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.

Hymn to the Morningstar

Here we go, three sets of reviews in thee days. Who’s the man? This guy.

One Tail, One Head-Demo II

Country: Norway (Trondheim)

Label: Terratur Possessions

Year: 2008

Here we have another effort from the late Steingrim Torson, who was shot and killed under somewhat mysterious circumstances on Walpurgishnacht 2009. This release stands in stark contrast to the Jammerskrik release I reviewed yesterday. The ambient experimentation is gone by the wayside in favor of punishing blast beats and harsh guitars. I normally rag on the Norwegian black metal scene for being overrated, which I still believe it is. This release stands in contrast to that sentiment. It’s certainly not an original concept. This record sounds somewhere between “Deathcrush” and “Transilvanian Hunger”, which is far from an insult. Expect more Steingrim Torson releases in the future.


Der Weg Einer Freiheit-Agonie

Country: Germany (Würzburg, Bavaria)

Label: Viva Hate Records

Year: 2011

This record comes to me through my brother in metal Max Kristich over at Skateboard Marketing who gave me a nice fat list of recent black metal releases which I will eventually review (go over to their website and give them tons of high fives). And for the first suggestion from someone else (as opposed to trolling the internet for new demo releases), this is brutal. Except for the fact that the label that released this very recent (July 1st) EP is named after a Morrissey album which is decidedly unbrutal. Anyway, DWEF are very German. This is probably the most punishing record I’ve reviewed thus far, a feat I can be proud to announce based simply on the fact that it has the cleanest production value of any record I’ve reviewed thus far. This record skillfully creates musical hypothermia, alternating between the punishingly heavy and vacuous calm. A strong sophomore release from a band that will probably be signed to Nuclear Blast by next week.


El-Ahrariah-Tribute to Bathory

Country: USA (Minneapolis, MN)

Label: A Terre

Year: 2011

On the entirely opposite end of the spectrum of black metal, we have this. There are few things about this release that had me loving it before I ever even heard it. First, and most obviously, it’s a Bathory covers album, two songs off of “Bathory” and one off of “Under The Sign of the Black Mark”. Secondly, this band is named after the archetypical hero of the rabbits in “Watership Down”. Nice to see that somebody has read a book other than Tolkein or a copy of “The Occult Roots of Nazism” they borrowed from Glenn Danzig. Thirdly, you probably have noticed that the classic Bathory goat’s head has rabbit ears. Hilarious. Other than this, there isn’t a whole lot I can say about this record. I didn’t think songs off of the first two Bathory records could possibly sound worse than they already did, I was wrong. That being said, El-Ahrairah’s delivery is excellent. S’s vocals don’t sound much like Quorthon, but that’s fine.


Imynvokad-Ad Ordines Descedens

Country: USA (Austin, TX)

Label: Pale Horse Recordings

Year: 2010

Ok, this falls under my “why do places with no snow have black metal bands?” theory. California I can maybe understand because they are a mecca of culture (or so I’ve been told). But Texas? Only two things come from Texas, and one of those things isn’t black metal bands. I feel like an inspirational continuity needs to be observed in this genre, if only to keep bands from the southwest out. Perhaps the absence of trees or winter is what makes this EP so immensely boring in the sense that they seem to take what everyone has already done and do it again. This record is for people who are so thoroughly obsessed with Judas Iscariot that they need new, uncreative bands to sound exactly like them so they can listen to their records with their eyes closed and pretend that Akhenaten is singing to them, not some dork from Texas who’s only read about it being below 60 degrees. We need to contain this crap so USBM doesn’t become a joke like, oh say, South African black metal (which exists and is actually great).


V/A-Southern Elite Circle Compilation

Country: Argentina (Buenos Aires)

Label: Dark Hidden Productions

Year: 2007

WARNING! This is a NSBM release. Politically sensitive folk please look the other way.

I had an exciting array of jokes lined up for this release. I was high when I came up with them, so they’re not as funny and after reviewing that Imynvokad record, all I can think is “at least Argentina has mountains”. That being said, this is a comp with 7 bands on it. Each has two songs and all of them are apparently not fond of the Jews. There’s really only one realistic way to do this, and that is to go through each band individually.

Argenraza: Firstly, Argentinian is not a race. It is a nationality. They are not the same thing. Their first track on this comp is 13+ minutes long and something is feeding back throughout most of it. I think their drummer might be retarded. Oh wait, he’s a naturalized Argentinian nazi who believes his nationality is his race.

Argentum: These tracks are very out of place on this comp. At first I didn’t understand why. Then I made a few NSBM mental connections and came up with it: this is a poor-man’s Daudi Baldrs, but with a rock beat (on a drum machine). This is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard.  Their second track features even more silly drumming over questionable synth music, this time featuring a sample of somebody yelling in Spanish, probably something about how great Argentina is. This slowly descends into an orgy of Argentinian speeches, none of which I care to look into.

Campo De Mayo: As much as it pains me to admit this, Campo De Mayo make a pretty good slab of raw black metal. It may be that the vocals sound exactly the vocals of my own band’s first demo. If I knew what he was saying, maybe I’d think differently, but this is dense hellish ArgyBM. Of course, this band’s promo photo features Eviigne (the only member, who is also in 6 of the 7 bands on this comp) posing in front of a sunwheel cross which is a) a big turn-off and b) completely nonsensical.

Furor: This might be the worst band on this comp. Their first track has no drums at all, which would be nice if it didn’t sound exactly like part of a Wolves in the Throne Room song, and Wolves in the Throne Room don’t want to put me in an oven. The 2nd track has drums, but they’re the worst drums ever. A blast beat is not hitting the snare drum, bass drum, and ride cymbal at the same time over and over again, but apparently no one bothered to tell Eviigne on this release.

Nachtgeblut: If someone had been kind enough to lend Dimmu Borgir a Rat pedal for the original Stormblåst session and forced them all to forget how to write songs, it would sound like this. As a matter of fact, the intro to the first track does bear a striking resemblance to “Sorgens Kammer”, just in case the guy who scored the Amiga game “Agony” still has that lawyer on retainer. This is another band with Eviigne in it, and it sucks. How is it that Campo De Mayo was his only project that wasn’t shockingly bad? This band even shares promotional material with Campo De Mayo because Eviigne is the only member in both of them. Go figure.

Permafrost: I’m not even going to bother with this one. Eviigne and a bass player are the only members here and once again, same promo photo. This isn’t a comp, this is a showcase of how many bands this guy can have that sound more or less the same. I will say that Permafrost is less lyrically fascistic and a little bit better than his other attempts, but that isn’t saying much.

Ulfethnar: This band has a song called “NS Vanguard in the Austral Lands”. The vocals lack even the slightest sense of timing. The drums sound like a child’s drumset. And to top it all off, who’s that playing guitar on this release? Oh right, it’s our old pal Eviigne. Fuck this shit.

One question that lingers is, do these people think they’re the master race because they’re white or because they’re Argentinian or because they fancy themselves to be the descendents of escaped Nazi war criminals? Can there be an Israeli metal band sponsored by Mossad that goes around making NSBM bands look stupid? They wouldn’t even need to do anything.


Panzerbastard-Bastards Die Hard

Country: USA (Boston, MA)

Label: Getupandkill

Year: 2008 (re-released, 2011)

Once upon a time, I was finishing up a hard night of drinking in Brooklyn when I got a very excited call from a friend of mine who was in Boston at the time. He informed me that he was hanging out with the drummer of Panzerbastard and they were doing coke together. This meant nothing to me because I had never heard of Panzerbastard. After looking them up only to find that a) their drummer was a dude with an undercut aka the nu-metal mushroom cut and b) that Panzerbastard were the worst band in history, I could only dream of the days when I had no clue who Panzerbastard were. This is what happens when metalcore stops ripping off Gothenburg Death Metal and starts ripping off first wave black metal and crust. When these guys aren’t wearing bullets and denim vests on stage, I picture them wearing Red Sox/Patriots shirts and fitted hats and menacing people on the T (probably the Blue Line, up by Orient Heights). The first downfall of this record is that every song sounds exactly the same. “But Ian! If it’s a crust band, of course it all sounds the same!” Of course, but they do a really bad job at it.


That’s it for today, only a few days more of the daily updates. Then I’ll start updating weekly.

Troll the internet for copies of these records. Sometime soon, I’ll get my hands on a copy of the new Falls of Rauros album which just came out yesterday on Bindrune Recordings. Go here and get it if you’re so inclined.