Friday, January 16, 2009

Mythology in Music: Avenged Sevenfold’s “Beast and the Harlot”

California based rock band Avenged Sevenfold are known for their biblical reference laden lyrics. Even their band’s name is a direct reference to the tale of Cain and Able, where God pronounces that whoever slays Cain will have vengeance poured out upon them “sevenfold” (Gen. 4:15).

Their hit single “Beast and the Harlot” off their sophomore album City of Evil (2005) is a particularly notable example as it is a retelling of the story of the Whore of Babylon from the Book of Revelation (Chapter 17). In Revelation the Whore of Babylon is a key player in the apocalyptic events that are described as unfolding at the end of time. She is imagined as being “clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her fornication” while astride “a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names” and with “seven heads and ten horns.” She will seduce the kings of the earth and will drink “the blood of the saints and the blood of the witnesses to Jesus.” Some scholars have interpreted the Whore of Babylon as an anti-Virgin Mary, the mother of the Antichrist, and wife of the devil.

In the accompanying music video the Whore of Babylon is depicted as a sexual seductress, the black tar symbolizing sin is taken from Dante’s Inferno.

This shining city built of gold, a far cry from innocence,
There's more than meets the eye round here, look to the waters of the deep.
A city of evil.
There sat a seven-headed beast, ten horns raised from his head.
Symbolic woman sits on his throne, but hatred strips her and leaves her naked.
The Beast and the Harlot.

She's a dwelling place for demons.
She's a cage for every unclean spirit,
every filthy bird and makes us drink the poisoned wine to fornicating with our kings.
Fallen now is Babylon the Great.

The city dressed in jewels and gold, fine linen, myrrh and pearls.
Her plagues will come all at once as her mourners watch her burn.
Destroyed in an hour.
Merchants and captains of the world, sailors, navigators too.
Will weep and mourn this loss with her sins piled to the sky,
The Beast and the Harlot.

She's a dwelling place for demons.
She's a cage for every unclean spirit,
every filthy bird and makes us drink the poisoned wine to fornicating with our kings.
Fallen now is Babylon the Great.

The day has come for all us sinners.
If you’re not a servant, you’ll be struck to the ground.
Flee the burning, greedy city.
Lookin’ back on her to see there's nothing around.

I don’t believe in fairytales and no one wants to go to hell.
You've made the wrong decision and it's easy to see.
Now if you wanna serve above or be a king below with us,
You're welcome to the city where your future is set forever.

She’s a dwelling place for demons.
She’s a cage for every unclean spirit,
every filthy bird and makes us drink the poisoned wine to fornicating with our kings.
Fallen now is Babylon the Great.[x2]

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