Occultism and Extreme metal, an essay.

Introduction by Jimmy Honles I:.I:.G:.M:. of the O:.H:.C:.O:.

The term occultism is and has been misinterpreted from its roots; Occultism is, in a true sense, "the unrevealed reality" except for a few minds that have managed to "tear the veil of Isis" and have managed to know, enter and even practice the inexact sciences. The opening of the universal consciousness and the third eye facilitate the understanding of the Occult. Metal, especially currents such as Black and Death metal, have adepts or initiates in the world of occult sciences among their ranks and they demonstrate it in their compositions. The symbology is often used as a resource. Now, how can we relate this fundamental philosophy and its influence on extreme metal? When we already define the concept of occultism, easily: Delving into the lyrics, themes, and visual arts of each of the bands that have used its symbology, even without having the status of occultists and Satanists.

Soon we will realize the depth in the meaning of lyrics and symbols that involve much more than what can be interpreted with the naked eye. Occultism has been and will always be present in extreme metal as it is -now- one of the pillars on which it is based. It stands far out on the surface of what many people know about metal culture. We cannot investigate in this article the immensity of "tentacles" of the occult or in each one of the sciences, it can offer; or try to comment on those texts that bring us closer to each its knowledge, which is why we leave “black seeds of curiosity” in order to begin to deepen and understand.


Extreme metal in general, and black metal in particular, cannot be considered as a whole as "satanic music" performed by "Satanists". Metal, regardless of how extreme and brutal it may be or may seem to be, has little or nothing to do with the true practice of Satanism, Black Magic, or Occultism.

Since the origin of artistic expression, the dark side of the human being has been an important part of the source and an end on its own. However, rock and consequently metal, have been accused of having direct ties to the Occult and Satanism by their detractors. Bands have often linked themselves to it unintentionally or to shock audiences. The biggest example of this can be found in Black Sabbath. While the name exploits a pun that evokes the biblical day of rest and a meeting of witches and Ozzy sang "My name is Lucifer, please take my hand", the band itself denied that the inverted cross in their debut album would have been their idea (Bill Ward, Banger TV, 2010) and in the lyrics of another song Ozzy asked for help from "god." Another example is Venom, considered by many as the creators of black metal, or at least the term-coiners. They have said that images of goats and explicitly Satanic lyrics were used to provoke controversy (Moynihan, Michael; Søderlind, Didrik [1998]. Lords of Chaos. Feral House. 2003 p. 13.). Things like these were a disappointment for me, I believed that the intellectual and religious rebellion that I was starting in myself had an echo in the music that, to some extent, was a trigger for it. It is inevitable to realize that there are paths that must be traveled alone.

Protagonists of what would be black metal and death metal used images explored the theme of Satan and the supernatural in their lyrics and created evil and mysterious characters that they interpreted on stage. Over time, evocations of darkness and its personifications became an inherent part of metal music. What started as a game or a marketing strategy, has remained as such for some, was abandoned by others, and became a real conviction for a small part of the emerging movement.

In El Salvador, the developing extreme metal movement has a wide presence of bands that maintain the classic anti-Christian and exaggeratedly satanic position without being Occultists, or Satanists, the country does not have representation of bands that may openly identify with organizations of this sort. However, pioneering bands such as Witchcraft and Malignant Wizard were already exploring the Occult theme. There are also identifiable traits in later albums: Bands like Disorder, with their album “Fuego Negro” (2017) referring to the flame of hidden knowledge (The Divine Black Flame of Satan, Vrykolakas Oriax, 2014) includes -in the booklet- text from pagan prayers in Spanish, used in autochthonous santeria, written backward. Similarly, Conceived by Hate’s most recent album is titled “Putrid Realms of the Occult” and includes illustrations of “the all-seeing eye”, also it is stated in the insert that the album was written, according to the description, “during meditations on the chaotic planes of the subconscious". In addition, more subtle clues denote some interest in the Occult in bands like Wintehrpath and the lyrics of some their most recent album "The Cold of the Stellar Field" or thrash band Inhumans whose latest album is titled "Misanthropic Luciferian Order” even though they do not fully get to develop the topic according to the title. It is also important to mention, there are musicians and other members of the local metal movement who profess an interest in occult knowledge on a personal basis without extending this interest to their bands.

The elements of the occult were clearly present from the beginnings of extreme metal, but it took some time before any engagement with it was more organized and systematic. Starting in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the rise of bands using both occult and Satanic images, themes and symbols has proliferated in such a way that trying to list all the examples would be an endless task. It is important to point out that since the mid-1990s there have been sustained attempts to create a form of ritual black metal, but it was not until the end of the first decade of the 21st century that a movement of relative prominence emerged, with various bands, record labels, fanzines, venues, and fans interconnected. The so-called “ritual black metal” represents development within an existing music scene, resulting in the emergence of a new “sub-scene” that, while still connected to the broader extreme metal scene, has its own identity and connections. more pronounced and focused with the occult represented by esoteric orders of organic or external origin. Representatives of this movement not only display a serious religious-philosophical attitude but frame their artistic activities as a religious-occult practice, so much that aspects of their practical occultism are commonly regarded as the number one priority. For many, Occultism or Satanism only represents a fascination for a set of symbols, without representing a commitment on its own. For others, extreme metal -and particularly black metal- has become a method to convey a message to those willing to listen, veiled by the dissonant notes of guitars and the echoes of drums, in the voice of those who shout to the wind the hidden truths to be heard by many, but understood by the few who seek and find, along paths where others only travel deaf and blind.

A complete version of this essay, including a chronological recollection of examples of occultism in extreme metal, was published in Metal Extremista III, in English and Spanish, the introduction was translated by R.P.F.

Ref.: Granholm, K. (2013). Ritual Black Metal. Correspondences - Journal for the study of Esotericism. http://correspondencesjournal.com/ojs/ojs/index.php /home/article/viewFile/3/3