Metal Music and Subculture

The punk scene isn’t the only one that suffered from Nazi presence.

Operation Werewolf, a biker-themed crypto-fascist fitness collective that has become popular in the black-metal community, abounds with white power sentiment; its founders’ original group, the Odinist cult Wolves of Vinland, is openly white nationalist.

I understand every word, but still… wat?

After some googling it turns out crypto-fascists aren’t fascists who use cryptocurrency. Of course.

By combing through album lyrics, parsing interviews, and inspecting tattoos, journalists covering black metal—and even casual fans—become adept at rooting out bigotry. Doing so has, by now, become a conscious part of the wider black-metal experience: for leftist fans, a familiar ritual involves poring methodically through all available information to decipher an exciting new band’s political position. It’s kind of like playing a heavy metal version of the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game, except the locus is invariably a Polish neo-Nazi or racist death metal guy from Florida, and winning is really losing. The thrill of discovering a killer new record is attended, always, by anticipation as you scour the lyrics and artwork and member lists and touring history—and then, all too often, you discover that (dammit!) the guitarist has a racist side project, or their label has released anti-Semitic material. But metal is too good for Nazis. Surveilling black-metal artists’ activities and exposing any associations with violent far-right networks is a means of defending a community I hold dear.