Rev. Warlock DRACONIS BLACKTHORNE (dblackthorne) wrote,

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For Whom Hell's Bells Toll

For Whom Hell's Bells Toll
by Stephen M. Deusner

In 1984, Richard Kasso and James Troiano, two teenagers from Long Island, were arrested for the murder of Gary Lauwers, another youth who had reportedly stolen PCP from Kasso's stash of drugs. Kasso and Troiano, along with several unnamed boys who were suspected of being part of a local cult called the Knights of the Black Circle, allegedly tortured and killed Lauwers in a satanic ritual. According to The New York Times, Lauwers "was stabbed a four-hour ritual in the light of a campfire in a wooded area near Northport." He was then buried him in a shallow grave, where police found the body several days later. Following his arrest, Kasso hanged himself in his jail cell.

While it didn't have the national impact of similar cases from around the same time, the Lauwers murder is emblematic of the 1980s phenomenon now referred to as the Satanic Panic. It has all the elements: suburban youths, drugs, ritualistic murder, the occult, and suicide. Moreover, it involves the identification of Satanism with rock music. The New York Times noted, "When arrested Thursday, Mr. Kasso was wearing a shirt bearing a devil's picture and the logo of AC/DC, a popular heavy metal rock group with a satanic image whose rendition of 'Hell's Bells' on an album entitled Back in Black proclaims 'Satan'll get ya!' and 'You're only young, but you're gonna die!'"

During the 1980s, many Americans-- concerned community and church leaders, educators, experts, and parents-- attributed a considerable bulk of society's problems, especially those related to youth culture, to Satanism, specifically as it was spread via heavy metal. The trend developed in parallel to the founding of the Parents Music Resource Center, its Filthy Fifteen list of offensive artists, and the legislation to rate albums based on content; the McMartin and Friedman child abuse cases, in which repressed memories were used in court as evidence of child abuse; and the Judas Priest subliminal suicide trial, in which a Nevada woman unsuccessfully sued the band for allegedly pushing her son to kill himself. Accusations of Satanism and the general moral indictment of heavy metal abounded during this era, as did calls to censor the music and curtail its availability. The underlying assumption seemed to be that protecting children from evil music would insulate society against real problems like drug use, pregnancy, abortion, and poverty. Satan became an easy straw man for larger, stickier social problems.

In 1989, five years after the Lauwers murder, at the peak of the Satanic Panic, a small media company called Reel to Real Ministries began selling a video documentary called Hell's Bells: The Dangers of Rock and Roll. Taking its name from the AC/DC song, Hell's Bells was produced, directed, and hosted by Reel to Real's founder, Eric Holmberg, an amiable emcee and a mid-life convert whose self-confessed gods had once been John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, and Jim Morrison. The documentary, which was shown and discussed in churches, homes, Christian academies, and youth group retreats, explored rock music's harmful effects on listeners' bodies, minds, spirits, and souls. Over the years it has continued to sell steadily, on VHS and eventually on DVD. In 2004, a Christian publisher called the Apologetics Group released a sequel, Hell's Bells 2: The Power and Spirit of Popular Music, updating the fears to include Marilyn Manson, Courtney Love, nü-metal, and hip-hop. Earlier this year, to celebrate its sweet sixteen, Reel to Real (which has changed its name to the hipper Reel 2 Real) re-released a 2xDVD version of Hell's Bells in a limited run of 500, each numbered and signed by Holmberg himself.


I first watched Hell's Bells in 1990, when I was a sophomore in high school. My Honors English teacher showed parts of it in class then assigned a short paper. This was a public high school in a small, rural, Southern town. I can't remember what I wrote my paper about, but I do remember that most of the students alternately laughed at the documentary and enjoyed the footage of AC/DC, Aerosmith, and Dio. Due to my Southern Baptist upbringing, I was fairly impressionable, and I went home and took a hard listen to the cassettes in my tape case-- albums by the Sugarcubes, the Cure, the Cowboy Junkies, R.E.M., 10,000 Maniacs, and Fine Young Cannibals-- fearful that I had invited Satan into my bedroom. In fact, I had: On Concrete Blonde's album Bloodletting was a song called "Tomorrow, Wendy", which included the lyrics "God got his ass kicked the first time he came down here slumming/ He had the balls to come, the gall to die and then forgive us/ No, I don't wonder why, I wonder what he thought it would get us?" I threw that tape out.

Fifteen years later, when I received the new Hell's Bells DVDs in the mail for this article, I told myself that I would watch it with an open mind. Because it's not my intention to mock Christianity or attack anyone personally, I told myself that I would approach the documentary with a measure of seriousness and respectfulness, that I would try to understand the sincere intentions behind the arguments, that I wouldn't stoop to dismissive ridicule.

But then I watched it.

Hell's Bells is a riot-- a tangle of amateur scholarship, bizarre logical leaps, dubious conclusions, subtle scare tactics, puzzling contradictions, and great clips of Prince, AC/DC, the Sex Pistols, and Siouxsie and the Banshees. Its age shows not only in then-topical targets and its cheesy video effects (the new DVD retains the old VHS fuzziness and even contains an old video gaffe), but also in its arguments. In addition to treating Renaissance depictions of Jesus as sacred images (by artists whose lives would hardly bear any detailed Christian scrutiny), the documentary takes a scattershot approach to indicting popular music, using a suspiciously broad range of sources-- from Alan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind and the National Review to Vladimir Lenin and Hollywood composer Eddy Manson. Furthermore, Hell's Bells puts as much emphasis on relatively obscure bands like Current 93, Psychick TV, and Christian Death as it does on superstars like Prince, Madonna, and George Michael, which makes the documentary seem completely out of balance. It could also be argued that Hell's Bells introduced thousands of viewers to Venom, Mercyful Fate, and Diamanda Galas-- artists your standard youth group would never have heard otherwise.

More critically, the documentary is riddled with factual errors: for example, it's misleading to say Madonna was an "ex-porn star" in 1989-- the nude pictures that appeared in Penthouse and Playboy were modeled as figure studies. Furthermore, Michael Jackson was never an "all-American boy"; Metal Fatigue was the name of a compilation, not a band; and Robert Palmer the singer and Robert Palmer the journalist are two different people. The new DVD cover bills itself as "The Original Classic", which is true but not for the reasons Reel to Real might think: Hell's Bells has become a relic of the Satanic Panic, a piece of extreme propaganda that has new life as mostly harmless kitsch.


During the Satanic Panic, "Satanic" implied black masses, virgin sacrifices, goatfeet, "666" scrawled on foreheads, hooded figures worshiping a bright red man holding a pitchfork. But Holmberg warns viewers away from any idea of the devil as "a cartoon imp in red pajamas." In Hell's Bells "Satanic" refers to anything that does not specifically praise God and advance His virtues. It's nearly synonymous with the term "secular", but the documentary presumes secularity itself actively rejects God and harbors evil. In other words, there is no in-between: You are either Christian and follow the righteous path or you are a tool of Satan and fall into the earthly pit of aggressive anti-Christianity-- rock and roll, sex, violence, rebellion, and the lies of the occult.

Those are all subjects Hell's Bells examines, with a strangely Freudian interest in how rock music affects the subconscious. Sex, Holmberg claims, is "perhaps the most inevitable and far-reaching byproduct, or fruit, of Satanic philosophy." He tracks this trend back to "the hip shaking of Elvis the Pelvis in the 60s" (although a few of my sources claim Elvis was shaking hips as early as the mid 1950s), and while he does say that sex can be a natural and beautiful act, he decries its exploitation in songs and videos by Whitesnake, Van Halen, Sam Kenison, and George Michael. Their lasciviousness seems tame by today's standards (which are explored in Hell's Bells 2), but Holmberg gets sidetracked when he talks about the "perversity" of Depeche Mode, the sex=religion equation of Bananarama's "Venus", the "militant homosexuality" of the Frogs, and the "sadomasochistic" songs of Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Of the latter's participation in Live Aid, an outraged Holmberg asks, "Are we to believe that celebrating the joys of sex and sadomasochism is really going to help the world?"

The documentary's attitude toward "rock rebellion" is similarly outraged. Without delving into some of the very real reasons for this rebellion-- for example, the harsh economic realities in England and New York in the 1970s-- Holmberg warns against punk, its call for self-inflicted violence, and "that social paroxysm of aggression called 'slam dancing'." According to Hell's Bells, "the punk music revolution made self-mutilation a pop phenomenon...Superficial bloodletting at concerts became a badge of the vacuousness, anarchy, and existential madness that was the clarion call of the movement."

Hell's Bells turns much darker in the segments that address violence, suicide, and the occult. Certainly these topics are alarming, like the Lauwers murder and the 1987 case of Tom Sullivan Jr., a 14-year-old "metalhead" and "Iron Maiden freak" (Holmberg's words) who killed his mother and himself. But the connections between heavy metal and serial killers Richard "Night Stalker" Ramirez and Gary Heidnik seem tenuous. The links between rock and the occult are more revealing, albeit more cartoonish, although Hell's Bells marshals a great deal of evidence to support its accusations against rock stars like Jimmy Page, Mick Jagger, and...Daryl Hall.

Holmberg points out that inverted crosses, 666, and the devil hands (referred to here as "El Cronado") appear in the album art and videos for Be Bop Deluxe, Duran Duran, Rush, Iron Maiden, and Chris "The Lady in Red" de Burgh, but they're just the tip of Satan's iceberg. He notes that mocking Christianity with varying degrees of subtlety has become commonplace in rock songs, album covers, and videos. Some instances are minor, like Ric Ocasek walking on water in the "Magic" video. Others are simply disrespectful, like Lennon abusing nuns on Good Friday or Nina Hagen and Jefferson Airplane, among many others, recording songs "filled with sacrilege." According to Hell's Bells, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, and Led Zeppelin flagrantly delved into the occult, and rockers like Pretty Poison, Peter Gabriel, Patti Smith, and Wall of Voodoo ascribe to the voodoo religion (which Hell's Bells erroneously implies is strictly African).

Perhaps the most memorable portion of Hell's Bells (comically, if not cosmically) is the climactic backmasking segment, during which Holmberg explains that evil messages can be heard when certain records are played backward-- messages that have been planted, he claims, in one of three ways. First, "the artists or engineers are intentionally hiding messages in the music." Second, "it's just an accident, a quirk of musical fate." Third, he suggests "outside intelligent forces with supernatural power are occasionally able to play an artist, much like we would play a musical instrument." Guess which one he says is most likely.

Backmasking was a hot topic during the Satanic Panic, reinforced by the fact that listeners could find whatever messages they were looking for among the weird scrambles of reversed sounds. The examples Holmberg gives all seem a little incredible, mostly thanks to uniformly awkward wording. On Electric Light Orchestra's "Eldorado" he finds this nugget: "He's the nasty one-- Christ, you're infernal!" On Cheap Trick's "Gonna Raise Hell": "You know Satan holds the key to the lock." On the live version of Rush's "Anthem": "Oh Satan you are the one who is shining...Walls of Satan, I know it is you are the one I love." From "Stairway to Heaven": "My sweet Satan. No other made a path, for it makes me sad whose power is Satan." A less outright Satanic, but more directly instructive message on Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust": "Start to smoke marijuana." That one I can believe.

Hell's Bells appears to build a little steam in the occult section, marshaling its resources for one final volley against Satan's "arsenals of deception." But the final segment explodes in a mushroom cloud of strained assertions, confounding skits involving strychnine-laced M&M's, and a singularly strange analogy between rock music and the "waggle dance" of the honeybee. In the most entertaining of these overliteral skits, Holmberg shows a heavy metal singer-- jokily named Van Treese and the Duh-Lites-- shouting at a man dying in a hospital bed. When the camera cuts back to that hospital room, Van Treese has been replaced with a Whitney Houston impersonator singing that secular-humanist anthem "The Greatest Love of All". Comments Holmberg, "Cries of 'love,' 'peace,' and 'we are the world' don't mean much to a dying man."

Finally, Hell's Bells makes the fatal mistake of attempting to offer an alternative to secular music. Over images of sweeping American landscapes and footage of liturgical dancers plays a dreadfully dull, studiously rhythmless song about Jesus dancing into world to dance away our sins. Ironically, you can't dance to it. It has some strains of modern freakfolk, but with Beatlesque orchestration and dry, expressionless vocals. No wonder the kids listen to heavy metal.


From my perspective now, it's apparent that Hell's Bells is, at its core, more than just a dated piece of Christian propaganda: The documentary is a piece of musical and cultural criticism, albeit one with vastly different criteria than most mainstream music publications, including this one (and yes, I've registered the irony of publishing this article on a site called Pitchfork). As such, the documentary actually makes a few valid points: Yes, music was needlessly oversexualized and exploitive during the 1980s, and it has only grown more so in the ensuring decade and a half; yes, Mötley Crüe's misogyny is particularly disgusting; yes, violence and hate can make some forms of music unpalatable; and yes, Diamanda Galas is pretty much unlistenable.

Regardless, its criticism repeatedly proves ineffective, mainly because it completely misses the larger point: a lot of this music is really silly. Ronnie James Dio hamming it up on stage; Ozzy Osbourne making his scary face at reporters; Robert Plant acting like a drunk sorority girl as he sings "Stairway to Heaven", George Michael sporting that perfectly trimmed stubble as the pinnacle of 80s masculinity-- it's hard to take it very seriously. Granted, that's speaking 16 years after the fact. This music wasn't nearly as outlandish at the time, mainly because of the code-orange threat many adults perceived in it. And that's why Holmberg is caught in a bind: To stress the high spiritual stakes in the war between God and Satan, Hell's Bells doesn't dare undermine the power of the devil's music, and therefore it can't help but play into these artists' pretensions, becoming part of the system they're rebelling against and in the process proving just as silly.

In its mission to "dust rock music for Satan's fingerprints" Hell's Bells does impart some critical techniques to its impressionable viewers, teaching them to listen carefully to even the most vacuous pop songs, to analyze their deeper messages, and to consider their worth and role in society. Unfortunately, these lessons don't go far enough: The documentary lacks any faculty for detecting irony, sarcasm, humor, or appropriation in rock music, so it can't teach viewers to identify these more sophisticated characteristics. If it could pass along these skills, viewers would do the rest themselves and maybe they'd be able to laugh at Dio's cornball theatrics and Bitch's tongue-in-cheek sexuality-- and thereby disarm their threat.

Instead, after offering its critical lessons, Hell's Bells instructs viewers not to use them at all, but rather to disengage themselves completely from popular/secular culture-- and, implicitly, from the practice of criticism. The documentary assumes that listeners won't have the fortitude and intelligence to discern rock's hidden messages or to consider any art with values different from their own. Instead of considering those ideas seriously, Hell's Bells tells viewers to disregard the art altogether as wholly meritless, even evil. This may seem like a minor point, but it's not that different from blanket condemnations that are levied today when people say they don't listen to rap music because it's violent and homophobic, or country music because it's conservative and complacent, or Christian indie like Sufjan Stevens or Danielson Famile because the artists are believers. Much like the Satanic Panic, such condemnations seems driven by the fear that you will become whatever you listen to.

While its cultural influence has been minor, I'm surprised how many people I come across who either have seen Hell's Bells or are familiar with its message and tactics. It's difficult to deny the impact this documentary has had on me personally. When I first watched it 15 years ago, I took very seriously what others in my class laughed off. I went home and listened very closely to the music I loved, and I eventually developed and refined my own criteria for assessing what I heard. As a result, I can't take Holmberg seriously or even watch without laughing a little myself. By giving me concrete negative examples of the kind of criticism and Christianity I didn't want to practice, Hell's Bells helped me to reconcile my love of rock music with my tentative faith. For that I am truly thankful.


Appendix: In three hours, Hell's Bells indicts more than 200 musicians for various moral crimes against God and humanity. Because the documentary contains uncredited performance clips and details of album art that crop out the artists' names, the list below is incomplete. There may be a few missing artists, and some of these artists may have been accused of many more sins.

A-II-Z: occult-themed album art (Witch of Berkeley)
AC/DC: soundtracked Hell's Bells, inspired "Night Stalker" serial killer, pentagrams on album art (Highway to Hell), violent cover art (If You Want Blood You Got It)
Aerosmith: drug and alcohol abuse, equating sex and religion on "Angel"
Agnostic Front: violent and rebellion-themed album art (Cause for Alarm)
Amen: objectionable album art (Disorderly Conduct)
Kenneth Anger: Satanist filmmaker who made Invocation of My Demon Brother and Lucifer Rising
Anthrax: violent album art (Fistful of Metal)
Anvil: number of the beast (Metal to Metal)
Aphrodite's Child/Vangelis: released album called 666
Bad Religion: objectionable band name, objectionable album art (Back to the Known)
Ballad Shambles: objectionable album art (unknown source)
Bananarama: "Venus" video equates sex with religion
Bangles: "degraded" sexuality in song "In Your Room"
Bauhaus: backwards Latin Satanic incantation in "Father, Son & Holy Ghost", combine Satanic imagery "with an intelligence and poetic passion rarely found" in heavy metal
Be Bop Deluxe: pentagram on album cover (Live! In the Air Age)
Beastie Boys: more than 90 references to drug and alcohol abuse on Licensed to Ill
Bobby Beausoleil: composed music for Lucifer Rising, Manson family member
Beatles: being bigger than Jesus, featuring Crowley on album cover (Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band), violent album art (Yesterday and Today), drugs, rebellion, El Cronado
Birthday Party: likened Jesus to "bad seed", indecipherable lyrics about "post-crucifixion baby"
Bitch: sexual and violent album art (Be My Slave)
Black Flag: violent and suicide-themed album art (Family Man)
Black Market Baby: objectionable band name and album art (Senseless Offerings)
Black Sabbath: number of the beast, crucifixion imagery, objectionable album art (Born Again, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath)
Blaspheme: objectionable band name and album art (Last Supper)
Bl'ast!: sex- and occult-themed album art (Take the Manic Ride)
Bloodrock: violent album art (Bloodrock U.S.A.)
Blue Öyster Cult: adopted Satanic cross as band logo, included backmasked messages (Mirrors)
Marc Bolan: untimely death
Bon Jovi: hosting MTV's Hedonism Week, references to alcohol on "Dead or Alive", rebellion, sexual album art (original Slippery When Wet cover)
Graham Bond: claimed to be illegitimate son of occultist Aleister Crowley
David Bowie: occult, recorded "Quicksand" about Crowley
Bobby Brown: simulated copulation with audience member
David Byrne and Brian Eno: recorded song about demonic possession, uses African "voodoo" rhythms
Marty Callner (video director): soft-porn videos ("Is This Love?" by Whitesnake)
Cars: Ric Ocasek walking on water in "Magic" video
Celtic Frost: use crucifix as slingshot on album cover (To Mega Therion), occult, rebellion
CH3: suicide-themed album art (Fear of Life)
Chauteaux: witchcraft-themed album art (Chained and Desperate)
Cheap Trick: took band name from Ouija board, backmasked messages, El Cronado
Cher: sex
Christian Death: Gnosticism, sex- and occult-themed album art (Only Theatre of Pain, The Scriptures, Sex and Drugs and Jesus Chris, What's the Verdictt)
Christ's Child: objectionable album cover (Hard)
The Church: objectionable band name, broken angel imagery on album cover (The Church)
Cinderella: condemned drug use on MTV Rock Against Drugs PSAs (hypocritical)
CJSS: recorded song "Citizen of Hell", objectionable album art (Praise the Loud)
Eric Clapton: promoted alcohol abuse via beer ad
Coil: devotees of Aleister Crowley
Natalie Cole: sex
Phil Collins: "so-called neutral stuff, by the very reason of its subtlety, [is] potentially more destructive than the over wickedness found in hardcore rock and roll"
Alice Cooper: on-stage mutilation, rebellion, "School's Out" prevents mice from solving mazes, objectionable album art (Constrictor)
Coven: objectionable album art (Blessed Is the Black, Blood in the Snow), El Cronado
Cramps: "degraded" sexuality (Date With Elvis)
Crass: crucifixion-themed album art (Christ the Album, Yes Sir I Will)
David Crosby: stealing kids from parents through music
Crown of Thorns: objectionable band name and album art (Pictures)
Cuban Heels: universalism (Work Our Way to Heaven)
Cure: alcohol abuse, blasphemy in "The Blood" and "Holy Hour", combine Satanic imagery "with an intelligence and poetic passion rarely found" in heavy metal
Current 93: objectionable album art (Nature Unveiled), devoted album Crowleymass to Aleister Crowley
Damned: crown of thorns imagery (Grimly Fiendish)
Dan Reed Network: voodoo-inspired r&b
Terence Trent D'Arby: crown of thorns and self-crucifixion (photoshoot)
Dark Angel: objectionable band name and album art (Darkness Descends)
Dark Wizard: objectionable album art (Reign of Evil)
Dead Kennedys: objectionable album art (In God We Trust, Inc.)
Death: objectionable album art (Scream Bloody Gore)
Death Cult: objectionable album art (Death Cult)
Chris de Burgh: album art with Satan giving El Cronado (Spanish Train)
Def Leppard: occult imagery, sex-themed songs
Depeche Mode: songs about sex and sadomasochism, recorded "Blasphemous Rumors"
Devo: objectionable album art ("Peekaboo" 12")
Dickies: mock Jesus on album art (Second Coming)
Bo Diddley: rebellion
Dio: occult-themed songs and stage shows, El Cronado, objectionable album art (Holy Diver)
Doors: rebellion, drugs, sex, violence, murder, occult; Morrison married a witch, claimed to have killed a man, allegedly possessed by Native American souls, objectionable album art (13)
Duran Duran: satanic symbol on album art (Seven and the Ragged Tiger)
Earth Wind & Fire: universalist imagery on album art (All in All)
Easter: album cover features fornication with cross (Easter)
Sheena Easton: contributes to "the pulsing rhythms that reverberate in our health spas"
Eddie & the Hot Rods: suicide-themed album art (Life on the Line)
Electric Light Orchestra: backmasked messages on "Eldorado"
Emerson Lake & Palmer: objectionable album art (Brain Salad Surgery)
Eurythmics: "Missionary Man" warns listeners away from salvation
Exodus: album art shows union of God and Satan
Marianne Faithfull: appeared in satanic movie Lucifer Rising
The F.U.'s: objectionable album title (Kill for Christ)
Femme Fatale: sex
Fleetwood Mac: incorporated voodoo dress and rhythms in live shows
Tom Fogerty: universalism (Myopia)
Lita Ford: sex
Samantha Foxx: sex, allegedly worships Pan
Frankie Goes to Hollywood: rebellion, songs about sex and sadomasochism, objectionable album art (Welcome to the Pleasure Dome), ruined Live Aid, El Cronado
Frogs: "militant homosexuality," objectionable album art (It's Only Right and Natural), recorded song called "Gather Round for Messiah #2"
Peter Gabriel: voodoo imagery in "Shock the Monkey" video
Diamanda Galas: recorded album Litanies of Satan, proclaimed herself the Anti-Christ ("Sono l'Antichristo"), provided music for voodoo-themed movie The Serpent & the Rainbow, objectionable album art (Divine Punishment)
Bob Geldof: introduced Frankie Goes to Hollywood at Live Aid, allowed most of the funds raised to fall into the hands of Ethiopia's communist dictator
Generation X: objectionable album art (Valley of the Dolls)
George Thorogood and the Destroyers: recorded song "Bad to the Bone"
Graceland: satirized The Last Supper on album The First Snack
Graham Central Station: objectionable album art (Release Yourself)
Grateful Dead: "synonymous with marijuana and LSD use"
Greater Than One: objectionable album art (I Don't Need God)
Grim Reaper: recorded song "See You in Hell", objectionable album art (See You in Hell)
Guns n Roses: "sexual violence" in music, album art; inverted cross (Appetite for Destruction)
Nina Hagen: objectionable album NunSexMonkRock contains song "Cosma Shiva" that mocks Christ and the Madonna
Daryl Hall: has large collection of occult material
George Harrison: universalism
Healing Faith: promote suicide (The Healing Faith)
Heart: video includes occult imagery
Hellion: objectionable album art (Postcards from the Asylum)
Helloween: objectionable album art (Keeper of the Seven Keys, Part 2)
Jimi Hendrix: hypnotizing people through music, choking on own vomit, voodoo rhythms, rebellion, violence, "If 6 Was 9" used in interstitials
Nona Hendryx: sex
Whitney Houston: "Saving All My Love for You" promotes infidelity; "so-called neutral stuff, by the very reason of its subtlety, [is] potentially more destructive than the over wickedness found in hardcore rock and roll"
Huey Lewis & the News: "Step by Step" warns listeners away from salvation
Huns: fake crucifixion on stage, song called "Eat Death, Scum"
Billy Idol: rebellion, fake crucifixion in "Hot in the City" video, mock crosses in "White Wedding" video
Impaler: objectionable album art (Rise of the Mutants EP), eating raw meat on stage
INXS: recorded song "Devil Inside"
Iron Maiden: mascot Eddie told fan to kill himself; neuromancy, occult, rebellion, objectionable album art (Killers, The Number of the Beast, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son)
LaToya Jackson: posed for Playboy
Michael Jackson: sex, "Thriller" video features occult imagery
Colin James: recorded voodoo-related song
Rick James: El Cronado, bitch!
Janes Addiction: drug abuse, objectionable album art (Nothing's Shocking)
Jefferson Airplane: recorded song called "The Son of Jesus", rebellion
Elton John: commissioned family crest featuring Pan
Robert Johnson: sold soul to devil at crossroads, inspired rock and roll
Judas Priest: suicide, rebellion, objectionable album art (Hell Bent for Leather, Sin After Sin)
Killing Joke: mock Catholicism in video
Sam Kinison: soft-porn videos, pentagrams, not being funny
KISS: bloody stage show, sex, rebellion, violence, El Cronado
Kreator: objectionable album art (Pleasure to Kill)
Cyndi Lauper: promotes rebellion, recorded "She-Bop" about masturbation
Timothy Leary: "pharmacological guru of the rock 'n' roll generation"
Led Zeppelin: backmasked messages and references to Pan on "Stairway to Heaven", Zoso = number of the beast
John Lennon: openly mocked Jesus, apparently was a real jerk
Kenny Loggins: objectionable album art (Keep the Fire)
Lords of the New Church: combine "heavy metal imagery with poetic passion," objectionable band name and album art (The Lords of the New Church, Killer Lords)
Ludichrist: objectionable band name and album art (Immaculate Deception)
Lydia Lunch: objectionable album art (Slow Choke)
Madonna: "Ex porn star," crucifixion imagery in "Like a Prayer" video, "brazenly pornographic style", materialistic
Richard Marx: sex
Ron "Pigpen" McKerman: untimely death
John McLaughlin: admits to being possessed while playing, occult
MDC (Millions of Damn Christians): song "This Blood's for You" mocks Jesus and inspired thousands of Christian t-shirts, objectionable album art (This Blood's for You)
Meatloaf: El Cronado
Megadeth: occult, rebellion, objectionable album art (Killing Is My Business...And Business Is Good)
Men in Black: objectionable album art (The Gospel According to the Men in Black)
Mercyful Fate: "take their Satanism seriously", rebellion, occult, objectionable album art (Don't' Break the Oath)
Metal Church: objectionable album art (Metal Church)
Metallica: promote suicide on "Fade to Black"
George Michael: wants your sex; "so-called neutral stuff, by the very reason of its subtlety, [is] potentially more destructive than the over wickedness found in hardcore rock and roll"
Joni Mitchell: has male muse named Art
Motley Crüe: equate sex and violence, used pentagram in album art (Shout at the Devil), El Cronado
Motörhead: crucifixion-themed album art (unknown source)
My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult: marry Satanic message with "a sense of religious and poetic transcendence", objectionable album art (I See Good Spirits & I See Bad Spirits)
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: combine Satanic imagery "with an intelligence and poetic passion rarely found" in heavy metal
Nosferatu: objectionable album art (unknown source)
Oingo Boingo: unclear
Overkill: objectionable album art and video (Under the Influence)
Ozzy Osbourne: rebellion, attacking Jim Bakker in "Miracle Man", satanic imagery on album art (Blizzard of Ozz, No Rest for the Wicked), promote suicide on "Suicide Solution", released album Mr. Crowley devoted to Aleister Crowley, El Cronado, scary face
Jimmy Page: "one of the leading occultists of the rock generation," owns occult bookstore, bought Aleister Crowley's former home and had it refurbished by a Satanic decorator
Anita Pallenberg: girlfriend of several members of the Rolling Stones also involved in the making of Kenneth Anger's Lucifer Rising
Robert Palmer: sexual content in music videos
Robert Palmer: wrote about Master Musicians of Joujouka
Pebbles: sex
Pink Floyd: rebellion
Robert Plant: sex
Plasmatics/Wendy O. Williams: backmasked message about brainwashing, satanic symbols on album art (Coup d'Etat, Metal Priestess)
Poison: violence, sex, objectionable album art (Open Up and Say...Ahh!)
Poison Idea: mutilation-themed album art (Kings of Punk)
The Police: "Every Breath You Take" used in interstitial title screen
Iggy Pop/the Stooges: bloodletting at concert
Possessed: general Satanism and witchcraft
Elvis "the Pelvis" Presley: sexuality
Pretty Poison: voodoo imagery in video
Pretty Things: objectionable album art (Silk Torpedo), signed to Led Zeppelin's White Swan label, which threw blasphemous record release party
Prince: sex, falsely promotes himself as new breed of Christian, recorded songs "The Cross" and "Batdance"
Psychic TV: music arm of Crowley-linked sect Thee Temple of Psychick Youth, objectionable album art (Live at Thee Circus)
Queen: backmasking, drug abuse
Rainbow: violent album art (Straight Between the Eyes)
Ratt: rebellion
Raven: recorded song "Hell Patrol"
Lou Reed: drug abuse
Residents: objectionable album art (God in 3 Persons)
RF-7: objectionable album art (unknown source)
Lionel Richie: "so-called neutral stuff, by the very reason of its subtlety, [is] potentially more destructive than the over wickedness found in hardcore rock and roll"
Rigor Mortis: recorded song "Condemned to Hell", objectionable album art (Rigor Mortis)
Rods: violent album art (Let Them Eat Metal)
Rolling Stones: recorded song "Sympathy for the Devil" on At Her Satanic Majesty's Request, objectionable album art (Goats Head Soup, Undercover, Tattoo You), bankrolled sect called the Process, made satanic movie Invocation of My Demon Brother
David Lee Roth: sex
Peter Rowan: likens music to "spiritual force"
Todd Rundgren: El Cronado
Rush: invoked Greek equivalent of Pan on 2112, backmasking
Santana: universalist
Scorpions: sex, cage imagery in "Rock You Like a Hurricane" video, objectionable album art (Blackout, Love at First Sting)
Scraping Foetus Off the Wheel: objectionable band name and album art, lyrics include "The only good Christian is a dead Christian."
Sex Pistols: rebellion, self-mutilation, Rotten designed t-shirt with upside-down crucifixion
Siouxsie and the Banshees: recorded song "Sin in My Heart"
Sister: pentagrams
Sisters of Mercy: combine Satanic imagery "with an intelligence and poetic passion rarely found" in heavy metal
Skulls: crucifixion imagery (unknown source)
Slayer: used pentagram on album art (Reign in Blood)
Smashed Gladys: sex and necromancy on album art (Social Intercourse)
Patti Smith: rebellion, recorded Joujouka-inspired album Radio Ethiopia
Smiths: combine Satanic imagery "with an intelligence and poetic passion rarely found" in heavy metal
Sonic Youth: obsessed with death ("Death Valley '69")
Spooky Tooth: album cover depicts Jesus with hand nailed to head (Ceremony)
Bruce Springsteen: makes money in rock industry
Stiff Kittens: Crowley on album cover (Happy Now)
Suicidal Tendencies: pentagrams
Suicide: promote suicide
Teenage Jesus and the Jerks: objectionable band name, recorded "I Am the Lord Jesus" backwards
The The: unclear ("Gravitate to Me" may promote drug use)
Tone Loc: sex
Pete Townshend: objectionable album art
Tina Turner: participated in LiveAid, where Mick Jagger ripped off her skirt in pre-Janet Jackson "wardrobe malfunction"
Twisted Sister: rebellion, violent album art (Stay Hungry)
Uncle Bonsai: sex-themed album (Boys Want Sex in the Morning)
Undisputed Truth: crucifixion imagery on album cover (unkown source)
Urge Overkill: objectionable album art (Jesus Urge Superstar)
Uriah Heep: objectionable album art (Abominog)
U2: make money through rock industry
Van Halen: sex, song "Best of Both Worlds" about finding heaven on earth
Venom: album title Welcome to Hell, pentagram and goat imagery
Virus: objectionable album art (unknown source)
Void: inverted cross on album art (Condensed Flesh)
Wall of Voodoo: so influenced by voodoo they took it as their name
Warlock: objectionable album art (Triumph and Agony), recorded song "All We Are" about earthly redemption
WASP/Blackie Lawless: rebellion, sex-themed and violent album art [Animal (F**k Like a Beast), Inside the Electric Circus]
Wasted Youth: crucifixion-themed album art (Black Daze)
Jody Watley: sex
Wayne County & the Electric Chairs: recorded song "Storm the Gates of Heaven"
Whitesnake: sex in "Is This Love?" video, objectionable album art (Lovehunter)
The Who: violent stage act, incited riot at Cincinnati show that resulted in 11 deaths
Toyah Wilcox: songs about occult, El Cronado
Steve Winwood: recorded "Higher Love", "so-called neutral stuff, by the very reason of its subtlety, [is] potentially more destructive than the over wickedness found in hardcore rock and roll"
XTC: recorded "Dear God"
Young Gods: mutilation-themed album art (The Young Gods)
Zodiac Mindwarp: "Prime Mover" video promotes rebellion, destroys church
ZZ Top: sex

Tags: crime, criminology, cults, devil worship, heavy metal, hysteria, megadeth, satanic panic, sra

Posts from This Journal “satanic panic” Tag

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