone who listens to metal -- especially chicks --practice secret Satanic rituals that work best with the blood of an unsuspecting male.
"We get bonus points within our cult if that blood reeks of Axe body spray," I sneered.
Needless to say, he was a little uncomfortable for the rest of the time he had to sit near me. But here's the kicker - the guy thought I was somewhat serious.
We all get it. The fact that heavy metal's image thrives on the dark side. It attracts the misfits, unwashed miscreants, the crazies. The aggression and precision speaks to them, gives them an outlet for their pent up rage or whatever hard-to-define thing lives inside them. It's the sound of rebellion, a soundtrack to the unknown and exciting. Oh, and it'll probably get you laid.
But metal's flirtation with the mystic has always been a two-way street. Let's not forget that Black Sabbath, in addition to issuing the blueprint for the heavy metal sound, wrote the first prominent Christian metal song. (For real, guys.)
"If you look starting in the '80s, there's a whole movement from Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, to what we did in thrash metal, and a lot of the themes was us questioning this stuff," explained Megadeth bassist Dave Ellefson, an authority in the whole heavy metal/religion feud, when I interviewed him. "So I think that pissed the church off. All the sudden they are like, how dare these people question God, how blasphemous! But guess what? We did question it!"
Heavy metal, more than anything, is about freedom, and that's how I found it, a 100-pound white girl from Kansas who stumbled into the music by way of drugs, drinking, and promiscuity. I believed in God, but felt the need to seek out other interpretations of my own nebulous spirituality.
As for those Satanic undertones, well, they make sense don't they? Satan ultimately represents rebellion: Lucifer was the angel that was '86d from heaven because he wanted to be God. Who better to identify with?