(A song by Black Sabbath)
It was the summer of 1974; I was going into my sophomore year in High School. I was in the high school band up in the mountains at Band Camp. A very good friend of mine had brought his stereo system up with him and we had it set up in our dorm room.
So while everyone else was out enjoying the free time, I was just enjoying this great stereo alone in that room. Though I had brought a number of my own albums along, this was an occasion to check out some that I did not own that my friend had brought.
I remember listening to The Who, �Who�s Next�. And then I wanted to hear this one by Black Sabbath, called �Sabbath Bloody Sabbath� that I had never heard before.
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
When I first looked at the cover art I was immediately struck by the obvious evil nature of this album. As if the title was not enough, the album�s artwork was very demonic looking. It showed a naked man lying backward face up on a bed, his head hanging over the foot of the bed with a large snake around his neck and a grimace on his face. All around him are other naked people kneeling over him lustfully. The headboard of the bed prominently displays the number 666 and above that, looking on approvingly, is a grinning skull whose outstretched headboard-arms hover over this orgy as if the bed itself is possessed or had come to life. Accompanying this is a couple of rats on the bed thrown in for good measure.
This was years before such iconic displays would become commonplace in the darker sort of heavy metal that Black Sabbath would no doubt be credited as having influenced if not created.
Even before I put the record on I was feeling an excited sort of anticipation over this album merely from experiencing the album cover.
I eagerly put the vinyl disk on the turntable, lowered the tonearm and cranked up the volume. When the second song on side two called �Who Are You?� began to play, then immediately something began to happen to me as the first notes of that strange song filled the room in which I was the lone occupant.
The song begins with a very eerie sounding synthesizer line that repeats by itself for the song�s introduction. The sound is decidedly dark and I felt as though it was ushering me even further into a realm of evil. I didn�t know it just then, but I actually was coming under a powerful demonic influence because of this album that compounded by the second as time seemed to become meaningless while that intro was playing.
What happened next was something that I will never forget. I began to be overcome by a strange dizziness that was unlike anything I had ever felt or experienced before. I have since read about and heard others tell of having this same feeling. Robert Anton Wilson for example in his book �Cosmic Trigger�. Also UFO contactees have described exactly what I felt. It�s been called a vibration or buzz or hum that comes over your head then down your whole body and whole being and surrounds you and puts you in an otherworldly time and space.
I was suddenly in a trance, staring down toward the ground before me in front of the stereo, but not actually focusing my gaze on anything there. My eyes seemed to look right through the red bare cement floor of that dorm room.
I was instantly aware that something extraordinary was happening to me and I became conscious of a number of factors associated with this moment. (Keep in mind that it takes much longer to tell of it and contemplate it than it did to actually experience it because these thoughts that I will describe came very rapidly.)
Right away I was aware of a presence that came with this buzz. I somehow sensed that this was directly related to the record I was listening to and that it was dark or evil in nature to say the least. But also quite exciting as you might imagine. I very quickly wanted to assess whether to be afraid of this or not and momentarily decided it was not intended to harm me or assault me.
I then became aware of a second and altogether different presence with me. Much closer, now that I think of it, as though more inside of me, whereas the other was external � that told me that I could end this right now by shaking myself out of the trance, turn the record off and flee outside and it would all be gone. There was a very real and starkly contrasting polar opposite in the nature of these two presences. The first was evil and the second was good.
Suddenly, I was standing there aware that I had to make a decision about whether to allow this strange, evil �meeting� to proceed or not.
I considered obeying the �good� presence and doing like He said and just shake myself out of this trance and turn this record off and run outside and I knew it would end. But as soon as I thought about doing that, a contrary thought came that said that if I do that, I might never know what this was all about.
Being more curious than afraid, I decided that to wait just a little bit longer, couldn�t really hurt. Not only was I merely curious, but I was also experiencing a kind of flattery. There was a felt awareness that I was special and privileged to be having this experience at all and that you don�t want to just end something this important before you even know what it is all about.
I decide not to shake myself out of the trance but to see what it was all about and where it was going. The thought of ending the experience and resuming my ordinary, boring life did not appeal to me at that moment, as long as there was no immediate danger to me by allowing this to proceed.
So I just stood there, under the influence of this strange buzz, waiting to see what would happen next. And by doing so, I knew that I was giving my consent for the visitation to continue.
Once I made up my mind to allow it to continue I then saw who had come to visit with me. In my spirit I saw four men that appeared to be in their late 20s or early 30s in age. (I would have been about 15.) They had long hair and were wearing all black clothes and black leather jackets and they looked like a rock band. I now was seeing myself walking with them outside the building that I was standing in. That is to say, I�m still standing there looking down at the ground but I see myself with these four guys walking outside the building and it�s as though I�m really out there walking with them. I guess the best way to describe it is like when you daydream or even really dream, you never leave your seat or bed but you can see yourself anywhere.
Communication was by thought and began with my own question which was not necessarily even directed at them perhaps, but I asked it in my mind nonetheless: �Is this really happening?� To which they replied, �Yes this is really happening, we�re really here.�
They were smiling and seemed pleased with themselves, and pleased with my astonishment. �Are you guys Black Sabbath?� Was my next question.
�No, we�re not Black Sabbath but we are the �power� behind Black Sabbath. They sort of work for us, as do many other bands.�
Only one of the guys really did the talking if you could call it that. The others sort of agreed with whatever he said. It was all done by thought though.
The one who did the talking seemed to be the leader and he had his arm around my shoulder as we walked. When they said that they were the power behind bands like Black Sabbath, I knew then that they were some kind of demon-like beings. Or you might say my suspicions were confirmed. Either demons or fallen angels I do not know which. (I don�t believe that they are synonymous.)
�So what do you guys want with me?� Or in essence, �Why me?� was my next question.
By now I felt that I had been singled out and selected as special by them but could not imagine what about me could have brought this on. I had always considered myself to be quite uninteresting and average at best in most areas. Though I knew that if there was one thing that I might be good at, it would be music. However at this early point in my life it was still mostly merely a futuristic dream. They said, �Well, that�s a common response that we get a lot from others whom we contact, just like you.�
They seemed to want me to understand that my being visited by them was not an isolated incident but that this goes on quite often for people elsewhere as well.
As strange as it may seem, my feeling upon hearing that was �Of course, I knew that.� Then he began to answer my question matter-of-factly by saying, �Well first of all, you believe in us. You know that we exist, whereas a lot of people would think you were nuts if you tried to tell them about us.� And right away, I thought, hmmm, that�s a pretty good point. Then he said, �Second, you are not like your other classmates.� As he said this, we had strolled over toward where there were a number of my fellow students playing a heated game of volleyball. As he spoke he gestured with his hand toward them all and said, �These people aren�t like you at all. They have their lives all planned out. They want to graduate from high school, many plan to go to college, get some stupid job somewhere, eventually get married and have a bunch of kids, blaaaah!� As he said that he put his finger in his mouth as if to mimic making yourself gag � And of course the meaning was that such a life was utterly distasteful to him, as well, he knew, to me also. He said, �That�s the last thing you would ever want to have for your future, and we know that.� Again I realized that he was right on the money. I had always known that it was my destiny to be in a very exciting adventuresome life of music and rock n� roll somehow. So I sort of acknowledged his last point maybe with a nod of recognition, but still wanted more. So then he stopped and looked at me and said, �What�s more, we�ve been watching you and you�re good. Those times alone in your room, when you play guitar or sing like you are performing, we have been there watching and now we are ready to offer you your dream.�
Everything he was saying was making perfect sense and yet I was apprehensive. As though there was some reason that I could not just go along with this but I did not know why.
I suppose it never occurred to me that there were forces like these guys behind music and bands. I just thought that if you were talented and had something to offer and a little luck you could be in the right place at the right time, and you could �make it� in music or entertainment.
I would later learn that they have gone to great lengths to convey just that appearance to the public at large but that nothing could be further from the truth. (Did you know that the word luck comes from the name Lucifer? Just thought I�d mention that).
�There are a couple little things that I need to explain to you before you decide� the leader said. �Okay�� I said waiting and wondering.
�If you choose to go with us, at the end of your life, you will go to hell and not heaven�� You can imagine my response at this bit of news. I was immediately taken aback and they tried to put me at ease by playing down that situation as nothing to worry about. They said, �But hey, hey don�t worry, it�s no big deal, hell is not the bad place you�ve been told about at all. We�re going there and you don�t see us all scared about it do you?� At this they all began to push each other around playfully and were saying, �OOH! I�m so scared aren�t you scared? OH NOOO�!� And then they�d laugh as though it were nothing to be afraid of. They said, �No, it won�t be like you�ve heard at all. It will be a place of honor for you because you�ll be with us and you will still be an important celebrity there just like you will be here when we get you where you are going��
The Power of Deception
Now here�s where I really have to mention something. I could sense that there was tremendous activity going on around me over this situation of my having this choice to make. I knew that my choice was a big deal. I also felt that they were lying to me about hell. This is where this gets scary to me even now. The power of deception and seduction is so very real. Even though I knew that they were most likely lying to me, nevertheless, I felt like I wanted to please them by going along with this idea and adopting it as a belief even though I knew better. Almost as though choosing to believe it could somehow make it true for me. This is where it is like being seduced. I wanted what they were saying to be true. I mean, wouldn�t it be great if you could go off and do your own thing, and have the time of your life being a big star or whatever, and at the end of your life you go on partying and being a big shot even in what is supposed to be your punishment realm? What a great deal! And I�m thinking, what�s not to love?
It�s kind of like a routine I heard comedian George Carlin do once, where he�s talking about how dumb it was when your parents used to send you to your room for a punishment as a kid but you�d just think, �Great, that�s where all my stuff is��
That seduction feeling that was coming over me was almost like a drunken stupor. And although I could still have shaken myself out of it and spoken truth to myself, I was allowing that lie to overtake me for the simple reason that I wanted it to be true. (How stupid.)
At this point, a girl that was playing in the volleyball game came over to where we were standing. She was carrying the ball with her because she was the server for the next point. This caused the whole game to be held up and everyone was watching us. Her name is Helga, and I found out later that she was a Christian, but I didn�t know it then. She seemed to be aware of what was going on with these guys and me. And she said to me, �Barry, what are you doing?� And with a stupid grin on my face and being all under their spell of intoxication of some sort, I said to her, �I think I�m going to go with them��
These four guys were very pleased at this and they led me away from the volleyball game and toward the tall, thick, shady, California Live Oak trees. There seemed to be a sort of dark fog or tunnel forming within these trees. They said that all I had to do to say �yes� to their offer was to walk with them into this tunnel or fog or whatever it was. You couldn�t see anything in it at all. It seemed to have a very black, dark essence to it and was swirling with thick smoke. But as I approached there, I hesitated. I still had another question. I said, �What will this do to my relationship with Jesus? Will I still be able to be friends with Him?� (Today this seems like a dumb question but I was so na�ve I really thought it would be possible.) At this the leader seemed to become concerned and he said, �No, I have to be honest, if you go with us you won�t be able to be friends with Jesus anymore, that will come to an end right here.� When I heard that I said, �I don�t think I want to do it then.� Then the leader became rough with me for the first time. He said, rather excitedly, �Hey, we�re offering you your dream here, what do you think He�s gonna offer you? You think He�s ever gonna let you be a rock star? What�s He ever really done for you anyway that you should be worried about Him��
Now I became somewhat frightened for the first time. And maybe even brought to my senses a bit. As if the stupor suddenly left me and I realized what was happening. And then I felt alienated from them, knowing I don�t belong with them.
I think I felt like a young kid who is being pressured to try drugs or alcohol or stealing or something he knows is wrong for the first time by older kids, who he thinks he wants to fit in with. And when you hesitate, you get the mean treatment.
But also my feeling was that Jesus has always been my friend. He has been very good, loving, kind and concerned for me from as early as I could remember. So how could I turn my back on Him just like that? If that was the choice then no matter what they were offering me, I could not go for it, at least not right now. Not before I could give Jesus a chance to tell me His side of this and maybe see if He had a better offer for my life, before I just give in to these guys.
At this they became like high-pressure salesmen that were losing a sale. In thinking about it now it�s a bit like C. S. Lewis describes in his excellent book �The Screwtape Letters� where these demon spirits are assigned a human �patient� that they have to seduce and destroy. Above them are higher up evil spirits that they answer to that are worse than themselves and they know they will not be dealt with nicely if they fail to deliver the goods. So, in response to my hesitation, they tried a more subtle approach. The leader said, �Look, you don�t really have to decide completely right now. You can just go ahead and try it out for a while. Just go with us right now and see how you like it and then if you are not satisfied, you have plenty of time later, you can always change your mind, and there�d be no hard feelings!�
It did not occur to me until later that there are some very well known rock songs by well-known artists that convey these very kinds of lies in the lyrics. For example the Australian rock super group AC/ DC sings, �Hell, ain�t no bad place to be�, We�ll have ourselves a party just like we used to do� My friends are gonna be there too� Hey Satan, paid my dues, playin� in a rockin� band� I�m on my way to the promised land� I�m on the highway to hell��
Of course I couldn�t have known about that one because at the time AC/DC wasn�t even out yet. But now days there are too many such bands saying the same exact kinds of things to even count them all.� This other one was already out but who knew what these words meant by Led Zeppelin, in �Stairway to Heaven�?
�Yes there are two paths you can go by but in the long run, there�s still time to change the road you�re on��
In the live version from �The Song Remains The Same� album and film, lead singer, Robert Plant adds the words ��I hope so��
It�s not hard to see that these rock stars have most likely been told the very same lies that I was told by these visitors of darkness. Fortunately for me, I didn�t buy it. And I wasn�t about to leave Jesus in favor of them, not at this point anyway. That�s not to say that I had completely made up my mind either way, only that I would not decide right then. So my answer was definitely NO for now.
Right at this point something happened that startled the four guys in black and they took off running into the tunnel without me. I had the feeling that they were given a certain amount of time to make their case to me and that their time was up. Or else just the fact that I was saying �no� was enough for God to send his angels and chase them away for now. It may also be important to note here that the Bible says that God will not allow us to be tempted above what we are able to bear, but will with the temptation provide a way of escape. So they probably had reached that point where any further tempting from them was past that limit. But they were gone very quickly and I was left standing there in that room and came out of the trance just as that same song was finishing up playing. That song is listed on the Black Sabbath, �Sabbath Bloody Sabbath� CD, with a running time of 4:10. So the whole experience lasted four minutes and ten seconds roughly.
I took the needle off the record, turned the stereo off and went outside completely amazed at what I had just gone through. I never told anyone about it for a long, long time because, like they told me, I knew no one would believe it.
Sent in by Barry Amundsen, Copyright 2010