May 062014

In messages to me, a couple of NCS supporters have wondered why I haven’t written about the recent controversy swirling around the black metal band Inquisition, perhaps especially because the band are based here in Seattle, because we’ve praised their music in the past, and because just yesterday I praised their live performance on the recently concluded Metal Alliance tour headlined by Behemoth.

While I’m flattered that anyone would care what I think about this subject, I guess the short answer is that I have no relevant facts to add to the discussion and every opinion that could be expressed about the issues (both intelligent and moronic) has been uttered elsewhere already. Also, it seems like every couple of days, some new piece of information surfaces that might be worth considering before expressing an opinion. Of course, none of these factors has stopped other metal bloggers from sticking their oar in the water, so I can understand why some people would wonder why I haven’t.

Given the possibility that our silence could be misinterpreted, I finally decided it might be worth an explanation. Also, I suspect that at least some of you might be interested in expressing your own opinions in a forum that isn’t dominated by idiots — and whatever else might be said about NCS, I think it’s undeniable that intelligent discussion in our Comment sections is one of the site’s strengths. So, here goes….


I’m not going to re-hash all the reasons for the controversy, because I suspect anyone who is actually interested in the subject has read all about them by now. In a nutshell, it involves allegations (beginning here on April 28) that the members of Inquisition are Nazi sympathizers and racists. Because DECIBEL magazine decided to actually speak with the people at the heart of the matter, those reasons have now been discussed by both Inquisition’s Dagon (here) and the band’s accuser (here).


It’s clear to me that the only reason this controversy has gotten so much attention is because Inquisition’s profile was raised dramatically by the success of their last album, 2013’s Obscure Verses for the Multiverse, and the critical praise heaped upon it. That, and the fact that the band are now on a prominent metal label (Season of Mist) also probably explains why Dagon bothered to address the allegations at all. Otherwise, I’m guessing he and Incubus would have ignored them; most underground black metal bands wear “not giving a shit” like a badge of honor, and in fact Dagon has been subjected to criticism by some of Inquisition’s long-time fans for attempting to explain himself.

I don’t mean to suggest that the issues aren’t “newsworthy”, despite the fact that the allegations which spawned them — like Inquisition — have been around for a long time, and are only now getting attention because the band have only recently been “discovered” by a lot of new listeners. Some people (like the blogger who lit the fuse on this most recent controversy) genuinely do care whether the money they spend goes to support artists with beliefs they find morally repugnant, and when such artists begin achieving greater commercial success and popular attention, they care even more. I get that, and I don’t blame people for wanting to talk about the allegations that have been leveled against Inquisition.


On the other hand, I also understand the views of people who very vocally have said that they don’t give a shit about this controversy. In their view, the music is what matters, and this music happens to be in a genre (black metal) that has had a long history of being offensive or at least provocative. In their view, if you find the allegations against Inquisition troubling, then stop listening to the music — but also stop self-righteously telling other people what they should or shouldn’t be listening to; and by the way, where do you get off supporting the many hundreds of metal bands who are openly atheist and offensive to all religions?

I said I understand those views, but I disagree with some of them. Though I do generally think that the music is what matters, I happen to be one of those people who prefers not to financially support artists who use their music to promote fascist and racist agendas, and I’d like to know if I’ve unwittingly been doing that. So would other well-intentioned people. I also don’t view the promotion of fascism and racism as on a par with the pillorying of religion that’s commonplace across most extreme metal genres. Maybe I’m wrong, but I see a difference between challenging and even offensively attacking the beliefs of other people (especially in metal) and supporting ideologies that praise and promote discrimination and violence against other people, particularly an ideology that was responsible for attempting genocide.


So in light of that, why haven’t I written about the Inquisition controversy before now, and why am I still praising the band’s music? Three reasons, the last one more important than the others:

First, I’m reluctant to get on a soapbox and tell other people that they shouldn’t be listening to a band’s music because the band members subscribe to offensive ideologies. It’s a personal choice that each person should be free to make on their own, and I’m uncomfortable with the idea of promoting a boycott of a musician for those reasons, or probably any reasons. Something about that idea just seems inconsistent with what I think metal is about.

Second, to be honest, I think I’m influenced by the fact that I really like Inquisition’s music. I wouldn’t try to defend that as a valid reason for supporting a band with a proven racist and fascist agenda — but that brings me to the third and most important reason: I’m not convinced that Inquisition’s music promotes racism or fascism (at least I don’t get that out of their music) and I’m not convinced that Inquisition’s members currently subscribe to those ideologies.

Maybe Dagon did at one time, or maybe he just didn’t care about judging or condemning the beliefs of people he was associating with, or perhaps he thought those associations gave a rogue edge to the band’s persona that would burnish the band’s status in the black metal underground. Whatever the reasons, he has denied that he is a Nazi and denied that Inquisition’s goal is to persecute anyone for racial reasons.


Is he lying?  Maybe he is — his accuser certainly seems to think so, and his accuser’s DECIBEL interview happens to be more articulate and eloquent than Dagon’s denials. If I had to vote on whose account is the more persuasive, I’d vote for the accuser’s (though it’s worth noting, as one of our commenters has, that he was writing while Dagon was talking, and that makes a difference). But based on what I know now I still view this as a swearing match, and as a general matter coming off as inarticulate doesn’t equate to being dishonest (some writers have accused Dagon of being intentionally evasive and not sufficiently unambiguous in his denials, and maybe they’re right, but I’m not convinced of that). On the other hand, being articulate doesn’t mean you’re being entirely honest, and I can’t say I’m instinctively ready to accept the word of an ex-Nazi who used to sport a big swastika on his torso.

In addition, even if Dagon is lying and even if that becomes more clear because someone else comes forward with more information, it’s hard for me to conclude that a band who are denying allegiance to Nazism and racism are doing a very good job promoting those agendas through their music or through the modicum of celebrity status that their music has given them (and I do mean modicum — this is, after all, still pretty “inaccessible” black metal and it’s hard for me to buy the idea that it poses a public danger to anyone).


As disclosed above, I freely admit that the way I’m thinking about all these issues may be too heavily influenced by my liking for Inquisition’s music and their talents as live performers. For example, I wouldn’t say you’re wrong if you reached different conclusions based on the same set of facts. To repeat, I don’t feel comfortable telling other people how they should or shouldn’t think about the issues or whether they should or shouldn’t buy Inquisition’s music. I’m just telling you what’s going on in my own head at the moment, for whatever interest that may hold.

And with that, I’m done. I look forward to reading your Comments — so please leave some damned Comments!


  1. Im surprised that people even give a damn shit. Trolls everywhere…

  2. I think you have a pretty balanced and level headed opinion of the situation and I agree that the situation is probably being exacerbated by their new found fame.

    People who are morally outraged by this should really take into consideration how juvenile the Nazi imagery was used. I’m talking specifically about the swastika with the poorly photoshopped boobies. Like…seriously – that’s so obviously young, immature musicians trying to be “SHOCKING!”. It points to a pathetic desire to stand out rather than a real devotion to a hateful mantra.

    Also, as metal heads, we listen to some fucked up shit. Dimmu’s Tormentor of Christian Souls? “I could rip your guts out, and let you watch me sacrifice your unborn child”. We don’t think Shagrath really rapes women and aborts their unborn babies in his basement do we? Are we OK with listening to these lyrics? Do we think we promote rape and subjugation of women every time we spin Enthroned Darkness Triumphant?

    If Inquisitions dopey as fuck Naziism offends you, don’t support them, but this pearl-grasping outrage is ridiculous for a community like ours.

    • My problem isnt even the pearl-clutching, people have every right to be offended if it bothers them. Im just tired of the constant demands that everyone join them in their outrage, and if you dont you must be a terrible person.

  3. On the subject of Inquisition…there is enough circumstantial evidence floating around to indicate that the members may have had, if not still have some sketchy beliefs. Lets be very clear though..the band has never expressed those views in their music, and they dont seem very keen on expressing those views outside of the music either. In other words, they really dont seem to be trying very hard to spread a message of hate and racial superiority.
    If people dont want to support the band for fear supporting racists or fascists..I can understand and respect that, but leave it there. Everyones got a different threshold for what they find offensive and no one is obligated to feel the same way.

    • Wait, you’ve heard about Dagon’s 88MM side project, right?

      • Yep…and it was released about six years ago, right around the time they were releasing Inquisition albums through No Colours Records. This rumor goes back a ways, and as I said there’s plenty of evidence to show theyve got some sketchy beliefs, but they dont do it through Inquisition, and they dont really seem to be keen on spreading that message in other ways as well..especially recently.

        Most NS bands and their members have no problem owning up to the message theyre trying to spread..Inquisition seems to be trying to distance themselves from it

  4. So if I don’t burn half my BM collection will I be eventually flushed out and accused of being a nazi or a nazi sympathizer/supporter? I have the entire burzum discography, I love it, I have Jewish/Polish blood.

    I hope the accuser(s) start accusing all the popular and most influential BM/metal bands that have questionable pasts (mayhem, emperor, watain, alcest, dimmu borgir, motorhead, slayer etc). Maybe it’s because those bands might have good lawyers and it’s safer to pick on newcomers?

    Keep up the amazing work Inquisition! Full support

    • Original accuser really comes across as a black metal dabbler, someone who hasnt dug very deeply into the metal scene as a whole. Id be shocked as hell if he was even aware of some of the things the early 2nd wave guys used to don in their younger days

      • ..note I meant the blogger who started this whole thing…not the bus driver/former nazi who supposedly saw them get all excited about his swastika tattoo

    • Alcest, really? What’s Neige done?

      • Played drums on Peste Noire’s demo Aryan Supremacy

      • Alcest singer was part of the Peste Noire demo recording “Aryan Supremacy”, also did a side project with members of the Polish band Hate Forest. Who went on to be Drudkh.

        The more you dig into black metals past makes what inquisition is being accused of seem rather mundane.

        Like I mentioned, prepare to destroy half your metal collection if this witch hunt continues. I also have some extremely racist African American and Jewish American rap in my collection I might have to reconsider now too.

        • I wasn’t into black metal when the second wave was blooming, but from what I’ve read, lots of bands and underground labels were espousing at least uber-nationalist sentiments that had at least racially discriminatory implications while others were open Nazi sympathizers (including bands that have since then done their best to distance themselves from all that). Of course, NSBM bands and labels are still out there today.

      • Neige has made statements about that part of his career before. What it boils down to (according to him) is that he was 15 years old when he started session drumming, and although he didn’t subscribe to any of Peste Noire’s sketchier leanings, he also didn’t give as much thought to what that association might mean as maybe he should have:

        (Article is in German, but Neige’s quote is translated to English.)

    • That’s right. If you don’t do what the social justice warriors say, then that means you’re racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, wretched cis scum.

  5. Well, if these people are using music as a platform to push their agenda, I’m not cool with supporting it.

    I think it goes a lot further than EXPLICITLY espousing Nazi ideologies in their songs too. I admit I don;t listen to the band all that much, but some of the song names I’ve seen – and the whole messy business about his 88MM side-project and some of the lyrics and song names there – seem pretty pro-fascism. Although of course, it’s just a “concept album” – a long string of concept albums about Nazi warfare, and ideologies, and weaponry, and, erm… hang on…

    I digress, though: it’s not about whether or not they actively promote the ideology through their lyrics. If they have other actively racist/hateful side-projects they promote (they do), or if they advocate, embody, or in some way represent these beliefs to their fanbase (I don’t know if they do this or not)… then helping raise the metaphorical platform from which they disseminate these ideologies is still not okay, for me. Massive slippery slope here, but: I watch an Inquisition music video, increase the page hits and view count, which leads to some impressionable person finding the band (who may not have done in the same way), and through the band they hear of the ideas the members are advocating, and those ideas strike a particularly resonant note… well, you get the idea.

    This raises loads of questions about individual responsibility and the… freedom/inculpability of artists, but that’s not my point, I just don’t want to endorse, in any way, that kind of active hatred, incitement of violence/whatever. I see it as very similar to the Lord Mantis controversy in that respect.

    I’m sailing tranquil waters, though, these not being one of my favourite bands. I’m sure some of you would feel a lot more conflicted about making so extreme a statement. Thank Lucifer it’s not Agalloch.

  6. If nothing else it’s given me some good chuckles about how many barely literate “disciples” of black metal have been frothing at the mouth over this.

    I’ve not seen the word “false” thrown around so much in ages.

    • Internet morons + Nazism = comment threads that are true cess pits of humanity.

      Full disclosure, I was one of the people asking Islander about this, and I appreciate that he gave us a place to have a non-moronic conversation about this.

  7. i’ve removed them from my music collection, but not because i’m 100% convinced of their guilt. i’ve read several comments by Inquisition fans in which they angrily state that they “don’t give a shit” if the allegations are true and the band has their undying support. this isn’t the kind of fan base i want to be a part of or associated with because, true or not, i do give a shit. so i’m out.

    • To be fair, you can probably find fans of this type when looking at any band/musician. Unfortunately, these types of fans are generally the first to voice there opinions, especially under the cloak of anonymity that is the internet.

      • this is very true, you can definitely find extreme fans for every band who are willing to overlook negative behaviors out of love for the music. it really boils down to what exactly it is that they’re willing to overlook. if you told me “i don’t mind that this artist has struggled with drug attention”, i wouldn’t think any less of you. but if you said “i don’t mind that this artist might be a white supremacist and Nazi sympathizer”, that would definitely be a problem for me.

    • I had some similar internal dilemmas when the Tim Lambesis thing blew up. In that case, it was actually much uncomfortable, considering the overwhelming evidence against him, and the competing fact that AILD was pretty much the first “extreme” band I listened to of any type at all, and were huge in my musical development. An Ocean Between Us is probably one of the most personally powerful, important, and nostalgic albums I own, because of what they eventually meant to me (they were also one of the first bands I all-out fangirl-ed over, buying every type of merch and collectible I could fathom). Like someone else said somewhere in these comments in regards to Inquisition (who I have very little history with, and thus don’t feel as beholden either way), I find it incredibly hard to listen to AILD’s music now without thinking about Lambesis’s despicable actions, but I haven’t thrown away their music altogether. However, I do know that I will never support any other musical action which may benefit him (i.e. any future concert, or any future music project), and yet on the other side of the coin I’m happy to check out the remaining member’s new project, as they were probably the ones I felt the worst for in the whole debacle.

      Anyway, I’ve gone on too long. I’ll stop myself before I lose the last vestiges of coherence.

  8. I was having this conversation the other day. Ultimately, I find it difficult to simply be okay with the band possibly being Nazis. I am a newcomer to the band by all means. I picked up their latest album and love it, so I picked up the one before that. I cannot profess to being a long time fan, but I am not happy about the possibility of supporting artists with these views. It honestly seems like it could go either way. I do agree that the response from the former Nazi on Decibel seemed a lot more articulate than that of Dagon. I also feel as though Decibel was taking sides with Dagon and trying to discredit the other side’s argument. All Dagon had to do was answer the question of whether or not he is a Nazi with a direct “no.” Instead, he danced around the issue, and it did not sit right with me. I am tired of hearing about it in a way, but it also seems to me that you are correct; They are not in our faces pushing a white power agenda, and if that is their message, they are doing a poor job of articulating it. I am glad to hear your thoughts on it, though.

    • “I’m not a nazi” was said in Dagons first paragraph, sounds like a no to me.

      Dagons was an on the spot PHONE interview(notice they don’t add small replies by decibel interviewer, making Dagon sound like a run-on sentence.

      The skinheads was a thought out written statement full of hearsay and violent chest heaving threats towards the band. We all talk like Dagon did in person, no one talks like their giving a sermon in real life conversation person to person.

      • I must apologize. I previously read the article, and must have been so caught up in his long explanations later on because, you’re right. He did, in fact, in the first paragraph, say up front he is not a Nazi. I can also agree with your sentiments regarding the former skinhead. I did feel, when reading his, that he was trying to come off like some sort of self-righteous badass out to eliminate all white supremacists. I am glad I can be called out for being wrong on this forum without being called an asshole or something along those lines… which is why this is the only site on which I do actually comment.

      • This is a good point that I didn’t make, but it’s one of the reasons I don’t feel a comparison of the two interviews settles the questions. There is indeed a difference between talking off the cuff by phone, in something like a conversation, and writing out answers (especially if you happen to be a decent writer, which I think Dagon’s accuser clearly is).

        • In a number of other interviews (especially more recent ones), Dagon comes off as quite intelligent. He has time to organize his thoughts and express them clearly, and often elaborately, without seeming to ramble. Honestly, I’ve been quite impressed with the ways in which he expresses his views on satanism and the universe, etc.

  9. This whole thing has really put a Gordian knot in my brain, which is funny given that although I really like their last album, it hasn’t changed my life. I think in reality, I’ve been obsessing over other crap in my personal life and this was something I could throw my focus on.

    I had a really good exchange with Full Metal Attorney a while back on his blog when he was talking about NSBM. (here: I don’t want to misrepresent any of his points (and I hope he chimes in), but I think one of his particularly good points is that we (as a metal audience) can be pretty inconsistent it comes to what we decide is offensive, or least offensive enough to be a deal breaker. Misogyny usually gets a pass (“Fucked With a Knife,” anyone?), but Nazism much less so, even though those two problems could be considered on pretty equal footing when it comes to “nasty shit unleashed on the world.”

    I agree with him, but as I said there, I think most of us want to minimize legitimate evil in our lives, and not playtime, horror movie evil, but real-life evil with real-world consequences. We can’t know if every musician we listen to is actually a good person–heck, as a classical guitarist, I play music that is 500 or more years old, sometimes by anonymous composers or ones we know only by a name and a rough date for composition, and some of them probably had views or did things that are morally repugnant to me. I’ll never know, and I don’t trouble myself too much if Fugue in D was a celebration of some guy beating his wife (although I certainly hope not), but the song in and of itself promotes no hateful message.

    But in our new, hyper-connected intertubes world, we’re faced with even more decisions. Bands that maybe–maybe–would have gotten a paragraph in Rolling Stone 30 years ago can now blog every thought that comes into their heads, and there’s no shortage of other blogs that are happy to do the reporting for them. If someone’s an asshole, there’s a good chance we’ll find out, and we can’t help but be influenced by that. Fairly or unfairly, I will never listen to Inquisition again without thinking about this. I can’t help but think how I’d feel if I wanted to play that album for a Jewish friend, and being forced to admit, “I dig this, but it’s possible these people really, REALLY hates you.” Or what if someone writes a tune that we like, and the song has no overt, hateful message–say a song called “I Miss You Stephanie,” which is a touching tribute to some guy’s great aunt–but the singer/songwriter is a white supremacist, what then? Are you failing to be a good person if you listen? I don’t know the answer to that, and I think I’d have to scoff at anyone who says there IS an absolute right way to look at this.

    • Reading back my own comment, it sounds a lot more equivocating than I intended. I think what I was trying to say is that I understand and support anyone who is put off by stuff like bands promoting Nazism (while acknowledging the fact that there are unanswered questions and ambiguity in the situation with Inquisition)–I’m put off by it as well–but the whole music vs. the people who make it can be a tricky little philosophical minefield.

      • This is a VERY long article by Craig Hayes that I found late today and that explores some of the complexities and inconsistencies you’re talking about — the title of which is “A Very Dirty Lens: How Can We Listen to Offensive Metal?”

        I haven’t finished reading it yet (did I mention that it’s VERY LONG), but it’s pretty interesting and non-judgmental.

        • Very good article. (And c’mon man, it’s not THAT long. Don’t be like the lazy kids today with their Instatweets and their Facegrams. Buckle down and use your old person’s attention span!)

          I think he sums up a lot of things I’ve been thinking about, but in a much more coherent way. Maybe things like this Inquisition foofaraw get those of us who think all riled up simply because it shines a light on the ethical compromises we make every day. As Booker hints at below, if you only own and enjoy things that you can be sure were made with care, fairly, and by good people, you’ll be living in a lean-to and wearing bark underpants.* It doesn’t give us a free pass to stop trying, but we’re always limited in how much we can do and how much we can know.

          *I mean, I’m kind of into that, but you know…

          • ..I think it also has to do with the fact that, in situations like this, the ethics are much more ambiguous. This isnt a case like you’d find with Temnozor or Der Stürmer where theyre clearly NSBM bands and they have no issues expressing those beliefs in their lives or their music. Youve got to decide if the message from the artist outweighs the message from the art, and theres no simple answer for that

          • Hey, I finished the article (finally)! Also, speaking of old person’s attention span, I think attention span is like a bell curve when mapped against age, and I’m on the downhill slope. Also, BARK UNDERPANTS!

    • I didn’t feel I had much to add to this discussion, and I think you’ve stated my position clearly enough.

      I appreciate your distinction between tongue-in-cheek and serious evil, but I don’t think it’s as simple as that. In the first place, some of these guys really, really, really want to piss people off, so they’ll pretend to be Nazis to that end. Even Rob Zombie has a song called “Werewolf Women of the SS.”

      And even more absurdly, if you’ve watched the comments on this particular controversy, you’ll find people defending Antichrist Kramer. Because, they point out, he’s not a racist. He hates everybody! So of course it’s OK, then, apparently. Even though that is quantifiably worse.

      I’m not going to get started on the politics of all of this, but I will say I predict a shift in the political rhetoric over the next few years.

  10. This issue is honestly one that is absolutely absurd to be going around, Dagon has responded and I honestly really think he is telling the truth and the accuser just seems to be throwing around things to attack a black metal band that has finally gotten some critical praise.

    The first point to discuss it is generally understand that black metal is controversial and what not, especially considering its roots but nowadays is black metal even scary anymore to most people? You see lyrics praising Satan and calling upon the massacre of angels or what not and at this point its something to simply shrug off as been there done that. Inquisition’s lyrics are just in that vein, looking through the lyrics on the last two albums they delve more into Cosmic Satanism than the usual but still as for claims that they are Nazi white supremacists there is no way to prove it in the music. Unless you’ve mixed up your fiction and reality and mistakenly assume the Nazi occult experiments performed in the Wolfenstein games actually happened I don’t see a connection through the music. Following that I don’t see even anything in Dagon’s actions that could prove he was/has Nazi beliefs at all. It can be said that Satanism is a questionable belief by many, but it’s nothing out of the usual especially in black metal.

    My opinion on this can honestly be summed up with there is no proof that the two members of Inquisition are Nazis and with Dagon stating he isn’t, well I guess they really aren’t. I don’t see them burning swastikas during their shows and actively attacking anyone who isn’t white that attends their show. Really this was just like opening Inquisition’s closet, taking out two coat hangers, and waving them around shouting that someone has found the evil skeletons in their closet.

  11. It’s been said in some ways before, but the main issue seems to be that despite the similarities to other offensive ideologies, this one just hits too close to home for a larger group of people. There’s a reason it was called “World War 2”, it affected many nations. People don’t want this one to be normalized.
    That being said, there’s still many songs and bands that seem to get a pass, either because they’re “making a statement” or claiming “shock value”. Neo-nazism and racism in general may have real world consequences (as another commenter stated), but the same could be said for misogyny, extreme anti-religion (“kill the Christians”, etc.), encouraging/promoting suicide and/or drug addiction, even extreme straight-edgers that write songs about killing drug dealers. To me, anytime an ideal actively promotes the dehumanization of other people, it has the potential to be dangerous. Should we support artists that promote such ideals? That’s for the individual to decide.

  12. “I happen to be one of those people who prefers not to financially support artists who use their music to promote fascist and racist agendas, and I’d like to know if I’ve unwittingly been doing that”

    I’ve been thinking about this issue a lot recently – and came to the conclusion that it’s almost impossible to be a conscientious, ethical consumer from the start. You can only really choose where your money goes after the fact.

    What do I mean? I mean if you don’t want coffee growers to live impoverished lives you can buy fair trade (which even then, is just kind of a bit better for them, not really completely ‘fair’). But for everything else? Unless there’s some similar certification scheme you can’t really know where your shirt came from or if some business you deal with has a parent company which also owns a place dumping toxic waste, or shares in a tobacco company, etc. The supply chains and ownership models are so complex for most things that you really know very little about where things come from and the practices involved (just look at the horse meat saga in the U.K.). There’s this book ‘Confessions of an Eco-sinner: travels to find where my stuff comes from’ by Fred Pearce where he spends a ridiculous amount of time just trying to figure out where his shirt came from.

    Why is this relevant? Well if a typical band has 4 or so guys (and in this genre the occasional female musician), you’re never going to know everything about them. Some bands I listen to I don’t even know what country they’re from! They could be fucktard rapists in real life and I wouldn’t have a clue. So when I look over my music collection, statistically speaking there’s bound to be some dickheads in there – and it’s only if they’re directly singing about being a Nazi or blogging like Varg Vikernes that I’ll ever know their personal views on matters like this. Sure, once you find out you can decide if you want to keep money flowing from your pocket to theirs. But in this way, I think this situation is no different from say, finding out you had inadvertently bought a phone made by disabled 5 year olds in slave labour.

    • I agree with all of this. I didn’t mean to imply that before I spend my money on music or recommend it on this site I try to investigate the beliefs and activities of band members. As you suggest, this just happens to be a case where allegations about the band have been shoved in my face, and so I’ve been thinking about it.

      • Yeah I guess that’s what I was trying to get at – finding out after-the-fact when the allegations surface is probably the default way for these things, because otherwise trying to research everything in advance would get ridiculous. I guess you’ve just got to think about your options when it does, like in this post and comments, and come to a decision you’re happy with.

  13. I have to wonder if there’d be a controversy if the members of Inquisition were any race other than white, espousing a non-white supremacy agenda.

    • …supposedly being of latino heritage didnt save Nyogthaeblisz from controversy and getting kicked off of the Chaos in Tejas bill after it was revealed they might have some supremacist viewpoints and were associated with the Satanic Skinhead Propaganda label

      …so yeah, Im thinking if any metal band gains a wider following..then has some possibly sketchy skeletons come to light, theres bound to be backlash

  14. I think what it boils down to is two core issues: One–how we differentiate between what kind of shock value is “okay” and what crosses the line; and two–how do we (or can we) separate the artist’s personal beliefs from their art?
    When it comes to the first issue, I think what triggers peoples’ outrage in music is the same as in something like stand-up comedy; namely, that satire (or disbelief) only works when it’s aimed up. A really simple example would be comparing a joke made at the expense of a white/Christian/Republican man to a joke made about marital rape. One of the jokes works because it is aimed at someone in a position of disproportionate power, and one of them fails because it is aimed at a group of people whose human rights are actively and disproportionately being violated. Likewise, we can make a connection between something like an expression of Satanism (a largely hypocritical set of beliefs that most people can generally dismiss as mere costuming or shock value), and an expression of Naziism (a set of beliefs still widely held that has expanded massively beyond its WWII definition, and now stands as more of a blanket term for the active promotion and practice of violence against non-white and non-male people). Racism and racism-fueled violence is so real, and exists on so many levels, that it doesn’t work to use it for shock value by the people who have the power to perpetuate it because we can’t brush it off or say that it doesn’t exist. It’s deeply offensive because it is happening every day, all around us, and it is largely ignored (or perpetuated even) by those who are in power. The severity of that reality makes it irrelevant if the artist intended the expression of those beliefs merely as shock value, or expressed them out of naiveté.

    The second issue is that of separating the artist from the art. This has been discussed so much lately thanks to dudes like Woody Allen and Roman Polanski, and all I can offer to this argument is a suggestion of a (very shaky) line of reasoning. None of us can or will ever be able to know if Woody Allen molested his daughter, just like none of us can know if Inquisition are nazi sympathizers. Arguing over “yes they did because x” or “no they didn’t because y” is irrelevant to the discussion. All we can try to do is decide a) whether their art is an expression of their beliefs, and b) whether our participation in that art (by consumption) is supporting those beliefs. We are all naturally reluctant to reject something that brings us pleasure based on the principal of its creation or its creator — a previous commenter’s example of “ethical” coffee consumption is an excellent example of this. We can all confirm that Varg Vikernes is blatantly racist, a murderer and a nazi sympathizer, but can we call his music a reflection of those beliefs? Certainly I wouldn’t choose to purchase his book (which IS an expression of those beliefs), but I don’t hesitate to consume his music. Am I right to distinguish between the two, or is all of his expression inherently one of his racist beliefs? Is it simply easier for me to distinguish between the two because I enjoy his music and don’t want to read his writings on white supremacy? Am I making excuses for his very public beliefs because I want to still listen to music I like? Do we hold other, older prolific and influential artists who may have been slave owners or rapists or nazis themselves, etc etc, to the same standards? Should we, or is it wrong not to reexamine the lens through which we examine their artistic contributions? I guess the short answer to this is that there IS no short answer, but rather an opportunity for each of us to examine how our individual privilege changes what we get angry about, and what we feel entitled to enjoy despite indications that may point in a direction we don’t support (or are inherently, inarguably wrong).

    I realize this comment became really long and somewhat rambling, with no real answers and plenty of holes. I think it’s essential for us, as intelligent consumers, to always be critical of what we consume, and this is a really tough and complicated issue with no hard and fast answer at the end. The best we can do is use discussion like this to form real opinions and defend our convictions with reason rather than emotion. Thanks for providing the forum.

    • Thank you for putting so much time and thought into this comment. I didn’t think it was rambling. And as for not offering a clear answer on that second issue, I agree it’s because there aren’t any — a point SurgicalBrute also made somewhere up above (“Youve got to decide if the message from the artist outweighs the message from the art, and theres no simple answer for that”).

    • Agree with Islander, it didn’t seem like rambling, but maybe that’s just one rambler to another 😉

      Seriously though, there’s some really good points in here and I agree with pretty much everything you’ve said.

  15. I’m surprised that Dagon’s case has been discussed in terms of absolute “yes” and “no”. To me, it seems like he might have been a Nazi sympathizer however many years ago when the events described by the ex-Nazi guy occurred, as well as all the 88mm hubbub. However, no evidence showing continuing ties to that ideology have been shown in any member of Inquisition. I think that Dagon (and Incubus, I suppose, though he seems to be getting less flack), like the ex-Nazi guy, is himself an ex-Nazi, but has moved on and shed that ugly skin. Not to mention Inquisition’s music has just about nothing to do with anything remotely Nazi.

  16. What!… Seriously everyone…. Give a fuck… Just listen, don’t think

  17. This sadly reminds me of the Disma debacle a couple of years ago… However Toward the Megalith was my favorite record that year, and I haven’t been able to get past the Frog croak of Inquisition enough to form a strong opinion of them. My biggest question – both the “Disma and Craig Pillard are Nazi’s” and the link to Antichrist Kramer from the original shamelessnavalgazing article point back to the same Austin writer Adam Schragen, who I recall (when the Disma news broke in late ’11 and they backed off the Chaos in Tejas bill) was the only legit seeming source I could find on this (other than a bunch of forum chatter and that “mourningtheancient Craig Pillard “interview” written in all caps that looks like it was thrown together by an austistic chimp with in about 6 minutes.) Now there’s been over 2 years of think pieces that have followed, but I’m wondering if anybody knows anything about this Adam fellow, his agenda, reliability, etc. To be clear I’m not leveling any accusations, he could be our generation’s USBM Woodward and Bernstein and if his facts are straight I applaud his courage. Just curious if anyone knows more (or if he is a contributer here! Hi Adam!) P.S., listen to what you want, don’t give money to fasicist bullies. That includes homophobic Jamaican reggae artists and mysogynistic rappers, btw.

  18. What I don’t get, is how some metal sites are sort of rediscovering the world with the Inquisition case. Black Metal has a history of association with the right-wing that goes very deep, because the case is not just about “NSBM”, the fact is that a huge portion of the scene shows either a sympathy and a hidden admiration for fascist ideals (and bands/people of the scene) or a complete non-shock and acceptance upon interacting with them. I frequented years ago the forum FMP666 where screenshots of the user 88MM where taken (I’m not sure if it is him though) and I can say that is was pretty much a haven where racists were welcome (many NSBM people where promoting their stuff) and racist jokes. offensive remarks and general misanthropy where prevalent. It’s the same, although in lesser degree, in other places like the NWN forum or old and so on. I pretty much always said that nazis and people who hang around or have no problem with them, are the 50% of the bm scene and I won’t hide that as an active member of the scene, I was a bit part of that too in my early 20’s. It’s easy to go along with the flow, especially such self-gratifying elitist ideologies. Individualism, elitism and extremism is the core of the psychology of black metal, at least until the cascadian scene, post-black metal etc came, sort of modernized it, and the mainstream simply forgot what was black metal once about. I actually understand Dagon with his response in the style of “Hey, I put some nasty things in the lyrics, I hang around with some edgy people, but it’s black metal, it’s extreme music! I thought we all had made an agreement that you can do these things when you’re black metal!”. It’s not so much his fault (I don’t thing they are hardcore nazis, few of black metallers really are, even those that are using the word aryan in casual speech) as much as of ours, the rest of the metalheads.

    This is completely connected with your “Do metalheads give a shit” article. No, for the most part they never gave a shit. They never cared to decipher lyrics and messages, connections and references, but only care when their pop fast food is threatened of being taken away from their mouth. There are many bands that are real nazis and don’t use 88 or 14 or tanks in their covers. There are labels that release one nazi album every 5 generic metal albums, and nobody seems to notice (either the other bands in their label, or the customers, or the zines). So, in this largely apolitical and do-not-give-a-shit atmosphere, some major sites wake up one morning and make a fuzz, almost tabloid style, about who? Inquisition. I find it laughable, especially when are so many well-covered edgy nationalist bands whose core of the message is potentially hateful, but hey, they’re artful and stuff. The real problem of metal is not Inquisition, but ignorance and the do not give shit attitude. Let’s hear at least some more meaningful and serious criticisms about metal.

  19. Just wanted to say I really appreciate the balance and intelligence expressed in this article.

  20. I’m also pleased with the levelheadedness of this article. I would nit-pick that no one has called for a boycott, as far as I can tell – someone saying they won’t support a band or offering criticism doesn’t amount to either that or ‘censorship.’

    Secondly, note that while metal’s subject matter is often grim, only in NSBM (as far as I can tell) does it directly connect to hate groups violently carrying out an agenda. Kramer’s network is exactly that, and any attempt to smudge Dagon’s work with Satanic Skinhead as being “thematic” will fail in that it doesn’t account for the other actors on that comp:

  21. I would like to echo the appreciation already expressed by others for the intelligence and balance here. This is part of why you’re the fucking man, Islander!

  22. Only one good thing resulted in all these accusations towards Inquisition:
    They got kicked off from Austria and had to hold their concert here, contrary to their original intentions.

  23. Accusations on both sides are unprovable. No one recorded the conversations, but if they had that would certainly be entrapment. While Gallant sounds like he has a much clearer picture of the situation his ability to pass judgement and wish harm towards Inquisition strikes of severe hypocrisy. If he is truly reformed should he not be trying to lead them away from Nazism rather than refocusing his hate from Jews to musicians?

    • Ding Ding Ding! We’ve got a winner..”marious”. You brought up the subject that makes this whole thing smell bad from the start.

      Haters accusing semi-haters for personal fame?

      If, it’s so easy for white power extremists that have actually promoted their beliefs with tattoos and hate speech to convert, then all the Inquisition boys have to do is say “we used to be bad people,but now we fight for good”, then everyone can listen to Inquisition again like they(comment board naysayers) seem to full heartedly listen to MR.skinhead and feel comfortable with themselves?

      But this is where i see Dagon has integrity and is being real and down to earth with this situation.

      -He didn’t blast back at the accuser or physically threaten him like MR.skinhead did to Inquisition
      -Do we ask MR.skinhead what kind of bad things he’s done in his past, was he physically attacking people of different races in his many years in an active hate group.(that’s what organized hate groups are known for)
      -Dagon didn’t try to come off self righteous like he’s a perfect human being and he explained a lot of details that he didn’t have to about past friends, label’s and side projects.

      A can of worms has been opened from this whole subject that is bigger than Inquisitions’ issue but the band is taking all the damage for this larger than life subject, that many popular artists have seemed to aviod.

  24. Of all the mess Ive heard of this, this is the only article that strikes the core of the matter.
    All else is splitting hairs.

    And I appreciate the many angles with which you approached this. Including the fact that metal isn’t here to be apologetic.. A nice touch.

  25. Personally I don’t mind supporting anyone’s music, regardless of what they believe in or do. I think music should be separated from its creator’s actions or beliefs… unless of course they are shoving those things down your throat with their songs, appearance, etc. I’m not the biggest Inquisition fan, and I don’t have much history on them, but even if they were, I wouldn’t care. I know if I made music, I would want people to base my music off, well… the music, and not me, ya know? Just kinda how I feel on the subject, and it is really cool to see how others react because I was kinda wondering the question, “do listeners of metal really care who is behind their music?”And the comment section kinda gave me a bit of an idea on that answer.

    • I agree that the comments above have done a good job expressing the different ways of thinking about the thorny subject of whether, when, and to what extent the music can be separated from the beliefs and actions of the artist. It’s one of those subjects where there is no clear answer that covers all examples even for a single person, and different people are going to have different places where they draw the line. I guess that’s why the issue has been discussed probably for centuries and will continue to be discussed — because it matters to many listeners and yet there’s no definitive, one-size-fits-all answer.

      • First, you always seem to word things so well, I struggle so much with my word choice. Maybe I over think it. Anyway.
        This really is such a grand topic to me and something I’ve been wanting to find out. Just a bit of shame I had to get most of my answers from another band’s expense. I’ve never really met any metal fans in person, well, ones that I guess you could say are as knowledgeable as the common NSC commenter, so it is nice to hear the opinions of people that I feel like I am on a level with. Just another reason to love this site.

        • I labored over this piece more than the usual, because I was trying to get it right. But after reading the comments, I still wish I had said more things and said other things differently — but I really appreciate your kind words.

  26. I’m going to come at this from a bit of a different angle. I want to untangle a few things and ask a few questions.

    1. This controversy is of interest to a lot of people. But it seems that the extent of the controversy depends on what people want to get out of it. What I mean is that on one level you basically have a TMZ/E!News “scandal” of “he said, she said” proportions. For many fans and consumers of music this in itself is a satsifying 15 minutes satisfying delicious scandal. It’s page hits, tweets, status updates, likes and all round teh innahnetzs points.

    On another level, as FMA mentioned above, political discourse is really starting to shift and we are beginning to see expressions of thought that had been marginalised (for better of worse) through legislation, popular sentiment and “common sense” contemporary to particular circumstances. To me this is interesting because it is a phenomenon occuring at the same time as music consumption and production are almost completely decoupled from the dominant business model of the twentieth century.

    Where once it was a case of “don’t like it? Don’t buy it” – to me (and others above who have said similar) the “boycott” approach to music appears to be largely ineffective? Why? Because these days, through the internet it is a cinche to find like minds – whether those like minds are compassionate, critical, intelligent, perverted, immoral or whatever is irrelevant. In other words, “so what if some random middle class kids don’t buy my product and make me a millionaire? It was never my aim anyway.”

    That there exist veiwpoints as antithetical as there are to mine in this world is a given. For every just act I respect, there are as many injustices. Whether Inquisition are “Nazi” or white power or some other permutation of that phenomenon holds very little shock or potential outrage for me. After all, given the associations of BM in the past through to the present, doesn’t it seem entirely likely that people with similar views would be attracted to the genre, its outsider status, its “evil” imagery, etc?

    Which brings me back to the other article on NCS about metal heads and giving a shit. Metal is a community of people. And like any other community there are decent people and there are douche bags and you know what? In most cases, neither the former nor the latter are like that all the time. The world’s a complex place and none of us are purely im/moral.

    2. Using imagery. I’ve been living in Japan for about ten years now. Japan has a totally different relationship with Nazism compared to the west, whether European or American (or Asian-Pacific for that matter). As I am sure many NCS readers know, appropriation has been a key aspect of Japanese cultural production since… well a very long time. Where laws in Germany were drawn up as a redress to the injustices of the Nazi era a certain almost absolute moral code came into play. The failure to outright condemn became equated with support, denial and discrimination.

    However, Japan, somewhat distant to this moral-legal discourse developed a different relationship to cultural artifacts and imagery of the third reich. Indeed, as with other cultural phenomena, these were analysed and appropriated in a variety of ways and have been used to represent anything from military menace to naughtiness. Which is not to say appropriation occurred irresponsibly, it was after all performed within cultural boundaries and as anywhere else, criticism as well as praise are inevitable aspects of the creation and consumption.

    What I am moved to say here is that the typical Western European approach to Nazi imagery results in taboo representation. And as I am sure most metal heads and three year olds are aware: making something off-limits, prohibiting it, while having certain socially “positive” (or outcome limitiing within certain moral and legal codes) effects essentially lends a power, a mystique and attractiveness to it. Which is why the Japanese approach is interesting to me – they just put it out there rather than attempt to silence it.

    3. (Sigh, running out of time!) Shock and outrage. Really, I’ve written about this elsewhere – but I think I’ve moved on a bit. I think what most people refer to shock is really just a form of moral outrage. An expression of disgusted sensibilities but not something deep seated and unsettling. Metal stopped being shocking a long time ago. In my opinion, the existence of white power and other fringe groups also lost its shock value sometime in the 1990s. Are we really surprised this stuff exists in the world and in metal? It exists everywhere else as mundane reality, what makes this genre of music so special?

    • Well goddamn. I didn’t think this common thread could get any better than it already was, but it just has. I really enjoyed reading this. Gave me some new insights and ways of thinking about this thorny set of issues, and I thought I had thought about them pretty thoroughly already. Thank you.

      • Really glad to see you bring up the issue of cultural relativism in relation to taboo imagery. Definitely a whole other can of worms but I think it’s a huge part of this sort of discussion, especially when we are talking about a niche genre, heavily defined by imagery, spread rapidly across the globe.

    • This is a wonderful post, but I think you misunderstand what I meant about a shift in political discourse.

      I’m not sure what kind of climate existed prior to the Victorian era, but at that time people believed they could accomplish anything. Badass Norwegian dudes skied across Greenland, people explored Antarctica, and people undertook massive construction projects like the Panama Canal. As they mused on Roderick on the Line this week, the Interstate Highway System was an enormous undertaking, and people had the political will to do it. It’s my observation that this is the tail end of the Victorian attitude.

      Then we landed on the moon. What was left to accomplish?

      After that, identity politics came into vogue. Not in the Nazi sense (because Nazism was an early form of identity politics) but in a liberal sense. Now, we worry about each person’s unique viewpoint. White, male, middle-class people of normal gender/sexuality no longer have worthwhile opinions. Only people who are disadvantaged in some way have a right to speak on any topic.

      My theory is that identity politics are what killed our ability to accomplish anything. People have rights. People are being oppressed. You can’t do that to me! To us!

      This way of thinking has become the dominant mindset. But the reason I’m predicting a change is because of the way the language of liberal identity politics has been co-opted by the right. Conservatives are now identifying as an oppressed minority. (Which is no more absurd in my mind than the way it’s been used on the left, but if I go into further detail on that then I’ll be dismissed as a bigot, because I don’t recognize certain self-identified groups in this way, although more to the point I don’t recognize that way of thinking.) People are finally going to see the absurdity of it all, and that way of thinking is going to be slowly abandoned. Pretty much anyone born after about 2005 or so isn’t going to think in those terms anymore.

      OK, that’s really tangential to this topic now, isn’t it? But the interesting thing about it is that racists and the social justice police are really two sides of the same coin. Both use identity politics. People fail to see that thinking in those terms fuels both sides of a stupid debate. What comes next, I don’t know, but I hope it’s something pragmatic for a change.

      • Wow, it appears my abbreviation of your name invoked you. Eek!

        Anyway, actually your thinking on the shift in political discourse is rather resonant with my own.

        I would, however say that the tail end of the victorian Era really started to taper out at the point where the US lost its first war in Vietnam (of Korea was the first but it is a loss which frequently goes unacknowledged, much to the chagrin of the veterans and their families). It is at this point that the economic-political structure that had been perceived as impervious and perfect was showing more than a little wear and tear. I really want to talk about “grand projects” (space travel and more) but I need to think about that more. I think I come from a different route but arrive at a similar conclusion.

        But again, that’s a story and history for another time/place.

        Meanwhile, to return to what you were saying… It’s something I have noticed and been thinking about over the past few years. As an (masochistic? moronic?) avid comment reader in areas of interest, I too have picked up on patterns of popular sentiment that suggest societies in many developed nations are moving in a direction to balance the the socio-political upheaval that happened around the Clinton era in the US.

        There is a feeling of disenfranchisement among those who didn’t “benefit” from identity politics, affirmitive action, hate crime law and other “progress” (quotation marks because it’s such a loaded word). And let me be clear, the disenfranchised I refer to are white, working and middle-class. I am not denigrating, accusing or excusing, just trying to be clear about who I am talking about.

        Identity politics were a useful and valuable event/intervention however there was an undercurrent of exclusion – natural, I suppose within the American political and economic framework – given that the point was to allow marginalised voices an opportunity to be heard. Yet like every other politics it was quickly reduced to slogans, absolutes and adversary. If you go back to the scholarly works that informed identity politics, and I don’t mean the parasitic later stuff but the deep theory (particularly Derrida and Spivak around concepts of the other, especially Deleuze in terms of non-binary rebellion, Levinas in terms of ethics and the much misunderstood and mis-used Foucault) they all have one thing in common: it’s not about an “us” versus “them”. It’s not about replacing one with the other. Essentially, all they were saying is that “things be complex, yo, let’s clever up our ways of thinking about and interacting with each other”.

        In the age of identity politics, in other words, “everyone else” got complexity and multiplicity and white dudes still had to be “the man”. The dynamic of discrimination got better documented and quantified but really remained the same.

        That’s why, to me, white power, black metal and related discourse has such an attraction for people – it is a chance for those who inherited the legacy of identity politics (however problematic) to assert an ethnic identity (however constructed, but then again, aren’t they all?), something which they weren’t previously able to do.

        Saying all this doesn’t mean I advocate it but neither do I oppose it. We make and dispose of the culture we need.

        Meanwhile, I totally agree with you about the absurdity of identity politics and the pendulum swing in the othe direction. It will be interesting to see to what forms dialog will take between complex, hybrid identities without moral absolutes be they provided by politics, legal framework, religion or whatever. I think, to restate it really comes down to a recently “disenfranchised” group wanting to speak its dissatisfaction with the ways things turned out after the age of identity politics. Kind of like a mass vent, if you will. It’s only just starting and may not turn out pretty.

        You are right though, what comes next will be interesting. But then again, given human history, it will likely have a whole lot of ordinary and mind numbing stupidness about it too.

  27. You’re welcome. Love this site and would write more but between kids, two jobs and a perpetually post-deadline assignment submission regime Master of Education I’m supposed to be doing…

    Anyway, keep up the good work. Noticed a ton of spelling, puncutuation and missing word errors post-posting. Apologies. Damn, is that what my assignments look like? Would explain my shitty grades…

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.