Why I am sick of the image of Satan/Satanism created by black metal

Before you say anything this isn’t about Mercyful Fate, because I actually like that band, and their music. This about acts like Norwegian acts like Gorgoroth, Mayhem, Enslaved, Emperor, etc, as well as acts like Venom and Cradle of Filth, and any black metal that follows the criteria I’m about to explain, all of which I am not a fan of.

This is the best image I’ll put up here, because I don’t quite like what I see when it comes to black metal.

Black metal tends to be Satanic in its image and lyrics (in fact, that’s the point), and they’re not shy about expressing it, especially Norwegian acts like Gorgoroth. The fact that black metal is pro-Satan is not such a crime. I mean, as someone with anti-Christian sentiment, I can’t complain. The problem is the image.

Every act is out to look evil, often in horrific, even extreme, ways. This is fulfilled by the bands wearing corpse paint (which is derived from King Diamond’s face paint), spiked gaunlets, and some members are covered in (possibly fake) blood. Not to mention Gorgoroth’s Black Mass of 2004 in Krakow, Poland. Their image, sound, and lyrics point to evil, or more or less the image of evil, with quite raspy, fiendishly gutteral vocals, and the sound seems desgined to sicken the soul in a very atmospheric way. Hell, most of the time the album covers and band logos give it away, much like death metal. On top of that, you have stories of gruesome murder attributed to black metal acts, probably as a way of fulfilling that evil image. Why is that the problem? Because the black metal acts tie it in with their pro-Satan attitude.

If you were a Satanist, anti-Christian, or just a fan of Satan, and you wanted to promote your beliefs, let alone in the form of songwriting, wouldn’t you actually try to make your beliefs look good? Like say you were a Satanist (keep in mind, I’m using the term loosely. I do know there are different types of Satanist, but I know all of them have at least something to do with Satan), and you wanted to talk about Satan. You wouldn’t want him to be promoted as an utterly horrible and evil character, but you’d want him to be either good or at least a more three-dimensional character, or even both. Or if you were arguing for Satanism and against Christianity, you’d want to promote your belief by making yours look and sound good or reasonable. What black metal acts tend to do is promote Satanic and anti-Christian ideals, but combined with a horrific and evil image, and a sound that appeals only to fans of the particular sound.

Fan artwork of Lucifer from Shin Megami Tensei

But in the end, this probably has something to do with the fact that black metal is partly about shock value, and they never wanted to be mainstream, preferring to stay underground (much like punk). On top of that, a lot of black metal acts don’t actually believe this stuff, and just do what they do for shock value. Among the only exceptions is King Diamond, who is actually a LaVeyan Satanist, and his music (both Mercyful Fate and his solo career) doesn’t sound much like the black metal I recognize (among the reasons I like his music).

All-in-all, as an anti-Christian, I oppose black metal’s pandering to the image of Satan and Satanism with terror, evil, and horror, rather than do anything to make them look good or reasonable, or any better than Christianity, and that they’re doing it just for shock value and no real meaning. If you want  to promote Satan, Satanism, and anti-Christianity, actually make it look good, appealing, or reasonable, and not evil.

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