No reason to beat around the burning bush: people are fascinated by Satan. Some love to hate Mr. 666, others straight-up love the infernal homeslice. The canon of Western literature is replete with works featuring the devil and his demons. Then you've got your Satanic metal bands, which span a number of subgenres. Black Sabbath's music had devilish themes, as did that of post-Sabbath doom pioneers like Pentagram. Even proto-metal groups like Coven and Led Zeppelin dabbled in the occult.
Yet classic and psychedelic rock and metal is child's play compared to the savage assault and pitch-black lyrics of black, death, and blackened death metal. The members of bands like Mayhem, Burzum, Gorgoroth, and Empire have committed crimes in the name of black metal, Satan, and the occult ranging from murder to kidnapping, torture, and the burning of centuries-old churches (most black metal musicians, it should be noted, are peaceful people who just want to rock out). When asked about the foundational philosophy of his band's music, former Gorgoroth frontman Gaahl replied "Satan." The members of these bands were reacting against the imposition of Christianity on their culture, which was in part destroyed by monotheism.
Enter the Beasts of Satan, a group of Italian metal devotees who discovered Satan and the occult through music and took things way too far, committing heinous crimes in the name of the Dark Lord. Facts about the Beasts of Satan take you back to the 1990s, to a town outside Milan, Italy, where a group of young men and their girlfriends formed a black or death metal band (media reports are unclear on which it was, in part because the band never released any recorded material). The band's name? The Beasts of Satan.
The band was associated with a sect of Satanism that made up its own demented occult rituals rooted heavily in drug use, which resulted in the brutal murders of at least three people. Beasts of Satan stories may seem like a demented real-life take on dark teen movies like The Lost Boys, but they are very true, and all the more terrifying for it. If you're curious how the Beasts of Satan killed, or went from being metalheads to murdering their best friends, or are looking for details of ritual murders committed by Beasts of Satan, sally forth. But be forewarned: media reports were filtered through many channels and mostly translated from Italian, resulting in some fuzzy, contradictory, and confusing details.
Chiara Marino, 19, and Fabio Tollis, 16, had no idea what they were getting into when they left the heavy metal bar Midnight Pub and went off into the woods with friends Andrea Volpe, Nicola Sappone, and Mario Maccione on January 17, 1998. All five were involved in the underground metal scene around Milan, Italy, and had gotten heavily invested in Satanism and the occult through lyrical themes prominent in black and death metal. Tollis, who was dating Marino, played in a death metal band with some of the others; you can hear Ferocity, for which Maccione contributed guitar and vocals, here.
On account of their interest in the occult and Satan, the friends belonged to a sect of Satanism called Beasts of Satan, which may or may not have extended beyond a small group of eight or so friends (media coverage in strictly Catholic Italy was predictably hysterical and prone to invention and hyperbole, so it's hard to tell what this sect actually constituted). Volpe, Sappone, and Maccione were also members of a band called Beasts of Satan, which revolved around the Satanic sect. They dabbled in a hodgepodge of occult rites and beliefs with Satan at the center; their brand of Satanism was a far cry from established religious and philosophical Satanism such as of The Church of Satan or the Satanic Temple.
On that fateful night in January '98, Marino and Tollis were murdered in what has been described as a "drug-fueled Satanic ritual in woods near Somma Lombardo, northwest of Milan." Marino was stabbed in the heart and Tollis bludgeoned with a hammer when he tried to protect her; he was then gagged and had his throat slit. The Italian media dubbed the crime "an orgy of violence."
The evening ended with Marino and Tollis being dumped in a pit, which Volpe, Sappone, Maccione, and other members of the Beasts of Satan filled with dirt and urinated on. According to Volpe, one member of the group danced on the grave while shouting "Zombies, now you're only zombies."
The Beasts of Satan quietly subsisted for six years after the murders of Marino and Tollis before killing again on January 24, 2004. Andrea Volpe and his girlfriend Elizabeth Ballarin lured Volpe's ex, Mariangela Pezzota, 27 at the time, to a remote location with the promise of a meal. Volpe believed she knew too much about the deaths of Mariano and Tollis and might go to the police.
Volpe, who was high on a mixture of cocaine and heroin (as was Ballarin), shot Pezzota in the face after an argument erupted while they were drinking champagne. She didn't die from the gunshot, so Volpe they called Sappone for assistance. He arrived, reprimanded Volpe for being an inept murderer, and helped him bury Pezzota alive after carting her away from the scene of the crime.
After disposing of Pezzota, Volpe and Ballarin, the latter of whom was 18 at the time, decided to get rid of Pezzota's car by sinking it in the Ticino river. On their way to doing so, Ballarin, who was driving Pezzota's car, crashed. Volpe, who was following in his car, came to her aid. Police then showed up and took them both to the hospital after realizing they were out of their minds on drugs. While under observation and still high, Ballarin muttered various things that led police to Pezzota's body the next morning.
While most accounts of Pezzotta's killing note she was buried alive, at least two - one in the Los Angeles Times, another in the Independent - state Sapone killed her with a shovel upon discovering she was still alive. According to the Independent, Sapone shouted "This is disgusting you don't even know how to kill someone" at Volpe before killing Pezzotta.
Beasts of Satan drummer Andrea Bontade, who refused to take part in the murders of Tollis and Mariano, died after crashing a car into a wall at high speeds in 1998. He was drunk, and maybe high, at the time. According to the BBC, Bontade was "terrorized into committing suicide" by the other members of Beasts of Satan. Other reports suggest he was drugged by members of the band/cult and forced to commit suicide. When arrested, members of the group were tried for three murders - Mariano, Tollis, and Pezzotta - and one forced suicide.
According to trial testimony, Chiara Marino, one of the first murder victims of the Beasts of Satan, was chosen for a ritual killing because she personified the Virgin Mary to the members of the group. Perhaps ironically, Marino's bedroom was supposedly found filled with Satanic literature and paraphernalia.