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Glen Benton vs. Bob Larson: The Phone Calls

Glen Benton vs. Bob Larson: Part 1

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Glen Benton vs. Bob Larson: Part 2

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Glen Benton doesn’t attract controversy like he did before. He seems downright likeable now. He loves motorcycles, wrote a record about his divorce (Till Death Do Us Part), and records anti-Christian music with guitarist Ralph Santolla, a practicing Catholic. The pre-show bomb threats, squirrel shootings, and pledges to commit suicide are long gone. The good music still comes at times, including career highlight The Stench of Redemption.

There was a time when Benton was the poster boy for everything the religious right hates about heavy metal. Benton played his part as Satanic provocateur so well that even fans believed he meant every word. He branded an upside-down cross on his forehead (an act he appeared to regret in recent interviews) and was never off message.

He also took the fight to the other side. The recordings above capture Benton’s now legendary sparring with evangelist and radio host Bob Larson. The calls took place in 1992. I don’t think Benton could get away with some of this in our sensitive post 9-11 world; at one point, he threatens to leave Larson “spattered like a dead animal on the road”.

“My Lord is going to spare no mercy on you, Larson”, Benton says. Glen’s having the time of his life; Larson sounds horrified, but also lets Benton spout at will. Larson claims to have exorcised demons from a child wearing a Deicide shirt and invites Benton to Denver for a face-to-face meeting.

The repartee must have been good for ratings; Benton kept appearing on the show. At one point, Larson offers to pray for Benton. “Go save Bon Jovi or somebody like that. You aren’t going to save me”, Benton says. He does his best to sound like a possessed Regan in The Exorcist.

These calls also mark a time that has passed, when a metal artist could scare the general public. Just a year later, Varg Vikernes killed Euronymous and was implicated in numerous church arsons. Metal musicians – a few misguided ones – had moved from words to deeds.

Benton is still making music. Larson was back on the air as of 2004.

— Justin M. Norton

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