The Satanicons

satanicon - adrian clavex

Satanicon – Adrian Clavex
Blackstar Church – 1993

Picture this:

Times are hard. You’re trying to cut corners to make rent at the end of the month, and in a desperate attempt to avoid spending money on dinner, you ate half a jar of smooth peanut butter and most of a bag of dodgy chicken nuggets from the freezer last night. You consequently spent a good quarter of an hour on the toilet bowl this morning, expelling a behemoth shite from your cankered anus.

Now you’re halfway through your morning jog, but an itching from your hideous rim is making you terribly aware that you weren’t thorough enough when you were wiping your well-greased anal opening after this morning’s crap.

You race back home, and upon getting to the loo, you speedily grab a handful of toilet paper and use it to dab your now sweaty, turd besmirched, hemorrhoid-ridden shit-portal.

If Anton LaVey’s Satanic Bible was the original massive shit, Adrian Clavex’s Satanicon would be the fouled piece of toilet paper you now hold in your hand.

I downloaded a PDF copy of this zine (I don’t think it’s fair to call it a book) out of curiosity after seeing images of a hard copy posted on a Facebook group. I don’t think I ever intended to actually read it, but I found myself with nothing else on the bus yesterday and decided to give it a lash.

adrian clavex
It isn’t worth reading. This is childish rubbish. There’s nothing of any merit in here. It’s an atheistic grimoire of “satanic” rituals. Truly, a piece of a trash. Anyone who could possibly follow the rituals outlined in this book without feeling terribly embarrassed and ashamed of themselves must be a loser indeed.

blackstar church

 

As I was researching this text, I came across a two-piece metal band also named Satanicon. As far as I can tell, there’s no link between the book and the band, but the band is definitely interesting enough to discuss here. I’m actually going to give y’all a trigger warning right now. I don’t like the idea of trigger warnings, but this is actually about to get very creepy. (Not creepy in the spooky, cobwebs and tombstones sense of the word either; I mean creepy in the depressing “Jesus Christ, the world is a sick place” sense of the word.)

I was quite surprised to discover that I had actually encountered one of Satanicon’s members’ music before. Almost a decade ago, I downloaded mp3s of a recording called Prayers to Satan by an act called Lord Asmodeus. It was awful crap, some loser ranting about Jesus through a pitch-shifter, but it’s still on my hard-drive. It turns out that the guy behind it also played bass in Satanicon. In 2015, he murdered his girlfriend and then killed himself. There’s a youtube video that was filmed in his apartment in which you can see his collection of occult books (mostly Crowley and Simon Necronomicons) and the Nazi flag on the wall in his living room. (Check out 45 seconds into that video for a serious cringe.)

nazi flag

Surprisingly, the bassist actually seems to have been the more normal of the duo. Joe Aufricht, the guitar player and now sole member of Satanicon recorded a tape full of rape jokes in the 90s that seems to have been more widely circulated than you’d imagine.  He was also the butt of the joke on a skit on one of nu-metal band Mushroomhead’s albums. He seems like the type of loser that everyone in the Ohio metal scene knows about and avoids.

joe aufricht is paedophile.jpgA physically repulsive scumbag with a low IQ

The more I look into this guy, the scarier he becomes. He used to distribute material around Ohio encouraging the legalization of intergenerational love. He ran/runs his own satanic order, and I made the mistake of downloading some of his literature. It’s genuinely disgusting, and I won’t be reviewing it. It’s just grooming material to trick kids into having sex with him. The guy is a fucking creep. He currently runs a very strange youtube channel of him making stupid noises and acting like a spastic. You’d imagine a disgusting paedophile would avoid using their real name for their perverted internet presence, but this guy is clearly very, very stupid. Check out this screenshot of his youtube feed:
joe aufricht is a sick man
This isn’t funny. It actually makes me feel a bit sick. This guy is a scary fucking creep. There’s an online petition out there calling for him to be barred from certain venues in Ohio because of his sexual misconduct, but I reckon it would be better to lock him up where he can’t do any damage. As childish and petty as it is, I couldn’t resist leaving him a comment:

brasseye joe

It’s not every day that you come across a band comprised of a murdering Nazi and a mentally deficient paedophile comedian. Perhaps the only thing about Satanicon that wasn’t surprising is the fact that they are absolutely terrible. Here’s a video of the two losers playing some awful shit. It’s a real pity that the bassist didn’t kill his bandmate instead of his girlfriend. I mean that sincerely.

I want to again highlight the fact that the band Satanicon has nothing to do with the aforementioned zine or its author. Sure, the zine was a bit lame, but Adrian Clavex seems like a very, very cool guy indeed when compared with the dorks from the other Satanicon.

One for the Rockers

horror rock
Heavy metal has a long history of borrowing elements from the realm of horror fiction. Anthrax wrote Among the Living about Stephen King’s The Stand, Iron Maiden have Phantom of the Opera, Moonchild and lots of other songs about literature, Metallica did Call of Kutulu and The Thing that Should not Be about Lovecraft’s work (their Ride the Lightning album also got its name from The Stand), and Reverend Bizarre were clearly big Dennis Wheatley fans, penning songs titled They Used Dark Forces and The Devil Rides Out. (This list is far from exhaustive; I’m limiting my examples to books I have reviewed on this site.) Its pummeling cacophony, sludgy riffs, piercing shrieks and gutteral growls make heavy metal sound like the events in a horror novel, and it’s not at all surprising that several authors have tried to switch things around by writing horror stories involving heavy rock music. (I’ve previously reviewed Ghoul, an awesome novel about an evil rock band, and Shock Rock, an anthology of rock’n’roll themed short fiction.) This post looks at three more horror novels that have chanced their arm wrestling the rock monster.

night music shelia bristow garnerNight Music – Sheila Bristow Garner

Pinnacle – 1992

This was an awful book. It’s about Kitty, a boring, plain-jane nurse, who falls in love with Michael, the singer in Fiasco, a shitty covers band. Soon after Kitty and Michael meet, a new guitarist joins the band, brainwashes Michael with a combination of hypnosis and rohypnol and then initiates him into a satanic cult. As Michael gets deeper and deeper into Satanism, his relationship with Kitty falls apart.

The characters are frustratingly flat – the good guys are good, and the bad guys are bad. Also, the members of Fiasco, the band, are suspiciously familiar – Michael leads, and David, he plays keys. Freddy’s cool but rude, and Jocko, well, he’s a party-dude.

The Satanism in here is never explained. To Sheila Bristow Garner, Satanists are just people who cut out other people’s hearts to worship the Devil. She assumes that her readers think so too. I was hoping that the horror in here would be of the supernatural variety because of cool skull on the cover, but I was sorely disappointed. The Satanic character is a good musician, and while he wouldn’t be the first character to receive his musical prowess from Satan, the book never explicitly suggests this. The most horrifying thing about this book is how dull it is. The main characters are so bland that I spent most of the book hoping that they would die horribly. This book is the literary equivalent of eating a stale cheese sandwich when you’re not hungry. Reading it feels like sitting on a train beside a person who has just farted. As soon as you realise what’s going on, you just want it to be over.

shelia bristow garnerThe author

This isn’t a horror novel. It’s a shitty romantic thriller that mentions Satanism. (There’s a surprising amount of loving, tender, consensual sex in here.) The rock ‘n’ roll element is limited to a few mentions of the blues-rock covers that the band perform. Everything about this book was disappointing. The cover art is by far the best part, and it doesn’t have much to do with the story. Look carefully and you’ll see that it pictures a bass guitar. The bassist in Fiasco is one of the least important characters in the story. He is never involved in any of the Satanic activity, yet the hand on the bass guitar is wearing a pentagram ring! Bullshit.

 

the foundling frank lauria
The Foundling – Frank Lauria

I quite liked Frank Lauria’s Doctor Orient series, and the cover of this book is an image of a devil-child playing an electric guitar. I had to read it.

I had read a rather unenthusiastic review of The Foundling before sitting down with the book, but it really wasn’t that bad. Sure, there’s only 4 or 5 real horror moments throughout, but I found the characters interesting enough to keep things afloat. This is the story of a retired rock-star and his wife adopting a preteen girl in an attempt to save their failing marriage. Unfortunately, the girl is sex-crazed, evil and magic. Whenever somebody annoys her, they end up dying horribly. The fact that the girl is evil is established early on, but the surprising reason for her evilness is only revealed towards the end. (Skip to the next paragraph if you’re planning to read this book.) It turns out that she is evil because she was brought up as part of the Manson family. That’s right. Not content with ripping off Carrie and the Omen, Frank Lauria decided to throw in a bit of Helter Skelter too. Surprised? It doesn’t make much sense in the context of the book either.

As far as rock’n’roll content is concerned, there’s not much to say. The dad character produces an album in the family’s basement, and the little girl writes a song, but that’s pretty much it. The rock’n’roll could be entirely removed from the story with just a few changes. Frank Lauria has played in a band, and the first Doctor Orient book features rock’n’roll mind control, so I guess he just likes it.

This was a quick read. It’s nothing special, but it was enjoyable enough.

 

stage fright garrett boatman
Stage Fright – Garret Boatman
I have been planning this post since the beginning of 2017, but tracking down this book delayed things considerably. I knew on seeing the cover that I would some day read it, but at that time copies were going for about 20 dollars, just a little more than what I feel comfortable paying for a trashy paperback. After being included on the cover of Paperbacks from Hell, this book became very difficult to find, and I had to spend a ludicrous amount of time and effort tracking down an affordable copy. I am delighted to announce that it was worth it.

This book is just as deadly as the cover would have you believe. While not really about a keyboard playing skeleton rocker, Stage Fright is a gory, slimy, slab of entertaining sci-fi horror. The instrument on the front cover is presumably the controller to a Dreamatron, a machine that allows its user to project their imagination into the dreams of an audience. Isidore Stark, the world’s most famous Dreamatron artist, decides to ingest the blood of schizophrenics to enhance his dreamscapes, but this leads to him losing control of his mind and the machine, and the results are very, very bloody. Characters from classic horror movies, the paintings of Bosch, and the books of Tolkien and Lovecraft show up in the “dreamies”. There are certain discrepancies to the story (how does the dream machine actually work?), but it’s pretty easy to let this stuff slide when you’re being confronted with flesh mazes and grotesque monsters tearing people’s limbs off. While this book isn’t about music, its intensity made it feel far more rock’n’roll than either of the other two books reviewed in this post.

I’ve only found one other full review of Stage Fright online. It’s quite a bit more critical than this one, but I suspect that Joe Kenney hadn’t slogged through two very mediocre (boring) rock novels directly beforehand. He is correct in claiming that some of the characters are overdeveloped and that the book is probably longer than it should be. Stage Fright is pure trash, but I prefer pure trash to diluted trash.

Joe Kenney also, very perceptively, notes that the inside cover of Stage Fright advertises another novel by Boatman Garrett called Death Dream. No such novel was ever published, and Kenney suggests that Death Dream might actually have been the original title for Stage Fright. This could explain the fact that the cover and title don’t have much to do with the plot of the novel; Death Dream would be more appropriate for this story.
death dream garrett boatmanDoes this then mean that Onyx had originally commissioned this cover art for an actual novel about a keyboard playing skeleton that was never published? Is there a manuscript of the real Stage Fright in some forgotten archive? We’ll probably never know.

 

I have reviewed these books in the order I read them. If I had ordered them by ranking, they’d be in the same position, Stage Fright being the best, Night Music being the shittest. Despite their incredible cover art, none of these books are really about rock music. My search for the perfect blend of horror and metal continues. Fortunately, I have these two books lying on my shelf for later.
the scream and kill riff

Bob Larson’s Book of Rock

bob larson book of rockLarson’s Book of Rock – Bob Larson
Tyndale House – 1987

I don’t think anyone gives a shit anymore, but pop music was a scary thing in the 80s.  Sure, conservative/religious types had been upset by Elvis and the Beatles before, but MTV and the popularization of music videos made it harder for parents to avoid the boldness that was popping up in the pop music of the day. While Lou Reed’s make-up and naughty lyrics might have been able to slip under some parents’ radars in the 70s, Twisted Sister’s music videos weren’t quite as subtle.

Bob Larson, evangelical preacher, talk show host, exorcist extraordinaire and all-round obnoxious cunt, was concerned. As a young man, his experiences playing guitar led him to become convinced that rock music could be used as a tool of destruction and evil. Larson’s Book of Rock is his 5th book on the subject. Written as a self help guide for good church-going parents of the 80s who were upset by their child’s interest in popular music, The Book of Rock offers insight into how this music can fill an impressionable youth’s head with homosexuality, violence, occultism, satanism, Eastern Mysticism and the desire to do drugs and alcohol.

bob larson ugly faceTwat.

Larson clearly has no concept of art or expression, and he seemed to view the music industry as a state institution that owed the general public respectable output. I suppose this attitude towards the music industry is probably confusing for people who have grown up with internet access. There would have been fewer sources of new music available to young people at the time when this book was being written, and the music industry probably looked like a unified whole to a person whose sole source of new music was MTV. The idea that people wrote songs to express how they were feeling never seems to have struck Larson. He views music as a means to tell other people how to think and how to act.

Most of his complaints about specific songs and artists are ridiculous. I don’t know much about Madonna or Cyndi Lauper, but I noticed quite a few untruths and mistakes in his depiction and description of heavy metal bands. On page 53 he mentions Rulan Danzig from Sam Hain, a rock band that got their name from the “Luciferian Lord of the Dead”. He presumably means Glenn Danzig from Samhain, the band that got their name from a traditional Gaelic harvest festival. He says of Anthrax, “Onstage, they dress in a sinister array of biker gear.” Anthrax are famous for introducing bermuda shorts into heavy metal attire. Here they are onstage in 1987, the year this book was written, looking far more like geeks on their way to the beach than a troop of bikers. He refers to Tony Iommi as the one-time lead singer of Black Sabbath. I suppose that could be true (Iommi is Sabbath’s guitarist and the only permanent member of the band), but I couldn’t find any evidence of it. At one point he mentions King Diamond’s ‘Metal Forces’ album. Metal Forces was actually a magazine that featured King on the front cover, not a King Diamond album.

0fb7d4bb5e1c67f123d110cc7afe1bacAnyone who would complain about something as cool as this deserves to be shot.

Judas Priest are one of my very favourite bands, so I was pretty excited when I came to the section on them in this book. After reading Larson’s description of Rob Halford’s habit of baring his ass on stage, I realised that I had heard of this book before. This is the book that Nardwuar was quoting from in his interview with Halford. One can only wonder about the kind of vitriol that Larson would have spewed about the Metal God if he had known that he was gay.

Most of Larson’s claims and the evidence he provides for them are pure nonsense, but his idea that listening to Heavy Metal leads youths away from Christ might well have something to it. I stopped going to mass a few months after buying my first Slayer album. It’s hard to tell if it was the heavy metal that led me away from the church or if it was the realization that Christianity is dumb that led me towards anti-Christian music, but there was definitely some correlation. Either way, any person who writes a book warning parents to prevent their children from listening to Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer, Venom, Mercyful Fate, Dio, Deep Purple, Iron Maiden, Scorpions, Twisted Sister and WASP deserves to be swiftly executed. Heavy metal is one of the few things that makes life worth living.

In fairness to Larson, he does repeatedly point out that a parent’s relationship with their child has more influence on the child’s mind than their tastes in music. I would have thought that this would be obvious to any parent, but this book was obviously written for idiots. I’m quite serious about that – regardless of Larson’s own intelligence, his writing makes it entirely apparent that he was very deliberately and consciously writing for morons. His condescending, know-it-all attitude is embarrassing. There’s one chapter explaining in embarrassing detail why children like loud music and another where he scolds his braindead imbecile readers for listening to country songs about sex and booze and having the audacity to complain about their kids’ Madonna records. The only people who could stomach this nonsense would have to be lowest-of-the-low, seriously stupid rubes.

bob larson is a virgin Seriously, what a damn virgin.

I first encountered Bob Larson in a video of him interviewing Satanists in the 80s. Vice have done a documentary on him, and there’s loads of videos online showing him to be a con-man and a crook. He has a youtube channel that is updated quite frequently. I have another one of his books lined up to read soon.

It’s a Long Way to the Top…

…and this book isn’t even halfway there.

shock rock - jeff gelbShock Rock – Edited by Jeff Gelb
Pocket Books – 1992

Shock Rock is a collection of horror stories about rock music. I love horror stories and rock music, so this book seemed very appealing to me. Unfortunately, out of the twenty stories in here, maybe four are interesting and only two of these are really good.

The longest story by far, and probably the book’s biggest draw, is Stephen King’s You Know They’ve Got a Hell of a Band. I read this in Nightmares and Dreamscapes when I was a kid and again a few years ago. I didn’t bother reading it a third time. It’s basically a second rate version of Children of the Corn but with dead rock stars instead of creepy children.

The only two stories in here that I really liked were Richard Christian Matheson’s Groupies and Thomas Tessier’s Addicted to Love, neither of which feature any supernatural elements. And while I did quite enjoy reading Tessier’s story, it’s a blatant rip off of American Psycho. (Tessier’s copyright is from 1992, Bret Easton Ellis’s novel had been published in 1991.)

The rest of the stories aren’t absolutely horrible to read, but they were mostly pretty forgettable and fairly similar. They are nice and short though (they’re more like music videos than films in their scope), so this book made good reading for my commute to work.

I reckon it’s fairly difficult to overestimate the power of music; it changes the ways in which people think and act. It’s is a very elusive force though. A song that brings a person to tears might have no effect on that same individual at a different time. Also, unlike a painting, which exists as a physical object, music isn’t something you can point a finger at. Trying to use text to describe the way that music sounds is absolutely futile, but without its sound music can have no effect. Novels or short stories about music can never really deliver what they seem to promise. I suppose that the only way around this would have been to have put out an accompanying soundtrack with the book.

I actually think a book of short stories with a prescribed musical soundtrack could be really cool, but I don’t think this would would have saved Shock Rock. There’s a pretty wide range of stories in here, covering several genres of rock music, and the musical accompaniment for the collection would be too discordant and jumbled to be enjoyable.

And maybe I’m just an annoying jerk, but my complaint about Michael Slade’s Ghoul can be applied here too. The music discussed in this book is largely inappropriate for the subject matter. Why would anyone write a horror story about Jimi Hendrix or Bob Dylan? Neither wrote scary music, and neither of these stories’ plots actually rely on their featured rockstar; the authors could have replaced Jimi with Jim and Dylan with Kristofferson with minimal effort. The editor of the book, Jeff Gelb, thanks the following bands, singers for their inspiration: The Beach Boys, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, Genesis, Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, Kate Bush and AC/DC. While those bands (or at least most of them) are cool, I probably wouldn’t include any of them on the soundtrack to a horror film.

I suppose that the line between commercial appeal and a worthwhile product is a tricky one to walk. A book of stories about a living Glenn Danzig fighting off werewolves in an attempt to track down a copy of a cursed, unreleased Morbid Angel demo might not have had the same appeal as Shock Rock, but I guarantee it would have been a better book.

I’m discouraged, but not defeated. My search for the perfect blend of horror and rock’n’roll continues. Coming soon:
horror rock novels

Ghoul – Michael Slade

ghoul michael sladeGhoul – Michael Slade
Signet – 1989 (Originally published 1987)

I bought this book at a library booksale last year because it had a spooky name and it only cost 25 cents. I don’t think I have ever made such a fortunate purchase.

After a prologue which describes a gang of teenage boys burying their friend alive while listening to Black Sabbath and talking about H.P. Lovecraft, I put the book down and took a deep breath. A novel about teenage mischief, heavy metal, and classic horror? This had to be awesome.

I read a few chapters more. After some remarkably graphic violence, the narrative moves to a rock club in Vancouver that is “Situated on the main floor of a rundown skid row building” with “no sign to mark its presence for those not in the know”. Now, most of my readers won’t know this, but aside from reading and reviewing spooky books, my other main hobby is attending and playing concerts in unmarked, rundown buildings on Vancouver’s skid row.

13730910_10157361294280724_6129985222740697217_o
At this point, I wondered how a text, written by another person, could be so specifically relevant to my interests. I first considered if the author had stalked me and then gone on to write a book tailored to my tastes. I was only one year old when the book was written though, so this seemed unlikely. No, this book was not written for me to read. I was born to read this book.

The rest of the novel is a fast paced thriller about a collection of insane, depraved murderers, at least two of whom play in a Lovecraft themed rock band named Ghoul. The horror here is of the bloodthirsty, slimy, two-headed freak locked in a cage variety. I’d be afraid to call anything splatterpunk because I’m not really sure what that means, but this book defines itself as such, and the label seems quite fitting. It has guitars, mohawks and a lot of blood and guts. I’ve read books that describe horrendous acts of violence before, but don’t think I’ve read anything quite as grossout gory as this. One scene describes a man disemboweling another individual, cutting a hole in his skull, debraining him, and then proceeding to fill the victim’s cranial cavity with his own internal organs. Cool.

Just because a book is about cool things doesn’t mean it’s going to be a good read. Ghoul, however, is a mighty enjoyable novel. It’s extremely well researched and plotted out. The authors are a pair of lawyers who specialise in the criminally insane. They are also clearly fans of classic horror. One wouldn’t have to be a horror buff to enjoy this novel, but I was glad to be able to understand the bits about Lovecraft’s stories. The only aspect of the book that I felt the authors could have researched more thoroughly was rock and roll stuff.

First off, Ghoul’s music and how it sounds isn’t very important to the book at all. Whether it’s punk rock, goth rock, heavy metal or some other genre of cacophony is unclear. I’m going to refer to it as heavy metal based on other bands that are mentioned in the book.

Iron Maiden, Alice Cooper, Motley Crue, Twisted Sister, Black Sabbath, Grim Reaper and AC/DC are Ghoul‘s musical influences. Aside from Grim Reaper, these bands are all household names. Heavy metal fans might listen to all of these groups, but within any underground metal scene, it’s standard practice to champion lesser-known bands. Bands who play in the venues that Ghoul play in and who act like Ghoul usually make a point of letting people know how esoteric their tastes in music are. I know this book was written more than 30 years ago, but even at that stage Venom and Mercyful Fate had put out several albums each and been brought to the attention of the public by the PMRC, the Misfits and Grave 45 had put out a bunch of horror themed punk records, Metallica had recorded and released several songs about Lovecraftian entities, and Death and Black metal were starting to take off. Instead of researching and referencing this stuff, the authors chose to go backstage at a Motley Crue concert for their insight into rock’n’roll. The novel was presumably written to appeal to lots of people and referencing bigger bands might make it more accessible to the masses, but seeing that the authors worked pretty hard to make the detective stuff believable, I thought they should have put a bit more effort into the rock’n’roll side of things. The version of rock that they present is the imaginary rock of which evangelical parents are afraid.

At one point, they refer to Highway to Hell as a Grim Reaper song. Grim Reaper have lots of songs with Hell in the title, and I wouldn’t hold it against anyone for getting them mixed up, but confusing Grim Reaper and AC/DC is a sin against rock.

That being said, some of the trends in heavy metal that these authors imagined soon became reality. It was only a few years after the publication of Ghoul that the shit hit the fan in Norway’s Black Metal scene and heavy metal band members started murdering people and burning buildings down. Also, Lovecraft’s mythos has become an extremely popular topic for death metal bands to write songs and albums about. Most prophetic of all though, would be the authors’ idea of a band called Ghoul that put on elaborate stage shows and sing about death and violence.

Ghoul (the real ones) are a metal band from Oakland that have been together since 2001. Like the Ghoul of the novel, this band also have a hyper-violent horror theme going on. I can’t say for certain how deliberate their choice of name was, but I can’t help but presume that at least one of the members has read the book. Their song lyrics are about sewer dwelling maniacs (Sewer Chewer), axe murders (Maniaxe, Bury the Hatchet), catacombs, crypts, graveyards (Into the Catacombs, Forbidden Crypts, Graveyard Mosh) and torturing freaks (Mutant Mutilator). These are all important motifs in the book. The band even have an album (and song) called Splattertrash. A few years ago, I actually saw the real Ghoul playing a show in a rundown building on Vancouver’s skid row, almost exactly like the Ghoul in the novel.

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Written in the era of Video Nasties and the PMRC, Ghoul’s stance on rock music and horror is a bit confusing. One would think that the authors of an extremely gory, horror novel would do what they could to defend their creation, but the text seems to imply the potential culpability of both horror and rock. Not only are the dangers of reading horror fiction and attending rock concerts discussed at length and demonstrated by the characters, but a list of actual rock’n’roll-related acts of violence is given at the end of the book. Were the authors just trying to give their novel an extra edge by making it seem dangerous, or did they actually write it in an attempt to encourage violent acts? The latter option might seem ridiculous, but remember that the authors were both criminal lawyers. By encouraging acts of violence, they’d be setting themselves up to get more work.

I have never been so pleasantly surprised by a book. Ghoul is an awesome, awesome book, and I recommend that you read it immediately.

Unholy Forces of Evil!

lords of chaos coverLords of Chaos – Michael Moynihan and Didrik Søderlind
Feral House – 1998/ 2003

I thought I’d better review this before the movie comes out. It’s a book about the Norwegian heavy metallers who went mad in the early 1990s and burned a load of churches and killed some people. I hadn’t bothered reading it before because I presumed (fairly accurately) that I knew the story already. That being said, this book was written in 1998, and I didn’t become interested in this kind of crap until about 5 years after that, so it is quite likely that some of my knowledge of the history of Norwegian Black Metal came indirectly from this text. If you were unfamiliar with the story of “the bloody rise of the Satanic Metal underground”, I’d imagine some of this book would be fairly shocking.

The first third of the book, the part that outlines the history of the Black Metal movement, was pretty good. Regardless of whether you know the story or not, some of the interviews in here are very entertaining. At one point, Varg Vikernes seems to suggest that he murdered his friend because one of their mutual friends had been snooping around this lad’s bedroom and found “a dildo with shit on it”. There’s lots of cool pictures in here too (Unfortunately, none of them are of said dildo).

After that, the book gets bogged down in fairly boring chapters about pyromania, the Church of Satan and right wing extremism. The pyromania chapter seems like filler (Varg agrees), and the Church of Satan chapter is clearly only included because the author knew LaVey. The stuff on the fascistic elements of black metal is quite tedious. Lots of people have claimed that the focus on far-right politics in this book tells more about the author’s political interests than those of the entire Black Metal scene, and I reckon there’s some truth in this idea. Moynihan is a notorious edgelord.

I initially read the 1998 edition, but when I found out that the 2003 reissue contained a chapter on Varg’s theories about Nazi aliens (and more), I had to track that one down too. It was worth it. It’s interesting to see how much things had changed in those 5 years. Now, 20 years after the book was originally published, almost 30 years after the events it describes, Black Metal has turned into something bigger than any of its progenitors could have reasonably imagined. Let’s be honest though; most of it is cringeworthy muck. It’s such a conceptually ludicrous genre that there’s no real room for mediocrity. Any Black Metal band that isn’t exceptionally interesting is going to be embarrassingly shit.

And even some of the most important bands within the genre are surprisingly crap. I remember the first time I heard Burzum. My friends and I had recently heard tell of these crazy Scandinavian bands who killed and ate each other, and we spent the best part of an evening downloading a Burzum track over a dial-up connection. We were all pretty excited when the download reached 100%, but our excitement dispersed as soon as we heard Varg’s feeble shrieks over the thin sounding guitars. We all thought that this was one of those mislabeled mp3s that were so common on Kazaa at the time (you’d download a song labelled “Pantera and Metallica” and end up with a country blues track), and it wasn’t until we had downloaded a second awful track that we could confirm that yes, this weak sounding garbage was supposed to be the most evil music on the planet.

Fortunately, this book does a decent job of highlighting the insular (and puerile) nature of the genre’s origins. Black Metal (or the second wave of Black Metal if you want to be pedantic about it) started off as a small group of teenagers (and immature young adults) who got carried away with a game of unholy one-upsmanship. Don’t get me wrong; I’m delighted that they burned the churches, but after reading the interviews in this book, I got the sense that the real motives in some (if not most) of these crimes were peer pressure and the teenage desire to show off to one’s friends. Hey, whatever though; it got the job done.

fantoft church burned vargBoys will be boys!

I have a thousand things to say on the topic of Black Metal, but this is a book blog so I’ll keep them to myself for now. Initially, I wasn’t even sure if this book belonged on this blog, but all things considered, I reckon it contains more than enough Satanism to warrant its inclusion. The Satanism of early Black Metal is the most childish, boneheaded and ultimately best variety of devil-worshipping Satanism that exists.

I’m entirely sure the upcoming movie version of this book is going to provide limitless angry responses from the Black Metal community, regardless of how good it is. I’ll probably download it to see what all the fuss is about.

 

 

 

 

Lucifer Rising – Gavin Baddeley

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Plexus – 2006

This book deals with the different manifestations of Satanism within modern culture. It focuses on rock music and heavy metal, but it also discusses serial killers and horror movies. Sounds pretty great, right? A recommendation for this book showed up on my goodreads account, and my copy was ordered within moments of reading its description. I’m pleased to say that it didn’t disapoint. The author is a priest in the Church of Satan, and the history and outlook of LaVeyan Satanism is central to this book. I like LaVey, so I was entertained, but the author’s tone might be grating on some readers, particularly if they were Christian.

The first few chapters give a short yet surprisingly comprehensive history of Satanism, but the latter half of the book is mostly taken up with interviews. Some of these are excruciatingly embarrassing (Glen Benton is an idiot), and some are genuinely hilarious (Euronymous is precious). Varg Vikernes from Burzum has claimed that the interview with him is entirely fake. (He also claims that this is the worst book that he has ever seen.) I know lots of Burzum fans who claim to dislike Varg. Well, I always thought Burzum’s music was crap,  but I think he’s a pretty funny guy. (Don’t get me wrong; I know he’s a right-wing scumbag, racist, murderer and all-round crazy person, and I certainly wouldn’t say that I ‘like’ him, but let’s be honest; he regularly brings the lols.) There were a few interviews in here that weren’t hugely insightful, and it seemed that some of the interviewees may have been chosen based on their availability rather than their unique insight or authority on the topic, but this doesn’t take away from the cooler parts of the book. It might also be worth noting that I’m a fan of quite a few of the musicians interviewed herein, so I was probably more entertained than most people would be. If you don’t like rock music, this book might be a bit boring.

Baddeley suggests that there are as many different forms of Satanism as there are forms of christianity. (He also shows how hazy the lines between some forms of christianity and Satanism can be.) This book acknowledges the fact that Satanism is a very loosely defined set of beliefs and behaviors, and the author provides a thorough and entertaining account of the movement’s more interesting facets. (I picked up some cool recommendations for bands, movies and books too.) Overall, I would recommend this as a good primer for anyone with an interest in the Devil’s place in Rock’n’Roll.

I started writing a paragraph about my own take on Satanism, but it turned very lengthy very quickly, so I think I shall save it for a later date. Until then, Hail Satan!
(Update: This is what that paragraph eventually turned into.)