Sunday, December 25, 2011

Your Satanic Majesty

If you went to Pocono Mountain Senior High in 1986 and listened to Iron Maiden, you were considered a Satanist.  I know.  I was one of them.

It was easy to see why Iron Maiden frightened teachers and administration.  The skeletal Eddie.  The Number of the Beast album.  Loud guitars.  Of course, if anyone ever took a moment to listen to more than one or two songs they would see that Satanism was about the last thing on Iron Maiden's collective mind.

Metal, in whatever form it takes, has always scared those in authority.  Whether it be the sexually questionable (and utterly harmless) hair rock bands like Poison and Cinderella (I have always even questioned lumping them in with metal, but I will concede to history).  Or the seriously evil sounding (and often evil acting) black metal.  There is something about metal that has those in power grabbing for their Bibles and signing people up for re-education camps.  Not even punk has such a widespread effect.

I've always had various theories on why this is, why metal seems to make parents, teachers and politicians fear for their lives.  After all, there are far more insidious types of music out there, some of which a fear of could be warranted.  Metal, on the other hand, is diverse enough that any kind of group reaction should be mitigated by the sheer amount of subgenres, but I've noticed that time and time again the fear and disdain is all-encompassing.

I guess the mixture of loud, aggressive guitars, "frightening imagery," and confrontation is too much for some people to witness.  People may fear their teen son will kill himself to Ozzy, but chances are it will be some loathsome pop song on FM radio on a Saturday night that actually sets the bullet in motion.  Nothing makes you feel more lonely than pop music on a Saturday night.  Metal makes you feel empowered, and maybe that is what people fear.

Metal has always played around with violent and evil imagery.  Old blues has done the same.  So has country.  Metal mixes it with something more powerful, though, and that power transfers to listeners.  Let's face it, losing one's virginity to Marvin Gaye may well be romantic, but losing it while Motorhead plays in the background is how gods are made.

So, authority types, keep fearing it.  Keep calling it "devil music."  Those who know better will continue to listen and continue to scare you.  And isn't that what is truly empowering?


  1. Iron Maiden was alway far beyond their reputation as devil worshipers. They are still great to this day.

  2. I don't know how great the newer stuff is compared to the old, but I always thought those who considered them Satanists had no idea what the hell they were talking about.

  3. Well, they did lay out the prominent chorus of "666 the number of the beast", and closed the last chorus with "666 the one for you and me". Of course any intelligent discerning person who actually analyzed the song knows that it's about a dream, and that it's definitely not a call to worship Satan. I realized this at the age of 14, so..

    Also, the Satirical side of metal is completely lost on the fearful. It's understandable when it comes to ones children being influenced by it.

    But, from experience, I can say it's mostly harmless, and yes even good for a youth in many ways. As an outlet, as an exercise in critical thinking, and discernment, as empowerment, and as one of those scarce golden possessions a youth has, and understands, and that his parents do not. That in itself can do a lot for self esteem.