“A Scandinavian, for instance, has no good reasons to emotionally react negatively to "Nazism"… German 'Nazis' behaved exemplary in Denmark and Norway during WWII… In Norway only about 0.03% of the population was killed (and the vast majority was actually killed by the Allies).”
Varg Vikernes, The Nazi Ghost, July 2005.
Despite the severity of his crimes and 21 year sentence, he was transferred to the low security Berg prison in Tonsberg after serving less than half his time to prepare for release. However, in October 2003 he failed to return from a 17 hour home leave. He was recaptured just a less than a day later in a stolen car with a Heckler & Koch AG3 assault rifle, a handgun, a selection of knives, a gas mask, camouflage clothing, a laptop, a compass, a global positioning system, maps and a fake passport. When questioned he said he had been planning to go to Sweden but then changed his mind. After talking to his mother, he felt that trying to cross the border wouldn't work.
For this escape attempt, which included hijacking the car from a family at gunpoint, only 13 months were added to his sentence. Vikernes was released in March 2009, his musical career uninterrupted by his sentence as he was given access to instruments and studio equipment whilst in jail. During this time his one man band Burzum arguably did more to spread the NSBM word than any other artist. Although lyrically not outwardly fascist, the Burzum website leaves no doubt about his ideology. Vikernes calls his philosophy Odalism (a Germanic word used pretty much exclusively by Germanic nationalists) which he describes as a combination of the proto-Germanic ôþalan, 'heritage', and Old Norse óðal, meaning 'homeland' and 'distinguished family'. It is however primarily Teutonic Völkisch Nationalism based on ancestor worship, Paganism and rejection of outside cultures. Its symbol is the Odal rune.
There's no denying that Burzum and NSBM in general are a Rock ‘n’ Roll success story. A Burzum CD can be expected to sell well in excess of 15,000 copies with estimates of up 100,000 for the popular Belus album. In 2009 Emperor stated they had sold 500,000 units in total worldwide. This in a genre where online trading between fans is the norm.
Emperor’s Tomas “Samoth” Haugen was sentenced in 1994 to 16 months for burning Skjold Church in Vindafjord, together with Vikernes, whilst drummer Bård 'Faust Eithun was convicted of the homophobic murder of Magne Andreassen the same year as well as the burning of Holmenkollen Church in Oslo with Vikernes and Euronymous in 1992.
1992 was a busy year for Vikernes, during which he also founded the Cymophane label, based in his hometown of Bergen, Norway, to release his Burzum output. However, in July 2000, the Chicago-based Center For New Community discovered that William Luther Pierce, founder and leader of the white nationalist National Alliance (NA) and owner of Resistance Records, had gained control of Cymophane.
Pierce, who died in 2002, is probably best known as 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. The main purpose of the NA’s takeover of Cymophane was to gain the rights to distribute Burzum albums in the USA, but this was just an in-road. The NA also set up Unholy Records as a subsidiary of Resistance to distribute the 2002 compilation album, Visions – A Tribute to Burzum and other international NSBM acts.
Unholy is managed by Ymir G Winter, guitarist in Grom, a New York-based NSBM band. Winter told the US Heavy Metal magazine Decibel in 2007 that his father openly advocated fascism and that his maternal grandfather fought for Germany in the Second World War. Of Greek/Slavonic & Polish descent, Grom named themselves after the two Grom class destroyers, built in the UK for the Polish Navy, some of the most heavily-armed destroyers on the seas before World War II. A slightly odd choice of name for an NSBM band, maybe, but they are very vocal with their opinions. “During many of our shows, we will spit fire and then set an Israeli flag ablaze,” Winter says, “When regulations don’t allow this, we have the crowd stomp the Israeli flag and spit on it.” Winter, a proud NA member (you hear this a great deal), is head of A&R for Resistance Records and writes for the label’s magazine. “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,” he has said.
Grom, the Polish NSBM band Graveland and the rather odd Australian Nazi Black Metal group Spear of Longinus (“The Yoga Of National Socialism”) also released music on the now defunct New York based Vinland Winds Records, an NSBM label set up by the late Rich Mills. Like many NSBM acolytes, Mills could not praise Varg Vikernes enough, “Burzum is the only Norwegian band that remains unapologetic and literally convicted of his beliefs.” Mills always openly admitted he had been affiliated with the National Alliance. Under the name Grimnir Heretik, he was the vocalist for Grand Belial’s Key, another NSBM band. GBK’s album, Kosherat, closes with two covers of songs by white power punks Chaos 88 (one of which, 'Holy Shit', contains the line, “I wanna beat you like the Jew that you are”).
Vikernes was not the only nor the first NSBM murderer that William Luther Pierce actively sought out. Another leading figure in the NSBM scene was arrested whilst on an extended NA sponsored tour of the US through 1999-2000. Hendrik Möbus (aka Jarl Flagg Nidhoegg), a neo-Nazi killer wanted in Germany was tracked across the country by US Marshals for eight weeks prior to his arrest on 29 August 2000. The Marshals followed Möbus as he left the National Alliance compound, eventually detaining him outside a family restaurant in Lewisburg, West Virginia. Möbus had fled Germany to avoid serving a five-year prison term and had begun his American racist underground tour nine months earlier, travelling 4,000 km across the country before he was finally arrested.
Möbus’s Nazi career began at school in Erfurt, east Germany, when aged 16 he formed a death metal band called Absurd with a couple of classmates. On 29 April 1993, he and his bandmates murdered Sandro Beyer, a classmate, who they considered a 'Volksschadling', or race defiler. In January 1994 the three were found guilty of murder and as a minor, Möbus received an eight year sentence. During the summer of 1995, whilst the band members were serving their time, Rob Darken of Graveland released Absurd’s demo tape Thuringian Pagan Madness, which helped propel the group to fame within the NSBM scene. Möbus was released on parole in August 1998 and issued a statement justifying Beyer’s murder, saying he died because he did not “fit the picture” of the German race. By that October Möbus had been arrested once again and charged with displaying Nazi symbols.
His strenghtened bonds with the international NSBM network helped Möbus become head of the German branch of the Pagan Front, an international coalition of organisations, record labels, bands, fanzines and individuals dedicated to promoting the NSBM underground. Allegedly founded by Varg Vikernes, though he denies this, the Pagan Front describes itself as “a neo-Pagan and racially aware movement, which struggles to secure the Aryan peoples existence”. The Pagan Front claims chapters in Romania, Poland, France, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, the USA, Canada, Flanders, Finland, Australia and Russia. Whether or not he admits membership, the Front publishes books by Vikernes and actively promotes Burzum releases.
Möbus went on to found Darker than Black (DTB) Records, which quickly became one of the leading National Socialist Black Metal labels. He also befriended neo-Saxon boneheads the Hammerskins, which enabled DTB to agree a distribution deal with Germany’s Hate Records, one of the biggest distributors of white power music in Europe. In July 1999 Möbus was sentenced to eight months in prison for displaying Nazi symbols and Hate Records purchased DTB which he continued to run behind the scenes. On 6 October 1999, the German authorities raided DTB Records’ offices and Möbus was charged with the distribution of Nazi propaganda. Faced with a possible five years in prison, he chose to go on the lam.
Despite an international arrest warrant, Möbus was able to fly into the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport using his real name in December 1999. He then travelled around the country through a kind of National Alliance ratline, before ending up at the NA headquarters, an impressive cross-country trek that highlights the increasingly international nature of the NSBM underground, the growth of the network in the US, and the inroads William Luther Pierce and the National Alliance made as he used his time with Möbus to secure entry into the Black Metal scene in the US and Europe.
As Pierce explained, “I invited him to stay as my guest and help me establish new outlets in Europe for my records. And that’s what he did for ten weeks. He stayed as my guest, and we talked about the role of music in our overall effort.” This led to the National Alliance acquiring Cymophane, in return for which Pierce helped Möbus with his legal problems filing paperwork with the US Immigration and Naturalization Services requesting political asylum.
Resistance Records found it easier to distribute their Burzum tribute 2CD and other NSBM releases in the UK than in the US. At the time HMV, Amazon UK and Play.com were among those documented as selling their product. However, it should be noted now that HMV have ceased any connections (though they do stock the entire Burzum back catalogue) and NSBM only appears to be available on Play.com through independent marketplace sellers. HMV, Amazon and Play.com have also carried a large amount of stock from Supernal Music, a label that is the largest online distributor of what it terms “extreme black metal”.
Supernal bands such as Drudkh, Astrofaes, Hate Forest and Dark Ages, all Ukrainian, are these days considered fairly mainstream within NSBM. Their CDs are widely available mainly because they are not blatant about their far right racism and anti-semitism but like Burzum, mask them in a pseudo-intellectual, semi-romantic ancestor worshipping nationalism. Fellow countrymen Nokturnal Mortum’s 'The Call of Aryan Spirit', a bizarre, almost Spinal Tap-esque mix of Black Metal and Pagan Folk suffers no such shyness.
Based in Cranleigh, Surrey UK, Supernal has been run by Alex Kurtagic since 1996 and it was through him that NSBM came to Rough Trade (RTM) that year. The RTM deal gave access to The Cartel, a group of independent record shops throughout the UK and the RTM/Disc distribution network, though by no means did all those stores stock the fledgling Supernal’s product. The deal lasted until Vital (now PIAS UK) bought out RTM in 1997, but sometime before then the sales team had realised what they were being asked to sell and refused to have anything more to do with many of the darker releases. This unfortunately did not stop the occasional appearance of NSBM demo tapes at the Rough Trade’s Camden offices, one of which came clamped in the teeth of a decomposing sheep’s head.
Kurtagic also records as Benighted Leams, whose fourth album Obombrid Welkins (2007) was heavily influenced by the writing of William Luther Pierce and Kevin MacDonald. His monthly email bulletin regularly featured pictures of Nazi mystics and advocates of esoteric Hitlerism including Savitri Devi, Miguel Serrano, the anti-semitic writer Ernst Junger and Julius Langbehn, a 19th century anti-semite. In June 2010 Kurtagic penned the revisionist article Black Metal Ethno-nationalism for the American Renaissance periodical that stated Möbus was persecuted and imprisoned by the German authorities for loyalty to his beliefs and Vikernes received his 21 year sentence for one case of church arson.
Supernal’s catalogue similarly makes no bones of its allegiances. US group Sturmführer’s Ich kämpfe (I fight) CD boasts Hitler as the cover star and contains the track 'Treu Martyr' featuring a speech by Robert Mathews, leader of the NA affiliated US Nazi terror cell The Order, who is portrayed as a martyred hero. A typical Sturmfuhrer quote reads “Germany was defending itself from the plague of world usury/Jewry and was unfortunately beaten with the help of world Jewry, between Amerika, CCCP and Britain, 'OUR' kind was seduced into believing Hitler was a madman. The sad thing is that most of 'US' didn't even realize that 'WE' were fighting 'OUR' own people.”
Another Supernal distributed CD is the Capricornus/Der Sturmer split album (for some reason split albums are big in NSBM) entitled Polish Hellenic Alliance Against ZOG with a Nuremburg rally style cover. Der Sturmer (The Attacker) hail from Athens and take their name from a weekly Nazi tabloid newspaper published by Julius Streicher from 1923 to the end of the war in 1945. They are closely linked to the Greek arm of the Nazi skinhead organisation Blood and Honour and Nazi occultist street gang the Golden Dawn who have been making their prescence felt once again in the poorer areas of Athens these past few months.
Included on the album is “The Nailbomber”, a tribute to David Copeland, London Nazi bomber and former member of both the BNP & David Myatt’s NSM. The Nailbomber features excerpts from police interviews with Copeland. The Polish Capricornus tread a little more carefully but 'Sun Wheel on the Helmet of Steel' gives you a fair idea of their leanings. Der Sturmer also contributed to a compilation CD on the Club 88 imprint that raised funds for German Nazi war criminal Erich Priebke, a former Hauptsturmführer in the Waffen SS, convicted in 1996 for his part in the massacre of 335 Italian civilians at the Ardeatine caves in Rome in 1944. Further contributions came from German NSBM groups Lunikoff, Halgadom and Words Of Anger.
Other bands promoted by Supernal include Kiborg and Temnozor from Russia, both of which have intimate ties with Russian Blood and Honour and the US based Xenophobia, writers of 'Anti Semite Eternal', whose singer, the self-styled Reverend Brian Moudry, aka Warhead Jewgrinder is a member of both the white supremacist Creativity Movement, formerly the World Church of the Creator and the Pagan Front as well as being publisher of Hatemonger Warzine, a radical NSBM fanzine. Moudry is a man who once threatened to bomb his black postman because he wasn’t receiving enough mail and was recently arrested for chasing a child cyclist away from his house with a gun. Another contributor to Hatemonger is Wisconsin based Jamie Welch “a proud supporter of the Pagan Front” who runs the NSBM label Terrorwolfe to which Xenophobia are signed and who himself records 'Aryan Melancholic Black Metal' as Veil for the Russian Stellar Winter imprint.
Most of the bands are still active and Mayhem, Vikernes’ original group still perform, recently revealing that they smuggled in real human remains to use as part of their stage show at Hellfest 2011 in Clisson, France.
Absurd, minus Hendrik Möbus but with his brother Ronald having taken over vocal duties are now considered one of the top NSBM groups worldwide. A recent Absurd gig in the Czech Republic featured appearances from Temnozor, the Ukrainian band Kroda and Czech NSBMers Sekhmet.
UK Black Metal band Meads Of Asphodel (latest release 'The Murder of Jesus the Jew'), whilst publicly denying neo-Nazi affiliations then go on to print an announcement in defence of NSBM on their label Godreah Records website. Hertfordshire UK based Godreah also distribute the work of Norwegian Nazi Satanists Absurd, Burzum, Der Sturmer, Spear Of Longinus, Kiborg, the Belarus-based PD SS Totenkopf and Brazilian NSBM group Evil amongst many others.