Four boys from the streets of Birmingham, long haired, wearing flared trousers, and sick of all that music talking about "nice" things, formed what later would become an essential reference in heavy metal music. In 1970, Black Sabbath released Attention! – Black Sabbath Volume One, an album that would position them as one of the most controversial bands of music history. Since then, this band has lived under controversy, highlighted by a mysterious vibe that sparked what soon became an important music genre.
One of the things that characterized Black Sabbath was their alleged relationship with Satanism. Geezer Butler, Sabbath's bass player, has mentioned that the band wanted to change the picture of music. They wanted to end pop music and show more realistic experiences through their songs: "I think if we'd been called WHITE SUNDAY we'd have had a totally different reaction." Years later they were banned and censored in some European countries because they "promoted heresy." This perception was fed mainly through Tony Iommi's characteristic style of wearing crosses and making the devil's sign (yes, the famous sign of the horns). Basically, these dark esthetics and looks became the flag of hell.
Now, what many ignore is that this style doesn't exist among all Satanists. You don't have to wear black clothing, crosses, or make signs with your hands. While this look was promoted thanks to Black Sabbath, purist Satanism is far from this depiction.
Most Satanists around the world claim that their roots can be traced to LaVeyan Satanism, named after Anton Szandor LaVey, author of the Satanic Bible in 1966. In his conferences, Satan's messenger, as he called himself, stated that all forms of Satanism are based on the idea of life granting us the opportunity of living to the fullest. Contrary to Aztec, Nordic, or Egyptian beliefs, that stated we can only reach immortality once we die and travel to the underworld, LaVeyan Satanism says we should live the moment as it comes. Its creed is based on the sins established by Christianity. However, they're given a twist and are seen as part of the human condition. Moreover, the figure of Satan is more like an archetype of humanity rather than a deity to adore.
Those who follow LaVeyan philosophy know they're responsible for their actions. LaVeyan satanists are free people that are not defined by their outfits and are not related to a particular religious belief. When someone worships an entity, whether it's Satan, Odin, Seth, or any other deity, it's because they're following their free will. Satan's church doesn't force anyone to believe in the devil. Satanism is a sign of rebelliousness, it's about going against the rules.
In that way, Black Sabbath doesn't hide behind patterns. If they have something to say, Ozzy, Iommi, Butler, and Ward will just shout it. They have sung to life, to attitudes, and to society, but they also have dark songs that allegedly contain diabolic messages. "Iron Man" has been characterized by its heavy sound, its lyrics talking about working with metal (their former profession), and its dark style, which has little to do with the real subject of the song.
When it was released in 1971, it was very controversial–as most of Sabbath's works–, but some years later someone played it backward and claimed that it had a hidden satanic message. With phrases like "Satan is all I have" or "his kingdom is the true love," this song frightened many listeners out there.
Just as Black Sabbath, many bands have been signaled as Satanists. Despite this, many have actually dedicated some verses to Lucifer, and without knowing it, we have all sang their songs.
"Christian Rock Concert"British musicians are characterized by their satirical and black-humored lyrics. That's why it's kind of logical to find mocking satanic lines in their songs. However, these phrases are not a hellish declaration, they're more unsettling, actually. Just check this line: "The body of Shane Fenton is in the laundry chute of the New Ambassadors Hotel near Euston Station"
Half Man Half Biscuit
"Snowblind"There's a verse in this song that sings "I try so hard to make it so." However, when it's played in reverse it says "Oh Satan, move in our voices." Anti-Rock groups, who devoted their time to find hidden Satanic messages, saw "Snowblind" as a war declaration.
"Fire on High"This song is the embodiment of darkness. The reason behind this label is that the band was previously accused of having hidden messages. Jeff Lyne –the vocalist and author of most of the songs– wanted to mock all those who saw them as Satanists by incorporating the phrase: "The music is reversible but time is not. Turn back. Turn back. Turn back. Turn back."
Electric Light Orchestra
"May Be a Price To Pay"The song runs smoothly until one realizes that it's about a wizard whose soul gets trapped and possessed by evil. If you play it in reverse, you'll find that it says in Spanish "Escucha, baby, al demonio…es bien fácil" ("Listen, baby, to the devil....it's quite easy"). It's a clear, direct, and scary message.
The Alan Parsons Project
"When Electricity Came To Arkansas"This sounds as a quite normal melody, like many of Black Oak Arkansas' ones, until we listen a weird voice saying something that no one can really understand. After that, there's a sarcastic laugh that can be very frightening. If you listen closely to it and in reverse, you'll listen to this simple and yet frightening phrase: "Satan, Satan, Satan. He is God, God, God".
Black Oak Arkansas
"Revolution #9"The Fab Four always mocked and made jokes about all the rumors around them. However, many saw this mockery as an evidence of their links to Lucifer. If you listen to this song in reverse you'll get some serious goosebumps. This one mocks (or confirms) the theory that assured that Paul McCartney was dead. With phrases like "Paul is dead," "Wake, dead man," or the sounds of a car crash and a man yelling "Let me out!", this song will definitely give you a sleepless night.
"I’m So Tired"This song has been listened to back and forwards by many fans who were looking for evidence about Paul's death. They found out that by the end of the song, John Lennon mumbles what many assure is the phrase: "Paul is dead, we miss him, we miss him, we miss him." This was neither confirmed nor denied.
"Stairway to Heaven"The most famous theory around this song was created by Paul Crouch, a TV evangelist who "analyzed" this song and Led Zeppelin. He said that when it's played in reverse, one can clearly hear phrases like "Here's to my sweet Satan/The one whose little path would make me sad, whose power is Satan/He will give those with him 666/There was a little toolshed where he made us suffer, sad Satan." The idea of this band dedicating the song to Satan is not as far-fetched as we could think. Many assure that Jimmy Page had Satanic habits and occult tendencies.
"Hotel California"This is, with no doubt, the most famous case. The reason is simple: according to the legend, Hotel California is haunted. It's said that the hotel is controlled by the ghost of a girl who shows herself only to visitors. Some claim that the band was formed by faithful Satanists and the cover of their album shows the silhouette of Satan. When the song is played in reverse, one can clearly listen to: "Satan, he hears this. He had me believe in him". This, according to those believers, refers to the boyfriend of the girl, who didn't believe in the existence of the devil.
There are many other songs with hidden messages, from very obvious examples like "Raining Blood" by Slayer, to some that are not so clear like "Work It" by Missy Elliot. However, there are just a few songs that worship the Lord of Darkness as the ones we mentioned before. We'll never know if they played with this source just to create controversy or if they actually were showing their adoration for some taboo subjects like Satan.
If you want to embrace this lifestyle, take a look at these steps that'll show you How To Live Like A Satanist According To A Heavy Metal Legend. If you're into this topic, don't miss these Paintings That Depict the Devilish Temptation Of Eroticism.
Translated by María Isabel Carrasco Cara Chards