10 Of The Most Believably Satanic Bands
Originally, rock’n’roll’s designation as “the Devil’s music” was meant to be an insult, an attempt by stodgy moral authorities to turn the innocent fun of teenagers into something unholy. But as rock bands began taking the title back and claiming they were, in fact, soldiers against Christianity’s vaguely-defined virtues, there came a new slander: calling out false satanists, who only courted Old Scratch for the controversial attention it got them. One by one, Satan’s musical footsoldiers revealed themselves to be in it for the gasps: Slayer were outed as typical metal dudes by Bob Larson, while Behemoth’s Nergal only recently revealed he’s more interested in making headlines than speaking truth to power.
That said, some bands continue to hold down the fort. Sure, they’re not baby-sacrificing cultists looking to end all life on the planet, but at least each of these acts have a sound, ethos, or attitude that makes the listener genuinely believe in their love of the Devil and his works. And while that will undoubtedly put off the more staunch realists in rock music, one would argue that it’s far better to be a believable satanist than an obviously false one.
Here are 10 bands believably representing Satan in all his glory…
You just can’t have a falsetto that high and not be serious about Satan. Mercyful Fate’s music may not be as brutal as that of many of their predecessors, but what the Danish quintet lacked in viciousness they made up for in dark artistry. Frontman King Diamond was never afraid to discuss satanism’s more thoughtful and nuanced side, showing that he was in it for the philosophy rather than just the pageantry (though he certainly enjoyed plenty of that). Most bands bow before the altar of sin; the Fate were the high priests of evil.
At the end of the day, what puritans feared about Satan was that he’d tempt innocent souls to unnatural lusts. With that in mind, few bands are as satanic as Midnight, the Cleveland street-metal crew whose music is full of all the primal sex acts you’d never tell your SO about. From Lust, Filth And Sleaze off of 2011’s Satanic Royalty to their new single Rebirth By Blasphemy (“And sodomy!” adds frontman Athenar during the chorus), the band has always celebrated the Devil through sins of the flesh. Summoning fire demons is hard to swallow; the things Midnight preach, not so much.
With smoke-drenched doom merchants Electric Wizard, it’s real simple: they love weed. That alone may not make most bands satanic, but the single-minded nature with which the Wizard pursue weed in the midst of dark horror theatricality feels deeply sinful. Dracula? Smokes weed. The great god Pan? Let’s hit the bong with him. That no-fucks-given pursuit of their most desired pleasure makes the stoner doom crew a truly unholy act, their endless hunger earning them a place among the chosen few.
Raw fucking misanthropy — that’s what makes Norwegian black metallers Carpathian Forest trustworthy as servants of Satan. While they’ve delved into atmospherics and sleazy thrash from time to time, the bands are at their strongest when they’re just disgusted by humanity. Frontman Nattefrost’s solo albums go even further, featuring interlude recordings of him vomiting for extended periods of time. The result is a band who seem like satanists the way they were imagined in medieval times: enemies of life, furious at God, standing against the entire world.
If you brand something in your body, we can only assume you’re serious about it. Sure, Deicide’s career is filled with enough anthems to Satan to make the Pope crap his gilded skivvies. But when all is said and done, it’s frontman Glen Benton’s repeated burning of an inverted cross into his fucking forehead that most convinces us that this band isn’t just a lot of posturing. Granted, Glen could just be an iconoclast with a high pain tolerance, but even then, he’s pretty fucking evil.
Not all satanists play metal. Unholy doo-wop duo Twin Temple make music that sounds more like the Four Seasons than the Four Horsemen, but their message of indulgence, independence, and spiritual rebellion rings loud and clear. The band also make their live performances positively blasphemous, full of ritualistic communion on a black-and-crimson altar. Extra points for calling their recent trek the Doo-Wop Thou Wilt Tour — we wish we’d come up with that pun.
Even in our desensitized modern times, ritualistically covering one’s self with actual animal blood still gets an audience’s attention. Swedish black metallers Watain rock more jeweled bones than a Catholic reliquary and write furious, primal black metal about world-devouring evil and standing against spiritual authority. But it’s their tendency to anoint themselves with actual blood that makes us buy into their love of the darkness at the center of the human soul. Sometimes, the things that would’ve gotten you burnt at the stake back in the day are still the most valid.
Unlike many of the acts on this list, Coven were never satanic to be shocking, and their music doesn’t sound like Lucifer grinding Judas between his teeth. Coven’s exploration of the left hand path was a scholarly and spiritual one more than anything, to the point where frontwoman Jinx Dawson is wary of young people meddling with witchcraft improperly. “They have not really lived it, not really come from it,” she told Kerrang! in an interview earlier this year. “It is like footprints in the sand, here went my footprints, and the water washed over it, and then everybody got on the beach.” Worship Satan responsibly.
What drives home the power of Austrian blackened death metal act Belphegor is how all-in they go with every aspect of the band. Belphegor adhere to overkill first and foremost, bringing aspects from every corner of extreme metal into their music and covering themselves with as much spiked leather and smeared black-and-white greasepaint as humanly possible. That complete, no-holds-barred feeling comes off as truly sacrilegious — not getting bogged down in one artistic wheelhouse or another but instead giving your all to the evil spirits of the world.
The Budos Band
The part of the human body most vulnerable to Lucifer’s influence will always be the hips. Dark funk crew the Budos Band may not play ripping tracks about Hell’s blackest pit, but they do make the kind of groovy, ass-shaking music that old religious authorities were afraid would lead young people down the left-hand path. In that way, they may be the most satanic band of all ten listed here, their delicious, booty-shaking instrumental anthems acting as the Pied Piper melody that draws contemporary witches to the Sabbath. Strut for Satan!
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