(NCS contributor Rev. Will provides a retrospective on some recent news from Norway.)
Ah, Norway. The land of salmon and black metal. It’s every metal-loving fisherman’s dream destination.
However, it is also home to some of the world’s most extreme black metal bands. Taake, a Norwegian black metal band that recently gained notoriety for anti-Islamic sentiments expressed in their song lyrics, had been nominated for Norway’s top metal prize, the prestigious Spellemann award in the “Metal” category.
This is the equivalent of the American Grammys, except the American Grammys don’t nominate black metal bands in any category. It’s a surprise (or perhaps more of a shock) to many that the essentially one-man black metal project was one of five nominees competing for the award last week (the other four being Insense, Shining, Vreid, and Årabrot; with Årabrot coming in victorious), because one of Taake‘s songs on Noregs Vaapen declares: “To hell with Muhammad and the Muhammadans!”
And this comes just half a year after the tragic internal terrorist attack suffered by Norway last year [and reported here at NCS]. On 22nd July, 2011, Christian extremist Anders Behring Breivik first car-bombed a government building in Oslo (resulting in 8 deaths), before carrying out a fatal shooting spree on the island of Utøya which reportedly resulted in 69 deaths. It is the worst case of spree killing in modern history (meaning from the 1900’s onward), beating Woo Bum-kon of the Uiryeong massacre in 1982 by 20 corpses.
The Worst Spree Killer Norway & The World Have Ever Seen
Despite complaints, members of the Spellemann board had defended the band’s nomination.
“We enjoy full freedom of expression in Norway and [our] jury is not going to censor content in any way,” chairman Marte Thorsb told Aftenposten.
But the Norwegian Humanist Association had protested that the lyrics went too far.
“In the aftermath of July 22nd [Taake‘s lyrics] are completely over the edge,” said Didrik Søderlind. “I’d imagine Taake aren’t particularly proud of these lyrics after Utøya.”
Further examination of other lines in the same song seem to eerily echo Anders Breivik’s own right-wing extremist views as well:
“Norway will soon awaken!” read the lyrics to the song “Orkan” (meaning “Hurricane”), on Taake‘s album Noregs Vaapen. Elsewhere on this song, singer Ørjan Stedjeberg also refers to the “unforgivable customs” of Muslims and calls for a new “kingdom” to “shine through [the] bad years, shame and Christian times”.
Despite lyrics damning Muslims, Stedjeberg [a/k/a Hoest] has stated that Taake “do not encourage either violence or racism”.
Stedjeberg once explained:
“Our view… is that it is shameful to adhere to Christianity or Islam.”
He had also criticised the media for ignoring Taake‘s critical lyrics about Christianity, which were relatively tamer, by the way. Perhaps he was hinting at the possibility of the media trying to make him the scapegoat (and hence, give him bad press) by exploiting the coincidental timing of the shooting spree by Breivik last year. “Taake has never been a political band,” Stedjeberg had further emphasized.
It is quite hard to take Stedjeberg’s comments seriously though, because they come less than four years after he painted a swastika on his chest for a Taake concert in Essen, Germany (in which the usage of the swastika symbol is banned for obvious reasons). In the outcry over that event, he had insisted that Taake are “not a political Nazi band”, and that “Our whole concept is built on provocation and anything evil- and death-related”. The dude could have been (and may still be) sincere about this stance for all we know, but doesn’t this remind you of the whole Nergal fiasco with that torn Bible? It sure does sound like a possible attempt at masking one’s true intentions with the cover of “artistic license” to me.
Anyway, the Spellemanns were awarded on Saturday night, 14th January, 2012.