Jason Creel of Deth Knell says he had an epiphany three years ago in a Little Rock motel and since then his relationship with Satan, the embodiment of all evil in the world, has never been the same.
"Let me put it this way," he said while sitting down for a coffee outside the Orbit Room in Toronto, where his band will be shaking the rafters tonight. "Whereas before Satan was just kind of an idea to me, an abstraction, maybe a bit of a marketing ploy, now he's quite real and, frankly, gunning for me. I'm in His sights."
Creel says his awakening to the torments of Hell that await him after this life came after he and some fans trashed his motel room in Little Rock. Police were called, but luckily one of the two officers that showed up was familiar with the band and the other was a big Metallica fan, although he hadn't heard of Creel's band. But, in any case, the officers told the motel manager and the band to work it out among themselves. "So we agreed to pay the cost of fixing the place back up, and it was steep, like, $4.000, or something," said Creel. "That night I took a long, hard look at myself in the mirror and that's when I saw Him."
That "Him," says Creel, was Satan. "He was staring right at me. I mean, it was effing blood curdling. I've been singing about this Guy for years but when I finally met Him face to face, it was like, 'I don't really know you, do I?'"
Creel says Satan doesn't look at all like what you think of, if you think of Him as a red guy with a little beard and horns. Instead, he looks a lot like Creel himself. "Looked just like me," said Creel. "Not that I'm the Satan or anything like that, but that I think He must reflect you back or channel your image or something. And that's what makes it so scary."
So, has that night three years ago changed what Deth Knell sings about? "Oh, no, our fans would never tolerate that," said Creel. "I mean, we are the Channelers of Satan. For us to start singing about, I don't know, Bambi or something, would just not fly. So, we are still Satan's Messengers, as we've always been."
Even so, Creel says he has started to do some good deeds on the side---just small things---when the band's not playing. "This isn't to try to get into God's good graces or anything like that," Creel said. "I don't pretend that God is suddenly going to say, 'Oh, Jason, I see you're really a good person, so I'll protect you from that evil Satan.' But I figure it can't hurt, you know? I mean, it's not like I'm going to make Satan mad and He's going to say, 'Buttering up Mr. Good, eh? Well, two infinities of Hell for you!' What's the difference if it's one infinity or two infinities? It's never-ending either way. So, to me, I have something to gain and nothing to lose."
Creel says he gave a free ticket to tonight's Deth Knell show to a guy from Chicago he met yesterday at a bar in downtown Toronto who had lost both his legs in Afghanistan. "He took an IED from the Taliban," said Creel. "How crappy is that? So I said, "Dude, come to our show tonight. He probably won't make it, though. Not that much fun if you're in a wheelchair. But it's a little thing that I could do to help this guy who has suffered so much.
"Again," Creel continued, "It's not like I expect God to change his mind about me. "But if, over time, I can cut my stay in the Fires of Hell from infinity to, say, one million years, that's something. For sure, a million years sounds like a lot, but it's finite, and that's huge. That's very different than never-ending."
Finishing up his coffee, Creel becomes introspective. "You know, for me, Satan has always been about black T-shirts and big crosses. It's never been about, like, descending into the Nine Rings of the Underworld. But when you play with fire you risk getting burned, and now I've got soot all over my face and an appointment I'd rather not keep. The good thing is, I've got some time left here on this good earth, and I intend to improve myself as a person. Maybe, just maybe, God is watching."