By Tzvi Fleischer
They call it a lot of things White Power Rock, Oi!, Hatecore, Volk Music. There is even something called White Power Country and Western. But it all has something in common it is today perhaps the most important tool of the international neo-Nazi movement to gain revenue and new recruits. And those recruits are in turn inspired by this music to engage in acts of racist violence.
The most popular form of such music is a variety of heavy metal accompanied by lyrics which repeat slogans of white Aryan Supremacy, glorify racial violence and Nazism, and call for various forms of "White revolution" and murder.
The Nazi music business has grown throughout the 90s, thanks largely to the internet and the ability it gives skinheads and other neo-Nazi groups to set up internet businesses to sell this music, and the organisational advantages it gives to them in avoiding the racial hatred laws that they frequently breach.
Moreover, Australia is an important part of the international hate music scene, with Australian Nazi bands well-known to overseas skinheads, and at least two Australian internet businesses devoted exclusively to the sales of this music. This is despite the fact that this music is almost certainly illegal under Australias racial hatred laws.
The history of hate music
Many people are unaware of the direct connection between music and the growth of the neo-Nazi skinhead movement in the 1970s.The skinhead movement is actually the bastard child of British musical counter-culture mated with soccer hooliganism. Despite a brief skinhead counter-culture in the late sixties, the skinhead "movement" really took off on the back of the punk music revolution in Britain from 1976 onwards.
The skinhead movement was originally tied up with a an offshoot of British punk called "Oi!" music. This was punk music which was influenced to some extent by Reggae and Ska type music, but also sought to be explicitly an expression of the British working class. Certain Oi! bands developed an extensive skinhead following which they were unable to shake even when they desired to do so, especially SHAM 69, the Angelic Upstarts and the Cockney Rejects. Skinheads began appearing at their concerts shouting fascist slogans and starting fights with the non-skinhead punks in the audience. The Oi! movement as a whole, though mostly non-racist, rejected criticism of their racist followers because this was seen as interference by the outside "middle-class establishment." Overtly skinhead Oi! bands such as the 4skins began to appear.
In the late 70s, the Rock against Racism initiative in Britain succeeded in uniting most of the punk movement against the skinhead fringe and against Britains National Front, a rapidly growing neo-Nazi political party. As more and more Oi! concerts increasingly led to violent skinhead attacks and riots in the early 1980s, police began to shut down Oi! Concerts and record companies refused to produce new Oi! records.
The National Front responded in the early 1980s by attempting to harness skinhead music for their own purposes. They started their own record company, White Noise Records, and published a series of magazines devoted to overtly racist music. They particularly championed the band "Skrewdriver", led by Ian Stuart Donaldson, a long-time NF activist convicted of a racist attack on an elderly black man. At the same time, racist music began to appear elsewhere as the skinhead movement spread to Germany, the US, and Scandanavia, as well as Australia. Certain alternative record companies in France and Germany began issuing racist records.
Ian Stuart Donaldson later led Skrewdriver and some other bands to split off and form Blood and Honour in 1987, as the National Front was collapsing. By the early 1990s, this had been taken over by Combat-18, a violent thuggish neo-Nazi fringe spinoff of the racist British National Party (the 18 refers to Adolf Hitlers initials, the first and eighth letters of the alphabet.) After Donaldsons death in a car accident in 1993, he became a martyr to the cause, and the name of the record division became ISD Records in his memory. Combat-18 successfully turned ISD Records into a major money spinner for the movement and eventually broke into using the internet as their key sales tool. Other racist groups saw the opportunity, and purveyors and producers of purely racist records quickly sprang up around the world, including Swedens Nordland Records and Resistance Records, founded in Detroit by a Canadian adherent of the World Church of the Creator, a violently racist pseudo-religion.
Throughout the 1990s, the Nazi record business has grown strongly. One major development in recent years is the growing use of "Odinist" religious themes by many of these bands worship of the old German and Scandinavian pantheon of gods, such as Odin, Thor, Loki, Frey, etc. The appeal is both the glorification of war and violence found in this religion, accompanied by a belief that these are pure "Aryan" gods.
Hate music overseas
Today, there are literally dozens of websites available on the internet where one can buy white supremacist music, and the total number of different albums available in the various racist sub-genres is well in excess of 400.
With the internet, Nazi music is flourishing. In fact, it is probably the most successful part of the international skinhead movement, and clearly serves to provide financial support and recruitment to a variety of racist organisations around the world.
The popularity of overtly racist music is perhaps most obvious in Germany. In answer to a question in parliament earlier this year, the German internal security service revealed the following facts: There were at least 105 neo-Nazi concerts in Germany in 1999, 59 of them in the former East Germany. At least eight of them attracted more than a thousand skinheads, at least one attracted more than 2000. There are approximately 93 Nazi bands active in Germany. There are at least 50 businesses which cater exclusively to the Nazi music scene. Blood and Honour, a music oriented fascist organisation, has branches in every state in Germany. All of this is highly illegal, as it is in many of the other countries in which it occurs.
However, in addition to creating vast e-commerce opportunities for neo-Nazis, the internet is also clearly creating a cooperative trans-national community which facilitates the spread of this sort of music, especially in the face of legal barriers.
Many previous highly illegal racist albums have been produced in Britain, but recent prosecutions of CD manufacturers and studios have largely closed this avenue to British skinheads. So offshore companies are used to produce, master and press the CDs, particularly in Germany and Sweden. While these countries also have hate laws, their enforcement with respect to CD production has generally been lacking. German law enforcement authorities, for instance, almost never prosecute the producers of illegal CDs, they merely confiscate their illegal stock.
For instance, the British skinhead group Chingford Attack, has just produced a highly illegal album containing such songs as "Coon Hunt", "Dirty Black Bastard" and "Jewish Lies." The album was produced for Britains ISD Records by a German neo-Nazi company, Hatefront Records. Hatefront in turn arranged for the mastering and pressing to be done in Switzerland by two companies, one a subsidiary of a Swedish firm. These are not specifically associated with Nazism, but apparently were willing to look the other way in order to make money.
The various Nazi bands compete with each other to be more violently offensive in their lyrics, while the vendors use the extremity of the lyrics as a selling point. Thus, for example, one site lauds "Barbecue in Rostock", an album by British Nazi band No Remorse, as "easily one of the most racist, violent, offensive White Power albums ever done." The site is not exaggerating. Not only does the album contain songs such as "Zigger! Zigger! Shoot those Fucking Niggers", "Belsen was a Gas, Exterminate ya!" and "Zyklon B", but the very title of the album is about the worship of racist violence. It refers to a German city where neo-Nazi arsonists burned to death several asylum seekers in a refugee hostel in 1992, while the cover art of the album shows a skinhead spit-roasting a man with a large nose.
While that album is now several years old, contemporary productions are capable of being just as violent and offensive. For instance, the Combat-18 band Warhammer this year put out an album entitled "Valhallas Warriors" which contains songs such as "Die Jew Die" and "Hang em all", referring to "Jews", "Niggers" and "Reds".
One of the most worrying trends to develop in the international Nazi music scene is the takeover last year of the US company, Resistance records by the American neo-Nazi group, the National Alliance (NA). The National Alliance has been adjudged the "single most dangerous organised hate group in the United States today" by the American anti-racism body, the Anti-Defamation League. The NA is led by William Pierce, the author of two books, The Turner Diaries and Hunter which have probably done more than anything else to promote the current tendency toward acts of terrorism by extreme rightwingers internationally. For instance, these books influenced both the Oklahoma Bomber, Timothy McVeigh, and the London Nazi bomber, David Copeland.
The National Alliance, meanwhile is a growing organisation of over 1000 individuals in 26 states across the US, generally well-disciplined, and includes both skinheads and more "respectable" and older racists. Like many white supremacists, it seeks to create "a racially clean area of the earth" for whites only, and believes that "Aryans" are naturally superior to other peoples. Its program is consistent with The Turner Diaries, which is a novel that describes how groups of secret white supremacists cells successfully stage a revolution and then systematically exterminate all Blacks, Jews and other minorities.
The National Alliance, which has always been very adept at using technology to spread its message, has made Resistance Records into the giant of the international Nazi music market, especially, after the takeover of Swedish competitor Nordland late last year. The company now has probably the most sophisticated websites in the international nazi music scene, has more than 250 titles for sale, and also publishes a glossy 64-page magazine, Resistance, which promotes both hate music and National Alliance ideology.
But perhaps most worrying is the revenue Resistance Records is clearly generating for the National Alliance. They are reportedly receiving an average of more than 50 orders a day averaging around $70 each. This is well in excess of US$1 million per annum, the vast majority of which is profit which can go into the National Alliance coffers to promote the organisations plans for racist revolution.
The Australian Scene
While Australia does not have a particularly large population of skinheads and other neo-Nazis, its export of hate music is probably disproportionate to the number of neo-nazi adherents.
By far the best known Australian hate music band is called Fortress, which works out of Melbourne. Like most such bands, it is largely the product of a specific skinhead group, in this case the Melbourne "Southern Cross Hammer Skins". Fortress even shared a post-office box with the Hammer Skins in their early days.
Fortress has produced a total of five CDs of their own since forming in 1991, and has also been extensively involved in collaborations with neo-Nazi bands from Britain and the US, resulting in several other albums. They have played neo-Nazi gigs in Sweden, Germany, England, Hungary, Switzerland, Italy and Finland, as well as Australia. Individual members of Fortress have also been involved in performances in the US.
Their music is pretty typical of neo-Nazi bands. The lyrics glorify racism, and complain of the danger to the white race. There are overt references to Nazi slogans as well, such as the songs "For Faith and Folk" and "45 Years of Solitude," which praises Rudolf Hess, Hitlers deputy, who was convicted of war crimes and imprisoned. The main difference from overseas Nazi bands is the occasional inclusion of an Australian patriotic reference such as the Eureka stockade or the Southern Cross. Fortress also seems to use less of the Odinist imagery than some overseas bands, though some of the collaborations between Fortress members and overseas bands are quite Odinist. The music itself is mostly a variant of heavy metal, and like most of these bands, the quality is not especially good. The lure is the racist lyrics.
Members of Fortress have cooperated with bands such as Britains Brutal Attack, Americas Bound for Glory, and Wales Celtic Warriors, to produce combination groups like Garrison, Grenadier, Ravens Wing and Broadsword.
Other notable Australian "Hatecore" bands include Spear of Longinus, based around a Brisbane skinhead group, Honour Guard, also from Brisbane, and Blood Oath from Sydney and associated with the Southern Cross Hammer Skins in that city. Another prominent Sydney white supremacist band which broke up in 1994 was called Southern Cross.
As overseas, you generally cannot buy hate music in record shops in Australia, though the music of borderline groups (see below) is available. However, there are at least two Australian internet sites which sell neo-nazi music, t-shirts, and other paraphenalia. One is Great White Productions, run out of a post-box in the Melbourne suburb of Hampton East and largely run by the members of Fortress. Officers listed on the company registration include Scott Andrew McGuiness, Fortresss lead singer, and David John Craw, who is believed to be Fortresss bass player, usually identified only as Dave.
Australias other hate music internet site is Drumbeat records, which also operates out of a post office box in a Melbourne suburb. That box is shared with Blood and Honour - Australia, once a glossy magazine devoted to interviews and promotions of skinhead bands, now a website which seems to be updated but rarely if at all. Blood and Honour also maintains post-office boxes in other Australian cities.
However, Australians of course have access to overseas sellers of racist CDs on the internet. There are literally dozens of them, primarily in the US, with some in Europe, and most take credit cards or subscribe to other internet payment systems such as "paypal". Moreover, there are several internet radio stations which anyone can tap into which play nothing but racist music.
Some of the albums by Fortress and other bands have been produced, manufactured and pressed by Australian companies. Fortresss first album was made in Melbournes Toybox studios in 1994. This was before the passage of racial hatred laws in Australia, but Fortress claims that some of their subsequent albums were also made in Australia, and the companies involved almost certainly violated racial hatred laws in helping produce and distribute this music.
The various skinhead groups in Australia often try to hold racist music concerts, but happily, these seem to be pretty poorly attended. For instance, a Melbourne gig featuring Fortress, British-band Celtic Warrior and Blood Oath on the 13 June 1999 reportedly attracted only around 30 skinheads. An earlier Sydney gathering featuring Fortress and Blood Oath only had just over 70, according to Blood and Honour which is more likely to over-estimate than under-estimate. This contrasts sharply with similar concerts in Britain and Germany, where these sorts of racist concerts can often attract hundreds of skinheads.
Various Nazi bands from overseas, particularly Britain have also visited Australia on a number of occasions. Brutal Attack and Squadron have both visited to give concerts and cooperate with Fortress. Celtic Warrior have also visited in the past, but over the past year have repeatedly been denied visas, which is hardly surprising given that most band members have criminal convictions for various acts of violence.
Skinhead organisers of these gatherings tend to be very secretive about them, refusing to publicly advertise them, and not even telling dedicated skinheads where the concerts will take place. Those interested typically meet organisers at another location and are only then brought to the concert site. The idea is to rule out any unwelcome visitors, but this extreme secrecy, along with Australias relative small population of dedicated neo-Nazis, almost certainly contributes to the low turnouts. However, the precautions are probably inevitable given that much of the music played at these concerts is almost certainly illegal.
The Blurred Borderline
However, there is a wider danger from the skinhead music scene than just the few skinheads who attend these concerts. The music remains a key selling point with the subculture of teenagers who follow heavy metal music, especially the sub-genres called death metal and black metal. This is music which makes a point of displaying affinity for death, horror and violence, often praises war, and deliberately sets out to reject the values of existing society. Most fans of this music are not racists, but there is nonetheless a natural affinity for the symbolism of Nazism. This is clear from a visit to the metal section of a record store - one sees titles with clear Nazi references, such as "The Holocaust Theory" and another with a German title containing the word "Ubermensch", meaning higher-man or superman, recalling Nazi ideology. Additionally, there are some references to the same Odinist symbols employed by many neo-Nazis.
Targetting the rebellious largely male teenagers who inhabit the metal counter-culture is an overt goal of many associated with skinhead and racist movements. National Alliance head William Pierce has argued, "My aim with Resistance Music is to give [teenagers] a rationale for alienation, to help them understand why they are alienated and to give them a target, a purpose for their anger and rage." Similarly, the Australian neo-Nazi band Honour Guard, in an interview expresses hope that "Metal heads and skins are a lot older and wiser now and they are coming together."
Record store owners and record companies are generally savvy enough to exclude overtly racist music from their shelves. However, there still exists a fuzzy borderline where some metal bands overlap and flirt with the skinhead scene, possibly serving as an entree for some individual into overt neo-Nazism.
A good example is the Melbourne death metal band Destroyer 666. You can buy their music in record stores and there is nothing overtly racist about their lyrics. Skinheads regularly attend their appearances, though this may be beyond the control of the band, and the bands management denies that they are Nazi or racist. Yet the band members clearly socialise with people on the skinhead scene and see nothing wrong with them or their music. In their acknowledgments on their albums, they specifically mention and thank Fortress and Spear of Longinus and British Nazi bands Squadron and Brutal Attack. One of the members of Destroyer 666 also made a mini-CD with members of Fortress and Brutal Attack in 1996. This was an overtly racist album available only through the usual sellers of racist CDs. Furthermore, when asked to name some Australian skinhead bands in an interview, the members of the Sydney nazi band Blood Oath named Destroyer 666 as an example of a band with an "Odinist/WP [White Power] following." Furthermore, the band clearly has an affinity for Nazi symbolism, designating some of their gigs as "Holocaust nights" and terming one tour they made the "Genocidal Eastern Holo-coastal tour." Another band which may fall into the same category is Melbournes Bestial Warlust, also cited by Blood Oath as a band with a skinhead following.
Moreover, many of the members of Australias racist bands come out of the non-racist metal scene, not out of the skinhead movements. Members of both Blood Oath and Honour Guard are former "Metal heads." Some of the racist bands, for instance Spear of Longinus, have been interviewed for amateur magazines put out by aficionados of the Brisbane metal scene. And there have been metal gigs at ordinary music venues which have included both metal and Nazi bands together, for instance, at Brisbanes Orient Hotel in June 1998.
Skinheads remain one of the main sources of racist violence both in Australia and overseas, but the authorities seem unaware of the role that music has played in developing the neo-Nazi scene, in gaining new recruits to it, and in financing the various neo-Nazi groups,
Australia has yet to prosecute a single band or record company for their continuous and direct incitement of racial violence, despite the fact that such activities are clearly illegal in most states and under the federal Racial Hatred Act. And as the internet grows, its technology develops further and it becomes more commonly used, the problem is only likely to get worse.
The time has come for governments, including Australia, to consider new policy responses to the problem of the developing trans-national neo-Nazi movement, and especially their music scene. If this large and largely illegal industry can be curtailed, so can the neo-Nazi movement and all the racist violence it brings with it.
© AIJAC 2000