Older But Bolder: National Socialist Black Metal
“A Scandinavian, for instance, has no good reasons to emotionally react negatively to “Nazism”… German ‘Nazis’ behaved exemplary in Denmark and Norway during WWII… In Norway only about 0.03% of the population was killed (and the vast majority was actually killed by the Allies).”
Varg Vikernes, The Nazi Ghost, July 2005.
This statement, while inherently vile, is thought provoking in the context of the speaker and of the implications. Varg Vikernes is popular for three accomplishments in his life: Being the founding member of the heavily influential and genre-defining black metal band Burzum and for killing his ideological rival (for lack of better words) Øystein Aarseth, and finally for committing four acts of arson which were directed at Christian churches in the mid-1990s.
Vikernes went on to spend fifteen of twenty-one years in a federal prison, then was transferred to a low security prison in Tonsberg, Norway. Varg Vikernes was released in March of 2009. To most fans knowledge, his music was perpetuated within the confines of prison as he was given instruments and what was essentially enough equipment for a small musical studio as a means to keep himself busy. Vikernes also noted that his time in prison was, as he perceived, to be “like a stay in a monastery.” In addition to creating more music, his stay in prison allowed for him to hone his ideology of National Socialism which was further blended with ideas such as Germanic Paganism and traditional fascism. While Burzum itself did not speak out as a band that was outwardly fascist, Vikernes used it was a platform to spread his philosophy called “Odalism”, a combination of proto-German heritage, Old Nordic traditions, and fascism. Without the interesting name, however, the ideology is more in line with Teutonic Völkisch Nationalism based on ancestor worship, Paganism and the rejection of outside cultures. Symbolically, it is represented by the Odal rune.
The 1990s were years of import within the black metal scene. Emperor’s Tomas “Samoth” Haugen was sentenced in 1994 to sixteen months for burning Skjold Church in Vindafjord with Vikernes. Bård ‘Faust Eithun was convicted (homophobic) murder of Magne Andreassen the same year.
In 1992 Vikernes founded the Cymophane label, based in his hometown, was set to release material for his future Burzum releases. In July of 2000, the Chicago-based Center For New Community uncovered that William Luther Pierce, founder and leader of the white nationalist National Alliance and owner of Resistance Records, had gained control of Cymophane. Pierce died in 2002, and is best known as the author of The Turner Diaries, a futuristic race-war fantasy novel that inspired Timothy McVeigh to detonate a truck full of explosives in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 167 people. The main purpose of the NA’s takeover of Cymophane was to gain the distribution rights to distribute Burzum albums in the USA. The NA also set up Unholy Records as a subsidiary of Resistance to distribute the 2002 compilation album,Visions – A Tribute to Burzum and other international NSBM acts.
Varg Vikernes was not the only nor the first National Socialist Black Metal murderer that William Luther Pierce actively sought out. Hendrik Möbus (aka Jarl Flagg Nidhoegg), a neo-Nazi killer wanted in Germany was tracked across the country by US Marshals for eight weeks prior to his arrest on August 29th, 2000. The Marshals followed Möbus as he left the National Alliance compound, eventually detaining him in West Virginia. Möbus had fled Germany to avoid serving a five-year prison term and had begun his American racist underground tour nine months prior.
He went on to found an international network of NSBM acts that would later align themselves as what was essentially a “tree” of NSBM acts and ideologues across the globe. The “Pagan Front” went on to state: “ [We are] a neo-Pagan and racially aware movement, which struggles to secure the Aryan peoples existence.” The group claims to have chapters across the globe, on all continents, with active members perpetuating their agenda. Möbus went on to found DTB Records, a largely popular and influential NSBM record label. In the same year, he ended up brokering a deal between DTB records and national white supremacist group the Hammerskins as a means to further the distribution of pro-Anglosaxon music and ideas. This was short lived, however, as he was later arrested again for the distribution of Nazi-related paraphernalia.
It was at this point that the national distribution of NSBM records began to take its footing in global markets. Websites such as HMV and Amazon were noted to be selling products from NSBM record labels. Many of the well-known websites that once hosted music directly from the record labels have ceased all relations and instead carry lesser NSBM acts under the guise that they are “extreme metal”. To this day, you can still buy Emperor, Burzum, and Hate Forest releases from Amazon.com. Similarly, most of the bands are active to this day and well-praised amongst the heavy music community (though not for their ideologies).
Make no mistake, these ideologies are not rampant throughout common in the black metal community. This is not to say that overall black metal is inherently evil, racist, or nationalist but rather- these things do exist and are a looming facet to the genre overall. They are as much a part of the genre’s history as racism is to certain areas of country/folk music in America. It is however, important for fans and musicians alike to take these aspects of culture into account when advocating for a band or musician’s credibility. There are (of course) very serious implications to saying “I like Burzum’s music” and the alternative statement “I like Varg Vikernes and his worldview.” One is understandable, as I too am a fan of the music Burzum creates, and the other is absolutely unjustifiable.
My parting thoughts are simply: educate yourselves on the history of the music you like, understand the people, understand the actions of those who are the figures of importance. Don’t go bouncing around advocating something that is inherently despicable.
By: Josh Zoerner
NOTE: Much thanks to the people over at: whomakesthenazis.com, as they provided much of the information that was touched on in this article. They are an incredibly intelligent and informative group when it comes to combatting Nazism, Neo-Nazism, fascism, and all things associated. For those further interested in the subject, look their way.
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