Pennsylvania Practitioners of The Dark Art: With Infernal Majesty – None Shall Defy
None Shall Defy!!! The mighty and often underrated album of all Metal and darkness. The year was 1987 when this was spawned upon the masses. Unfortunately, it never had any kind of proper promotion or recognition as did other important metal/ Thrash albums released that year (Anthrax/Dio/Black Sabbath/Metallica/Ozzy/Voivod/Exodus/Suicidal Tendencies/Twisted Sister/etc.). My favorite KEY albums that year included legendary dark releases like Possessed The Eyes of Horror, Death Scream Bloody Gore, Kreator Terrible Certainty, Venom Calm Before The Storm, Bathory Under The Sign Of The Black Mark, King Diamond Abigil – and so many more that I could go on and on and on. My favorite two releases were Napalm Death Scum and Infernal Majesty None Shall Defy. I am sure many of you are saying, but Paul, what about Saint Vitus, Savatage, Nasty Savage, DRI, Pentagram, Coroner, etc???? Well, you’re right, they had landmark albums that year too, but I am trying not to focus on 1987 at the moment (even though arguably one of the best early years for extreme music). This is about Infernal Majesty as my soundtrack to Pennsylvania Dutch Folk Magic, witchcraft, black magic, and Hexerei. (For reference, Hexerei is dark magic – Powwowing is positive magic).
Infernal Majesty’s masterpiece None Shall Defy. I randomly bought this in a Camelot music store because of the cover art and song titles. The album name alone says evil in a subtle but obvious way. When I read song titles like “Overlord,” Anthology of Death,” and “Path of the Psycho,” I had to buy it! The first listen through I really was put into trance of darkness. I left reality of this world and felt as though I was in a world of darkness. By Track 3, “Night of The Living Dead,” I was hooked, then suddenly as the song continued the vocals doubled on to the line “They Will March for Satan” and it continued in the verse. I felt a little uneasy. realizing they were truly about the darkness through and through (on this album anyway). And people were calling Slayer evil and Satanic at that time? Obviously, None Shall Defy stepped up that game! Every song on this album is crushing, evil, dirty, dark, and yet musically varied. The solos on the album are evil, not about fancy work or noise, very complex and truly written from darkness with great skill. The most eerie and evil of songs, almost ever, is on this album. Anyone who listens to “Path of The Psycho” will either feel uneasy or quite at home. Truly a dark piece of evil, musically not metal focused, just a sick, dark, piece of genius composition that is basically just bass and some vocals with the lyrics whispering “Satan” slowly before breaking into the lyrics “Lead Us into Hell” and some chants. When I stepped up my technology game I got it on CD and just had that track on repeat for hours; seriously disturbing, yet I found peace in it.
At this time, hopefully, you are listening to Infernal Majesty None Shall Defy and are feeling the vibe I feel when I think about the early Pennsylvania days of Witchcraft (minus the Satanic tones – just the eerie feelings) and the way the times were then and how it felt to live in that time of Pennsylvania and how important Witches once were to the community when there was nowhere else to go for answers. If you have listened to the album many times before you understand. The Album eventually picked up steam years and years later and was released in many formats under many labels with popular bands covering tracks off the album in homage to the greatness. If you haven’t heard it or have only heard via digital platforms, well, as always, I recommend going out and getting it on cassette or vinyl – still truly the proper way to listen to music created before digital became such a popular platform.
For those outside of the area, you may or may not be familiar with the River Witch of Marietta. Marietta is a small town in South Central, PA, another place that doesn’t embrace all its history but boasts of being home to the likes of some questionable Government officials and a few Trendy Taverns. The River Witch played a crucial part in quite the murder had taken place back in 1928 at what is now called or known under the family-friendly name of Spring Valley County Park. Past names were Rehmeyer’s Hollow and Hex Hollow, which again, like in all dark and true things, became no longer acceptable for a community by today’s standards (sarcastic statement). There isn’t nearly as much knowledge about Nellie Noll (AKA the River Witch Of Marietta) available, other than some people you talk to that have stories handed down through generations. But what she is known for, all the glory goes to John Blymire (The Murderer) and Nelson Rehmeyer (the murdered one), and a few teenagers. The River Witch’s connection to the murder of Nelson was that she apparently told John Blymire he was suffering from a hex, and the only way to fix things was to go get a lock of Rehmeyer’s hair and bury it 6 feet deep, and then burn his copy of the braucherei (pow-wow spell book). Well, it went in another sinister direction. Because of the involvement of witchcraft and black magic, it became a media frenzy in newspapers worldwide, which made it quite a popular murder in history. Many have written about it, and even a semi-mainstream movie/documentary was made about it. Today, I’m not writing about that, but I may visit the house again and share my thoughts and facts on that in a few weeks – but for now I’m here talking about the role witchcraft played in early American culture in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Dutch Folk Magic in the early days was serious. Mostly for the Religious Righteous, but people then were very superstitious. They believed in powwow healing, and though witchcraft was frowned upon and considered evil, people always went to witches for healing and fixes in life. As in the murder of Nelson, John was simply having a hard time in life and it is said that his crops weren’t producing, so he, as with many Americans in the area turned to witches. John went to a few before taking the advice of the River Witch of Marietta. Back then, people were fearful of Black magic and witchcraft. If anything strange or sinister happened, it was of course Black magic or witchcraft. The witches were stars in many ways, both good and bad. Oftentimes, a braucher or powwower used touch and incantations to heal sick people and animals. If a cow wasn’t producing a good amount of milk per se, there must be a hex that the witches either caused, or only the witches would know how to break.
Some would be known as practitioners of a dark art known in Pennsylvania Dutch country as Hexerei. They would believe spells and black magic were used to put curses on people and things. People lived in fear of witches and black magic unless they needed help or were desperate. People felt if the witches’ eyes looked them dead in the eyes, for just a second, that’s the way the spell was made. Some people would claim they couldn’t eat, sleep, or function normally at all. It often led to the torture and murder of the innocent, much like today, just out of paranoia. In one Pennsylvania case, a man claimed that after eye contact with a witch, an occult creature in the form of a cat would tear and claw at him when he slept. He ended up shooting his neighbor with homemade special witch-killing ammo and killing her. He claimed he immediately felt better and felt like an entirely new person – he said he was healed of everything negative. Eventually, he was said to have had schizophrenia, and as he was treated and got older, he lost his belief in witchcraft and said he was sorry for killing the poor woman.
I visited what I believed to be (and was told to be) The River Witch of Marietta’s home, and walked around town and snapped a picture down the street from the house at the Railroad House Inn… I have to admit, the town itself has that eerie early 1900’s feel to it. Not that I know it or have lived it, but as I envision it was. The buildings and houses probably haven’t changed much, other than the more historic ones that are now taverns or some sort of business. Looking away from the house of the River Witch, I can surely see nothing has probably changed in that corner area of Marietta – no new buildings or anything, just a set of railroad tracks blocking the view of the river. Pictures from the 1900’s I have seen are vivid as reality while I am here; the musky smell of the air puts all the history in perspective. As I listen to Infernal Majesty’s “Anthology of Death” it gives me the feel of a killer in the area that has taken over the body of someone today.
The righteousness of a thousand priests could not condemn his soul, and bind it to his rotting corpse so his spirit starts to roam, through the black of night on the wings of death, in search of a body he will possess. His evil lives on terror reigns again. Fear of violent death fills the hearts of men. Can it still be him after all these years? Shadow of death reliving his moment of glory.
I’m sure there are still many practicing the same type of witchcraft and have the same beliefs today in my area. My current self-assigned goal is to do more research on the history of those times and how relevant they are today to some, and to follow up on this later. There is so much involved, it’s hard to even scratch the surface, but wanted to give you something to ponder on for further writings that will be shared later.
Knowledgeable on the history of the contents of this? Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love more information and opinions on it. Maybe I’ll work it into the follow up sometime in the future…