The Devil’s Blood

August 29, 2010

Some good news for a change:

On August 25, 2010, the Baltimore City Paper published a favorable news story about a musician who is a theistic Satanist: Hail Satan: The devil made Dutch musician SL turn his life around—and forge a strangely moving band by Ian Grey, about “SL,” the “man behind” a Dutch band called the Devil’s Blood.

The article begins as follows:

I first read about the Devil’s Blood in the metal press. About how they were this ferocious quintet from the Netherlands with a wild-haired singer covered in blood. Occult rituals, perhaps satanic, were involved. All of it was true and all of it missed the point.

First off, the Devil’s Blood: not metal. It’s so much more the head spins. Put on paper the band is kind of impossible. And that is the point. Or one of them.

Released in 2008, the Dutch quintet’s first EP, Come, Reap, was a sublime mesh of irreconcilable elements. There’s that blood-covered singer—but she has this shivery alto that’s like a possessed Grace Slick. There’s the haunted guitar psychedelia of 1960s Pretty Things, the compositional flow of “Rhiannon” period Fleetwood Mac, the guitar heroics of Richard Lloyd in his Television glory days, and a general Roky Erickson vibe. That this all blends together with nary a retro moment or source quotation—that’s some serious alchemy.

Here’s what the article says about SL’s spirituality:

Conventional wisdom has it that most addicts’ recoveries are inseparable from a spiritual awakening. For SL, specifically raised an atheist, this awakening was a process started in 2004 when he took the first major steps “towards the things that I’d always been attracted to,” he says, “but had never been brave enough to open my eyes to and accept.”

What SL accepted was Satan, god of chaos, which led to the Devil’s Blood–both of which, he says, pulled him “out of the ruins and into glory.” SL’s spiritual Satanism has little to do with the antics of Anton LaVey, the Church of Satan founder whom SL brushes off as “laughable and empty.”

Instead, spiritual Satanism posits two powers at work in the universe. SL writes that there’s one of order, structure, and oppression that the masses have sort of been bilked into believing is good and, ergo, God, but who actually “enslaves the will and undermines individuality.” And there’s another side, which he says “seeks to overthrow balance, to undo order and instigate Chaos.” That would be Satan. As a force of destruction, antagonism, and chaos, SL writes that Satan drives people to deeds of “self exploration and ultimately self realization.”

At the same time, and if I am understanding SL correctly, he believes Satan revolts against the entirety of creation by seeking to return reality to the “nothingness from where it has come.” Whatever your beliefs, the fact that these existentially unforgiving ideas are what gave SL succor in his darkest hours may cause you to admire the strange steel in his spirit, whatever its ultimate path.

This article overgeneralizes about “spiritual Satanism.” By no means do all “spiritual Satanists” share the theology described here.

As far as I can tell, nearly all theistic Satanists do agree with SL that Satan encourages “self exploration and ultimately self realization,” and that Satan encourages revolt against a spiritual system that “enslaves the will and undermines individuality.” And most of us do see Satan as having a Destroyer aspect as well.

But we don’t necessarily agree with SL’s Gnostic-derived metaphysics.

One of the band’s songs is titled “The Anti-Kosmik Magick.” This would seem to suggest that SL is an adherent of the “anti-cosmic” form of theistic Satanism espoused by, for example, the Temple of the Black Light and the Misantropiska Lucifer Orden. Anti-cosmic theistic Satanism seems to be based on the ancient Gnostic idea that the material universe was created by an evil Demiurge for the purpose of trapping human souls in matter. In this context, anti-cosmic theistic Satanists believe that Satan/Lucifer aims both to liberate individual humans and to destroy the universe as we know it.

The Baltimore City Paper story also says:

I ask SL if he thinks that this time of economic depression, political polarization, and general growth in hate industries represents a good time for the devil. There’s no equivocation: “Absolutely,” he says. “It’s the best time! The only thing that’s missing from your equation is the rise of a large and powerful satanic underground.”

Meanwhile, he’s eagerly waiting for a literal time of no time evermore. “I actually allow myself to hope that I’m part of the last generation,” he says with zeal. “I really would love to see things fall apart even more.”

Problems here: (1) The “hate industries” are both a manifestation and a reinforcement of herd mentality, not individuality. And they are highly likely to cause serious trouble for Satanists in particular. (2) To whatever extent “things fall apart even more,” the most repressive and retrograde forms of Christianity (and Islam) will be the main beneficiaries.

Anyhow, the Baltimore City Paper story goes on to say:

And yet, and yet: When the conversation retreats from the apocalyptic and SL is asked to imagine a young person, troubled, adrift, and experiencing the Devil’s Blood and being deeply, positively affected, a certain softness of spirit enters his voice. And this does happen. People let him know that “there’s something about the Devil’s Blood that’s actually changed their lives and it made them feel better,” he says. “More powerful.”

As to what feeling “better” might mean here, the Satanist says it’s when the music helps a person, perhaps, to look at things with new eyes, to not accept “some of the lies” told to her, “to realize “her true self more,” and to “maybe accept what she is.”

A pause. “I think it’s something I can be proud of,” he admits. “It’s just not something I dwell on too much.”

It’s good to see some favorable press about a theistic Satanist, in any case.

5 Responses to “The Devil’s Blood”

  1. Ian Says:

    Hello. I’m glad you enjoyed the article.

    In the sentence: “I ask SL if he thinks that this time of economic depression, political polarization, and general growth in hate industries”

    What I meant by “hate industries” was the growth of institutionalized intolerance, of anti-gay and misogynistic theocracy under the banner of the usual suspects.

    And with that cheerful thought, have a pleasant day!


  2. Diane Vera Says:

    I understood what you meant by “hate industries.” I stand by my remark that “hate industries” are (1) both a manifestation and a reinforcement of herd mentality, not individuality, and (2) highly likely to cause serious trouble for Satanists in particular.

  3. Chris Says:

    Cool write up on this! This may also interest you. It’s an interview I just did with Magus Peter H. Gilmore, High Priest of The Church of Satan:

  4. sigmar Says:

    You know SL endorses extremism don’t you? he said in an interview that he would have no remorse if his work encouraged extremism “let the world burn”

  5. Diane Vera Says:

    I’m aware of SL’s semi-endorsement of extremism. My comments above, about “hate industries,” were intended as a gentle critique of his attitude.

    I should point out, however, that SL’s “let the world burn” attitude is more “anti-cosmic” than an endorsement of any political ideology, extreme or otherwise.

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