Black Metal A Documentary Review Essay

National Socialist black metal (NSBM), sometimes called Aryan black metal or neo-Nazi 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".[1]

Although there is an undercurrent of ethnic nationalism in black metal,[1][3] NSBM artists are a small minority within the genre.[1] Many NSBM artists are not very explicit with their political beliefs in the music, instead expressing in their beliefs offstage.[5] 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.[6]

Some black metal bands have also made references to Nazi Germany purely for shock value, much like some punk rock and heavy metal bands. While some black-metallers boycott NSBM artists, many are indifferent or appreciate the music without supporting the musicians. However, according to Christian Dornbusch and Hans-Peter Killguss, the writers of Unheilige Allianzen, völkisch pagan metal and neo-Nazism are the current trends in black metal, and in turn are affecting the broader metal scene.[8]

Black metal[edit]

Main article: Black metal

Black metal is a style of extreme metal music. Common traits include fast tempos, a shrieking vocal style,[9][10][11] heavily distorted guitars played with tremolo picking, raw (lo-fi) recording, unconventional song structures, and an emphasis on atmosphere. Artists often appear in corpse paint and adopt pseudonyms. During the 1980s, several thrash and death metal bands formed a prototype for black metal.[12] Initially a synonym for "Satanic metal,"[13] black metal is often met with hostility from mainstream culture, due to the actions and ideologies associated with it. Many artists express extreme anti-Christian and misanthropic views, advocating various forms of Satanism or ethnic paganism. In the 1990s, members of the scene were responsible for a spate of church burnings and murders. There is also a small neo-Nazi National Socialist black metal movement within black metal, although it has been shunned by many prominent artists.[14][15][16] Generally, black metal strives to remain underground, inaccessible to the mainstream.


In the 1980s, 'black metal' referred to heavy metal bands with Satanic lyrics and imagery. In the early 1990s, the early Norwegian black metal scene developed the style into a distinct genre. The scene members were fiercely anti-Christian and generally presented themselves as misanthropic Devil-worshipers who wanted to spread hatred, sorrow and evil. However, some bands (who did not call themselves black metal because they were not Satanic) wrote about pre-Christian Scandinavia and its folklore. In 1992, members of the scene burnt down a number of churches. In August of the same year, Faust of Emperor killed a gay man who had propositioned him in Lillehammer. In August 1993, Varg Vikernes of Burzum killed fellow musician Euronymous – a well-known figure in the scene – and was arrested shortly after. Euronymous was said to be a communist, but Vikernes denies killing him over ideology. Although Vikernes's music has always been non-political, he began to express neo-Nazi views in writings and interviews after his arrest.

Vikernes is generally seen as being responsible for popularizing such views in the black metal scene. According to an interview in Blood & Honour magazine, he contacted neo-Nazi organization Zorn 88 (later called the National Socialist Movement of Norway) in 1992[18] and joined White Aryan Resistance before he killed Euronymous.[19] While in prison, "Vikernes began to formulate his nationalist heathen ideology"[20] and wrote a manifesto called Vargsmål. It became available on the internet for a while in 1996,[21] and in 1997 it was printed by a Norwegian publisher.[citation needed] Vikernes has long-since distanced himself from the NSBM scene and refers to himself as an "Odalist" rather than a National Socialist or fascist.[22]

Some other members of the early Norwegian scene explored with Nazi themes and imagery, but this was partly an attempt to provoke listeners. Vikernes later claimed that the scene had begun "as a nationalistic (Norwegian-centric), racist and anti-Christian revolt" but was "hijacked" by the "Jew-dominated music industry". He claims the industry made it into another tool with which to destroy Europe, by promoting bands who embraced "everything sick and anti-European on this planet, from porn and promiscuity to drugs and homosexuality".[24] Hendrik Möbus of Absurd called NSBM the "logical conclusion" of the Norwegian black metal movement and interpreted the church burnings as a "cultural atavism".[25]

Vikernes wrote some lyrics for the album Transilvanian Hunger by Darkthrone, another key band in the Norwegian scene. It was released in 1994 with Norsk Arisk Black Metal ('Norwegian Aryan Black Metal') printed on the back cover. This caused much controversy, but Darkthrone offered an explanation and stated that they were "not a Nazi band nor a political band".[26] At around this time, some other Norwegian black-metallers made seemingly racist statements. In 1994, Mayhem drummer Hellhammer said of the genre's links with fascism: "I'll put it this way, we don't like black people here. Black Metal is for white people".[27] When Mayhem re-formed after Euronymous's death, they began releasing merchandise bearing World War II-era Nazi symbols.[28] However, in a later interview, Hellhammer said "I don't give a crap if the fans are white, black, green, yellow, or blue. For me music and politics don’t go hand in hand".[29]

In 1995, prominent Norwegian black metal vocalist Gaahl described "niggers" and "mulattoes" as "subhuman" and stated his admiration for Vikernes and Adolf Hitler. However, he too has since distanced himself from these statements.[30] Gaahl was voted Gay Person of the Year in 2010 in Bergen.[31] According to the authors of Lords of Chaos, in 1995, three Swedish black-metallers (including Mika "Belfagor" Hakola of the band Nefandus) went on a "niggerhunt" in Linköping. Wielding an axe and two machetes, they "terrorized" a black man.[32] Nefandus were later "considered to be Nazi sympathizers", though Belfagor explained: "This could not be further from the truth, but I guess this has to do with some of the controversial comments I made in various magazines in my youth, when I still aspired to play in the most hated band in the world. I used a lot of provocative language back then. But to sort things out: I associate with people of all creeds and colours. […] So to be labeled a Nazi or a racist is very offensive to me".[33]

One of the first NSBM releases was the 1995 demo Thuringian Pagan Madness by German band Absurd. It was recorded while the members were imprisoned for murdering a boy from their school. On the demo cover is a photograph of his gravestone and pro-Nazi statements.[34] After this, Absurd became one of the pioneers of NSBM. Other bands deemed to be part of the early NSBM scene include Graveland, Infernum, and Veles (from Poland), Branikald (from Russia), and Spear of Longinus and Waffenbrüder (from Australia). In the 1990s, some of the earliest American black metal bands—like Judas Iscariot—joined an international NSBM organization called the Pagan Front, although Judas Iscariot's sole member Akhenaten left the organization. Thelemnar, the drummer of German band Secrets of the Moon, said he got to know him "only as an intelligent person and never as a Nazi".[35]


NSBM typically melds Neo-Nazi beliefs (such as fascism, white supremacy, white separatism, antisemitism, xenophobia, homophobia) with hostility to "foreign" religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, asf). Bands often promote ethnic European paganism, occultism, or Satanism. Hendrik Möbus of Absurd described Nazism as the "most perfect (and only realistic!) synthesis of Satanic/Luciferianwill to power, elitist Social Darwinism, connected to Aryan Germanic paganism".[36] Members of the band Der Stürmer (named after the antisemitic newspaper edited by Julius Streicher) subscribe to Esoteric Nazism, leaning on the works of Savitri Devi and Julius Evola.[37]

Anti-Christianity and antisemitism[edit]

Typically NSBM musicians regard Christianity as a product of an alleged Jewish conspiracy to undermine the Aryan race by eliminating their Artglauben and their "original" culture.[38] These musicians usually reject the legitimacy of Christian antisemitism as well as the German Christians movement, which celebrated and promoted Nazi ideology in the context of an unorthodox Christian theological framework. Hjarulv Henker of the band Der Stürmer said:

I don't think that a dogma like Christianity has a place in Aryandom. There is no way to make Christianity fit into the Weltanschauung of the Aryan Overman. Christianity teaches humbleness, the loss of National and Racial identity, and equality, things alien to our cosmotheory. You cannot combine Jesus with characters who represent Aryan ethics. ... Christianity is Christianity and it is Jewish by its very birth and conception, a vehicle in the Jewish world domination and designed as such.[37]

White supremacy[edit]

NSBM bands typically regard White Europeans as superior to other races. They are concerned with "racial hygiene", preserving the "purity" of the White race and the traditional cultures of White European nations. They argue that these cultures have "degenerated" over the centuries due to "race mixing".[39] These views are comparable to those in the chapter "Volk und Rasse" in Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

Whereas Nazi leaders held pan-German and anti-Slavic views (the Nazis viewed Slavic people to be uncultured and inferior to Germanic people), the NSBM scene has had its German and Polish activists work together from the very beginning, though Germany and Poland have historically had conflicts. This contradiction is either masked, relativized or excused as a historical mistake. A conspiracy theory says the Jews would have prevented an alliance between Nazi Germany and other Eastern European countries.[40]Knjaz Varggoth, singer and guitarist of the Ukrainian band Nokturnal Mortum, gives the following explanation for the contradiction: "Goruth of the Russian band Temnozor sees the Slavs and Germans as a part of a Hyperborean Aryan race and nowadays differing due to its degeneration.".[41]


See also: Viking metal

As part of their anti-Christianity, anti-semitism and the idea that White Europeans should return to their "native" ways, most NSBM bands promote ethnic European paganism. Hendrik Möbus interpreted the church burnings in Norway as:

[A] cultural atavism, a sudden and inexplicable plunge back into pre-Christian, medieval conditions in all but outward reality. Like the Swiss psychologist, Carl Gustav Jung, would have said: Ancient archetypes resurfaced from our collective unconscious and repossessed receptive minds – which were, as a rule, still developing and thus especially impressible. The thus affected teenagers found themselves with an archaic state of mind and like in a mass-hysteria, they induced their condition unto others. It goes without saying that a, say, 18 year old adolescent who suddenly felt out of tune with his environment lacked the insight for a self-analysis.[25]

He argues that later on they would have realized the meaning of these emotions, begun to identify with paganism and taken "an active interest in Nationalist politics designed to preserve and to cultivate this very heritage".[25]

The booklet of the Absurd album Asgardsrei depicts the Knights Templar, the Teutonic Order and the Waffen-SS as warriors of the "Asgardsrei", which the bands define as a term for an alleged godly and Germanic group of warriors.


Besides pagan beliefs, part of the NSBM scene embraces an interpretation of Theistic Satanism, depicting Satan as an ancient Aryan counterpart to Yahweh, the god of the Jews and Christians. This view is often called "völkisch Satanism"[42] or "Aryan Satanism". Chraesvelgoron of The True Frost sees Nazism as the political appearance of Satanism and the collective deification of man as a social animal, as godliness instead of humaneness.[43][44] His bandmate Sadorass calls the same ideology a development of blood and soil (völkisch way), diverse occult teachings and the ideas of Friedrich Nietzsche in connection to Darwin's evolution theories.[45] Greek black metal musician Magus Wampyr Daoloth (of Necromantia and Thou Art Lord) said in an interview for Lords of Chaos: "If you consider that fascism and Satanism have a lot of similarities as they both advocate power, spiritual and physical excellence, responsibility, survival of the fittest, elitism, etc., it's logical that some bands advocate both".[46]

However, many pagan and far-right bands see Satanism as a part of Christianity or Judaism.[47] Also, some non-political Satanic black metal musicians hold pagan bands in contempt, and do not recognize them as black metal because their lyrics and ideology do not include Satanism.

Connections with broader white nationalist movement[edit]

Many white nationalists have warmly received NSBM for its lyrical content and ideals. However, some have not, due to the music style as well as the genre's perceived association with the rock & roll lifestyle.[48] However, Lords of Chaos notes that alcohol and illegal drugs never played a big part in the Norwegian black metal scene.[49] Some also reject black metal musicians and fans for having long hair, which they associate with hippies and left-wingers.[48]William Luther Pierce, founder of the white nationalist National Alliance, sought to promote NSBM as well as other forms of white nationalist music through Resistance Records, believing that music would "make the National Alliance rich and spread its message most effectively".[50] To this end, he accommodated Absurd frontman Hendrik Möbus while the latter had fled to the United States to evade German authorities. Although Pierce appreciated the ideological mindset of NSBM and Resistance Records, as well as the financial gains, the music did not personally appeal to him, and he attacked the "sex, drugs & rock'n'roll" and what he called "negroid" influences.[51]

Connections to black metal scene[edit]

NSBM artists are a minority within black metal, according to Mattias Gardell.[1] They have been rejected or strongly criticized by many prominent black metal musicians – including Jon Nödtveidt,[52]Tormentor,[53]King ov Hell,[15]Infernus,[16]Lord Ahriman,[14]Emperor Magus Caligula,[14][54]Protector,[55] Erik Danielsson of Watain,[56][57] and the members of Arkhon Infaustus[14]

Some black-metallers liken Nazism to Christianity in that it is authoritarian, collectivist, and involves a "herd mentality".[52][53] It also conflicts with the misanthropic views of many artists; Benjamin Hedge Olson writes that the shunning of Nazism within the scene "has nothing to do with notions of a 'universal humanity' or a rejection of hate" but that Nazism is shunned "because its hatred is too specific and exclusive". While some black-metallers boycott NSBM bands and labels, others draw a line between the music and the musicians, as they only care for the music. Some have criticized this as passive support for NSBM. The bigger print metal magazines tend to ignore records by NSBM bands.[38] The book Unheilige Allianzen caused a short debate, leading Legacy magazine to stop printing ads for NSBM labels. Another debate happened in the "letters" section of Rock Hard magazine following the article Der rechte Rand im Black Metal (Black Metal's Far-right Border).[59]

Prominent black metal band Darkthrone have also maintained an apolitical stance throughout their career – although Fenriz claimed he was once arrested while participating in an anti-apartheid demonstration and later had a "phase of being really angry with ... other races" before he became "totally unengaged in [political] shit".[14] Joakim of Craft said, "I don't think national socialism mix[es] with the ideology of real Black Metal in a way, but that doesn't go further than labels. I only think NS Black Metal is an inappropriate label for the music".

Denial of identification[edit]

Some bands have denied being labeled NSBM, and assert that they are pagan black metal. These include Kroda[61] and Graveland.[62] Bands that have been identified as NSBM have experienced violent attacks against them.[61]

List of artists[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ abcdMattias Gardell, Gods of the Blood (2003), p.307
  2. ^Trafford, Simon; Pluskowski, Aleks (2007). Marshall, David W., ed. "Antichrist Superstars: The Vikings in Hard Rock and Heavy Metal". Mass Market Medieval: Essays on the Middle Ages in Popular Culture. McFarland & Company: 64. ISBN 978-0-7864-2922-6. 
  3. ^Dyck, Kirsten (2016). Reichsrock: The International Web of White-Power and Neo-Nazi Hate Music. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. pp. 58–61. ISBN 9780813574738. Retrieved January 9, 2017. 
  4. ^"Rechtes Neuheiden-Festival mit Nazi-Runen im "SO 36"" (in German). BIFFF... 
  5. ^Unheilige Allianzen, p. 290.
  6. ^O'Hagar, Sammy (8 November 2012). "Von's Satanic Blood: Black Black Black Black No. 1". MetalSucks. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  7. ^Rivadavia, Eduardo. "((( I.N.R.I. > Overview )))". AllMusic. Retrieved 2007-12-18. 
  8. ^Freeman, Channing (18 January 2013). "Album Review - Darkthrone: A Blaze in the Northern Sky". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 22 January 2013. 
  9. ^Lee, Cosmo; Voegtlin, Stewart. "Into the void: Stylus Magazine's Beginner's Guide to Metal". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved 17 May 2010. 
  10. ^McIver, Joel (2009). Justice for All - The Truth About Metallica (updated ed.). Omnibus Press. Retrieved 4 September 2012. 
  11. ^ abcdeZebub, Bill (2007). Black Metal: A Documentary.
  12. ^ abŠkot, Mladen. "Interview with Jotunspor". Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 4 September 2012. Cite error: Invalid tag; name "kingovhell" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  13. ^ ab" - Gorgoroth Guitarist Infernus: 'I Personally Am Against Racism in Both Thought and Practice'". 15 March 2008. Archived from the original on 22 April 2009. Retrieved 4 September 2012. Cite error: Invalid tag; name "infernus1" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  14. ^Unheilige Allianzen, p. 277.
  15. ^"Aktuell". Retrieved 29 August 2017. 
  16. ^Goodrick-Clarke, p. 204.
  17. ^Lords of Chaos, p. 159.
  18. ^"Varg Vikernes - A Burzum Story: Part VII - The Nazi Ghost". Retrieved 29 August 2017. 
  19. ^Vikernes, Varg. "How to revolt in practise IIArchived 2013-03-11 at the Wayback Machine.". Thulean Perspective. 7 March 2013.
  20. ^ abcHendrik Möbus: National Socialist Black Metal, mirrored on
  21. ^"MusicMight :: Artists :: Darkthrone". MusicMight. Retrieved 23 September 2012. 
  22. ^Lords of Chaos, p. 351.
  23. ^Mayhem Frontman Says Varg Vikernes Is 'Very Polite And Kind'. 26 January 2010.
  24. ^"". Archived from the original on 2010-10-02. Retrieved 2011-10-06. 
  25. ^"BLABBERMOUTH.NET – GORGOROTH Frontman Opens Up About His Sexual Orientation: 'I've Never Made Any Secret About It'". Archived from the original on 2011-11-21. Retrieved 2012-02-10. 
  26. ^"Interview with Gaahl". Retrieved 29 August 2017. [permanent dead link]
  27. ^Lords of Chaos, pp. 308–309.
  28. ^Terry Demeter: Ofermod. Breath of the Dragon. In: Unrestrained Magazine, no. 39, p. 74.
  29. ^Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke: Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism, and the Politics of Identity. NYU Press, 2003. p. 206.
  30. ^Gunnar Sauermann: Special: Black Metal in den USA. Schwarzes Amerika. In: Metal Hammer, August 2007, p. 88.
  31. ^Stormblast, Nr. 2-3, 1999, citation taken from ak – analyse & kritik – zeitung für linke Debatte und Praxis / Nr. 428 / 8.7.1999
  32. ^ ab"Der Stürmer interview published in LEGEONES magazine". Retrieved 29 August 2017. 
  33. ^ ab"ak 428: Unheilige Allianz". Retrieved 29 August 2017. 
  34. ^"Interview with Varg Vikernes". Retrieved 29 August 2017. 
  35. ^Unheilige Allianzen, page 239
  36. ^Unheilige Allianzen, page 250
  37. ^Wintry Night Nonstop/Aenaon Skotos Anosion, published around 2000: Frost/Sadorass [Interview with Sadorass]. Citation taken from Unheilige Allianzen, page 202
  38. ^Szene-Almanach 1998, page 48
  39. ^Strength through War, issue 4, Summer 2003, o.S.: Frost. Interview answered by Chraesvelgoron. Citation taken from Unheilige Allianzen, page 202
  40. ^Flagellation, No. 2, 2001, page 29. Citation taken from Unheilige Allianzen, page 203
  41. ^Lords of Chaos, p. 308.
  42. ^Gammadion, No. 1, 1997, o.S.: Capricornus. Citation taken from Unheilige Allianzen, page 241
  43. ^ abUnheilige Allianzen, p.280
  44. ^Lords of Chaos, p.327
  45. ^"US". Retrieved 29 August 2017. 
  46. ^"Decibel Magazine". Archived from the original on 8 February 2008. Retrieved 29 August 2017. 
  47. ^ ab

If you asked a sampling of middle-class New Yorkers to describe their worst nightmare, more than a few might reply that it would be to find themselves indigent and homeless on the city's streets. But as Marc Singer's remarkable documentary film ''Dark Days'' illustrates, even the worst nightmare can have descending levels of horror.

Most of this unforgettable movie was filmed below the streets of Midtown Manhattan in a dank Amtrak railway tunnel where a colony of around 75 homeless put down roots, some for as long as 25 years, among the rats and the garbage. (Since the filming was completed three years ago, the community has been dispersed.) If any urban setting conjures up an image of the bowels of hell, surely this is it. And ''Dark Days'' records it in stark black-and-white pictures that stir the most primal fears of subsisting in a world without light.

To make ''Dark Days,'' which opens today at the Film Forum, Mr. Singer made the ultimate journalistic commitment. He went underground himself for two years and lived side by side with the tunnel dwellers, who became his film crew as well his subjects. As ''Dark Days' introduces around a dozen people who have chosen to live underground, it is apparent that they are a particularly hardy breed of the dispossessed.

Although a railway tunnel may seem like pits of hell, its denizens insist that their environment allows them far more freedom and dignity than a life spent being shuttled among the city's homeless shelters where thievery and disease are rampant. And in a sadly grotesque parody of above-ground middle-class life, a number of them proudly exhibit their ingeniously improvised ''houses.''

These dwellings are jerry-built shacks made of scrap metal, sheet plastic and plywood, and are outfitted with discarded furniture and even carpeting. Electricity comes from illegally tapping into city supplies. Some residents cook with hot plates, others on small campfires. Some even have pets and television sets. The film largely skirts the issue of sanitation, although one scene shows two residents emptying the contents of a communal toilet in a far corner of the tunnel.

Most of the residents make a living of sorts by foraging above ground during the day, collecting bottles and cans for recycling and peddling junk on the streets. (One peddler claims that the fastest selling items on the street are gay pornography magazines.) Many meals are gleaned from restaurant garbage. Some of the most unsettling images show rats foraging (and sometimes competing with the residents) for sustenance. And more than one sequence pointedly compares the scuttling rodents with the human scavengers who must constantly keep them at bay. Most of the residents (about 80 percent, one man estimates) are crack addicts.

''Dark Days'' manages the tricky feat of humanizing its subjects without overly sentimentalizing them. Those who verbally own up to their crack addiction take responsibility for their wrecked lives. In the most poignant first-person vignette, Dee, a toughened woman in her mid-50's (and one of the only women in the community) tearfully recalls the deaths of her two children in an apartment fire while she was immobilized by crack. In the film's one example of strife among the community residents, her shelter is destroyed by an arsonist for reasons that are never given.

Those who appear in the movie cross ethnic boundaries and range in age and background from Tommy, a young man barely out of his teens who fled an abusive home in South Carolina, to Henry, a railroad and construction worker in his mid-60's who is the community's electrician. The closest thing to a town philosopher is Ralph, who is in his mid-40's and is raising two pet dogs. In his anguished confession, Ralph, who has kicked his crack habit, regretfully tells of a 5-year-old daughter who was raped and mutilated while he was in jail.

But as grim as it gets, ''Dark Days'' largely shies away from depicting the most hellish aspects of subterranean life. We witness touching displays of grief and sorrow and many flashes of a gritty streetwise humor. But insanity, despair and maniacal drug-induced behavior and violence are barely suggested. When the community is dispersed, the residents tearing down their homes seem not much different from a happy family pulling up stakes at a campsite.

The movie's abrupt, happily-ever-after ending feels tacked on and false. When Amtrak sent armed police to break up the community, Mr. Singer called on the Coalition for the Homeless to intervene, and the organization struck a deal with the federal government to provide housing vouchers for the tunnel residents. The final scenes show several of the residents, who have successfully completed drug rehab programs, blissfully settling into immaculate new apartments and beginning new lives. Starting over, even under the rosiest of circumstances is never that easy.


Directed by Marc Singer; director of photography, Mr. Singer; edited by Melissa Neidich; music by DJ Shadow; produced by Mr. Singer and Ben Freedman; released by Palm Pictures and Wide Angle Pictures in association with the Sundance Channel. At the Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street, South Village, (212) 727-8110. Running time: 84 minutes. This film is not rated.

WITH: the Crew: Ralph, Dee, Henry, Tommy, Brian, Bernard, Lee, Jose, Ronnie, Marayah, Mike, S. Henry, Esteban, Atoulio, Cathy, Joe, Tito, the Twins, Greg, Ozzy, Maria and Jasmine.


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