Satan and doo-wop don’t seem like a fitting pair, but Alexandra and Zachary James are the Los Angeles duo who somehow figured out a way to make it work.
Imagine walking down the street and hearing the phrase “hail Satan!” shouted repeatedly in unison. It’s coming from a building with flame torches adorning the entryway. Two handfuls or so of all black-donning, heavily tattooed and pierced individuals line the outside of the space like some barbaric mote. Despite how it might sound, this wasn’t a typical Satanic meeting—it was the scene at Dante’s during the summer solstice on June 21. Twin Temple played, and their Satanic form of doo-wop brought together many for a different type of congregational worship.
Twin Temple are also feminists, and they don’t try to hide that. They sell band tees with the words “Satanic feminist; Hex the patriarchy” printed on them. They speak openly about reclaiming and recontextualizing what Satanism and feminism are, aligning them as similar movements that both seek to “liberate the self” and “transcend boring, binary concepts and reject societal norms,” as Alexandra once said in an interview. What may have first seemed like a schtick is definitely their real deal: a reality they live and attempt to spread with every performance.
People tightly packed the floor nearest the stage, staring up in awe at the setup—candelabras, lush drapery and skulls adorning most of the space. Fog started to filter in as Alexandra, Zachary and their touring musicians shuffled on in a spooky saunter. Greeted by loud and passionate cheers, they flung (un)holy water out onto the crowd.
With her book of invocations, chants and Satanic hymns in one hand, Alexandra recited words of dark praise, bidding for everyone to call on Baphomet and Beelzebub “in the name of Satan.” Some dude in the audience shouted out at Alexandra “sing me to my death!” to which she responded, “I will—be careful what you wish for.”
Musically, their “Satanic doo-wop” sounds exactly as it should. Alexandra sings soulfully—almost like some type of malevolent Amy Winehouse—hitting notes with a dusky power. Zachary’s guitar playing is classic. Riffs don’t chug; they cascade, sounding as sweet as they possibly can against horns, organs and lyrics that nurture a love for the chief evil spirit.
As they cooed through “Lucifer, My Love” and “Let’s Hang Together,” both love songs, a particular mood seemed to be brewing in the air. Without much warning, they brought a young couple out onto the stage and performed their first Satanic wedding. Again reading from her book of invocations, Alexandra ordained them into union as Zachary waved a long sword around them in a “blessing” of their matrimony. The audience’s support was audible and apparent as they signed their marriage certificate, and the ceremony ended as quickly as it started.
It prompted Alexandra to question the sanctity of marriage and what it means from a woman’s perspective. She then went on to question why Satan has to be a patriarchal figure. “Why can’t Satan be a woman?” she asked sternly before seeming to answer her own question. “I am Satan!” she proclaimed, leading into their song “Satan’s a Woman.”
“I’m Wicked” saw Alexandra emitting sultry grunts as she proudly sang “I’m the devil, and I got you under my spell…I’m a woman, and I’m wicked,” while “La Femme Fatale” hangs on lyrics like “Don’t be afraid of my pretty weapon / Tell me what is so sinister about a woman?” over a ‘50s-like groove.
On their way out, they hailed swords up in the air in coordination, pointing them in different directions that resembled the points of a pentagram. Alexandra then drank from a chalice filled with a blood-like substance and spit it out onto the crowd with purpose after one last “hail Satan!” was screamed. Mischievous smiles and blood splatter were the most noticeable features of everyone’s faces.