Decibel’s Papal Playlist

Photo by Raymond Ahner
Photo by Raymond Ahner

Pope Francis recently finished up a whirlwind tour of the United States. Thank you, drive thru! His first stop was our home city of Philadelphia. Fortunately, our managing editor was so wrapped up in the Mets’ successful postseason quest that he didn’t complain about the traffic.

Metal and punk, however, have never had good things to say about the Pope. Considering that almost every story on the Pope’s visit was a fluffy feel good feature (with the exception of his visit with gay-hating Kentucky court clerk Kim Davis) we decided to go through extreme music’s vaults and find the most significant songs — or mentions — about the Pope. We definitely didn’t get all of them so we invite you to share your best Pope tracks below or on Facebook. 

 Black Sabbath “After Forever” from Master Of Reality (1974): 

“Would you like to see the Pope on the end of a rope/do you think he’s a fool?” Ozzy asks in this classic Sabbath track. Geezer Butler revealed the back story in our doom special late last year; “After Forever” was about the conflict in Northern Ireland between Protestants and Catholics. So anyone who thought this was straight Pope bashing was a bit off-base. 

The Damned “Anti-Pope” from Machine Gun Etiquette (1979): 

This scorching number comes from The Damned’s peerless punk masterpiece.  It’s partially autobiographical; the narrator admits to stealing church donations. The anti-religious sentiment is strong with this one. “Religion doesn’t mean a thing/It’s just another way of being right wing/I think sex films are okay/I don’t dig that pope no way.” An incredible song from a classic album and some vintage Pope bashing. 

Nuclear Assault: “Hang The Pope” from Game Over (1986)

Like there was any was this wasn’t getting on the list. This song clogged metal Facebook feeds throughout the pope’s visit.  


Adrenalin O.D. “Pope On A Rope” from HumungusFungusAmongus (1986)

This hilarious New Jersey punk band played some of the fastest music on the planet in the 80s and has reunited periodically. They should be universally beloved by extreme music fans; it was like a pairing of The Dead Milkmen and proto-grind. After you listen to this song you should play the entire album.

The Meatmen “Pope On A Rope” from Pope On a Rope (1995)

This isn’t a cover of the AOD track but an entirely different beast by a punk original. “I am Satan hear me roar,” Meatmen frontman Tesco Vee screams at the get-go.  The eponymous track from this overlooked speed metal styled album contained a full on beat down of the pope, mostly on policy.  The Meatmen were way ahead of the curve with their criticism of pedophile priests.


Mayhem “Chainsaw Gutsfuck” from Mediolanum Capta Est (1999) 

Maniac had some of the most unintentionally hilarious stage banter ever and this live recording from Milan features his best work. And no nugget is better than the build before this Mayhem classic. “I don’t know about you fucking Christinaity haters out there. You even have the fucking pope here in Italy,” he says. “This next song I hereby dedicate to the pope.”  The hilarity starts at 43:44. 

Melvins “The Bloated Pope” from Pigs Of The Roman Empire (2004)

 Here’s another Hall Of Fame member with a pope track, from their full-throttle weirdness collaboration with Lustmord. This is a profoundly strange song and more gibberish than anti-pope screed. But it’s the fucking Melvins so check it out.

Mumakil “Cloning The Pope” from Relapse’s Slimewave Series (2007):

Mumakil is turning up everywhere lately; Killing Joke’s Jaz Coleman was recently spotted in a Mumakil shirt. And while the pope has come out against cloning this suggestion to replicate the pope came years earlier.

Ghost “Secular Haze” from Infestissumam (2013) : Ghost’s Philadelphia gig needed to be rescheduled due to a visit from the actual Pope. For a band that’s already received unbelievable hype and press that might have been their biggest coup. And no, there’s no mention of the Pope in this track but we’re confident that there would be no Ghost without him.