Apr 062012

(After a little hiatus, BadWolf rejoins us with a thought-provoking piece and lots of sick music [double entendre intended].)

None of us are angels. In fact, most people commit evil on a daily basis (more often if you’re a politician in America). As Anaal Nathrakh said: hell is empty, and the devils are all here.

I’m willing to forgive most people their sins. In fact, most acts considered ‘wrong” or ‘immoral’ are deemed as such based on the value judgments of hypocritical organizations (what up, Catholic church? Yeah. I went to one of your middle schools. What about it!?). It’s value-judgments all the way down my friends, and as such I’m reluctant to cry (bad)wolf at most people.

Racists are an exception to that rule. I never understood judging people based on race when other factors like economic status factor so heavily into racially charged situations. I mean, which of these makes more sense:

A) some dude robbed you because he is starving, unemployed and addicted to hard drugs from birth


B) some dude robbed you because his skin cells produce more melanin.

…I know, right!?

I cannot abide racism. The suffering and misery that the Nazis and the KKK have inflicted upon mankind is beyond my mortal ability to forgive. In fairness, I am the product of a mixed-race marriage. I have some bias. But, as Bob Marley, an African-Jamaican, said: isms breed schisms.

That phrase holds true everywhere, even in the world of heavy metal, where some of our most profound artists have either said racist things on occasion (Pantera) or are full-fledged racists and proud of it (Craig Pillard of Disma and formerly Incantation). I know, for example, of another website that has been tooling around with writing an article about Nazi Black Metal, but hasn’t been able to wrestle the idea into a manageable state because the issue carries such weight and charge.

If that seems ridiculous, please remember that Moonsorrow has been chastised in Germany because the S in their logo resembled the Nazi SS insignia too closely for some people’s tastes. In that same country, Lemmy took fire for his fascination with the Nazi party (keep in mind the man is a well-known WWII history buff). I don’t think either Moonsorrow or Motorhead are racist bands. On these shores, Scion dropped Nachtmystium from a free Scion fest because an NS label released some of their early material.

So with great umbrage I must admit to you that one of my favorite metal bands are a bunch of race-hating bastards. Arghoslent are a Virginian melodic death metal band, and they write some of the best riffs in metal, period-end-of-story. And they wear that badge proudly in their music. Behold:

After hearing that, a second thing about Arghoslent should be apparent: They write excellent riffs. I would go so far as to say some of the best metal riffs I have ever heard. For further proof, observe:

Uhg. So good. So fucking evil—that is real, actual evil embedded there. If you feel like further nauseation, look up the comment threads of Arghoslent songs on youtube. But the music is so excellent that I’ve never removed Arghoslent from my iPod. Their knack for combining rock-n-roll groove with brutal riffs and a distinctly American melodic sense (I believe they also play in a bluegrass band, according to a blog post I read years ago) is uncanny.

So, I have this dilemma: people I hate making music I love. What to do with it?

I know that for some people I know, particularly people from the HXC end of the extreme music spectrum, listening to such music is unacceptable. This view was echoed at a recent interview with Kevin Tucker at Invisible Oranges HERE. To Tucker, art and artist are inseparable, and the unsavory elements in an artist’s character corrupt everything that he or she touches. I’m not sure that I believe that, because frequently people create art completely unrelated to aspects of their political ideology or personality. Also, art is only half created by the artist. Musicians only encode information. The mind of a listener decodes it and assigns it meaning—in that sense everything is at least half redeemable.

But, as is obvious, racism is not just a part of the Arghoslent musicians’ lives—it is a huge part of the music as well. If there is unforgivable music, this is it.

However, I don’t buy that completely either. That reasoning, to me, is the same logic that politicians use to try and get violent videogames outlawed, and to claim that Heavy Metal causes school shootings and suicides. Further, trying to enforce that kind of logic on anything past a personal level would be a gross invasion of free will—not as evil as race-driven violence, but certainly kin to it. Just as we have the ability to separate reality from fantasy, we have the ability to separate form from content. Just because the message came first and was then put into sound doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy the music while discarding the message.

In fairness, Tucker also makes the argument that there is so much music out there that is not problematic—why settle for something questionable?

In the case of Arghoslent, their music is of such high quality that I hardly think of it as disposable. More than that, I think there is some value in taking in art that confronts your sensibilities—isn’t that what extreme music is all about? And if it’s music that questions your values time and time again, and those values persist—values like racial tolerance—all the better for having questioned them through art.

That said, there needs to be some sort of base level of resistance. Of course, I recommend that everyone pirate Arghoslent’s music and refrain from buying anything Arghoslent-related. Unlike listening to music, sending racists money is direct support. (Arguably, so is writing this article, in the sense that I’m offering Arghoslent a platform. In my defense, I’m covering the platform in reasons not to support them, natch.)

Even that isn’t enough for me. I want this wonderful music to be liberated from its filthy shackles. And in the spirit of emancipating the riff, I ask this of the musicians reading this:


Take these sick licks and put them in your own music. Or at least learn a thing or two from them so I can have other great bands to run to when I crave an Arghoslent riff. If I may point out a personal favorite, do check out ‘The Grenadier.’ Its opening lick is catchy as syphilis, the elastic bridge that segues into its final segment absolutely reaps, and that little 4-clap rest has serious charm to it.


  1. kevinp says:

    Well I don’t find their music particularly noteworthy to begin with. But I will not and refuse to support bands who write and promote racism and any other hate speech. I don’t make the separation at all. You can hold any personal belief you want, but when you bring that into the music/lyrics/promotion of a band it’s my right as a consumer to shun that shit til the cows come home.

    Racists are meathead idiots who don’t know any better. Wasn’t aware that Pillard of Disma felt that way. Kinda sours me on them somewhat, but if it doesn’t come out in the band then it’s not a big deal to me.

    • SurgicalBrute says:

      Pillard released an album called “Ich Kampfe” under the band name Sturmfuhrer. He also said some rather stupid things in interviews around that time.

      To say he’s still a full-fledged racist and proud of it may not be completely accurate. Im not saying he is or isnt still that way, but the rest of Disma claims he’s changed, and he didnt open his mouth during the whole Chaos in Tejas shitfest.

      Badwolf could easily know something I dont though

  2. Ben says:

    I’ve always found myself wishing that these guys (and to a lesser extent their black metal band Grand Belial’s Key) did only instrumentals then I wouldn’t have to put up with the bigoted lyrics.

  3. Trollfiend says:

    I personally don’t have this dilemma. I’m willing to put up with just about anything lyrically but racism is my line in the sand and my conscience only allows for a zero-tolerance policy on the things I feel that strongly about.

  4. Personally, I am less offended by racism than by anti-Christianity. As a Christian into metal, I had to examine the issue of lyrical/thematic opposition to my beliefs long, long ago. I realized I don’t care about lyrics or ideology, and never did, even before I got into the underground (where it’s actually an issue). So I listen to anyone, regardless of ideology.

    “art is only half created by the artist.” Another way to state this is that the artist can only create art, but that it takes a second person to experience it, which is after all the point of art. This is a point I’ve made many times in similar discussions. Once it’s created, it’s out of the hands of the artist. Erik Danielson can spout off all day about how Watain’s music can only be taken in one way, but the fact of the matter is that the entire history of art and art criticism is against him.

    “trying to enforce that kind of logic on anything past a personal level would be a gross invasion of free will—not as evil as race-driven violence, but certainly kin to it.” I find an invasion of free will to be more . . . pernicious, I guess is the right word. It’s more subtle and evil to try to control thought than to do physical violence. I’m not sure this particular example rises to that level. But moreover, I don’t find a race-based motivation to make violence appreciably worse. Violence is violence, generally speaking. To call one kind worse than another, you have to first address your assumptions about what goals you’re talking about (social harmony, law and order, average human happiness, or something else).

    I could go on all day about individual points in this article and the ones it brings up in my mind, but I’ll just stop here. Great article.

    • By the way, I’ve never listened to Arghoslent, but after this article and a recent one on Metallattorney I think I’m going to have to check them out. So far, the only racist band I’ve really gotten into is Nokturnal Mortum, I think. (I may be forgetting someone.) I’ve also been planning to write an article on NSBM, so this is good food for thought.

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t Craig Pillard’s racism disputed?

      • SurgicalBrute says:

        Pillard probably was a racist. Between his band Sturmfuhrer and some of the stuff he said around that time, it seems likely. There is a question of whether he’s still like that or not

    • Trollfiend says:

      Racism is less offensive to you than anti-Christianity? I mean I can understand being offended by hatred against your religion…but religion is, after all, a choice. Race is not.

      • Why is this surprising at all? Ignoring/hating God is far worse than hating some of your fellow man. Christ summarized the law in two commandments. “Love the Lord your God” was the first one. “Love your neighbor” was the second. Both are important, but the first is moreso.

        As far as being offended by either one–I’m used to it. It’s pretty tough to actually offend me.

        • SurgicalBrute says:

          Heres the difference as I see it. Many of the attacks on religion, and Christianity are usually part of a bigger message about not blindly accepting whats said to us. While they may not go about it in the nicest way, the underlying message is not necessarily a bad one.

          Racism is just hate for the sake of hate. Trying to build ones self up at someone elses expense

          • To use the same kind of reasoning against you, many of the lyrics about hate have an underlying message of racial solidarity and pride in one’s heritage. You can find a positive in anything if you want to spin it the right way.

            A more interesting question, perhaps, is this: Isn’t there anything that you think is worse than racism? I can think of a handful.

            • SurgicalBrute says:

              Your reasoning isnt totally accurate. While these bands may include ideas such as racial solidarity and cultural pride in their lyrics, the underlying message being presented is racial superiority. Its hate based purely on someone being different

              When a band is bashing religion, the lyrics may be blasphemous, but its usually done because of a belief (right or wrong) that religion is an archaic idea that holds people back. That it dosnt allow people to think for themselves

              The other idea is that its all pure theater…done just to make these bands seem evil and more controversial

              • Take a step back and think about what you’re saying for about five minutes. I’ll wait.

                . . .


                Surely you must see that you’re trying to pick what the primary or secondary message is, when it’s all a matter of perspective and spin. You’re saying a band that talks about how much they hate God not really concerned with hating God, but instead has an underlying message of thinking for yourself. On the other hand, you say a band that talks about how much they hate (for example) Arabic immigrants is really concerned with that, rather than being concerned with their own national identity and pride. It’s really your choice and your own opinion here. It’s how you want to look at it.

                But let me give you an example that directly contradicts your statement. If you look at the statements from someone like Varg, you see he doesn’t really advocate violence against non-whites, but instead wants each racial group to keep to itself if its own historical home. This clearly shows that his primary concern about race is national identity and national pride. On the other hand, he DOES (or at least has in the past) advocated violence against Christians. “For each devastated graveyard, one heathen grave is avenged, for each ten churches burnt to ashes, one heathen hof is avenged, for each ten priests or freemasons assassinated, one heathen is avenged.”

                • Sorry about typos and grammar . . . must be distracted today.

                  • SurgicalBrute says:

                    Yes, Im making an argument based on interpretation rather than blatant facts, but I don’t think its impossible to make some reasonable assumptions here.

                    When it comes to metal, a band saying “I hate God” can have multiple meanings. It could be anything from trying to be shocking to literally hating God. Its far more likely that these bands don’t even believe in God at all, and have other reasons for using this phrase.

                    Now, Im not saying I disagree that a band that is actively singing about hating Arabic immigrants (to use your example) may very well have a message of racial pride and unity in their music. The thing is, a band that is only concerned with racial pride and unity has no need to add racial bigotry into the mix unless that’s either an important part of their message or they’re trying to shock people.

                    Saying “we’ve stood together against our enemies” is one thing. Amon Amarth and Bolt Thrower both use similar themes. Saying “we’ve stood against the Jews time and again” has a much more loaded context to it and doesn’t leave a lot of room for interpretation.

                    ..and not to be too flippant, but Varg has a new personal philosophy whenever the seasons change. Guy just likes to hear himself talk

                    • SurgicalBrute says:

                      ..and Ive enjoyed this debate. It does make me think a bit as I try and defend my position

                    • True about Varg.

                      I think I see where the disagreement lies here. You’re making general assumptions about motivation based on different lyrical themes, which may or may not be valid in any particular case, but which you believe hold true as a general matter. That I can accept. I still think it’s a bit disingenuous to read a positive message into negative lyrics so selectively. I would prefer if we all just agreed that metal bands have some pretty fucked-up lyrics as a rule, and it doesn’t make any sense to draw a line on any particular subject matter. (On actions advocated, perhaps, or even on actions taken by band members, but not merely on subject matter.)

                • Ion Rod says:

                  As far as anyone is concerned – race is a real issue. God is not. It may be for some, just like I’m sure there is someone believing in Middle-Earth. Anti-God lyrics are just as offensive as anti-Sauron. Racism, on the other hand, is a real thing, no matter your religion or lack there-of. So your saying that anti-Christianity is more offensive may be true for you (helped no doubt by the fact that you’re white), but it is absolutely unforgivable to anyone who is not a member of your elitist circle.

            • Trollfiend says:

              And here we reach the true irony…I’d argue that murder is far worse than calling someone a degrading name — and yet I have NO issue listening to death metal or heck, even the occasional goregrind band. And yet racism really chaps my ass…my many-generations-white ass.

  5. SurgicalBrute says:

    The whole racist music thing used to bother me a lot more than it does now. I still try and avoid the really overt racist bands, but as long as its kept pretty subtle in the music I tend to ignore it.

    Bands that are more interested in singing about cultural pride rather than outright hating on other races dont really bother me

  6. .jh says:

    I think this reviewer has a pretty valid point about the lyrics: http://www.teethofthedivine.com/site/reviews/arghoslent-hornets-of-the-pogrom/

    “That being said, in reading the lyrics to Hornets of the Pogrom, is that Arghoslent are actually quite artistic and epic in their portrayal of slavery, hate and their re-telling of historical events. It’s not like the band is simply spewing ‘Nigger this” this or “Kill darkie that”, it’s all very factual and almost historically in its prose. Sorry America, this happened and Arghoslent are playing music about it and not shying away from it. Deal with it”

    Now that doesn’t change who they are and what they stand for, but worth pointing out at at least on this album (the only one I’ve heard by them) the lyrics are not really that much worse than what many other bands have done before.

    • Speaking of America and the history of racism, I wonder if Europeans are less sensitive to this issue. I get the impression that we Americans are hyper-sensitive to it because of our history and current cultural climate, and the fact that we are a melting pot. In Europe, individual countries are far more homogeneous, and racism is less important in their history. You seem to see more racist bands out of Europe, and they seem to be more accepted there.

      Of course, Germany would be the exception to that rule. You’ll notice (as mentioned in the article) that they are ultra-hyper-sensitive, because it’s so recent and significant in their history.

      • jeimssi says:

        From my point of view, racism is very much of an issue and discussed about, despite the homogeneity. I’d imagine it’s not anywhere near to what it is in America, but during the recent decade or so it has become more and more out there – on media and so. And i’m saying this as a native of the Nordic countries, which are generally thought to be quite open minded and as stand out area when it comes to equality. So yes, sometimes I get the same impression that you do that we are hyper-sensitive to racism.

    • Jim says:

      That was rather my thought. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not supporting their fringe views, but these guys definitely aren’t the black-hating monsters they’re often made out to be (Their antisemitism I find rather appalling, however). It’s pretty clear from the interview and their most recent lyrics that they’re very intelligent people, if incredibly misguided. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t find their music as inescapably offensive as most people do. I listen to Burzum, I listen to Arghoslent, I see little difference.

  7. VyceVictus says:

    No Fucks Given.
    Id go see em live if they were in town and I had nothing to do; this shit sounds alright. If they got a problem with a nigger at their show giving them dirty money then oh well. If they or one of their fans wants to start shit while im moshing, its their funeral.

    I don’t have any particular taste for “edgy” or controversial lyrics, but I’m down with art that manages to strike a nerve piss me off. The key to it is that elusive element that makes art “good” (which as I opined once before, is a totally abstract indefinable concept in and of itself). In other words, its a fine line between an offensive controversial statement that challenges you and something that’s just fucking stupid. Suffice to say, this same…acceptance goes both ways. If I ever heard some badass skinhead HXC band, as much as Id like to It would simply not be prudent for me to be part of their audience. Though I have a right to be where I want, I have to accept the fact that it doesn’t mean Im welcome.

    I always found it funny how you guys find this shit more of an issue than I do. White mans burden or whatever.

  8. Islander says:

    A lot of extreme metal is filled with hate — hate for authority, hate for religion, hate for conformity, hate for women, hate for life. Lots of bands go through the motions, because vicious lyrics and vicious music are sorta expected. And some bands really MEAN IT. It inspires them. I used to hate, though not a lot. As I’ve gotten older, I basically don’t hate at all. Life is too short and few things are black and white. BUT I still love hate-filled music — because hate is a powerful form of energy in metal.

    I have a hard time drawing the line between forms of hate. Many of the ideas behind extreme music do nothing for me, or I just find them repulsive — but the music is still appealing, and I mostly just ignore the words and the philosophies of the songwriters. Having said that, I have no desire to support bands whose lyrics are overtly racist. I’m coming pretty close to the same point of view about bands whose lyrics support violence against and degradation of women. It probably shouldn’t have taken me so long to get to that place.

  9. morbidcorpse says:

    I’m a white, educated, middle class American. I am the MOST discriminated against person on Earth!

  10. Jim says:

    Also, this is the best review of an Arghoslent album ever.

    “The latest full length album from this socially progressive death metal band with rousing themes of tolerance and equality! I heard the proceeds of this album went to Haitian earthquake victims. Arghoslent’s solos even use blues inflections, so you can tell how much they respect African-Americans. These Virginian trailblazers understand that nothing is more “brutal” than treating others fairly.”

  11. BreadGod says:

    When it comes to music like this, I have my own saying: ignore the ideology, enjoy the music. One of my all-time favorite bands is Branikald, and the guy behind it is a huge nazi.

  12. Ibc99 says:

    Props on this topic, an interesting read. Fuck racism.

  13. kevinp says:

    This argument is easy. God is a douche. Well not really he doesn’t exist, so hating or abusing or making fun of an imaginary person/being that is totally fiction is okay. FUCK ALL THE WIDGETS TO HELL AND THEIR MOTHER’S!

    Hating other people, you know, ACTUAL LIVING BEINGS, because of skin pigment or the way they were born means you yourself are an idiot and should be shamed into oblivion.

    or “its okay to mock and ridicule the choices people make (religion) but it’s not okay to do so for choices people don’t make (last I checked my parents nor I pulled the “White Boy” switch before I was born).

    Woot woot, raise the roof. Have a shitty Sunday all you Zombie Jesus Worshippers. LOL

  14. groverXIII says:

    I know I’m probably in the minority here (pun intended), but I don’t listen to Arghoslent because I don’t find their music all that interesting. I don’t agree with their ideology (in fact, I strongly disagree with it), but then again, I don’t agree with the ideologies of a lot of bands, be they Christian, Satanic, Viking, Pirate, Vegan… you get the idea. I just don’t find them interesting enough to warrant multiple listens.

  15. Greg Song says:

    Just fyi, William Shakespeare originally said “Hell is empty and all the devil’s are here”

  16. Charlie O. says:

    If these songs were written like showtunes, with easy to understand lyrics written in such a catchy rhythm that they were easy to memorize and bounced around in your head long after you were tired of the song, would you be so forgiving? In a lot of metal it’s easy to separate the music from the lyrics because the lyrics don’t play the primal role of driving the song.

  17. M. says:

    And dehumanising women is less wrong than dehumanising jews and negros how exactly, hypocrites?

    • Ben says:

      Because the members of most bands that sing about those types of ideals don’t express them in real life through their actions outside of their music or by links to groups which hold those ideals in the way that Arghoslent and Burzum do.

  18. Rofl says:

    “As Anaal Nathrakh said: hell is empty, and the devils are all here.”

    Pleaaaaase dude, this is from THE TEMPEST by SHAKESPEARE … Really, maaan !! For the love of God, the day as Anaal Nathrakh will invent something, chickens will have fangs !

    Culture, do you know this word ?

  19. OscarYeager says:

    I love Arghoslent and I don’t mind the lyrics at all. They tell of historical events and many people wouldn’t even consider them racist unless they new that the band were racist before hand. I love all of their work and will always listen and prmote them!!

  20. Brandon says:

    I enjoy Arghoslent immensely and unlike all of you the most enjoyable part of their tracks for me are the lyrics. They’re unabashed, original and bag on jews and blacks. As a white male in a society full of liberal cuckolds and whining minorities I must say it makes me grin ear to ear to hear these viewpoints paired with such divine music. They sure do shove it right in your faces, don’t they? 🙂 It’s not indirect or plainly historical either so fuck off with that justification. Have you read the fucking lyrics? If you can’t stand behind the lyrics then don’t stand behind the riffs you half ass fan. I pity you for praising them like a young school girl only to dismiss the content of their songs. You should try listening to Arghoslent as a proud person of European ancestry because it’s pretty empowering.

    I’d also like to add that perhaps you should consider that if someone is hooked on drugs, starving or unemployed and opts to rob you it’s because there is no force able to civilize them. Hhaa

  21. Martin says:

    Just…stop…whinning…about…it. Or do something about it, but no, you just try to promote music piracy and music stealing, what a rat.
    If their beliefs bother you that much, then simply don’t listen to them. In this kind of music you can’t set a line beetwen music and lyrics/beliefs, because their beliefs are what inspire the music.

  22. Michael says:

    “B) some dude robbed you because his skin cells produce more melanin.”

    No one says this, and this isn’t the only difference between races.

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