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10 songs for Samhain to bring Satan to the celebration

Ghost promo pic, Halloween frame
(Image credit: Rise Above Records)

Halloween. The wheel of the year reaches the end of the harvest season and turns on to the beginning of winter. Based on the Celtic-pagan festival Samhain, it was said that, on All Hallow’s Eve, the veils between realms were at their thinnest, allowing spirits to pass between – including Satan. The allure of the Dark Lord can be tempting, be it for his granting of powers, sharing of forbidden knowledge, bringing licentiousness and liberation…

But, while the past may have called for animal (or human) sacrifices in order to properly worship the devil, times have changed. Praising the Dark Lord doesn’t have to be a solemn affair. In fact, since the very dawn of rock‘n’roll, musicians have come together to celebrate the Devil’s deeds in infinitely original and inventive ways. Here are our top 10 picks for your evening commune with The Dark One:

 

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1. The Devil's Blood – Come, Reap (Come, Reap EP, 2008)

Once you’ve set out all the candles, poured the wine and prepared the circle, the next thing you must do is call to the four cardinal points – something this song handily does right at the beginning (‘In the south we call you/In the west we call you/In the east we call you/In the north we call you’). The release of The Devil’s Blood’s first EP, Come, Reap, almost single-handedly brought about a resurgence of occult rock in the 00s, paving the way for the likes of Ghost. The band drew influences from “The three principles of Adversity – The Death, The Chaos and The Satan”, said guitarist and band mastermind Selim Lemouchi, the brother of vocalist Farida). Come, Reap’s heart-pounding beat and rapt, tantric communion features an organ melody to wake the dead. It’s the perfect opening song for your ceremony.


2. Ghost - Stand By Him – (Opus Eponymous , 2011)

Initially a slow-burner, incubated in several gallons of amniotic hype, Ghost’s debut album, Opus Eponymous, is now a landmark in the metal world, and various realms beyond. With DNA drawn from Blue Öyster Cult, Mercyful Fate and ringmaster Papa Emeritus I’s love of opera, something (un)wholly unique was being Forged – a set of Supremely catchy sermons that would bring exultations to the Dark Lord to the masses. Stand By Him is their perfect seasonal anthem, its airy, locomotive riffs leading to the unequivocal statement, ‘The Devil’s power is the greatest one’, before the whirligig chorus – whose licentious ascension clearly had clearly been taking notes from The Devil’s Blood – celebrates the Sabbath with the words, ’’Tis the night of the witch, ’tis the night of the witch tonight’. It doesn’t end well for her, but Stand By Him is an entreaty to revel in flames both earthbound and below.


3. Coven – Black Sabbath (Witchcraft Destroys Minds And Reaps Souls, 1969)

Before Black Sabbath (the band), there was Black Sabbath – a song from a debut album so controversial for its portrayal of the occult, that it was immediately banned as soon as it was released. Witchcraft Destroys Minds And Reaps Souls pretty much become the definitive blueprint of occult rock for decades to come. Coven's frontwoman Jinx Dawson was a follower of The Left Hand Path (shorthand for malevolent or black magic in Western tradition), and is credited alongside Dio as introducing the sign of the horns to rock‘n’roll. She imbues the recording with what can only be described as a reckoning. The final words of the song ‘Accursed ye’ll be/From toes to eyes/Accursed ye’ll be/Until ye dies!’ ring out, striking fear in the hearts of even the boldest listeners.


4. Black Widow – Come To The Sabbat (Sacrifice, 1970)

A minor chart hit for the Dark Lord and his followers, Black Widow's Sacrifice reached No.32 in the UK Album Charts, not least because of its brilliant rallying cry. Featuring pounding pagan drumming and a plethora of flute solos, Come To The Sabbat is the perfect backing track for dancing and making merry in the honour of the Devil’s work. Black Widow attempted to move away from occult themes and towards the mainstream with their subsequent releases, to little success. We suppose that’s what you get for losing your faith.


5. Blood Ceremony – Drawing Down The Moon (The Eldritch Dark, 2013)

All good Sabbats need a bit of hellfire, right? Blood Ceremony bring it to us with this brilliant organ-driven witchy number, reminding us that once we’ve all gathered, the fun has only just begun. The lyrics refer directly to a Sabbat, a gathering of witches under the tutelage of Satan, who will teach them ’knowledge of hellfire… and so very many things besides. A groovier song that nevertheless borrows an appropriate amount from pastoral tradition, Drawing Down The Moon is all you’ll need to inspire you to run off into the woods to join your local witch cult. Incidentally, Blood Ceremony share a record label with our next Satanic songsters as well. Perhaps both of them can join our ritual…?


6. Twin Temple – Satan’s A Woman (Satan’s A Woman, 2019)

What if Satan was also an outspoken feminist – and sang with a voice like Amy Winehouse? Twin Temple answer that question, and so many more, with their fabulous and wholly unique sound – Satanic doo-wop. A loud and proud feminist anthem for a new generation of Devil worshippers, Twin Temple’s Alexandra James uses her powerful pipes to dispel any gender stetereotypes about who the The Dark Lord, or indeed, Lady, might be – or might look like. ’Make my own money, I make my own blood/And I always get both on the first of the month,’ she sings before proudly claiming that ’It’s better to reign in Hell’, as she effortlessly claims Satanism, and womanhood, for her own. It’s the perfect addition to your summoning session – proving that Satanism really is for everybody!


7. Green Lung – Let The Devil In (Woodland Rites, 2019)

One of the more affirming songs on the list, Green Lung’s iconic track details a seduction of a nun by the followers of Satan. It’s the track that truly put them on the ones-to-watch lists of the UK underground, and for good reason. Elevating their stoner rock riffs with some gorgeous harmonies and a healthy dose of psychedelia, it’s Green Lung’s lyrics that really seal the deal” ’Our Lord and Master has great plans for you,’ promises frontman Tom Templar. Clearly obsessed with folk horror traditions from Britain and Ireland, the band consistently pick up on folkloric legends from around the country and use them as a starting point for their lyricism. Well-read occultists – we love to see it!


8. Sabbath Assembly – Glory To The Gods In The Highest (Restored To One, 2011)

Sabbath Assembly based their songs on prayers originally written and sung by the Process Church of the Final Judgment (a Satanic-adjacent religion from the 1960s, who worshipped both God and the Devil). Joined on their debut album by none other than doom goddess Jex Thoth herself, Sabbath Assembly take the Satan worship into a much more, well, religious direction. Interestingly enough, Sabbath Assembly’s other member, Dave Nuss, was inspired to start the band by reading Timothy Wyllie’s book – a firsthand experience of what it was like to be in the Process Church. Actual members of the Church attended some of the band’s gigs. If your aim is to please and flatter the Dark One with your knowledge of hymns and other religious chants, stick Glory To The Gods on your speakers and kneel down in praise.


9. Current 93 – Lucifer Over London (Lucifer Over London EP, 1994)

A hypnotic acoustic guitar part drones over and over on a loop, while David Tibet’s feral, caustic snarls ring like those of a Victorian beggar dragged into the studio off the street. The effect is cacophonous, apocalyptic, and wholly compelling. Tibet was greatly influenced by Aleister Crowley’s work, and it shows – Current 93 as a band name is a reference to the religion of Thelema, which Crowley developed, based on the motto “Do what thou wilt”. This Current 93 classic was covered by Rotting Christ in their terrifying rock opera-meets-gothic-black-metal style; Tibet is a fan.


10. The Louvin Brothers – Satan Is Real (Satan Is Real, 1959)

It’s the perfect credit-roll-sequence track to polish off your invocation ceremony. Delightful and jolly, the Louvin Brothers were warning against the presence of Satan on this ditty, sticking close to the teachings of their Baptist faith (in lyrical content if not in life – Ira Louvin was allegedly a reckless drunk). The frankly bizarre album cover sees the duo standing in a rock quarry surrounded by fire and brimstone while an effigy of Satan (very possibly the inspiration for South Park’s horny Devil) lords overhead. It’s an ironic addition to the playlist, we know, but the perfect one to end your nightly work – drift off to sleep with the Louvins’ close harmonies ringing in your ears…