Justin Pearson has a lot of irons in the hellfire. If he isn’t playing with any number of his musical projects - The Locust, Dead Cross, Planet B, Retox and others, he’s tirelessly working behind the scenes as founder of Three One G, an aggressively independent record label dedicated to bringing bands to the masses that would otherwise have fallen through the cracks of genre-definition. Us lazy critics love to give fringe bands clever labels to give the lazy reader a rudimentary understanding of what to expect before listening, but to do so with a project like Satanic Planet would be do it a disservice.
Satanic Planet is the design of Pearson, Luke Henshaw of Planet B, Dave Lombardo of hell, pretty much everyone, and Lucien Greaves, co-founder of The Satanic Temple. For those unfamiliar, The Satanic Temple isn’t a band, it’s a nontheistic religion with a focus on dispelling oppressive Christian societal ideals and the true separation of church and state. I would implore you to watch the brilliant documentary Hail Satan? for a better understanding of TST than my monosyllabic ass can provide.
One would think that these artists coming together atop a programmed electronic foundation would create a chaotic maelstrom of sound, but instead delivers more of a declaration of controlled chaos that makes for one unique listen.
Take opening tune “Baphomet”, for example. It distills almost in an overture fashion the journey you’re about to undertake with the rest of the album. Greaves providing distorted, disembodied canticles accompanied by primal beats and effects with a top layer of otherworldly shrieking by Pearson.
“Grey Faction” takes us on a passage through the horrors of the ISSTD - a snake-oil society dedicated to the “study” of repressed-memory trauma therapy, like the abhorrent propaganda piece “Michelle Remembers” that’s since been wholly discredited. In other words, this was the catalyst of the whole Satanic Panic hysteria of the late 80s. Which let’s face it, has also been rebooted in recent years thanks to the GOP suckling at the teat of Christian conservatism. Other black turns of mind can be found in tracks like “Unbaptism” and “Invocation”, furthering our decent into the infernal. Also providing vocals are the likes of Cattle Decapitation’s Travis Ryan and Jung Sing from Silent.
So where does drummer-extraordinaire Lombardo (Slayer, Philm, Fantômas, Suicidal Tendencies, Misfits) fit in to all this? Turns out not behind the drum kit at all, but from the control room of the studio, as co-producer with Henshaw.
Look, Satanic Planet isn’t for everyone. You need to be actively seeking out a dark deviation from the norm to truly appreciate what’s going on here. But for anyone who’s ever seen Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights and wondered what the last panel would sound like in aural form, then this is the album for you.