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NSBM Special Report

Does Black Metal have a problem with Brownshirts? Or is the problem someone else's? Decibel investigates the peculiar world of National Socialist Black Metal.

They were Nazis, dude?

They were threatening castration, Donny. Are we gonna split hairs?

—Memorable exchange from The Big Lebowski, a very funny movie produced and directed by a couple of very funny Jews.

As if acting out some bizarre atavistic saga—half comedy, half high drama—our protagonists assume their marks in the theatre of the absurd. Somewhere not-so-deep in the sub-underground, the forces of National Socialist Black Metal—henceforth known as NSBM—are circling their Panzer tanks (or at very least their amplifiers) against the evil forces of Jewry, Niggerdom and Fagitude. No, wait—the NSBM dudes are the evil ones (Evil is, after all, a requirement of all black metal) and they’re aligning themselves against the Zionist Occupation Government, jungle fever and same-sex marriage. Or is it Israel, multiculturalism and gay bars? Point is, if it ain’t white—and straight, and pagan—it ain’t right.

Or so believe the NSBM hordes, most of whom prefer to think of themselves as warrior-intellectuals rather than musicians; as defenders of heritage and folkways rather than standard-brand racists. Not content with black metal’s unholy trinity of Satanism, corpsepaint and intentional misspellings, the propagators of NSBM see in Burzum mastermind Varg Vikernes not just a convicted murderer or a musical trailblazer, but an ideological messiah. As the self-appointed Charles Manson of Norwegian black metal, Vikernes started rolling swastika-style—issuing screeds against Jews and “colored people” and declaring his relation to Norwegian Nazi political sympathizer Vidkun Quisling—shortly after his arrest for killing Mayhem guitarist Øystein Aarseth in 1993. Hypnotized by Vikernes’ dark charisma and shrewd intellect, a fringe element of the nascent black metal underground took heed. As a result, many anti-fascist and anti-racist action groups have sounded the air-raid sirens for the second coming of the Luftwaffe, but the majority of NSBM’s known adherents don’t seem to be doing much more than toeing White Power’s party line, dropping a few racial slurs or slapping swastikas on their album covers. But maybe that’s an oversimplification.

How Many Polish Black Metal Nazis Does It Take to Screw in a Lightblub?

If Varg Vikernes is NSBM’s messianic ideologue, Rob “Darken” Fudali (pictured at left) is one of the genre’s most prolific and revered practitioners. Fudali’s primary band, Graveland (he has another project called Lord Wind), emerged from the forests of Poland in 1992, and has since recorded a slew of albums and EPs (roughly half of which Fudali plays all the instruments on)—including 1997’s Following the Voice of Blood (featuring the track “White Hand’s Power”), 1999’s Immortal Pride and the band’s latest full-length, Fire Chariot of Destruction—many of which were released on Germany’s No Colours Records. Almost unanimously worshipped within NSBM circles, some of Graveland’s earlier recordings are even considered black metal classics by those who do not share Fudali’s racial beliefs. Nonetheless, Darken no longer considers his music black metal. “I do not think Graveland is an NSBM band,” he tells Decibel through an interpreter. “Graveland is regarded as a NSBM band because of my political convictions, [which] most people would call extreme right-wing National Socialist convictions.”

Most of Fudali’s beef with black metal seems to stem from the genre’s satanic roots in both the Church of Satan-sanctioned stylings of Mercyful Fate and the cartoonish shock tactics of Venom. “I do not want my band be identified with Satanism,” he says. “Black metal will always be identified with Satanism because Satanism is inseparably connected with black metal. From the very beginning of Graveland we have combined paganism with Satanism. It happened because people I played with were Satanists and they were not interested in paganism. Due to these differences, we finally started to walk separate ways and Graveland became [a] one-man band again. I understood that I could not support Satanism [because it] was a part of Judeo-Christian religion. In the Third Reich, Satanists would end [up] in gas chambers.”

Oddly enough, Fudali is not particularly interested in being affiliated with National Socialism, either. “I do not see any point in referring to NS because I do not see any point in referring to any ideologies that lost,” he points out. “It is against logic and the eternal law of evolution. I think that white men should search for new ideas that would be well adapted for the current reality and the problems of [the] contemporary world.”

Fudali’s immediate surroundings in the contemporary world are overwhelmingly white. As of November 1999 (according to that month’s issue of Central Europe Review), 98% of Poland’s population was ethnic Polish. That same year, the country’s Jewish population represented less than half of a percent. Nonetheless, Fudali believes that white people “are at the edge of extinction.” Like Vikernes, he adheres to a form of pagan nationalism that promotes the segregation of all cultures in order to promote the advancement of the Aryan race. “Pagan beliefs are the system of values that is the precious heritage of my folk,” he offers. “Its achievements have assured [our] survival and development for thousands of years. I reach them to re-build my spirituality. Other people do the same. The world of right-wing ideologies has always been strongly connected with religion and spirituality. It distinguishes us from leftists. People who experience Graveland’s creativity sometimes experience [a] kind of awakening.”

It is unclear if these people follow Fudali’s lead by carrying swords and dressing up like medieval warriors in their press photos. Or if they’re actually awake while they are doing it.

Pagan War Machine

Ymir G. Winter is the guitarist for the New York-based NSBM band Grom. Winter says his father openly advocated fascism and that his grandfather (on his mother’s side) fought for Germany in World War II. “Couple that with growing up in the racial mosaic of New York City, and I was White Pride from early on,” he explains via e-mail. (In his transmissions, he consistently capitalizes the word White while using a lower-case “j” in the word Jewish.) Winter also prides himself on the fact that Grom is one of the few NSBM bands in the world that actually plays live. “During many of our shows, we will spit fire and then set an Israeli flag ablaze,” he explains. “When regulations don’t allow this, we have the crowd stomp the Israeli flag and spit on it. [But] a Grom show is not a redneck rally. We do not banter on about ‘kikes and niggers.’ I am more concerned with praising Aryanism and Paganism than I am with attacking non-whites and using foul language.”

In addition to his musical pursuits, Winter is a “proud member” of the National Alliance, the West Virginia-based White Nationalist group founded by Dr. William Pierce. Pierce (1933-2002) was the author of The Turner Diaries, the 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. (In The Turner Diaries, which Pierce published under the pseudonym Andrew MacDonald in 1978, the story’s protagonist detonates a truck full of explosives in the basement of FBI headquarters.) In early 1999, Pierce bought Resistance Records, the infamous White Power music clearinghouse that hocks everything from skinhead music and hatecore to RAC (Rock Against Communism) and NSBM. The label is currently pimping the shit out of “white nationalist folk duo” Prussian Blue, which consists of two blond, blue-eyed 13-year-old twin sisters, Lynx and Lamb Gaede, who play folk versions of Skrewdriver songs and original odes to Rudolf Hess at White Power picnics and love-ins. The Gaede sisters were recently interviewed by Diane Sawyer on ABC’s Primetime.

It just so happens that Ymir Winter works at Resistance, where he recruits bands, handles CD trades, and writes for the label’s magazine, aptly entitled Resistance. “The goal of Resistance is to steer White youth away from the jewish MTV lifestyle which will have them worshiping hip-hop culture and have them thinking that acting and looking black is ‘cool,’” Winter explains. “Resistance wants to promote Aryan awareness and does so by using music as a recruitment tool and as a vessel for the National Socialist/White Power movement. I don’t think that Resistance has taken an official stance as to [which is] the best form of White Power music, but I think the scope of NSBM’s appeal and marketability has been realized. Ten years ago, hatecore was cutting edge and was the main musical structure for the National Socialist/White Power scene. These days, more and more it is NSBM.”

To this end, Winter is also the label manager of Unholy Records, an NSBM subsidiary of Resistance that released a double-disc Burzum tribute album in 2002 (Visions: A Tribute to Burzum), Nocturnal Fear’s Sterilize and Exterminate and Nachtmystium’s Reign of the Malicious.  Though the presence of the latter on an NSBM label may surprise many of the band’s more recent fans, it is important to note that Nachtmystium has always been an apolitical band, and guitarist/vocalist Blake J. (AKA Azentrius)’s more recent musical endeavors—specifically with black metal supergroup Twilight and his own label, Battle Kommand—are not even remotely affiliated with National Socialism or White Power. “In the past, we’ve had some indirect ties to labels and bands that are part of the NS scene,” Azentrius concedes. “At one point not too many years ago, it wasn’t uncommon for NS labels or bands to trade and work with non-politically motivated bands and labels because at the end of the day, we’re all trying to promote, release, and be involved with music—all politics aside. Today it seems like there’s less of a connection, at least for me and my label. We don’t oppose people’s right to be ‘NS’ or whatever—that’s a personal choice, and if you live in the USA, you have the right to that opinion. Even though I personally, my band(s) and my label have absolutely no interest in being a part of that scene, I will ALWAYS take their side when it comes to their freedom of speech being imposed upon.”

Whatever Happened to Freedom of Hate Speech?

Say what you will about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude—at least it’s an ethos.

—Yet another memorable line from The Big Lebowski

Over the past 15 years, minor controversies have surrounded various black metal bands’ choices of words and symbols. Mayhem used old SS Totenkopf insignias on their t-shirts; Emperor guitarist Samoth started a band called Zyklon (originally Zyklon-B, the name of a Nazi gas-chamber fumigant); most infamously, the slogan “Norsk Arisk Black Metal” (translation: “Norwegian Aryan Black Metal”) appeared on the back cover of Darkthrone’s 1994 album Transylvanian Hunger. Prior to the album’s release, Darkthrone drummer/lyricist Gylve Nagell (AKA Fenriz) apparently sent a fax to the band’s UK-based label, Peaceville Records, containing text he wanted to include on the album’s sleeve: “We would like to state that Transylvanian Hunger stands beyond criticism. If any man should attempt to criticize this LP, he should be thoroughly patronized for his obviously Jewish behavior.” Peaceville promptly shit themselves and issued a press release stating that the label would honor Nagell’s request but would “refuse to promote or advertise” the album. Darkthrone then delivered a convoluted apology that claimed, “In Norway, the word ‘Jew’ is used all the time to mean something that’s out of order… When we wrote ‘Jewish behavior’ in our previous press statement, we could have easily written, according to the Norwegian language, ‘stupid’ instead.”

When contacted by Decibel, Darkthrone guitarist/vocalist Ted Skjellum (AKA Nocturno Culto) was hesitant to comment. “After the blow we took back in the midst of last decade, I kind of said to myself that we should not ever let some losers try to fry us again,” he typed via e-mail. “You see, people just love to put other meanings to things people say about politics. FUCK THEM ALL. It’s like people don’t want to wake up and face reality. Everybody seems to want to live out a fuckin’ lie.”

There are at least a few people in NSBM circles who think bands like Darkthrone, Zyklon and Mayhem are poseurs. “Most of these Norwegian bands’ ideology is cheap and they will sell it for anything they can get—like a five dollar crack whore,” says Rich Mills, owner of Vinland Winds Records in New York City, an NSBM label that releases music by Grom, Graveland and Australian bizarros Spear of Longinus. Like many NSBM acolytes, Mills harbors a unique veneration for Varg Vikernes: “Burzum is the only Norwegian band that remains unapologetic and literally convicted of his beliefs.”

Mills says he has been “loosely affiliated” with the National Alliance in the past, but insists that he will always remain a “lone wolf.” Under the nom de guerre Grimnir Heretik, he is the vocalist for Grand Belial’s Key, a band that has often been saddled with the NSBM yoke, even if it isn’t necessarily self-applied. Still, GBK’s latest album, Kosherat, closes with two Chaos 88 covers (including the song “Holy Shit,” which features the lyric, “I wanna beat you like the Jew that you are”). Mills believes there is a double standard applied to the traditionally anti-religious stance prevalent in most forms of extreme music. “It seems you can talk about killing Jesus and how much Christianity sucks but if you mention it being linked to or having its roots in Judaism you will be totally boycotted,” he points out. “Attacking Christianity is okay, but [attacking] Judaism is not. You will be labeled an anti-Semitic Nazi Racist. That is the true hypocrisy of the so-called extreme metal genre. Freedom of speech just as long as what you say is what they agree with.”

Another bone of contention within the NSBM community is the fact that death metal and gore bands can get away with graphic lyrics about murder and torture—like Cannibal Corpse’s infamous “Stripped, Raped and Strangled” and “Fucked With a Knife”—but criticizing Jewish doctrine or claiming to support a dead political platform like National Socialism is strictly verboten. “Most people in the black metal scene are either pro-NS or indifferent to it,” Mills speculates. “The only people who complain are [in] the death metal scene, [and] claim to be so extreme. I guess [lyrics about] raping your mother and having sex with dead babies are okay, but looking out for your own kind isn’t. Maybe they don’t want to really offend their Jewish record labels by claiming affiliation with any extreme right-wing political faction and get themselves dropped.”

Ymir Winter totally agrees: “The metal scene has become a politically-correct realm for modern-day hippies and apologists. These people ‘Hail Satan’ and sing about sacrificing infants and then some, yet get all upset at the mention of anti-Semitism. Somehow it has become fact that one cannot even QUESTION Jewish doctrine, society, ethos, or race without being branded an anti-Semite.”

Kike Bastards vs. Aryan Assholes

Sometime in 1999, just after Grom released their debut EP, Pagan War Machine, on Vinland Winds Records, they played a show at the Voodoo Lounge in Queens. “In those days, we opened for many mainstream acts such as Deicide and Incantation,” Winter explains. “I think we were playing with Krisiun that night and we heard that one of the main writers or editors from Metal Maniacs was coming to review our show but had an agenda to smear us regardless of how well we played. Anyway, we caught wind, confronted him and my old bassist ended up grabbing the guy’s notepad and backpack and hurling [them] down the boulevard. We then grabbed the guy by his collar and tossed him.” Grom’s Wikipedia.com entry—which Winter claims was not authored by anyone in the band—refers to this incident as, “The beating of a Jewish member of the Metal Maniacs staff by one of the now-former members of Grom.”

“I’m the only Jewish editor the magazine has ever had, and that never happened to me,” says former Metal Maniacs editor Mike Greenblatt, AKA Mike G. “Maybe one of my writers went to see them, but I’ve always been heavily anti-Nazi and anti-White Power. I used to make a point of it. I remember when I interviewed Lemmy from Motörhead, he was talking about Hitler and I questioned him on it. He said Hitler was the first rock star, and of course I knew what he meant, but at the time, he had gotten me drunk on Jack Daniel’s and the room was spinning around while he was spouting this shit about Hitler, and I was like, ‘Wait a minute—I’m a Jewish guy! I don’t get into that shit!’ So I always wore my Jewishness on my sleeve as sort of a rebellious thing against these White Power assholes.”

In fact, the history of Greenblatt’s nom de plume dates back to hate mail sent to the Maniacs office when he started at the magazine in 1989. “The publisher and I started receiving death threats, like, ‘Die, you kike bastard!’ and all this shit,” he explains. At first, Greenblatt resisted the publisher’s suggestion he abbreviate his last name, but then eventually agreed, albeit for a completely different reason. “The final turn came in 1991 when I started a country music magazine. I understood, business-wise, that if the kids found out that the editor of Metal Maniacs was also the editor of a country music magazine, it would hurt my credibility in the metal world.”

Nazi Watchdogs

In the fall of 1999, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s quarterly magazine, Intelligence Report, featured an article entitled “Sounds of Violence.” As though narrating a trailer for Reefer Madness, the authors warn of “a new generation of metal bands, known as the black metal underground, [that] is so extreme it makes Marilyn Manson look square.” They then claim that Varg Vikernes was imprisoned for “beheading his best friend”—in actuality, Vikernes stabbed Aarseth to death, and the two hadn’t been particularly friendly for some months prior to the murder—and make a vague attempt to link the Columbine shootings to black metal: “Words, for these youths, often become action. Among others, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, who murdered 12 of their classmates and a teacher at Columbine High School in Colorado last April, were said to have been influenced by this kind of music.”

Next, they vilify Lords of Chaos co-author Michael Moynihan for making allegedly racist and fascist comments and for his membership in “the black metal band Blood Axis.” The main problem with this particular part of the article—besides being totally misleading—is that Blood Axis is not a black metal band. Rather than interview Moynihan, the authors of the article excerpted quotes from an issue of Compulsion zine published in 1998. “I have no problem being called a fascist,” Moynihan is quoted as saying. “If fascism will restore some sense of order, discipline and responsibility to the world, then I am all for it.”

Two of the authors of the SPLC report, John Lunsford and Justin Massa, also wrote portions of the anti-White Power music campaign Turn It Down’s December 1999 tract Soundtracks to the White Revolution: White Supremacist Assaults on Youth Music Subcultures, which features chapters on NSBM and a sub-section (in the chapter on noise bands) on Moynihan specifically. Unsurprisingly, the same Compulsion quote appears in both texts.

“The reports on black metal by these watchdog groups represent some of their most shoddy investigative work,” Moynihan tells Decibel. “This not only shows the low level of understanding they have for the subject matter, but it calls the accuracy of their work as a whole into question. Not that these kind of issues probably concern them, however, since the real goal of these reports is neither historical nor journalistic accuracy—it’s to keep their readers sufficiently alarmed so that they will continue to donate money to the coffers of the watchdogs. Of course something like black metal, with all of its apocalyptic overtones, suits such a purpose perfectly.

“Regarding their attacks on me, these too have been packed with misinformation and outright errors,” Moynihan adds. “They ignore my artistic work as whole—it’s clear they’ve never even listened to the records they’re condemning—and merely focus on a few provocative statements selectively culled from interviews done nearly 15 years ago. These statements become far more ambiguous when contextualized into everything I’ve said and done over the years. From the very beginning I have said that Blood Axis represents a grey area of Nietzschean amorality and paradox; the inability of people to handle it, or even grasp it on these terms, only proves how successfully it embodies this.”

The Turn It Down campaign was launched in 1999 by the Center for New Community, a faith-based non-profit organization stationed in Chicago. According to Devin Burghart, the Director of the CNC’s Building Democracy Initiative and editor of Soundtracks to the White Revolution, the CNC is “a civil and human rights organization concerned about social, racial and economic justice.” (The third author of the SPLC report, Eric Ward, is currently on staff at the CNC; Massa is a former CNC staffer.)

“Part of the work we’ve done here at the Center for a number of years has been to help counter White Power music and particularly the growth of the NSBM phenomenon,” Burghart adds. “We’re part of a network of organizations that works to counter this type of music internationally.”

Soundtracks to the White Revolution’s chapter on NSBM opens with a list of 21 US-based NSBM labels and distributors. While most of the labels on the list deal at least partially if not exclusively in NS titles, the presence of LA-based Southern Lord Records—known for decidedly non-Nazi black metal releases from Craft, Lurker of Chalice and Xasthur—was initially puzzling. Even more baffling is the fact that, in 1999, when Soundtracks to the White Revolution was published, Southern Lord specialized almost exclusively in doom and drone bands like Goatsnake and Sunn O))). Asked which Southern Lord title or titles Turn It Down considers National Socialist in nature, Burghart can’t recall. “I’d have to go back and look to see what they were carrying at the time,” he says. “But it was clear—we had a pretty long discussion about the threshold these labels had to cross before we were gonna list them. It wasn’t that they just had one Burzum album—it had to be far more than that.”

Turn It Down’s NS threshold remains a mystery. Although Southern Lord declined to comment for this article, it seems the error potentially occurred in conjunction with the label’s very first release, Dommedagsnatt, by now-defunct Seattle doom mavens Thorr’s Hammer, which included Southern Lord owner Greg Anderson and fellow Sunn O))) guitarist Stephen O’Malley as members. Thor’s Hammer—with one “r”—is the name of a Polish NSBM band featuring former Graveland drummer Capricornus.

Hating for Dollars

Vee vant zee money, Lebowski.

—(You guessed it.)

Despite the flaws in their reporting, the CNC and the SPLC are genuinely concerned about the use of NSBM—and White Power music in general—as a recruitment tool for organized white supremacist groups like the National Alliance. But even Burghart admits that most of the evidence that NSBM is successfully recruiting serious White Power acolytes is purely anecdotal. “White Power groups like the National Alliance have attempted to use the NSBM packaging and genre to recruit a different type of disaffected young person into the white supremacist movement,” Burghart explains. “Most of the NSBM bands used to get the cold shoulder from old-line White Power bands in the hardcore and oi scenes. But with the popularity of bands like Burzum and Graveland, the foundation was laid to bring those folks in. But frankly, these [organizations] don’t have enough critical mass to draw people from. I think the conundrum they’ve run into with the NSBM scene is that they were late to get involved and unable to capitalize.”

Which begs the question: Does any White Power organization that wants to be taken seriously in the political arena really want to be associated with a bunch of dudes running around in corpsepaint and wielding swords? “That actually has been a topic of discussion,” Burghart says. “There are those in the white supremacist movement who like the fact that most of the members of the NSBM scene are fairly well-educated and have a more elite or aristocratic perspective than the more working-class followers of the White Power/skinhead scene. But for some, the gruff sound of black metal and, you know, the corpsepaint, isn’t that attractive.”

Mark Potok, Director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project and editor of the Intelligence Report that ran the “Sounds of Violence” article back in 1999, says that William Pierce was initially reluctant to bring Resistance Records under the National Alliance’s ivory umbrella for those very reasons. “It was very painful for William Pierce to buy Resistance,” Potok explains. “He couldn’t stand the music. His thing was Wagner and polkas—no kidding—he thought that stuff was ‘healthy’ music. He used to talk about the ‘Negroid rhythms’ of American pop music.”

This is a sentiment echoed by Varg Vikernes, who has done much to distance himself from black metal in recent years because of metal’s foundation in rock ‘n’ roll, and by extension, the blues. However, Pierce was able to ignore the black metal’s lack of Aryan purity when the NA’s Resistance-bolstered bank statements began rolling in. “Between dues and Resistance, the National Alliance was grossing close to a million dollars a year at its peak in 2002, right around the time Pierce died,” Potok explains. “He thought the music was disgusting, but he knew it was important to the movement, and he recognized it as a very important money-making tool.”

Bark vs. Bite

Despite the often alarmist nature of the reports issued by both SPLC and Turn It Down, neither Potok nor Burghart was able to cite a substantive act of violence committed by a member of the NSBM community since “Sounds of Violence” and Soundtracks to the White Revolution were published. Still, Burghart insists that NSBM is potentially more dangerous than the documented violence of skinhead groups and other White Power bands. “I think NSBM is as serious as any genre in the White Power scene—if not more so, because of the glorification of ultra-violence,” he says. “We’re only talking about a scene of maybe a few hundred people, but within that scene, there is a high propensity for violence.”

The closest Burghart comes is the case of Leo Felton, a six-foot-seven, 225-lb straightedge skinhead arrested in April 2001 for passing counterfeit bills at a Dunkin Donuts in Boston. At the time of his arrest, the 30-year old Felton had already served 11 years in prison for the attempted murder of a black cab driver, and was allegedly a member of the anti-Semitic World Church of the Creator and the Outlaw Hammerskins. Police apparently found bomb-making materials in Felton’s apartment, and believed he was conspiring to blow up the New England Holocaust Memorial. But Felton’s connection to NSBM is tenuous at best: according to articles that Burghart co-authored (with Justin Massa) in the October 2000 and July 2001 issues of the British-based anti-fascist magazine Searchlight, Felton read an NSBM-related zine called Fenris Wolf when he was incarcerated in New York on the attempted murder charge. Fenris Wolf was published by Nathan Pett, who hid convicted murderer and fugitive Hendrik Möbus—of the German black metal band Absurd—at his home near Spokane, Washington. Fenris Wolf was also affiliated with the Pagan Front, a loosely knit organization collectively known as “The Hammer of National Socialist Black Metal.” While Felton was killing time behind bars reading Fenris Wolf, he also slit the throats of two black inmates who allegedly tried to rape him.

The irony of all this is that Felton’s father is black.

Welcome to RaHoWa!

Of course, there are those who will think that simply giving NSBM editorial space is an implicit form of support for its underlying ideologies. As a metal journalist who has written extensively about NSBM bands in publications like Terrorizer, Metal Maniacs and Unrestrained, Nathan Birk has come up against this kind of thinking repeatedly. “I just think that’s a bad symptom of modern American social mores that I’m expected to take these people to task,” he says. “I don’t really listen to ambiguous, please-all demographics of music—I prefer bands that lay it on the line, be they far-right or far-left. What about a band like Severed Head of State? They talk about torching cops. If I write about them, it doesn’t mean I support torching cops. Yeah, I have a natural distrust of authority, but I’m also a father, so if there’s someone breaking into my house, I wanna be able to call the cops and make sure they fuckin’ come.”

Birk also isn’t convinced that most NSBM bands pose an actual physical threat to anyone. “I’m sure 95 percent of it is just talk, anyway,” he says. “They’re just using imagery. I mean, Graveland weren’t always singing about ‘the power of the white hand’ or whatever. I have demo tapes where they thank Dead Can Dance.” In defense of his own writing, Birk also cites the use of fascistic imagery by musical enigmas Death in June, a band that has never come out in support of any political platform. “Why is it so taboo in Western society to use imagery of and metaphors for power, domination and submission?” he asks. “Why do they have to be beholden to an endorsement of those things? I mean, is art so beholden to these absolutes?”

Just the same, NSBM figureheads like Fudali speak of RaHoWa, the perpetually impending Racial Holy War in which the white race will be forced to defend its blood and soil against the alien forces of the “mud races” and the Zionist Occupation Government (ZOG), the hidden Jewish hand that controls Hollywood, the Federal Reserve, and is the driving force behind the US alliance with Israel. (The concept of ZOG is derived from an allegedly ancient text first published in Russia in 1903 entitled The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Many white supremacist groups believe The Protocols is an instruction manual for the Zionist—AKA Jewish—conspiracy to manipulate the world’s social order through a systematic takeover of the mass media and financial institutions. As early as 1921, the New York Times proved that The Protocols were a forgery.)

“When will RaHoWa come?” Fudali asks. For him, it is a rhetorical question. “Maybe when the US loses [the] war in the Middle East? It is inevitable. Islam spreads without aircraft carriers and super-war technology. One thing is sure: RaHoWa is imminent.”

For all the large talk that goes on in NSBM circles, very few of these self-styled racial holy warriors are perpetrating any actual crimes—at least that we know about. However, there a few lone wolves who seem more than prepared to get it on, Timothy McVeigh style.

We Are But Wolves Among Sheep

We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White children.

—The “Fourteen Words” of White Nationalism

About a year ago, I got an e-mail from Quebec with a photo attached. Two clicks later, I was looking down the barrel of a gun. In the photo, a man in military fatigues, a black ski mask, and a flak jacket was pointing an automatic rifle at the camera lens. His name is Vjohrrnt V. Wodansson; he was, at the time, the webmaster and minister of propaganda for the Canadian (or “Northern Vinland” in Aryan-speak) chapter of the Pagan Front, otherwise known as “The Hammer of National Socialist Black Metal,” a loose pro-Aryan cadre of “heathen writers, artists, musicians, editors and label owners who care for our ancestral heritage, purity of race and tradition, and are ready to defend it, when the time comes.”

Wodansson is a member of the “leaderless resistance,” one of the white supremacist movement’s faceless lone wolves. Like Timothy McVeigh, he claims to be a survivalist hardliner, and it is clear that he is no stranger to serious weaponry. At the time of this interview, he was also the vocalist and drummer for a NSBM band called Nacht Und Nebel, which is German for “Night and Fog.” On December 7, 1941, Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel issued Adolf Hitler’s infamous “Night and Fog Decree,” which stated that those who resisted German rule in occupied territories would “disappear in the night and fog”—Nazi-speak for deportation to concentration camps. Their families would not be informed. Night and Fog is also the title of Alain Resnais’ brutal 1955 Holocaust mini-documentary, which contains stomach-churning footage shot at the concentration camp at Auschwitz, Poland. There is also an NSBM compilation entitled The Night and the Fog: A Tribute to National Socialist Black Metal, co-released in the late ‘90s by Dungeons of Darkness Records and Hendrik Möbus’ Darker Than Black Records.

“Racism is a natural instinct of man,” Wodansson tells Decibel via e-mail. “Humanist black metal faggots who praise global friendship and tolerance for all should start thinking about switching to another, more humanist style of music—like death metal for example.”

For Wodansson, black metal is only a means to an end: the recruitment and preparation for RaHoWa. “The musical medium is solely propaganda,” Wodansson says. “Black metal is a common passion we share, but we all know that music is not the solution. It will not help us win the war. It is a great medium for recruiting, or at the minimum, attracting some interest from the youth. Besides that, NSBM cannot do much more than entertain. It is not the answer to the problem in itself.”

Like Varg Vikernes and Rob Fudali, Wodansson espouses an intense dislike for the Satanism prevalent in black metal circles. He even quotes Vikernes directly: “Perhaps in time when they eventually start to realize that they are in fact ‘only slaves to the one with horns,’ like Vikernes once stated in an interview, and awake from that hypnosis. Then some progress will be possible towards a more productive goal and ideological coherence.”

Unlike many NSBM devotees, Wodansson has no use for Nazi relics or propaganda. Like Deicide’s inverted cross or Venom’s pentagram, they represent an idea—they are not the idea itself. “Many would call themselves NS because they collect WW2 medals, helmets, flags or buy a bunch of books on the subject—that’s all crap, it’s all useless,” he spits. “National Socialism is in the soul, mind and spirit of the individual, not in 70-year-old junk. I have never read Mein Kampf, nor do I intend [to] ever read it. I do not need it to know my path. Give me an original [Nazi] pistol, an Iron Cross Medal of Honor or one of Hitler’s personal suits and I’ll immediately sell it so that I can purchase weapons. We discourage you [from] wasting all your money on useless things like CDs and Nazi decorations for your bedroom. This is no fucking rock ‘n’ roll fashion show: THIS IS RACE WAR!!”

As a precaution, the PFV, now defunct according to Wodansson, did not discuss any of its more “delicate projects,” as he calls them, with new recruits, much less the press. “[What] we have in mind is never discussed with those [whom] we cannot be 100% sure of their complete integrity and reliability regarding the revolution at hand,” he explains. “As I said previously, music is not all we are about. We make a huge point about preparedness, survivalist training, weapons training, and food and equipment caches for later use. That’s how it should be for any serious revolutionary activists: Minimum to live by, the rest in what is imperative for war.

“You cannot go to war with your BC Rich guitar or your Vic Firth drum sticks, can you?” Wodansson continues. “The PFV firmly express that the armament of its members by ‘all means necessary’ is a duty to all true revolutionary fighters. And I am not talking of swords, battle axes and fantasy daggers here. When the ZOG raid your house to look for hate propaganda and discriminating anti-fed-governmental evidence, do you really think they will be frozen with fear at the sight of a corpsepainted kid in black holding [a] fake sword?” 

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