A black metal music festival whose line-up includes bands accused of promoting neo-Nazism is now due to take place near Edinburgh after a Glasgow venue cancelled its booking.
The Ferret reported on 4 March that anti-racism campaigners – Unite Against Fascism and Hope not Hate – raised concerns over an event called Darkness Guides Us, which was due to happen in Glasgow in November 2020.
They were worried that Glasgow could become known as a city open to National Socialist Black Metal, aka NSBM, a political scene within black metal music that promotes extreme right wing views.
In response, music venue the Classic Grand cancelled hosting the festival, saying it had been made aware of “certain connections to fascist ideology being associated with the festival” and that it would not provide “a platform to any form of hatred.”
At the time the organiser of the festival, Dimitris Artofsin, rejected claims that some of the bands invited promoted neo-Nazism and accused critics of a “witch hunt”.
He has now issued a statement saying that the event is due to take a place at an unnamed location near Edinburgh.
Writing on Facebook, he rejected claims by critics of the event and said that Darkness Guides Us has nothing to do with fascism or politics.
“People from 20+ countries visited Glasgow last year for the event and everyone that attended can attest to that,” Artofsin wrote.
“Being blackmailed to remove certain bands from the bill to ensure the fest will go ahead is something I could never agree to,” he continued.
“If people find some of it offensive, that is unfortunate but to me to compromise on that would be betraying the very core of what this fest is all about – unrelenting, uncompromising black metal.”
Artofsin claimed that the postponement of other events due to the coronavirus pandemic and the planned COP26 climate summit in Glasgow had resulted in “ridiculous” hotel and flight prices. The festival was now moving to a “special space closer to Edinburgh – 15 minutes away using pubic transport”, he said.
“We will be having a limited capacity of only 450 and some minor changes on the line-up, to ensure an early closure for all of you to get back to the city. Website and tickets will be available soon. In Strife we prosper.”
Under its previous plans for Glasgow, Darkness Guides Us said some bands would play at secret locations due to controversy surrounding their appearance in Scotland.
They included Taake which was was forced to cancel 10 shows on their North American tour in 2018 after protests. The band denies it promotes neo-Nazi views.
Other bands invited to play at Darkness Guides Us include Kalmankantaja and Satanic Warmaster from Finland. The former band includes a member using the stage name Grim666 who played with Order of the White Hand, an openly fascist band.
Satanic Warmaster uses neo-Nazi iconography and some of its lyrics are controversial. Its album Return of Iron and Blood features a band member surrounded by German Nazi flags and one of its songs is called My Dreams of 88 – a neo-Nazi code for Heil Hitler because ‘H’ is the eight letter of the alphabet.
My Dreams of 88 include the lines: “One state, one folk, one leader, a true revelation. The purest essence of the cult of our blood.”
In 2019 the festival tried to book a band called Kroda but the group was not allowed to enter the UK.
The Ferret asked Artofsin if any of the above bands are still due to play in Scotland. “Fest is going ahead as planned, the location changed to a privately-owned space outside the city of Edinburgh,” he said.
“But with good transport links from both Edinburgh and Glasgow, 40 mins from Glasgow 15-20 mins from Edinburgh using public transport. All other info will be provided via our website in the coming days.”
Unite Against Fascism said: “The event organiser Dimitris seems to think that there is something great about being ‘uncompromising’ in showcasing bands with fascist links in the festival.”
A spokesperson for the group added: “If fascists organise at this event there will be more attacks on the innocent and vulnerable, I can’t see how this is heroic. We shall do all we can to find the venue and pressure them to cancel this event outside Edinburgh.”
Aki Klemm of Kalmankantaja previously told The Ferret: “We, as a band, do not promote any political views or agenda in our music or imagery. That has always been the case. Most of our lyrical content is available for everyone to read, find out by yourselves. Kalmankantaja is black metal of death.”
A recent report by Hope not Hate revealed that hundreds of neo-Nazis attended a music event in Scotland last year.
Blood and Honour – a violent group which promotes white power – held six gigs across the UK in 2019 including one in Bathgate on 9 November, when around 300 people watched neo-Nazi bands called Brutal Attack, Code 291 and Stigger.
Hope not Hate said: “2019 was another miserable year for the Blood and Honour white power music scene, but it continued to organise events, unlike many other groups who folded. Blood and Honour will continue as an occasional social gathering for ageing Nazis but it will continue to have little influence on the wider far right movement.”
This story was updated at 11.23 on 27 March 2020 to add a statement from Unite Against Fascism. Photo thanks to iStock/txking.