When a Heavy Metal Legend Battled a Christian Televangelist

original by flickr user "Larry Meiring"; crops and changes by user:JD, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
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Contrasted with the polarized horror of recent years, the 1990s are almost quaint. As annoying as the pearl-clutching of parent’s groups and the moral majority could be, some heavy metal groups inherently understood that there was no such thing as bad press. In a time before internet pile-ons at the hands of our own communities, sometimes the most efficient way for a band to develop a mythology and build a fanbase was to lean into the negativity. 

Deicide frontman Glen Benton doesn’t court controversy the way that he used to. Outside of his use of an all-too-casual homophobic slur on the Talk Toomey podcast directed toward Slipknot in 2018 (an event which he later called “a learning experience”), the Florida death metal maniac has evolved into a pretty regular dude whose primary interests are motorcycles and his kids. As most people with a rudimentary grasp on the history of extreme music can tell you, that was not always the case. After all, this is the man who repeatedly branded an inverted cross into his forehead, shot a squirrel during an interview, and repeatedly proclaimed that he would kill himself in the year 2000 at the age of 33 as a bizarre inverse to the life of Jesus (yeah… I don’t understand either).

Although Benton’s antics undoubtedly won Deicide cult notoriety, metal did not have a monopoly on exploiting the hot-button topics of the day for one’s personal advantage. Enter televangelist and radio personality Bob Larson, a hack exorcist whose bread and butter came from sensational debates with satanists on his call-in show Talk Back. Over the years he hosted and tried to convert left hand path luminaries Zeena and Nikolas Schreck, toured with Slayer at the behest of Spin magazine, and attempted to expel demons from Mayhem bassist Necrobutcher as part of Norwegian television program. Of all these zany encounters, the most entertaining and ultimately symbiotic came from Glen Benton’s repeated calls to his show. 

In a series of recordings captured for posterity via YouTube, the hyperbolic Satanist and the fear-mongering Christian can be heard engaging in the most juvenile ideological sparring match imaginable. While Benton’s threats to leave Larson “spattered like a dead animal on the road” most likely wouldn’t fly today, the bulk of the proceedings are a hilarious exercise in trolling straight from the golden age. Here are some choice exchanges:

Larson – Are you demon possessed?
Benton – Of course
Larson  – You want them?
Benton – Of course I do or they wouldn’t be here
Larson  – They’re gonna kill and destroy you
Benton – They’re not gonna destroy me. I’ll die just like you
Larson  – You said you’re gonna commit suicide
Benton – You never know, Bob

Larson  – I love you and care about you
Benton – Yeah, sure you do. I love living my life this way, and nothing you say or anybody else on this planet will say can make me change my mind about the way I feel. Go save Bon Jovi or somebody like that; you’re not gonna save me.

Benton (singing in an exaggerated devil voice) – JESUS SWALLOWS LOADS, KUMBIA! 

Larson  – What have you been up to lately
Benton – Evil
Larson  – Do you still want me dead
Benton – Of course. I’ll always want you dead
Larson  – Why?
Benton – Because you are a pathetic fool, going around this country preaching your false prophecies. Let me tell you something – Show your face in the state of Florida, let me find you and I will destroy you.

Benton – I just wanted to let you know that we’re entering the recording studio next month to officially record “Kill Bob Larson.” It’s gonna be a $600 effort. Hope you’re not gonna sue us.

Grab a popcorn and listen to the many exchanges below. Spoiler alert: Glen Benton never killed Bob Larson.