Review: ‘American Satan’ Brings Dark Side of Rock Stardom to Light

SUMERIAN FILMS | Photo Courtesy

Produced by Sumerian Films (of Sumerian Records), “American Satan” tells the dramatic story of a rock band on the rise and proves that, sometimes, you can get by with a little more than just “help from your friends.”

The idea of rock ‘n’ roll as “the devil’s music” is nothing new. Since the very beginning, staunch religious groups have vehemently denounced the loud, assertive music. Instead of fighting the idea, many bands embraced the association. Albums with titles such as, “Their Satanic Majesty’s Request,” “The Number of the Beast” and “The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser,” are only a very small sample. Songs such as, “Sympathy for the Devil,” “Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be” and Van Halen’s hit “Running With the Devil,” are further examples of rockers adopting the role of hellion.

When my mom was attending high school during the late ’80s, the school went so far as to ban AC/DC music and apparel. Why, you might ask? Apparently a rumor that the band’s name stood for “Anti Christ Demon Child” gained traction among concerned parents. For those who are unaware, the story behind the band’s name is much more mundane. The name AC/DC was decided on after Angus and Malcolm Young’s sister Margaret discovered the label on her sewing machine. All AC/DC is meant to connote is “alternating current/direct current.” As in electricity. Nothing else.

In contrast, “American Satan” takes viewers into an alternate reality where the devil really does play a hand in the fame of the largest rock bands in history.

The Relentless is the fictional band of the movie and is comprised of members from the U.K. and U.S. who drop out of college to make it big in Los Angeles, California. Andy Biersack of the Black Veil Brides plays frontman Johnny Faust. For the songs’ vocals however, Remington Leith of Palaye Royale lends his voice to the cause. Other bandmates include Booboo Stewart (“The Twilight Saga”) as rhythm guitarist Vic Lakota, Ben Bruce (Asking Alexandria) as the band’s lead guitarist Leo Donovan, Sebastian Gregory as drummer Dylan James and Jesse Sullivan as female bass player Lily Mayflower.

The band begins hopeful and naive with Leo’s friend and inexperienced band manager Ricky Rollins (John Bradley). After their hard work ends with their Whisky a Go-Go gig being sabotaged by a rival band, Damien’s Inferno (led by Drake Bell’s character Damien), the band is dangerously desperate.

Enter Mr. Capricorn (Malcolm McDowell) and an enticing deal. The intense and ominous old man promises fame and fortune in return for some “publicity” through their songs … and a human sacrifice, of course.

How does Mr. Capricorn, aka Lucifer, convince the band of his abilities? By citing actual facts. For example, Capricorn claims he helped Apple take over the tech world, citing the price of the Apple I as $666.66 (which is true). He adds that the iconography of Apple is symbolic of the forbidden fruit with a bite taken out of it. Intriguing, no? He also calls to attention Topeka, Kansas and its zip code of 666 later in the film. Iron Maiden, Led Zeppelin, even Jay Z and Kanye West are listed as part of his elite clientele.

What you see through the course of the movie is the emergence of more of rock ‘n’ roll fame’s dark realities. After all, there is a reason for the phrase “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.” And oh boy is there a lot of all three in ‘”American Satan.” Acid, cocaine, heroin and an endless revolving door of women is all part of The Relentless’ rock ‘n’ roll journey through Hell.

I really can’t say too much more without giving away the ending. Let’s just say this is a must watch as much for its psychological elements as it is for its soundtrack. Just maybe not at your grandma’s house or in front of children under 18.

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