Is Slayer Satanic? or…How to be a Satanic Metal Badass (in 1987)

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by Adam McKinnon

Poser: somebody who pretends to be something they aren’t in order to be accepted.

More specifically – in pop culture – a poser (poseur) is somebody pretending to be part of a SUBCULTURE that they know nothing about so they can win over the trust and admiration of the people that participate in it.

And why then, would someone want to win over the admiration of a small group of people by alienating a much larger one?

The answer is simple: it’s easier to win over the small group with very specific interests and beliefs than the large group with very broad interests and beliefs.

It’s so easy to look like a badass, especially in the music biz 30 years ago when bands like SLAYER and VENOM were decorating their clothing and merchandise with the simple yet effectively shocking symbols that identified them with what they believed to be Satanism. You know them all:

The inverted cross….ahem…the cross of St. Peter – definitely NOT a symbol representing Satan.

The pentagram – an ancient Greek symbol of geometry first used to represent the 5 senses, later came to be used to represent the 5 wounds of Christ up until the Renaissance period.

The number of the Beast – 666 – a carefully disguised reference to Nero, where the ciphers that spell his name in the Hebrew alphabet look like three sixes. In addition, “the mark” is a reference to money.  The book of revelations was written during a time when Jews in Rome attempted an economic revolt by minting their own coins – and thus, as told in Revelations – one must bear the mark (coin) of the beast (the emperor Nero) to do business.

Baphomet – the goat-headed image of “Satan”- a being fabricated to discredit the Templars in the middle ages when they were accused of worshipping a pagan deity by their Christian opposition, later connected with the famous illustration by Eliphas Levi (1856) depicting a being that represented the “sum of the universe” – NOT Satan.

I personally like Clive Barker’s twist on the Baphomet concept the most – in his novel “Cabal” (later made into the equally great film “Nightbreed”), Baphomet is the messiah of the “Sons and Daughters of Midian.” That is to say, the saviour of the enemies of God. In this case, inhuman monsters oppressed by the brutal Christian rule of the middle ages. All the fantastic semi-human and non-human beings that once populated the world were driven out of Europe and took refuge in a colony across the ocean. Turns out this colony is somewhere in modern Alberta, Canada near a fictitious place called Shere Neck…which sounds a lot like Sheerness, not far away from Calgary. Gotta stop there someday…

Interestingly enough, while Baphomet is a fabricated deity and does not appear in any ancient holy literature, Midian does. Historically speaking, the exile of the Midianites would have happened long before the birth of Jesus if one would believe any biblical writings that survive today.

Getting back to our heavy metal heroes, Jeff Hanneman (RIP, Jeff) of SLAYER said in an interview with NME waaay back in 1987 that “We read a lot from the Satanic bible. It’s not quite the opposite of the normal bible – a lot of its principles are just about being yourself, if you want to do something you do it, if you wanna have affairs you can. But we never hold daily rituals or anything.”

Alrighty then. Sounds sort of…I don’t know….lazy? I guess if I was a Satanist I’d probably sound like that too.

So, is SLAYER Satanic? Can they still put out albums with titles like “God Hates Us All” and claim to be Christian as Tom Araya does (Kerry King is apparently an Atheist…so whew..)?

Of course they can. There was really very little evidence of Satanism in the first place. (Let your parents read this if they’re trying to take away your Slayer cd’s.)


(Although he is not a Satanist himself, my friend and kindred philosopher Xerxes Praetorius Horde is still a longtime fan of Slayer, Venom, Bathory and Celtic Frost. His own band NEW JACOBIN CLUB are currently recording a concept album based on some of the apocalyptic biblical events mentioned in this rant)



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