The rise of heavy metal in the 80s was era-defining; it opened the gates to a world that had not yet been fully explored, giving way not only to an emerging sound, but a new way of being. This culture shift was emblematic for two things: the rise of metalheads, and the religious counter-response that birthed the hysteria known as the satanic panic .
80s metal poster boys such as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest were, in the eyes of the religious pearl-clutchers of the time, hell-bent on pushing their “Satanic” philosophy into the homes and minds of America’s children.
Thanks to filmmaker David Hoffman, we’ve now got our hands on a snapshot of the era in the form of an interview set within a quintessential American home. The footage features a conversation between a budding musician, known as Eddie Ecker, and his mother, as they discuss the role heavy metal plays within their own lives.
“This young man, a member of a heavy metal music group from Belfast, Maine were just getting started back in 1986,” writes Hoffman in the accompanying caption. “I lived in the next town over and spent time with him and his fellow band members filming them in practice for a live battle of the bands performance they were going to give in a tent that evening.
“Fortunately for me, his mom was present in the home and I asked her to participate with him in an interview. The result presents two completely different points of view of hardcore heavy metal music and its meaning and its, as some sort, threats, to mainstream religion and a faith in Jesus.”
Within the film, Eddie — who dons a Black Flag t-shirt — presents himself as anarchistic, but respectful to those he loves. And, of course, he loves heavy music. At the beginning of the interview, Hoffman asks Eddie’s mother what she thinks of her son’s band. “I like the instruments, I don’t care for the beat…” she begins, “but I despise the lyrics, because they’re all Satan worship”.
“What’s the problems with the words?” the interviewer pushes.
“I’m a Christian and I do not like the words, they’re all Satanic worship about hell about devils, about Satanic, and I don’t want anything to do with it,” answers the mother. “It’s just giving the Devil power and it’s nothing to do with God or anything like that. It’s just praising the Devil and giving him the glory and I don’t care for that…it’s all about killing, how they treated children and the blood and all that…”
In response, Eddie reveals what truly attracts him to the genre, explaining: “I just like the energy, you know, no other kind of music has that kind of energy”.
Then, after revealing that he enjoyed listening to Elvis Presley in her youth, Hoffman asks the Eddie’s mum, “Do you remember what people were saying about Elvis Presley?”, most likely hinting to the fact that the King Of Rock ‘N’ Roll was at one point deemed as anti-Christian and inappropriate for young people.
“Well, before I get into the rock n roll, they didn’t like him, they thought he was, you know, the way he moved around, and his time of music was…they wouldn’t accept that. But then when I got a little older, it was accepted” she answers, before Hoffman argues, “Do you think this is the same thing with Eddie’s music, maybe it will be more accepted as it goes?”.
“Well, I don’t know. I wished he would take his music and put all his energy in some other direction” she says. “I just don’t appreciate the music, it seems to me it’s all drug-related. I just can’t see any good that’s gonna come out of it”.
Meanwhile, Eddie pulls numerous cheeky faces in response to his mother’s answers, and even rolls his eyes at numerous points. The scamp.
Watch the full interview below: