I'm currently reading Michael Moynihan's book Lords of Chaos, a study of the most extreme forms of heavy metal music and their evolution (or devolution) into quasi-Satanic "black metal" in Europe, the UK, and Scandinavia during the late '80s. In the early '90s, Norwegian black metal fans and musicians torched Medieval churches throughout the country and indulged in a lot of other Satanic weirdness. But the chaos didn't end there. To this day, gruesome acts of violence are being attributed to death/black metal musicians...
Italy's "Beast of Satan" Murders
From BBC online, "Investigating the Death Metal Murders" by Sam Bagnall, 25 Nov. 2005: "One man's relentless search for his missing son led him to uncover one of the most shocking crimes in post-war Italy - a tale of Satanism and violence that has gripped the country for more than a year."
On a January night in 1998, 16-year-old friends Fabio Tollis and Chiara Marino drank together at a Milan heavy-metal pub called The Midnight. They never returned home. Police presumed they were runaways, as did some of their friends.
Fabio's dad, Michele Tollis, began attending metal concerts throughout Europe searching for his son, passing out fliers with descriptions of the two missing teens. No luck.
If the stuff found in Chiara's bedroom (human hair, teeth, and fingernails, along with instructions on how to use them in Satanic rituals) was any indication, she had been interested in Satanism; on a hunch, Mr. Tollis decided to pursue this line of inquiry. He knew that death metal and Satanism are inextricably linked, and he also suspected that some of his son's friends knew more about his disappearance than they were telling him. For 6 years, he carefully tracked their activities in the hopes of finding a chink in the armour of silence.
In January 2004, Andrea Volpe admitted to the brutal murder of his ex-girlfriend in Somma Lombardo. He had shot Mariangela Pezzotta, 27, in the face - then buried her alive in her greenhouse. His new girlfriend and a plumber named Niccola Sapona allegedly assisted in the murder.
Mr. Tollis recognized the young man's name at once: Volpe had played in a death metal band called Beasts of Satan with Chiara and his son. He went to the carabinieri with his voluminous files, and they agreed to question Volpe about the '98 disappearances.
Volpe confessed to killing Fabio and Chiara, and led authorities to their remains. But that wasn't the end of the story.
Fabio's school chum and bandmate, Mario Maccione, admitted beating Fabio to death with a hammer. According to witnesses, Niccola Sapona had also been present. Chiara and Fabio had been killed on the night of a full moon for reasons that remain unclear; the killers were on cocaine, and believed Chiara was an incarnation of the Virgin Mary who had to be sacrificed to the devil. The pair was beaten, stabbed, and possibly buried alive in a shallow grave upon which Sapona urinated and danced.
The Beasts of Satan had also terrorized drummer Andrea Bontade into suicide. About 8 other suicides, disappearances, and murders have since been linked to the Beasts of Satan, which operated as both a band and a Satanic sect, allegedly led by the plumber Niccola Sapona.
The revelations sparked fears of Satanism and Satanic crime throughout Italy, leading cult-watchers to guesstimate the number of Satan-worshipping cults in the country at anywhere from 5000 to 600,000. Father Aldo Buonaito called for a ban on death metal and set up a helpline for people concerned about Satanism, while famed exorcist Gabriel Amorth warned that the Catholic Church's downplaying of Satan's power has resulted in the recent spread of Satanism. Carlo Climati, a specialist in Italian youth culture, believes death metal itself leads directly to organized Satanism and criminal activities.
The "Satanic" Murder of a Nun by 3 Girls
Chiavenna, Italy: On the night of June 6-7, 2000, three teen girls tricked 61-year-old nun Teresina Mainetti into an isolated area by pretending one of their friends was pregnant and in need of help. Then they forced her to kneel on the ground, insulted her, and stabbed her 19 times with 2 knives. ("Teens Said to Confess to Nun Murder", AP Online, June 30/00)
The girls were arrested 22 days later, and intially said they committed the murder out of boredom (Chiavenna is a small town). Later they said the nun was a sacrifice to Satan. When police searched their homes they found black metal albums, including some by Varg "The Count" Vikernes, a neo-Nazi/pagan incarcerated for the 1993 murder of bandmate Oystein Aarseth. Vikernes was also responsible for the arsons of half a dozen cathedrals in Norway. Today, from prison, he promotes "nationalistic paganism" centered on worship of Odin, one-eyed god of war and death, and insists the church-burnings were carried out in protest of Christian suppression of the ancient pagan religions. He has also adopted the surname Quisling. (Moynihan, Lords of Chaos)
The Slayer and Judas Priest Lawsuits
Though Slayer is not a black metal band in the European/Scandinavian mold, it was sued in 1996 by the parents of a murdered teenager, who said she was killed in a Satanic ritual inspired by the group's songs. 15-year-old Elyse Pahler of California was stabbed and stomped to death by 3 male "friends" (15 and 16) in a eucalyptus grove in San Luis Obispo. The boys were into drugs and Slayer.
The case was dismissed in 2001.
British band Judas Priest (also not a black metal band, but frequently scapegoated by anti-occult activists) faced a similar lawsuit in 1986, a year after two Nevada teens entered into a suicide pact. One boy killed himself, the other blew his face off with a shotgun. The parents' lawyers declared the Judas Priest songs the boys had been listening to on the fateful day contained backwards messages ("backmasking") of death and destruction that drove the them to have suicidal thoughts (they claimed the words "do it" could be heard chanted repeatedly throughout one song, but this proved to be incorrect).
The parents also sued CBS Records.
The case went to court in Reno in 1990. A foregone conclusion: Judas Priest and CBS Records were exonerated (you'll never convince me the kids in Heavy Metal Parking Lot were Satanists).
Rock groups that used faux-Satanic gimmicks and props were frequently cited by Christians as purveyors of the occult throughout the '70s and '80s, as were mainstream pop groups like the Beatles.
Strangely, bands whose members actually did dabble in the occult (the Stones, Zeppelin, Blondie, etc.) were infrequently mentioned by the Satan-watchers, and the hardcore death metal rockers who spewed blood-&-guts hatred and inspired countless criminals in Europe were totally unknown to them (for example, G.G. Allin was never mentioned). Opposition focused on groups that really weren't diabolically inspired at all. For instance, Ozzy Osbourne's circus-geek stunts - gnawing the heads off chickens and so forth - were widely perceived as a weird sort of annimal sacrifice, the acts of a deranged or depraved man. But as the TV reality show revealed, the reality of Ozzy is infinitely more mundane.
Satanic Suicides In Europe and the UK
Concurrent with the black metal blight, there was a rash of "Satanic suicides" among European teenagers. In one of the more disturbing cases, three boys (14, 17, and 18) who allegedly dabbled in Satanism threw thsemlves off the 150-year-old Goeltzschtal Bridge near Reichenbach, the tallest brick bridge in the world (and already infamous for suicides) in August 2001. The oldest and youngest boys had their feet tied together. A suicide note was found at the bottom of the bridge.
Some observers speculated that despair and occult activity was a particular problem for young people in eastern German, people who had lost a sense of security and stability in the wake of communism.
As with black metal bands, some of eastern Europe's Satanic sects also had neo-Nazi or fascist aspects.
In March 2005, 29-year-old Gareth Bonetto hung himself in his Cardiff home after spending some time in a mental facility. He had formed the death metal band Blood Retch 3 years earlier, performing around Europe and the UK as "Mad Eddie Richards". Bonetto's father, Lawrence, noted that his son was an entirely different person when he was with the band, reveling in pain and darkness. ("'Evil' Music Blamed for Suicide", bbc.co.uk, Dec. 7/05)
Satanic Murder in Europe
In June 2004, Satanists Daniel and Manuela Ruda stabbed Frank Haagen 66 times in the course of a Satanic ritual carried out in their flat in Bochum (in Germany's Ruhr region), supposedly on the devil's orders. Throughout the trial, the pair defiantly made faces at cameras and showed no remorse for their crime. Experts said they both suffered severe narcissistic personality disorder. They were sentenced to 15 and 13 years in a psychiatric ward.
The pair practiced a crude form of "Goth Satanism", not religious Satanism. Manuela says she was called by Satan at age 14, and became a practicing vampire in London. At the time of the murder, she slept in a coffin. Daniel sold car parts alongside his victim.
Sociology professor Maria Macioti of La Sapienza University: "In the past, there were intellectual Satanists. Today, you'd have difficulty finding people who can write two sentences." (Fortean Times, "Satan Strikes Again", April '06)
There are still oodles of intellectual Satanists out there, but sadly they're always being overshadowed by the far less cerebral attention-seekers.