Bring out the pitchforks – they’ve found more (possible) Nazis in black metal!
Bring out the pitchforks – they’ve found more (possible) Nazis in black metal!
Inquisition, a rising star in the scene, has recently come under fire for potential NS associations and their choice of lyrical content.
The Seattle-based band has become one of the more popular acts in the genre. From earning top accolades in mainstream publications like Pitchfork, to opening for more established bands like Behemoth — Inquisition are starting to receive a significantly higher profile than many acts with a similar style.
This can explain why metal outlets are suddenly starting to attack Inquisition for their transgressions into unacceptable territory. The thought that a popular metal band might be Nazis is beyond frightening for these people and is something that desperately needs addressing.
Metal Injection, a popular metal website, reposted and commented on a far-left blogger’s piece who investigated the potential links between Inquisition and National Socialism.
The results: they have a song called “Crush the Jewish Prophet,” they reportedly hailed their tour bus driver for having Nazi tattoos (which convinced a Canadian Indian band to flee black metal altogether), and they’ve done business in the past with record labels renown for anti-Semitism and other dangerous ideas.
The conclusion: they’re probably Nazis and you should refuse to listen to their music.
I eventually decided to delete them from my music library and stop listening to them entirely. I do still find myself asking whether this was necessary. Fascist or white supremacist rhetoric is not central to their message or lyrics, which tend instead to focus on the conventional black metal concern of Satanism as expressed through astrological and cosmological imagery. Perhaps the band is canny enough to realise that openly expressing their views would limit their appeal or get them into trouble; perhaps they ascribe to the wider metal world’s liberal conviction that music is no place for politics. In any case, I usually hold to the idea that it’s OK to enjoy art and media with problematic elements, or which has been created by objectionable or even bigoted artists, as long as we acknowledge those problems and don’t shut down criticism of them. But for me, personally, a line has to be drawn somewhere. Art created by Nazis, fascists and/or white supremacists is on the side of the line I do not wish to set foot in.
And to this blogger, that position is more than an intellectual stance – it sends a message that “hateful” ideas will not be tolerated in black metal. Apparently the genre is in desperate need of creating a “safe space” for subalterns to feel welcome.
While the rhetoric of neo-Nazis and/or white supremacists within black metal is often mainly focused against Jewish people, it is naive to think that violence will be used solely against one group if this rhetoric is tolerated, especially when hatred of marginalised groups such as people of colour, LGBT people and disabled people is accepted even within mainstream society. Even a band like Inquisition that doesn’t openly espouse fascist rhetoric can still cause harm to members of persecuted groups. Gallant’s story shows how Weirbach and Stevens’ open expression of admiration for the Nazis led to the First Nations band Gyibaaw turning away from black metal, closing the door on an opportunity for that group to counter the genre’s overwhelmingly white demographic and tendency to champion or tolerate extreme right views. If we give our money to musicians with fascist leanings, we don’t just support them financially, we send a message to them that their extreme views will not cause them to be criticised, that their views are therefore acceptable. The same act also sends the message to minority groups that we care more about music than about making sure that fascist and white supremacist ideologies are not tolerated or allowed to spread. In a sense, we choose our own enjoyment over people’s safety, over their right to live free from fear of ideologies that call for their destruction.
I urge anyone who cares about making metal a space which is open to and safe for marginalised groups of people to, at the very least, abstain from paying for Inquisition’s albums or live shows. I wouldn’t want to force anyone to stop listening to the band’s music entirely as I have done; this is obviously a matter of personal choice. But please do consider whether it is worth it to add to the popularity of a band that holds these views- not just Inquisition, but any band in black metal or the wider genre who subscribes to fascist, white supremacist or Nazi standpoints. There’s enough excellent music out there being made by musicians who do not align themselves with dangerous, hate-fuelled ideologies.
What is incredibly ironic here is how black metal is a music style that bills itself as hateful, violent and outside of the mainstream of society… but can’t can’t tolerate ideas that are too extreme according to mainstream critics.
However, this policing in the genre isn’t an organic development, but a result of an influx of hipsters and other outsiders becoming more involved in the scene and wanting it to conform to their tastes.
They like the edginess of black metal – just not the fascist elements that make it too edgy for comfort. The author of the piece wants to replace the quasi-fascism with post-modernist leftism that only a few, limp-wristed pseudointellectuals would even understand and support. It basically would become a safe outlet for their own extremist fantasies.
But the vast majority of black metal listeners are attracted to its feral nature and anti-mainstream outlook that allows people with truly radical views to have a place. It’s inherently masculine and violent, but the PC crowd would neuter that attraction and turn the music into just another choice for SWPLs to listen to on down days.
Unfortuanately, their influence is stronger now and Inquisition has been forced to give an interview with Decibel (arguably the largest metal publication in the world now) to state that they’re not National Socialists. The meandering response was done probably to ensure that they stayed on the lineup of their current American tour, which is giving them access to a larger potential fanbase:
So, all this stuff, as controversial as it is, is interesting to me. But it doesn’t mean that I’m out affiliated with a movement that is seeking to physically destroy any type of race, and I’m not out, you know, spreading fliers and propaganda of, you know … “do away with this and do away with that.” If I have done that through Inquisition, it’s a metaphor against religions. Black metal is a symbolic or metaphor of the free will, independent thinking, opening the mind to greater things than just looking straight into the religions of all cultures that men themselves have created. And that’s what it’s about. And national socialism, to a certain degree, is all the opposite of that. All of it. Right? So, I could keep going somewhere down there, but you may have other questions that… could kinda trail onto other things, so I’ll let you do that.
But that hasn’t stopped the attacks. The ex-skinhead tour bus driver who accused them of hailing him for his swastika tattoos did an extensive interview with Decibel as well and spillt more dirt on the band:
As the tour went on I saw Jason interact with people I knew from the past that I knew had direct connections with the Blood And Honor organization (a white power group). I then became suspect of them. I then saw Jason [the frontman of Inquisition] having a discussion about National Socialism and Odinism with a youth. I stood to the side and listened and was convinced Jason was aligned with right-wing extremist ideology…
When I got back on the bus Tom asked a few questions and we started talking about the World Church Of The Creator. Tom started to tell me that he had connections in Everett, Washington. I indicated that I knew guys from Everett. That’s when Jason spoke up. He didn’t say much in that conversation except that he watches Nazi propaganda videos and Triumph Of The Will and loves that stuff and has dreams and fantasies that he wishes that would happen. I’m looking in the mirror and watching Gyibaaw’s [the Indian band on the tour] response and they are scared.
What it all boils down to is that personal thoughts (that are not even reflected in the lyrics) are open for attack and that any random person can fuel a media firestorm against you if you matter enough. This is almost like the Donald Sterling case… except these guys wear corpsepaint and sing about smashing Jesus. The new era of thought police can affect both those who wear suits to work and those who play extreme metal in spikes and leather.
Fortunately, there have been no direct consequences for Inquisition so far besides media smears. They are still on tour with Behemoth and their record label has not indicated any intention of dropping the act from their roster.
It would be a top-down move if Inquisition faced the consequences of any individual in the bourgeois world if they were accused of similar associations. Burzum, Graveland, and Nokturnal Mortum all enjoy strong record sales and critical appreciation in spite of far more explicit NS links.
The vast majority of black metal fans don’t care about their band’s politics and some even have an interest in ideas that go beyond nihilism and misanthropy. The Neo-Nazi movement of today certainly shouldn’t be the end result of that interest, but it can lead to an awakening in white racial consciousness and a desire to be in touch with one’s traditional roots.
Hopefully, Inquisition’s inquisition turns out differently than the typical purge of Western dissidents.