The unforgettable Stranger Things scene where fan-favorite metalhead Eddie Munson (played by Doja Cat crush Joseph Quinn) protects his friends from bat-monsters by grabbing his B.C. Rich guitar, cranking his amp, and playing “Master of Puppets” nudged an eight-and-half-minute long, 36-year-old Metallica song into the top 40 for the first time ever. That alone should qualify the show’s fourth outing as the most metal TV season of all time, but there was even more. While the parts with the alternate dimension and super-powered kids and monsters remain as fictional as ever, the season’s storyline drew on some very real, metal-infused 1980s history. (Eddie, meanwhile, is almost certainly named after Eddie the Head, Iron Maiden’s monstrous album-cover mascot.)
When deluded townspeople falsely accuse Eddie of murder (and start freaking out about the kids calling their Dungeons & Dragons guild the Hellfire Club to boot), showrunners Matt and Ross Duffer are riffing off the Satanic panic that rippled through the Reagan-era U.S.. Both Judas Priest and Ozzy Osbourne faced preposterous lawsuits for purportedly encouraging fans to commit suicide via hidden messages in their music. Preachers made the-long-since-broken-up Led Zeppelin seem cooler than ever by claiming that “Stairway to Heaven” included the words “master Satan” or “my sweet Satan” when played backwards. (“Who on Earth would have ever thought of doing that?” Robert Plant replied to Rolling Stone. “You’ve got to have a lot of time on your hands to even consider that people would do that.”)
Dungeons & Dragons faced its own delusional accusers, with one lawsuit accusing the role-playing game of using “demonology, witchcraft, voodoo, murder, rape, blasphemy, suicide, assassination, insanity, sex perversion, homosexuality, prostitution, satanic type rituals, gambling, barbarism, cannibalism, sadism, desecration, demon summoning, necromantics, divination and other teachings.”
In the new episode of Rolling Stone Music Now, Kory Grow joins host Brian Hiatt to discuss the metal side of Stranger Things, from the new Gen-Z fans Metallica is winning to the real stories of the Satanic Panic. Elsewhere in the episode, Tomás Mier discusses the best pop music of 2022 so far. To hear the whole episode, listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify, or press play above.
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