Satanic Messiah 1 2

Cover of Satanic Messiah Back of Satanic Messiah

Released: 2008
Label: Cadmean Dawn

Liner notes


we will come to know our shapes 3


"There would be no inner shrine for the priests to go into alone and attend the image of the god in his 'House of Flame.' 4 No darkness, no mystery, no separating the people from their god."

Winifred HOLMES, She Was Queen of Egypt, London, 1959 5


All files are available at no cost to the listener; you need not give us your email address or anything. Donations, however, are greatly appreciated, and, lest there be any question, are earnestly desired; neither the recording nor the mastering were free, and this site exists as something of an experiment. If you choose to accept these songs, please stop by the collection plate and sow your faith-seed, which, like a grain of mustard, et cetera. 6

Table of contents

  1. Sarcofago Live
  2. Wizard Buys a Hat
  3. Satanic Messiah
  4. Gojam Province 1968

Satanic Messiah 7 8

I saw the posters popping up around the city
Pale blue and washed-out red
I went down to the arena, pushing through
Hoping I'd run into you
Sweet freshly-scrubbed smell of the crowd
All the excitement in their eyes
We were all made young when he stepped onto the stage
Like an animal escaping from his cage
Raise the trumpet
Sound the drum
He whom the prophet spoke of long ago has come

All of us too dazed to leave when it was over
Dawdled by the vendors for a minute
Gathered underneath a summer sky
I was hoping you'd pass by
But though I didn't see you that day or the next
I'm pretty sure that you were there
Making your way among the young and happy horde
Headed down to your reward
Raise the trumpet
Sound the drum
He whom the prophet spoke of long ago has come

Wizard Buys a Hat 9

Shuffled up 6th Street 10 in the rain
Kept my head down as I looked past the people
And in the department store
I found what I was looking for
This is the church, this is the crucible

They come out to Broadway 10 and they look for me
I'm on the red steps smoking a cigarette
Easy to recognize
Black bandages on my eyes
This is the church, these are the congregants

Sun sets on the broad square and lights come up
Feel like this town's gonna put a quick end to me
But if I came here to drown
I'm gonna take a few people down
This is the church, occupied by the enemy

Sarcofago Live 11

We were hungry, there was no food
We were restless, there were too many things to do
So we gathered in a concrete room
Eyes up at you

And in a small room in Brazil, we were waiting
And in a small room in Brazil, we were waiting

We were howling like dogs
We were feeling the full brunt of the age
Guys from our neighborhood looking down at us
All of you, all of you, rage, rage, rage

And in a small room in Brazil, we were waiting
And in a small room in Brazil, we were waiting

Gojam Province 1968 12 13

Running like a band of angry schoolboys
Up and down the well-lit streets today
Bashing in the heads of tax collectors
And anybody else who's in our way

Bathing in the sunlight that's our birthright
Waiting for someone to set the scene
Last time he came to town, a few stray coins came raining down 14
We scrambled in the dirt for them, like ants around the queen

We take aim at the dawning day, and we shoot
Starving to death, starving to death, for the low-hanging fruit

Then all at once here comes the motorcade
Slow and steady down the beaten track
And as we're bashing out the windows of the limo
We notice there's nobody in the back

And the helicopter lands atop the palace
The royal guard assembles at the gate 15
The country's gonna burn, and we'll still have to wait our turn
Last among contenders of the super-featherweights 16

We take aim at the dawning day, and we shoot
Starving to death, starving to death, for the low-hanging fruit


Thanks also to Caliclimber, whose Flickr page is the chalice to which others are compared.

  1. Satanic Messiah, Nall, retrieved April 13, 2014.


  1. Released in an extremely limited run of 666 vinyl pressings, which were only sold at live shows, and available for download online for free, although with a requested donation of either $3.00, $6.66, or $10.00 (the congregant, devotee, and acolyte levels). The site was taken down sometime in 2010.

    John discussed the release in two news posts, the latter of which is excerpted here (but both of which are worth reading):

    Four songs I recorded by myself with Scott Solter in Monroe, North Carolina, are now available for download here. The songs will also be available as a limited edition double-7" in a gatefold hi-gloss sleeve, etc., but when I say "limited," I mean it, so please don't hold out for the vinyl; only 665 people will get a copy. (I will be the 666th.) An option to pay me for my work is available at the linked site, but is by no means a requirement prior to download, as that would be weasel business. You do what you feel. I hope you like these songs; I am fond of them; they remind me of old vanished things. They're yours now! Share as you see fit, but if you wanna point people at the donation pages, I would appreciate that; there's an .rtf file included in the .zip file that encloses the songs, so if you just share the whole thing zipped, you won't need to do any why-don't-you-donate evangelization yourself. But don't let me stop you! The evangelical urge must go forth unchecked if the Word is to be spread far and wide.

    Mountain Goats news. Re: San Francisco; Shows; Satanic Messiah; The Satanic Messiah EP, August 25, 2008; October 9, 2008, retrieved April 27, 2014. 

  2. Satanic Messiah and its liner notes are part of the informal series of Biblical references

  3. A remarkable similar line to those in 1 Samuel 15:23 and Proverbs 6:27, however, I'm unaware of a source for them. If you know, please drop me a line.

    AKM Adam, theologian and scholar who has written about the Mountain Goats, has this to say about these lines:

    this corresponds to a great extent to John's recurrent allusions to 1 Cor 13:12, though there's obviously a certain difference (or you'd have made the connection explicit). There's no consistent connection between a Greek word and the English gloss "shape", so the reference is harder to track down. HCSB apparently doesn't use "shape" at all in its New Testament (and none of the OT usages seem to fit Darnielle's usage). Among the candidates in Greek, I'd think first of eikôn (image), then homoiôma (likeness), morphê (form), schêma (form), eidos (form, appearance), but none of these seems just right. Interestingly, though, eidos is what Paul uses in 2 Cor 5:7 when he says "we walk by faith, not by sight (dia eidous)." If that's the clue (and it's tenuous), it would connect us again to the eschatological hope of true seeing, possibly connecting to 1 John 3:2, "...what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is." And, of course, the transformation motif John alludes to in Phil 3:20-21.

    While Adventists might connect Sunday worship with the Book of Daniel, there's still no conventional phrase "the sign of Daniel" for which one might look. The closest candidate, to my mind, would be the revelation of the Son of Man in Daniel 7:

    "As I watched in the night visions,
    I saw one like a human being [Son of Man]
    coming with the clouds of heaven.
    And he came to the Ancient One
    and was presented before him.
    To him was given dominion
    and glory and kingship,
    that all peoples, nations, and languages
    should serve him.
    His dominion is an everlasting dominion
    that shall not pass away,
    and his kingship is one
    that shall never be destroyed. "

    Even then, there's no "sign" one might recognise. That's the case also, though, for "the sign of Jonah", about which I wrote my first published article, so it probably doesn't make a big difference. If it's not the handwriting on the wall, then Daniel himself might be the sign: the prophet in a foreign country, making his way as best he can, trying to keep faith under hostile circumstances.

    AKM Adam, personal correspondence, April 10, 2016. 

  4. Egyptian temples were structured in two parts, one being the Great House and the other being the House of Flame, with the House of Flame occupying the holiest spot. Several prayers mention the House of Flame.

    le Page Renouf, Peter and Naville, Édouard (1904). The Egyptian Book of the Dead. London: The Society of Biblical Archaeology. Archived by the Internet Archive, retrieved April 28, 2014.

    Massey, Gerald (1907). Ancient Egypt: The Light of the World (Volume 1). London: T. Fisher Unwin. 

  5. I have found relatively little information about Winifred Holmes, however, according to a blog post on Bear Alley Book's site, she was an interesting woman who wrote a number of books, directed several films, and worked internationally for the Women's Council. She Was Queen of Egypt purportedly describes the lives of four Egyptian queens: Hatshepsut, Nefertiti, Cleopatra, and Shagaret el Dor, however, I have been unable to find a copy.

    Holmes, Winifred (1959). She Was Queen of Egypt. London: G. Bell & Sons. 

  6. A reference to the Parable of the Mustard Seed, a Biblical parable of Jesus told in the Synoptic Gospels. The parable illustrates that God's Kingdom becomes great from small things: "He presented another parable to them: 'The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It's the smallest of all the seeds, but when grown, it's taller than the vegetables and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the sky come and nest in its branches.”

    Matthew 13:31 – 32, Holman Christian Standard Bible, retrieved April 28, 2014. 

  7. It's unknown who this describes, if anyone. Given the proximity of the American presidential elections to the release date of this record and the similarity of the colors mentioned to those of Shepard Fairey's famous HOPE poster, it was hypothesized that it was about Obama, which John has definitively refuted:

    ok I really REALLY hate having to do this because it's not my style to join in interpretive discussions of my lyrics, I think it's in poor form to do so, but I simply must say that the song has nothing to do with Senator Obama, who is hardly the first person in history to be so charismatic as to seem messianic, nor with Senator McCain, whose charisma hardly resembles that of the song's protagonist

    red and blue are common colors for posters everywhere

    can't really tell where people are getting the notion that the protagonist is necessarily a political figure rather than a religious leader, motivational speaker, etc

    that's enough outta me but please, be advised that I got better stuff to write about than electoral politics, I said all I had to say on that subject in the song public radio commissioned me to write


    Of course there's nothing wrong with people giving readings, if I weigh in it's not to say "stop, here's the answer" - except that, you know, ideas are viral, and with an idea like "John wrote a song comparing Obama to the Antichrist" I'd rather just squash that concept before it gets any traction. People are free to say anything they like, just as I'm free to give my reading, which, pace Barthes, is probably gonna come with an extra bit of authority. Take that, dead French guy!

    Mountain Goats fourms. Thread about actual songs on Satanic Messiah; (2). October 17, 2008; October 18, 2008, retrieved April 28, 2014. 

  8. Satanic Messiah is part of the informal series of Biblical references

  9. Wizard Buys a Hat is part of the informal series of Biblical references

  10. Given the street names of 6th Street and Broadway, the most obvious major city this could be in is Manhattan, New York City. However, these are common street names, and this could be in another town.  2

  11. Sarcófago, meaning Sarcophagus, was a prominent Brazilian black metal band in the 1980s through early 2000s. 

  12. Gojjam was a province in northwestern Ethiopia (now the zones of Mirab Gojjam and Misraq Gojjam in the Amhara Region). However, the spelling of Gojam is used in places. 

  13. As of the 1960s, farming in Gojam was practiced communally, making tax assessments difficult and rarely performed. As the government wanted to collect taxes, they attempted to assess the value of the land in 1967. Gojamie farmers recognized that as the government used taxation to determine ownership of land, accepting a single payer of taxes for a parcel of land would lead toward the destruction of communal farming. As the government refused to communicate with them, they resisted, ultimately with violence, leading to deaths on both sides and more as the army became involved. Farmers marched into Debre Marqos, the Gojam capital, demanding a stop and threatening terrorist actions, leading to more military involvement. Rebellion continued from 1968 through 1969, ultimately ending when the government ceased taxation. Troops remained in Gojam as of 1970.

    Schwab, Peter (1970). Rebellion in Gojam Province, Ethiopia. Canadian Journal of African Studies, 4(2), 249 – 256. 

  14. Given the regal description in this and later stanzas, my best guess is that this refers to either Emperor Haile Selassie I, then leader of Ethiopia, or Dejazmach Tsehai Inqu Selassie, the loathed governor of Gojam. If this is intended to describe Emperor Haile Selassie, this would lend an additional level of appropriateness to the EP, as Selassie is revered as the messiah or as God incarnate by Rastafarians.

    Schwab, Peter (1970). Rebellion in Gojam Province, Ethiopia. Canadian Journal of African Studies, 4(2), 249 – 256. 

  15. Potentially a description of the Gojamie march and protest at the capital of Gojam mentioned above

  16. In boxing, the super featherweight weight class is one of the lighter divisions, with boxers weighing under 130 pounds.