Satanic panic has gripped the conservative citizens of Singapore, and they’re not afraid to summon forth the righteous wrath of the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth in an ancient ritual known as Signing Petitions.
As of writing, over 15,000 signatures have been gathered in an appeal to get the government to ban heavy metal bands Watain and Soilwork from putting on performances here — the former due to play tonight at Ebenex Live Space, the latter in October at the same venue.
For the uninitiated, Watain is a Swedish black metal band known for its intensely nightmarish live shows — usually involving Satanic imagery, pyrotechnics, rotting animal carcasses, and blood. Lots of blood. In 2014, fans who attended their Brooklyn show were doused in pig’s blood, causing some of them to throw up and cry. Nobody complained though.
Soilwork, on the other hand, is a melodic death metal outfit, also from Sweden. They’re not as controversial as Watain and aren’t at all associated with the Satanic metal scene.
Nonetheless, a Rachel Chan was concerned enough about the bands’ lyrical content to launch a petition on Change.org.
“These heavy metal bands do not represent the culture which we want in our youths,” she wrote. “Their subliminal messages in their songs include death and suicide. Sign this petition to get our lawmakers to ban these bands from performing in Singapore.”
If her concern is about the Satanic themes in the music (Watain’s at least), Chan’s not wrong. The members of Watain are proud and devout Devil worshippers, and have claimed to wear clothing they buried in a graveyard. Part of their stage setup involves an actual altar to Satan, which the band’s frontman Erik Danielsson occasionally kneels in front of throughout performances.
Chan’s sentiments have been shared by the thousands of fellow conservatives who supported her call. Their worry is that heavy metal bands will ruin the minds of youth — as if there aren’t other factors that might be more of an actual worry.
Sparking fear and apprehension has worked before, after all. In 2013, British goth/symphonic metal outfit Cradle Of Filth had their show canceled at the last minute when the management of the venue they were playing at (Powerhouse at St James Power Station) pulled a huge dick move. After getting alerted about the band’s background, the venue’s owners pulled out on grounds that Cradle of Filth’s lyrical content contains “heavy (anti-religious) elements and vulgarities”.
Toning down on Satan
The show must go on, however. According to an individual who urged the authorities to smite Watain out from our shores, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has allowed the performance to go on — but a severely restricted one. Watain’s show tonight will only be open to those above 18, and that religious or Satanic imagery cannot be displayed.
This is what IMDA replied to her.
We refer to your feedback of 5 March 2019.
Thank you for your feedback on the concert “Watain Live in Singapore” to be held on 7 March 2019.
IMDA applies a consistent set of guidelines in assessing all applications for arts performances and concerts. These guidelines are contained in the Arts Entertainment Classification Code (AECC). IMDA’s classification code serves to protect the young from unsuitable content, maintain community norms and values, and safeguard public interest while enabling adults to make informed choices. In addition, the overall theme, content, message, and impact of a performance are taken into consideration.
After careful consideration, IMDA has rated the “Watain Live in Singapore” concert “Restricted 18 (R18)”. The R18 rating is the most stringent and requires that the organizer conduct age checks to ensure that no one below the age of 18 is permitted to enter the performance venue. This rating is consistent with IMDA’s rating for similar concerts in the past.
IMDA has further required that songs which may be religiously offensive are removed from the performance, and imposed the following additional license conditions:
· No religious symbols are to be used during the concert;
· No references to religion on stage;
· No satanic or ritualistic acts are performed on stage
The concert organizer has been made aware of and fully understands these conditions, and has undertaken to fully comply with them. IMDA will be closely monitoring the event and will take firm action if there is a breach of any of its license conditions.”
Concert organizers Ravage Records are also making sure that everything goes well tonight. It better be — it seems that the people who run Ravage Records have gone through hell to bring Watain to Singapore.