Catholic church rages against Lithuanian metalheads…

Lithuania’s Catholic church has attacked the country’s biggest metal festival, Devilstone Open Air (Velnio Akmuo) for causing religious offence. Church officials and the congregation of  Anykščiai, a town in the country’s northwest Utena district took action against festival organisers, ALT Events after they claimed headliner Mayhem caused ‘religious disunion’ and ‘moral corruption’. Vaidas Voronavicius, one of the organisers said: “There were no incidents, no acts of Satanism. We stand for the viewpoint that even the most extreme and radical shows on stage should be considered as art of performance; the freedom of artistic expression should not be restrained, does not matter, if it is black metal music or a piece of contemporary art. In the end, we do not believe any of those insulted people have been present at the festival at all. Thus we can only interpret the actions of the local church authorities as a purposeful aim to destroy the festival by any means for the reason they only know themselves. But we are absolutely not going to stop doing what we started.” Mayhem frontman Attila Csihar was seen wearing an inverted cross, a bloodied mask and a noose during the performance, items which incensed the town’s overzealous Catholic flock. Stanislovas Krumpliauskas, the Dean of the town’s famous St. Matthias church applied to the country’s Ministry of Justice for prosecution, which in turn referred the case to Anykščiai’s local prosecution service. A pre-trial investigation is underway to determine whether the festival or the band are at fault. Since the festival’s debut in 2009, the church has remained staunchly opposed to it, attempting to have it banned after it claimed the festival name and its debut headliner Sepultura were “Satanic”. As one of Devilstone’s European sponsors, Zero Tolerance Magazine is completely bemused by this action. Not only does it represent oppressive medieval ideas and the unjust censorship of internationally accepted artists, it resembles a witch hunt. Lithuania is a member state of the European Union, a secular body supported by the European Convention of Human Rights. As we were present at the festival this year, ZT can confirm that Mayhem’s performance contained nothing beyond simple theatrics. We also maintain that so-called ‘moral corruption’ charges have no place in a progressive, democratic Europe. The festival took place for its second time this year from July 16-18,  drawing 1500 Lithuanian metalheads to a unique forest venue to witness bands such as Mayhem, Grave and Tankard. The event was good-spirited, brought great enjoyment to fans and finished without incident. ZT supports Devilstone and stands behind its choice to sponsor the event. Photo by  Inga Šilekaitė, Masterful Magazine

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