Return Of The Beast

Return Of The Beast Cover Proof of the cynical nature of events in the Pop Biz, the last time Mr. Crowley found favour was in stoned-hippy late-60s and early 80s, when he vied for attention with Krishna, Yin-Yang and God knows what else. Now he's back with a vengeance it seems.

It seems that many bands, unable to project an image that is even remotely interesting because of their complete emptiness, have clambered on to the good ship image of Aleister Crowley. The method is simple - find a charismatic and uncompromising individual and imply that she or he is the inspiration and guidance behind the band, then project the image on this basis 'Basically I don't have anything to say, but as we are interested in Aleister Crowley, we must be pretty weird, don't you think?'

A sinister murmur of 'Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of The Law', pan to skeletons and grinning demons, wear lots of black, load up with large numbers of black crosses (a la hippy) and, hey presto, a new movement: Positive Punk, with bands that are old enough to have been hippies the first time around anyway.

Crowley's ideas and imagery have influenced bands from every generation. The most obvious are Black Sabbath, Hawkwind, Graham Bond (who claimed to be one of Crowley's illegitimate sons met his personal Abyss under a tube train), Led Zep, King Crimson, Toyah, Blood And Roses, Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV, Killing Joke and Sex Gang Children. There was also a short-lived outfit called Order of the Golden Dawn and Haysi have a track on their LP called 'Here Comes The Beast'.

Jimmy Page of Led Zep is probably the most renowned Crowleyite in rock. He owns Crowley's old house in Boleskine on the shores of Loch Ness and was almost single-handedly responsible for the rise in value of Crowley's work in the early 70's. Page bought up everything to do with Crowley that went on to the market - he even had a person employed full time to go to auctions and bid for Crowley items.

Eventually he opened a shop in Kensington High Street called 'Equinox' to sell Crowley's writings (now closed). He started his own publishing company to put out books by Crowley and other such authors.

Black Sabbath used Crowleyan and Satanic imagery as early as 1969. The Satanic atmosphere was always heavy in their work, thunder, lightening and rain lashing Ozzy Osbourne as he wails 'What is this that stands before me? Figure in black that points at me… OH NOOOO, God please help me!' After Ozzy left Sabbath he got further into the Satan trip, biting off bats' heads and doing songs titled 'Mr.Crowley'. As he got more over the top he went more downhill…

Graham Bond, claiming direct descendence from the seed of the Great Beast himself, recorded an album of Holy Magick ritual, complete with pentagram.

Throbbing Gristle used Crowley's imagery and theories on power to drive their walls of sound and noise. Genesis P-Orridge would chant 'love is the law' in a tone of marvellous understatement in their almost hit-single 'United'. P-Orridge was always totally open about the primary Influence Crowley and William Burroughs had on TG's work. At same the time, he never played them to death or attempted to convert his passions and obsessions into cheap publicity.

Unlike Toyah. Desperately grabbing any ploy to draw attention to her outstandingly boring work, she simpered about sleeping in coffins (weally shocking!) and that she read Crowley's 'Devil's Bible' (pathetic). She would then launch into such happy gibberings as 'found myself in a neon womb'. Far out.

Killing Joke captured the apocalyptic feel of Crowley's most important work, 'The Book Of The Law', in their stunning 'The Fall Of The Because' (an Expression taken from that book). Singer Jaz and drummer Paul influenced the Joke Crowley-wise, but without name dropping at every opportunity. The sleeve of 'Follow The Leaders' depicted a procession holding aloft Crowley's self-designed Tarot pack. Eventually Jaz went to Iceland to seek the company of Peyr (Fear), a group with similar dark interests.

Meanwhile, a flash of lightening on a lonely moor reveals Blood And Roses, complete with 'beautiful' audience, chanting the odd 'Necromantra'. Their 'Love Under Will' sports Gothic skeletons on the sleeve and a spiel which starts and ends with Crowley's most well-known phrases - 'Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of The Law' and 'Love is the Law, Love under Will'. Blood And Roses had nothing to do with it, they say. The hippies keep marching on.

Crowley seems so popular with the uninspired image-seekers because he generated much powerful imagery. Symbols are ready-made and waiting for those with little respect for Crowley and their audience. Magick became this year's big thing. The punks that started off despising hippies gradually turned into the very thing they hated, while deluding themselves they were being revolutionary and shocking. An intelligent article on Crowley in Sounds by Sandy Robertson was unwittingly responsible for a lot of crap to come. Readers were presented with a perfect anti-hero who took drugs (in vast quantities!) And Got Noticed. He was WEIRD. Suddenly the Posi-Punk bands were competing with the Heavy Metal brigade (Witchfinder General - Ha Ha!) to see who could cram the most Satans and symbols on their sleeves. A Sounds headline announced 'The Magic And The Mystery of the New Punks'. This seemed to consist of wearing a top hat and having long hair, albeit spiked up (still long hair though).

From flares to bondage trousers, from patchouli oil to glue sniffing. Both sets of hippies ended up in Magick.

Free eBooks (Can Be Downloaded):

Bernard King - Meanings Of The Runes
Aleister Crowley - The Heart Of The Master
Nicolas Schreck - Demons Of The Flesh

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