12 of the most uplifting songs about Satan
Since its inception, rock’n’roll has been thought of by moral authorities as “the Devil’s music”. Because rock’s bass-heavy rhythms make people want to dance, laugh, and eventually have sex, squares and evangelists hear Satan in every twanging guitar, and vilify provocative rock stars for being minions of the adversary himself. What these people don’t seem to realise is how much of sin and blasphemy is based in simple human behaviour, and that by associating good times and killer tunes with Lucifer, they only drove young rockers further into his arms.
Rock fans know that our love of the Devil isn’t about devotion to darkness and misery, it’s a rebellion against the stuffy, regimented moral code of society at large. If holiness involves being a judgmental puritan, then Satan is just the ultimate bar buddy, the kind of sweaty, good-natured dude who just wants to skull a cold beer. As such, when they blast a song about evil and damnation, they’re not stewing in gloom and doom, they’re having their spirits lifted and being made to feel less alone. But while plenty of songs about the Devil are life-affirming and cool, only some of them feel tailor-made to chase the clouds away.
Here are 12 songs about Satan that’ll put a smile on your face and spring in your step…
The Rolling Stones – Sympathy For The Devil
Sympathy For The Devil is the Paradise Lost of rock’n’roll. With it, The Rolling Stones not only brought the Devil to the masses, but they did so in a way that made him seem human, relatable, and honestly, kind of fun to hang out with. Presenting Lucifer as a man of wealth and taste showed us that he’s a figure we secretly admire, and calling him out by name illustrated that Mick Jagger wasn’t concerned with the pearl-clutching folks who swooned over a band calling themselves “bigger than Jesus”.
Iron Maiden – Number Of The Beast
It’s pretty hilarious to consider how many parents heard Number Of The Beast and thought that Iron Maiden were actually satanists. Never mind the obvious terror of the lyrics’ narrator – listen to how fun and uptempo this song is! Though the chorus involves Bruce Dickinson screaming ‘Six! Six six!’, the music itself is bright and celebratory rather than sinister and sad. There’s nothing funnier than a religious fundamentalist reading the lyrics of this song in a terrified monotone, unaware that the track itself sounds like it was written for someone’s birthday.
Ghost – Square Hammer
What has always set Sweden’s Ghost apart from their metal brethren is a sense that satanism should be fun, and few of their tracks drive that home like Square Hammer. Though spooky in a Halloweenish sort of way, Square Hammer is packed with good humour, eliciting more smiles of enjoyment than scowls of grim loyalty. The video speaks to this, casting Papa Emeritus as a Draculean villain rather some sort of shadowy inhuman force. On this creepy crawly new classic, the Hammer in question is less Malleus Maleficarum, more Christopher Lee.
The Crown – Satanist
Fuck. Yes. Probably the most extreme metal track on this list, Satanist by underrated Swedish death metal legends The Crown walks a fascinating line. On the one hand, it goes in a Behemoth-ish direction and paints devil worship as a form of liberating spirituality (‘I’ll go where no-one has gone / Do what no-one has done / Shine as no-one has shone’). On the other hand, it’s also as rip-roaring an old-school metal track as one can find, with nonsensical lyrics that sound like the description of a painting on a van (‘Lightning tiger, ride the whirlwinds’). A rare example of a furious death metal song that fosters nothing but self-confidence and positivity.
Grateful Dead – Friend Of The Devil
Because of all the hippy flower power rhetoric surrounding Grateful Dead’s public image, it’s easy to forget that a lot of their songs are about murder, degeneracy, and all manner of godless behaviour. Friend Of The Devil is a jangling little folk rock anthem with lyrics that could’ve been written by Motörhead. In it, Satan dogs an outlaw, fuelling his bad habits and then causing him woe accordingly. Just remember, you may never want to dress like a Deadhead, but pass the bottle around with a few of them, and you might discover that you and they share a mutual pal.
Gama Bomb – 666Teen
Leave it to Irish thrashers Gama Bomb to write a life-affirming song that includes the lyric, ‘I party with the Devil / I make out with the Beast / I draw disturbing doodles while cranking Judas Priest.’ At the same time, while 666Teen glorifies being a balls-out no-holds-barred metalhead, it never stoops to waxing mopey about how nobody loves you and the world’s against you. Quite the opposite: the track is all about being a cartoonish thrasher living their best life. Metal’s a party – you coming or not?
Black Sabbath – NIB
Ah, l’amours. Black Sabbath’s NIB from their self-titled debut is in some ways a ballad, told from the point of view of someone deeply in love with humanity… who just happens to be Satan. But more than the romantic lyrics of the track, it’s the infectious, hip-popping central riff that makes NIB a happy song, full of so much swingin’ groove that it makes the listener want to shake their tailfeather with Old Scratch. On this album’s opener, Ozzy’s moaning, ‘Oh no’, but this time around, all he’s got to say is, “OH YEAH!”
Eagles Of Death Metal – Kiss The Devil
In the time-honoured tradition of bluesman and rumoured satanic disciple Robert Johnson, Eagles Of Death Metal crafted a syrupy, good-timey tale of allegiance to the dark one that just makes you want to clink glasses in a humid dive bar. The true beauty of Kiss The Devil is that rather than be overly complicated or ignorant about Satan, the band just went super countrified and old-school, professing their love for the Devil in a chain gang chant. A sexy, fun reminder that if Satan does exist, he’s probably playing guitar in the south.
AC/DC – Highway To Hell
As with Maiden’s Number Of The Beast, it’s gut-bustingly funny how often Christians have taken AC/DC’s Highway To Hell seriously. But anyone who’s ever heard Bon Scott yell, ‘Hey, Satan, paid my dues!’ and thought he was celebrating violence and darkness was dead set on finding a reason to hate rock’n’roll in the first place. The truth is that Highway To Hell is too entertaining to sound really evil, and the inferno it’s heading towards is more a beer-soaked party that a fiery maelstrom. Remember, Hell is hot, but all your favourite musicians are there.
Rob Zombie – Lucifer Rising
Who else could but Rob Zombie could write what can only be described as a satanic jock jam? Lucifer Rising is as bombastic as any goal song played in a sports arena, with lyrics that glorify Satan the way one would a megachurch pastor. But though fast, intense, and hard-hitting, the songs is also a buttload of fun, the kind of track you blast when you see the lights of Vegas in the distance and stomp on the gas of your car. Those looking for a stuffy, nuanced examination of evil, look elsewhere – this one’s all about having a good time.
Enforcer – Die For The Devil
Die For The Devil sees Finnish traditional metal act Enforcer paying homage to classic ’80s bands like Mötley Crüe with a jaunty, sing-along tune about satanic sacrifice. And while the lyrics, if taken without a grain of salt, could be read as a call to death and cult worship, the track’s complete lack of irony and dedication to classic metal tropes makes it nothing but a fist-pumping battle cry. This is the theme song to anyone who wants to live life in a leather vest with no shirt on underneath.
Trey Parker & Matt Stone – Up There
No other song fits this list’s title more than Up There from South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut – it’s a happy, uplifting song that is literally being sung by the Devil. But unlike the other tracks here, this one isn’t a heart-warming track about evil and wickedness, it’s an earnest ballad about how Satan wishes he could indulge in his softer side, travel around the world, and maybe get down with some oiled-up beefcake on the deck of a yacht. We’ve all been there.
Read this next:
Watch Toyah Willcox and King Crimson’s Robert Fripp tackle Iron Maiden’s The Number Of The Beast.
Lamb Of God and FEVER 333’s Jason Aalon Butler have teamed up for a live quarantine cover of Bad Brains’ I Against I.