How Did STYX End Up Being Accused Of Having Hidden Messages In Its Songs? JAMES 'J.Y.' YOUNG Explains

December 5, 2023

In a new interview with Ethan Dometrius of the 107.3 The Eagle radio station, STYX guitarist James "J.Y." Young spoke about how claims were made by anti-rock-music activists during the early 1980s that the STYX song "Snowblind"'s lyrics were Satanic and contained hidden backwards messages. The line "I try so hard to make it so" when played in reverse was alleged to be "Satan moves through our voices". Aural inspection however suggests that any resemblance the line's reversed phonemes had to this phrase was slight and most certainly coincidental. The protestors used "Snowblind" as one of several examples of rock songs that they claimed contained hidden Satanic phrases, and they lobbied the Arkansas State Senate for laws to require warning labels on records containing such messages. Later the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) and leader Tipper Gore condemned the song as "Satanistic".

Young said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "We got pushed in there because Styx, in Greek mythology, is the river that runs through Hades, so were we devil worshippers? I think that in some of the far right wing mindset, that kind of pasted us there. But we have so many uplifting songs, how anyone could have accused us of that seems a little crazy to me. But someone was on a rampage, and then it made news, headlines for a brief period of time, and then it's been gone ever since."

Back in 1982, Young dismissed the idea of secret backward recordings on rock albums, calling it "a hoax."

"The whole idea of backward satanic messages is just a bunch of rubbish," Young said. "At least in relation to STYX — we have never done anything with satanic messages."

Other members of STYX also spoke out in response to these accusations and dismissed them as far-fetched. In fact, vocalist Dennis DeYoung went as far as to say, "We have enough trouble making these records sound right forward. People have nothing better to do. It's the name STYX. Can you imagine attacking the guys who made 'Babe'? I mean, please."

In February 1983, the Arkansas State Senate passed a bill requiring that all records containing backward masking be labeled as such by the manufacturer. Cited in the legislation were albums by THE BEATLES, PINK FLOYD, ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA, QUEEN and STYX.

In response to charges of Satanism, STYX's 1983 album "Kilroy Was Here" included the James Young-penned song "Heavy Metal Poisoning", which used backward masking on purpose: a cryptic-sounding Latin message, "annuit coeptis novus ordo seclorum," which happens to be the inscription on the Great Seal of the United States.

STYX's latest album, "Crash Of The Crown", was released in June 2021 on the band's label Alpha Dog 2T/UMe.

Along with Young, STYX's lineup includes Tommy Shaw (vocals, guitars),Lawrence Gowan (vocals, keyboards),Todd Sucherman (drums) and Ricky Phillips (bass).

"Crash Of The Crown" includes an appearance by original STYX bassist Chuck Panozzo, twin brother of the late STYX drummer John Panozzo who passed in 1996.

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