Northern Isolation


On Totalitarianism and Bigotry in Black Metal
09/15/2014, 11:14 PM
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“NSBM” has been a tremendous buzzphrase as of late. It would seem that the rest of the world has finally caught wind to the fact that there is an element of the black metal strata that harbor racist and/or fascistic beliefs. Anyone that has read this blog knows that I have never shied away from reviewing NSBM, since I go out of my way to review utter horseshit and most NSBM is, in fact, utter horseshit. But this new firestorm, implicating Inquisition in maybe-maybe not harboring anti-semitic views, has gotten me thinking. I’m going to just flow with this. Hang on tight.

First of all, why are we acting like this is a new development? Black metal band accused of being nazis? Hasn’t practically every black metal band been accused of being nazis? I have personally accused black metal bands of being nazis that weren’t nazis on this very blog. What it boils down to, in my opinion, is often equal parts aesthetic misinterpretation on the judge’s part and an idiotic childish desire to appear fringy by the judged. It is fair to say most black metal musicians would not enjoy living in the Third Reich but what better way to piss everyone off than to voice retroactive support to the Holocaust? You won’t find much in the way of Holocaust denial in black metal because it is a huge aesthetic benefit. Trenches full of corpses makes for a great album cover. In many cases, I think that is as deep as it goes.

In the case of Inquisition, “Crush the Jewish Prophet” is way more ear-catching than “Crush Jesus”. Its heightened capacity for offense is part of the appeal. I never really gave much of a shit about Inquisition (I missed them at Maryland Deathfest because I was on drugs) and their association with Antichrist Kramer is effectively meaningless to me. This raises an infinitely more complicated question: how many degrees of separation are acceptable to distance oneself from racist ideology? If I have a friend who has a friend that is a dyed-in-the-wool racist, does that mean my friendship with that person is tainted? Is it really acceptable to victimize Nachtmystium because they put out one demo 13 years ago on Vinland Winds (especially when there are so many other things to victimize Nachtmystium over)? I don’t have an answer. Maybe there isn’t one distinct answer. But it is certainly worth thinking about.

This is all, of course, not discounting the very real racists that exist within the black metal scene. Admittedly, racists exist within every scene. And the racists that exist within every scene serve largely similar purposes: attract impressionable kids to your cause and convince them to prop up your cause. What they do has nothing to do with individual power. What they do is attempt to widen a flock. It is that sheepish mentality that, in my opinion, puts fascism in direct opposition with the very function of black metal. Which , in turn, exposes vast swathes of the NSBM scene as utter fucking morons or completely full of shit.

I think its important to mention the multitude of recent articles written on the subject that cite Lords of Chaos. Varg Vikernes himself has called into question the journalistic integrity of that book and Michael Moynihan’s hands are awfully fucking dirty when it comes to accusations of fascism. When your band can’t tour Europe without half of the shows successfully getting shut down by ANTIFA, and you respond with internet outrage which brings multitudes of boneheads out of the woodwork to drag knuckles in your defense, you may want to avoid getting too close to the spotlight whereas ultra right wing politics are concerned. Despite being a complete maniac, Varg is very well-spoken and I doubt he would just randomly start going off about nazi UFO’s. On top of that, literally no one outside of a handful of German bigots would have ever heard of Absurd until an entire chapter of Lords of Chaos was dedicated to them. In fact, Hendrik Möbus had’t even become an international fugitive at the time of the first edition’s release. That part of the book was added after the fact. That book, while exposing many people to black metal, exposed them to some of its shittiest aspects. At the same time, it exposed the reader to esoteric Hitlerism, perversions of Jung’s collective unconscious bent to fit a national socialist framework, racialist UFO theology, and loads of complete shit that no one would ever need to know about. It is, at best, a questionable source.

Seriously. No one wants your LARP-y fucking faux-Nordic race war. You aren’t a viking. You arent in the gestapo. You’re a dorky fucking metalhead. We all are. But you don’t wanna sit at the table with us. We do not have to acknowledge you. That being said, a word if caution. Racism or perceived racism gets people riled up in ways that are rarely productive. No such thing as bad publicity works until you start losing gigs behind it. If you are truly a lifer, that is a big fucking deal. If not, you can always latch on to the next thing.