National Socialist black metal
|National Socialist black metal|
|Stylistic origins||Black metal, Rock Against Communism|
|Cultural origins||Early 1990s to present, Europe, Scandinavia, Norway, Germany, Ukraine, Poland, France, Greece|
|Typical instruments||Vocals, electric guitar, bass guitar, drums|
|Part of a series on|
National Socialist black metal (abbreviated as NSBM) is a form of black metal music performed by artists who promote a National Socialist (Nazi) or similar ideology through their lyrics and imagery. NSBM typically melds neo-Nazi beliefs (such as fascism, white supremacy, white separatism, antisemitism, homophobia) with ethnic European paganism and hostility to "foreign" religions (such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam). However, some bands meld neo-Nazism with Satanism or occultism, rather than paganism. NSBM is not seen as a distinct genre, but as a neo-völkisch movement or subculture within black metal. Varg Vikernes is generally seen as the main person to have brought such beliefs into the black metal scene, even though he now has claimed that his involvement in nazism was mostly based on the nazi acceptance of paganism and the support he received from neo-nazis. According to Mattias Gardell, NSBM musicians see "national socialism as a logical extension of the political and spiritual dissidence inherent in black metal".
Bands who hold Nazi beliefs but do not express these in their music are generally not deemed 'NSBM' by the black metal scene, but may be labelled as such in the media. Some black metal bands have also made references to Nazi Germany purely for shock value, much like some punk rock and heavy metal bands.
According to Christian Dornbusch and Hans-Peter Killguss, the authors of the book Unheilige Allianzen, völkisch pagan metal and neo-Nazism are the current trends in the black metal scene, and are affecting the broader metal scene. Mattias Gardell, however, sees NSBM artists as a minority within black metal.
- 1 History
- 2 Ideology
- 3 NSBM and the broader white nationalist movement
- 4 NSBM and the broader black metal scene
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 Literature
In the 1980s, 'black metal' referred to heavy metal bands with Satanic lyrics and imagery. In the early 1990s, the Norwegian black metal scene developed the style into a distinct genre. The scene members were fiercely anti-Christian and generally presented themselves as misanthropic Devil worshippers who wanted to spread hatred, sorrow and evil. However, some bands (who did not call themselves black metal because they were not Satanic) wrote about pre-Christian Scandinavia and its mythology. In 1992, many members of the scene burnt down a number of churches. In August of the same year, Faust of Emperor murdered a gay man who had propositioned him in Lillehammer. In August 1993, Varg Vikernes of Burzum murdered fellow musician Øystein 'Euronymous' Aarseth – a key figure in the scene – and was arrested shortly after. Vikernes is generally seen as the main person to have brought Nazism into the black metal scene. Although his music has always been non-political, he began to express such views in writings and interviews after his arrest. According to an interview in Blood & Honour magazine, he had got in touch with neo-Nazi organization Zorn 88 (later called the National Socialist Movement of Norway) in 1992 and joined White Aryan Resistance before he murdered Euronymous. Euronymous was a communist, but Vikernes denies killing him over ideology. While in prison, "Vikernes began to formulate his nationalist heathen ideology" and wrote a manifesto called Vargsmål. It became available on the internet for a while in 1996, and in 1997 it was printed by a Norwegian publisher. Although the early Norwegian black metal scene did not express Nazi views, Vikernes later claimed that it had begun "as a nationalistic (Norwegian-centric), racist and anti-Christian revolt" but was "hijacked" by the "Jew-dominated music industry". He claims the industry made it into another tool with which to destroy Europe, by promoting bands who embraced "everything sick and anti-European on this planet, from porn and promiscuity to drugs and homosexuality". Hendrik Möbus of Absurd called NSBM the "logical conclusion" of the Norwegian black metal "movement" and interpreted the church burnings as a "cultural atavism".
Vikernes wrote some lyrics for the album Transilvanian Hunger by Darkthrone, another key band in the Norwegian scene. It was released in 1994 with Norsk Arisk Black Metal ('Norwegian Aryan Black Metal') printed on the back cover. This caused much controversy, but Darkthrone offered an explanation and stated that they were "not a Nazi band nor a political band". At around this time, some other Norwegian black metallers made seemingly racist statements. Mayhem drummer Hellhammer said of the genre's links with fascism: "I'll put it this way, we don't like black people here. Black Metal is for white people". However, in a later interview he said "I don't give a crap if the fans are white, black, green, yellow, or blue. For me music and politics don’t go hand in hand". Prominent Norwegian black metal vocalist Gaahl described "niggers" and "mulattoes" as "subhuman" and stated his support for Vikernes and Adolf Hitler. However, he too has since distanced himself from these statements. According to the authors of Lords of Chaos, in 1995, three Swedish black metallers (including Mika "Belfagor" Hakola of the band Nefandus) went on a "niggerhunt" in Linköping. Wielding an axe and two machetes, they "terrorized" a black man. Nefandus were later "considered to be Nazi sympathizers", though Belfagor explained: "This could not be further from the truth, but I guess this has to do with some of the controversial comments I made in various magazines in my youth, when I still aspired to play in the most hated band in the world. I used a lot of provocative language back then. But to sort things out: I associate with people of all creeds and colours. […] So to be labeled a Nazi or a racist is very offensive to me". That same year, German band Absurd released the demo Thuringian Pagan Madness. It was recorded while the members were imprisoned for murdering a boy from their school. On the demo cover is a photograph of his gravestone and pro-Nazi statements. After this, Absurd became one of the pioneers of NSBM. Other bands deemed to be part of the early NSBM scene include Graveland and Veles (from Poland), Hate Forest (from Ukraine) and Spear of Longinus (from Australia).
One of the first NSBM releases was the demo of the Polish band Lord of Evil from 1994, showing a deformed swastika as cover art., this band was named as influence for the Finnish group Satanic Warmaster on their old Myspace page.
In the 1990s, some of the earliest American black metal bands—like Grand Belial's Key and Judas Iscariot—joined an international NSBM organization called the Pagan Front, although Judas Iscariot's sole member Akhenaten left the organization. Thelemnar, the drummer of German band Secrets of the Moon, said he got to know him "only as an intelligent person and never as a Nazi".
|This section requires expansion. (March 2013)|
NSBM typically melds Neo-Nazi beliefs (such as fascism, white supremacy, white separatism, antisemitism, xenophobia, homophobia) with hostility to "foreign" religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, asf). Bands often promote ethnic European paganism, occultism, or Satanism. Hendrik Möbus of Absurd described Nazism as the "most perfect (and only realistic!) synthesis of Satanic/Luciferian will to power, elitist Social Darwinism, connected to Aryan Germanic paganism". Members of the band Der Stürmer (named after the antisemitic newspaper edited by Julius Streicher) subscribe to esoteric Hitlerism, leaning on the works of Savitri Devi and Julius Evola.
Anti-Christianity and antisemitism
Typically NSBM musicians regard Christianity as a product of an alleged Jewish conspiracy to undermine the Aryan race by eliminating their Artglauben and their "original" culture. These musicians usually reject the legitimacy of Christian antisemitism as well as the German Christians movement, which celebrated and promoted Nazi ideology in the context of an unorthodox Christian theological framework. Hjarulv Henker of the band Der Stürmer said:
I don't think that a dogma like Christianity has a place in Aryandom. There is no way to make Christianity fit into the Weltanschauung of the Aryan Overman. Christianity teaches humbleness, the loss of National and Racial identity, and equality, things alien to our cosmotheory. You cannot combine Jesus with characters who represent Aryan ethics. ... Christianity is Christianity and it is Jewish by its very birth and conception, a vehicle in the Jewish world domination and designed as such.
NSBM bands typically regard White Europeans as superior to other races. They want to preserve the purity of the White race and the traditional cultures of White European nations. They argue that these cultures have "degenerated" over the centuries due to "race mixing". These views are comparable to those in the chapter "Volk und Rasse" in Hitler’s Mein Kampf.
Whereas Nazi leaders held pan-Germanism and anti-Slavism views (The Nazis viewed Slavic people to be uncultured and inferior to Germanic people), the NSBM scene has had its German and Polish activists work together from the very beginning, though Germany and Poland have historically had conflicts. This contradiction is either masked, relativized or excused as a historical mistake. A conspiracy theory says the Jews would have prevented an alliance between Nazi Germany and other Eastern European countries. Knjaz Varggoth, singer and guitarist of the Ukrainian band Nokturnal Mortum, gives the following explanation for the contradiction: "Goruth of the Russian band Temnozor sees the Slavs and Germans as a part of a Hyperborean Aryan race and nowadays differing due to its degeneration." Para Bellum of Blackdeath (and formerly of Draugwath) sees Nazi Germany’s war against Russia as "Hitler’s only mistake".
National Socialist Paganism
As part of their anti-Christianity, anti-semitism and the idea that White Europeans should return to their "native" ways, most NSBM bands promote ethnic European paganism. Hendrik Möbus interpreted the church burnings in Norway as:
a cultural atavism, a sudden and inexplicable plunge back into pre-Christian, medieval conditions in all but outward reality. Like the Swiss psychologist, Carl Gustav Jung, would have said: Ancient archetypes resurfaced from our collective unconscious and repossessed receptive minds – which were, as a rule, still developing and thus especially impressible. The thus affected teenagers found themselves with an archaic state of mind and like in a mass-hysteria, they induced their condition unto others. It goes without saying that a, say, 18 year old adolescent who suddenly felt out of tune with his environment lacked the insight for a self-analysis.
He argues that later on, they would have realized the meaning of these emotions, begun to identify with Paganism and taken "an active interest in Nationalist politics designed to preserve and to cultivate this very heritage".
The booklet of the Absurd album Asgardsrei depicts the Knights Templar, the Teutonic Knights and the Waffen-SS as warriors of the "Asgardsrei", which the bands define as a term for an alleged godly and Germanic group of warriors. Varg Vikernes of Burzum likewise called Adolf Hitler a warrior of the Asgardsrei.
National Socialist Satanism
Besides pagan beliefs, part of the NSBM scene embraces an interpretation of Satanism, depicting Satan as an ancient Aryan counterpart to YHWH, the god of the Jews and Christians. This view is often called "völkisch Satanism" or "Aryan Satanism". Chraesvelgoron of The True Frost sees Nazism as the political appearance of Satanism and the collective deification of man as a social animal, as godliness instead of humaneness. His bandmate Sadorass calls the same ideology a development of blood and soil (völkisch way), diverse occult teachings and the ideas of Friedrich Nietzsche in connection to Darwin's evolution theories. Greek black metal musician Magus Wampyr Daoloth (of Necromantia and Thou Art Lord) said in an interview for Lords of Chaos: "If you consider that fascism and Satanism have a lot of similarities as they both advocate power, spiritual and physical excellence, responsibility, survival of the fittest, elitism, etc., it's logical that some bands advocate both".
However, many pagan and far right bands see Satanism as a part of Christianity or Judaism. Also, some non-political Satanic black metal musicians hold pagan bands in contempt, and do not recognize them as black metal because their lyrics and ideology do not include Satanism.
NSBM and the broader white nationalist movement
Many white nationalists have warmly received NSBM for its lyrical content and ideals. However, some have not, due to the music style as well as the genre's perceived association with the rock & roll lifestyle. However, Lords of Chaos notes that alcohol and illegal drugs never played a big part in the Norwegian black metal scene. Some also reject black metal musicians and fans for having long hair, which they associate with hippies and left-wingers.
William Luther Pierce, founder of the white nationalist National Alliance, sought to promote NSBM as well as other forms of white nationalist music through Resistance Records, believing that music would "make the National Alliance rich and spread its message most effectively". To this end, he accommodated Absurd frontman Hendrik Möbus while the latter had fled to the United States to evade German authorities. Although Pierce appreciated the ideological mindset of NSBM and Resistance Records, as well as the financial gains, the music did not personally appeal to him, and he attacked the "sex, drugs & rock'n'roll" and "negroid" influences.
NSBM and the broader black metal scene
NSBM artists are a minority within black metal, according to Mattias Gardell. They have been rejected or strongly criticized by many prominent black metal musicians – including Jon Nödtveidt, Tormentor, King ov Hell, Infernus, Lord Ahriman, Emperor Magus Caligula, Protector, Erik Danielsson of Watain, and the members of Arkhon Infaustus
Some black metallers liken Nazism to Christianity in that it is authoritarian, collectivist, and a "herd mentality". It also conflicts with the misanthropic views of many artists; Benjamin Hedge Olson writes that the shunning of Nazism within the scene "has nothing to do with notions of a 'universal humanity' or a rejection of hate" but that Nazism is shunned "because its hatred is too specific and exclusive". While some black metallers boycott NSBM bands and labels, others draw a line between the music and the musicians, as they only care for the music. Some have criticized this as passive support for NSBM. The bigger print metal magazines tend to ignore records by NSBM bands. The book Unheilige Allianzen caused a short debate, leading Legacy magazine to stop printing ads for NSBM labels. Another debate happened in the "letters" section of Rock Hard magazine following the article Der rechte Rand im Black Metal (Black Metal's Far-right Border).
The band Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult claimed that they share "certain views of so-called NSBM bands" but said that "there will never ever be any of this misuse within our ranks. We do not want to have anything to do with this newest trend". According to them, politics in black metal is "as inappropriate as black metal concerts at daylight". Prominent black metal band Darkthrone have also maintained an apolitical stance throughout their career – although Fenriz claimed he was once arrested while participating in an anti-apartheid demonstration and later had a "phase of being really angry with […] other races" before he became "totally unengaged in [political] shit". Joakim of Craft said, "I don't think national socialism mix[es] with the ideology of real Black Metal in a way, but that doesn't go further than labels. I only think NS Black Metal is an inappropriate label for the music".
The band Marduk was accused of supporting Nazism after the release of their album Panzer Division Marduk (1999). This was because the songs on the album made numerous references to World War II and because the album title referenced Nazi Germany's panzer divisions. The band said that they were simply using war as a lyrical theme and denied supporting Nazism. However, in a 1995 interview its guitarist Morgan Håkansson had said "that we in Marduk want to prevent immigration to Sweden and that I was proud over the fact that my grandfather was a serving German officer during the Second World War".
Similarly, the Singaporean band Impiety were accused of supporting Nazism and antisemitism due to their depiction of Auschwitz and the practices of Josef Mengele in the lyrics of the song "Carbonised" on their album Paramount Evil (2004). It is worth noting that 75% of Singapore's population is Chinese, some members of the band are Malays and that Singapore's strict censorship laws mean that racist and antisemitic material is illegal on the island.
There are also bands who say they use Nazi imagery simply for shock value. An example is the band Taake, whose singer had painted a swastika on his chest before a concert on 20 March 2007 in Essen, Germany and attacked the audience. He later claimed to have done so only to be provocative. On the same occasion, he called the club owner an "Untermensch".
- Mattias Gardell, Gods of the Blood (2003), p.307
- Unheilige Allianzen, p.290.
- Unheilige Allianzen, p. 277.
- Michael Moynihan, Didrik Søderlind: Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground. Los Angeles, Feral House Books, 1998, p. 303.
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- Mattias Gardell: Hail Loki! Hail Satan! Hail Hitler! Darkside Asatrú, Satanism and Occult National Socialism in: Gods of the Blood: The Pagan Revival and White Separatism. (pp. 284–324). Duke University Press, 2003, ISBN 0-8223-3071-7
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