Dark Ripples in Time – Black Metal Moments from the Past is a new CVLT Nation series featuring interviews from the ’90s, never before published on the web until now.
An interview with Deicide’s Glen Benton
Some people think that Glen Benton and his Death Metal band, Deicide, are a joke. His band’s name is a neologism for the extermination of God. He openly admits his Satanism, advocating animal sacrifice and violence as a means to an end. He once burned an upside down cross into his forehead to “prove his self to his master”.
Yet despite these ‘jokes’, Deicide’s endeavors in the ranks of extreme music continue to meet with some amount of success. Their fifth album, Serpents of the Light, is out on RoadRunner and their self-titled debut has recently been re-released in a new package. One factor of the band’s success is due to their striped down approach to Death Metal. There are no fancy keyboards, faces smeared with make-up, or lavish, theatrical effects. Their music is as bleak and brutal as their image.
A far more disturbing factor of Deicide are the ‘effects’ their music has had on some people. For example, in January of 1993, two New Jersey teenagers sacrificed a neighbor’s dog. The boys claimed that Deicide influenced them to kill the animal. The next year, three teenagers in Eugene, Oregon, robed a convenience store, murdering one employee and brutally beating another. In a civil lawsuit brought against Deicide, the band was blamed as a major, influencing factor on the teenagers’ heinous actions. One of the perpetrators was even quoted as stating “I did it in the essence of Glen Benton…”.
Consequently, the aforementioned lawsuit was settled out of court for a “very nominal sum” according to a statement issued by Roadrunner. While it may be true that the settlement is not a direct admission of guilt, it certainly seems that the record company knows exactly what kind of an artist they’ve gotten themselves involved with. What is more important is that Benton and his band continue unabated, defying all that would oppose them, spreading their message and music to all that will listen.
Do you advocate violence?
If its violence out of revenge then I like it. But I’m not talking about going out and blowing up a building because you want to get back at the government. I’m not a fuckin’ terrorist.
Do you really believe in the existence of the deities Christianity calls God and Satan?
I believe that there is something out there that hates me and I would consider it the Christians’ God. I am a messenger. What I am doing is getting away from speaking about things that are completely unimportant in this day and age and dealing with the real issues. Christianity is a problem. You have to start naming names because Christianity is too broad- Jehovah Witnesses, Pentecostals, Baptists, Methodists, and Catholics. Whichever one you pick has their own little quirks about them that make them special. If they minded their own business that would be fine with me. But they don’t and they never will. I don’t picket their churches. But they picket our shows. That’s where the big hypocrisy comes about. The day Deicide shows up at church is the day that we go to jail. But when they come to our shows they don’t get arrested. Where this boils down to is Christianity and politics. Get rid of the Christians and the government and what do you have? Now Christians are calling the shots and churches influencing politicians. My message is that this hypocrisy should be avoided.
Have any of the Christian activists that have picketed your shows used violence?
I have had personal confrontations with them. I’ve gotten out there and physically challenged them. I had this one incident at a show in California where the picketers were harassing the kids who had paid money to see us. That’s the same thing as me going to Church and harassing people as they walk through the doors. I went outside and gave them what they wanted. The protesters had come to see what Glen Benton was really all about and I gave it to them. They saw it and a couple of them experienced it for themselves. I had fun and they left. It was either leave or get hurt. Christians come to the show to harass the kids and you go out and punch them around for a few minutes and they don’t want to fight back. But you hit them a few good times and they forget all about God. Their animal instinct kicks in and they start defending themselves.
Are you a misanthrope?
I do not hate people. That is wrong. I just hate ignorance. I hate people that say one thing then turn around and do another. I hate liars. I am not a racist or a homophobe. I am human being.
On a day to day level, does having an inverted cross burned into your forehead cause you any problems?
No. I can go to a 7-11 to buy a pack of smokes and nobody even notices. If they do they don’t say anything. Ninety percent of the people don’t have it inside themselves to say anything even if they do notice. Unless you know you I am you aren’t looking for it.
When did you first become fascinated with the Necromonicon?
You have to go back to Legionand the track “Dead by Dreaming”. I took that
from the Necronomicon. The next chapter in the book is about the children of the underworld. They are demon serpents that live within the world between places in the caverns of the earth. They are in desolation. No one knows who they are or there names. They were created in vengeance. When I read chapters in the Necronomicon I have a lot of dreams. My dreams correspond with the songs. I believe this book exists. Maybe the Catholic church will dig it up. I think that book would be very valuable but very dangerous in the wrong hands.
What direction do you think society is headed in?
Towards the pages of Revelations. This world is like a garbage can and it is slowly filling itself up. Sooner or later that garbage can is going to be full. When that happens trash is going to run over and the garbage man will have to pick it up and throw it away. That is basically going down if you look around at the world right now. The world isn’t getting any better. Florida is like the Old West. That’s why I strap my gun on. Everybody and his grandmother whose got a concealed weapons permit is packin’. I’ll get me a crazy whacked out car like Mad Max with nitrous oxide and I’ll be speedin’ around killing people. Fuck yeah that’s society. I’ve got the body armor already. I’ll strap that shit on, get in my car, and hit the nitrous. I’ve got a twelve gauge shotgun that is all modified and ready to go. I kind of hope it will be mass chaos. You’ll be able to shoot people who are looting and trying to rob your house. That kind of crazy shit. I favor chaos over order ‘cause order’s only good when its yours. I don’t like living by other people’s laws but I have to ‘cause I don’t want to rot in a jail cell. Whenever we have hurricanes here I love it. I sit here in my house, look out the window, and wait for someone to try to come loot my home.
What do you think about the Church of Satan?
Commercialized. My brand of Satanism doesn’t involve anything that deals with dressing up in a pair of tights and dancing around with a costume on. My beliefs are in my mind and this shell that I live in. In my brain and soul. That’s my link. I don’t follow anybody else’s law. I have a purpose.
Tell me about your fans.
We get the kids who show up with magic marker inverted crosses on their foreheads. We get a lot of those. Its pretty crazy. One of our adoring fans brought a knife to the show, probably to stick in my back, but the security guard took it away and gave it to me as a gift. I’ve created a knife collection from the people who have gotten frisked coming into our shows. I’ve gotten pubic hair in the mail and menstrual blood smeared on paper. I closed our p.o. box because I was starting to get a very unnerving feeling opening up the box every day. On this one tour, we were over in East Germany and there were these three freaks. They had, like, super mega burns on their foreheads. You could tell that just for the show they sat at home and burned inverted crosses in their foreheads. They were all freaked out running around our bus growling. I get letters from fans that would like to kill me. Fanatical Christians who send a dozen letters at a time. The record company and my booking agent like to save all the hate mail for me and send it all at once. I just usually pile them up and burn them all. Jehovah Witnesses once had us in the back of their Watch Tower magazine and that created a real stir.
Why did you start Deicide?
I needed an avenue. I happen to be a Gemini. There’s a side of me that scares the other. I go with the dark side because its very demanding and I don’t fight it.
Are you very superstitious?
Yes. If I see a penny on the ground heads up I’ll pick it up every fuckin’ time. I believe you can overlook someone and create an enormous amount of pain. I’ll tell you one of the things that made me a believer. This is one of the things that confirms where I’m at. Back in ‘87 , I had an upside down crucifix hanging around my neck. I had been dabbling with black magic for years. I knew if I took that cross off something would happen. I actually believed this. When I wore the cross I felt safe. I took the cross off and five minutes later I was running out of the house on fire. These things caught on fire in the house and so did I. The band had just finished practicing and we were smoking . We were just sitting there and the next thing you know I was on fire. I had second degree burns on both my arms. The skin was just hanging off. After that, the cross never left. Then a voice told me that if I burned the cross into my forehead I would never have to worry about that again. Since then my problems have been minimal. The first time I burned the cross into my flesh it was really swollen. Looked like a knot on my forehead. What I had to do over the years was to keep working on it. For the first year, I burned it about five times. The second year, about three times. I’ve gotten it pretty deep.
If the hell of Christianity exists why would you want to go to a place of eternal suffering after you die?
It’s not that. Read the lyrics of “To Be Dead” on Once Upon the Cross. That’s my little suicide note to everybody. All the songs on that album, as well as the new one, I wrote for myself. I’m not writing to please anyone but myself. I have to speak my mind. I can’t hold back anymore. When you listen to a song like “When Satan Rules His World” on Once Upon the Cross that song was written strictly for Jehovah Witnesses. Listen to all the hints in that song. Any child that is being brought up in a Jehovah Witness household is suffering. When I write the lyrics those words come from somewhere. If there coming from me then I don’t realize it. When I’m trying the lyrics, if they don’t sound right then they aren’t done. With this record I had more time to spend to make it right. I took a lot of jabs. They are deep jabs and if you look within the lyrics you can find them. We’re not going to soften up.
(originally published in Chord Magazine #15, 1998)