IN DEFENSE OF NSBM
article by Mr. Wolf
What? Were you expecting swastikas? Sorry none of that rubbish here. Look honestly I'm not into fascism, socialism, nazism, communism and frankly any "isms". Hell I'm a fuckin libertarian dammit. I believe in freedom as in freedom to choose. And I choose to like many bands/artists who over the years have been labeled NSBM aka: National Socialist Black Metal. Now before I move on let me re-tell something which happened years ago.
This was around the time I first started Scumfeast Metal 666, circa 2009. I started getting promos to review from a guy in the Ukraine, almost all black metal and from his area of the world. After reviewing all of the releases sent in he emails me with the question "Do you have a problem reviewing NSBM?" I replied "No". And so my email box became flooded with NSBM releases new and old. Of course I only reviewed the new stuff. I kept about half of it, lost a bunch when my computer crashed (the first time that is). In fact at that time I had so much NSBM that a friend joked that I had the largest collection of NSBM on the East Coast of the US. Well not really and a lot of it isn't actually NSBM. It's mostly black metal from Eastern Europe, Russia and the Ukraine.
So from that point we go to a Facebook tale. I decided to post a song from a recently aquired release on Facebook one night. I can't remember who it was (probably AD HOMINEM) but after I posted the song I get a message from this metalhead girl I knew and it went something like this:
Girl: "You know that band you just posted is nsbm right?"
Me: "Yeah so?"
Girl: "I just wanted to make sure you knew"
Me: "I do know"
Girl: "OK, I didn't know you were into that sort of thing"
Me: "Into What?"
Girl: "the nazi stuff"
Me: "I don't even own a brown shirt. You remember I use to beat up nazis"
Girl: "I use to like GRAND BELIAL'S KEY before I found out they were nazis"
Me: "Cool I'll look em up"
Girl: "I think (name witheld) is into it. He posts a lot of racist stuff about Obama"
Me: (name witheld) is not a nazi. I've never seen him at the meetings"
Girl: "that's not funny"
Me: "neither is accusing people of being nazis just because they like a band's music"
It ended there although a year later she would unfriended me, not over musical choices but politics. Oh well, at least she turned me onto GRAND BELIAL'S KEY.
According to that great harbinger of fact, aka: Wikipedia, NSBM is as follows:
National Socialist black metal (NSBM), sometimes called Aryan black metal, is black metal music that promotes Nazism or similar ideologies. It typically melds neo-Nazi ideology with ethnic European paganism and opposition to "foreign" religions such as Christianity, Islam and Judaism. However, some artists are Satanists or occultists, rather than pagans. NSBM is not seen as a distinct genre, but as a neo-völkisch movement within black metal. According to Mattias Gardell, NSBM musicians see this ideology as "a logical extension of the political and spiritual dissidence inherent in black metal"
Although there is an undercurrent of ethnic nationalism in black metal, NSBM artists are a small minority within the genre. Many NSBM artists are not very explicit with their political beliefs in the music, instead expressing in their beliefs offstage. Artists who hold far-right or White nationalist beliefs but do not express these in their music are not often deemed 'NSBM' by the greater black metal scene, but may be labelled as such in the media.
taken from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Socialist_black_metal
By the way Mattias Gardell is a liberal/progressive (regressive in my opinion) Swedish scholar of comparative religion. He specializes in the study of religious extremism.
Anyway lets steer clear of whatever stereotypical ANTIFA or the Southern Poverty Law Center's opinions are regarding NSBM. Let's look at it from a fan's point of view aka: ME.
#1. I don't like using the NSBM tagline to label bands because it's wrong. We all know black metal as a genre has a wide range of bands/artists who have different types of sound or style. When I describe a band's sound I try to go to a better understandable terminology. NSBM is not a sound. I always laugh when I see BURZUM lumped in as a NSBM band. How does singing about Orcs and Tolkien themes equate to NSBM accusations? Sure Varg has his opinions but how much of that has carried into his music. In fact much of what is labeled as NSBM is because of what the artists have said and not what is in their music.
#2. Whenever I hear or read something to the effect of "hateful rhetoric has no place in metal", I just fuckin laugh. What type of drugs are you on? Here's a shocker for ya, most metal (aka: Extreme Metal) is hateful. You'd have to be a hypocrite or a special kind of stupid not to realize that fact. Wanna know another fun fact? Black and Death metal is really hateful plus you can add some Thrash to that as well. Oh you think "hateful rhetoric has no place in metal"? Well you better be throwing away all your SLAYER records.
This fucked up mentality that "this is OK to hate" but "this is not" needs to called what it is, hypocrisy. How can anyone say with a straight face that GORGOROTH is OK but GRAVELAND oh no that's bad. Seriously a bunch of ignorant protesters got a GRAVELAND show in Montreal last year (November 2016) shut down because they don't like them. Really? Ya think they would get a BEHEMOTH or WATAIN show shut down? I mean to me those bands push the hate. And just for the record GRAVELAND is more pagan/viking influenced these days.
#3. And speaking of Paganism, would you call ENSLAVED an NSBM band because of their early albums being ultra Nordic. I mean there are plenty of black metal bands influenced by Odinism and some get tagged as NSBM so how does one pick one over the other? Despite Hollywood's recent interpretations in their Marvel Thor movies, everyone in Asgard was white. Yep, the whole Nordic religion had white gods and goddesses. Ya know why right? Yeah because the people who came up with those tales were also white. I'm sure Africans had ancient pagan gods or deities who were black. You can't call one bad and the other good.
#4. What's wrong with being nationalist or having pride? Oh that's not cool because of what? Seriously if you hate nationalism then you better stay away from World Cup Soccer and the Olympics. I guess if you see your nation's flag being flown you turn away like Dracula seeing a cross. Look there's nothing wrong with being proud of who or what you are. Seriously if you think it's wrong for a person to look down their nose at someone from another country then I gotta ask have you ever been to France?
#5. Oh but Mr. Wolf, it's wrong to hate someone because of their religion or race. Look if you truly believe that then you probably need to listen to Pat Boone records because you don't own anything extreme. Yes you'll have to chuck almost all of your music collection because it will offend someone somewhere. Yes all of it.
Look I believe in the live and let live ethic. I'll respect your right to believe in what you want just as long as you respect my right to believe something else. If something I like offends you, tough. Don't listen to it. Trust me I find a lot of things offensive. I give my opinion and move on but I don't try to ban it.
Finally I just want to set the record straight. Like any genre or sub-genre of music there's good and bad. When it comes to bands tagged as NSBM there's a lot more bad than good and I'm talking musically. The thing is you should decide for yourself. So here are a few of my favorites.
VELES - Black Hateful Metal
No Colours Records
Not for the faint of heart even by black metal standards. This second album by VELES is a religious trip into raw blackened hate.
AD HOMINEM - Climax of Hatred
Blackened Thrash with industrial elements that would later influence many others in the French Black Metal scene, although they would never admit it. This release is dedicated to hatred of all mankind.
HATE FOREST - Purity
Yeah known as the NSBM band that Roman Saenko was in prior to starting DRUDKH. That's if you think love of nature and national ancestry is evil, it's not. Some have said that on Purity, Saenko was showing hints of black metal's future. No actually he was reminding us all of it's past greatness.
GRAVELAND - Thousand Swords
It's tough to pick a single great GRAVELAND release since the band started out as raw black metal but then switched to a more Pagan/Viking style. Yeah just like BATHORY and both eras of the band have some great releases. But when it comes down to it I think Thousand Swords is epic as well as raw. It ranks up there with some of the best in the genre.
SATANIC WARMASTER - Strength & Honour
Northern Heritage Records
Satanic Tyrant Werwolf is the one man behind the long running SATANIC WARMASTER. As they say when it comes to black metal the Norwegians brought the atmosphere, the Swedes brought the melody and the Fins brought the filth. Strength & Honour is pure filthy black metal.
In closing I just wanna say look it's 2017 and it's about time we lose the NSBM tagline. Let's just call it what it is, Black Metal.