Anti-racism groups have called for bands accused of promoting neo-Nazism to be banned by Glasgow City Council from playing at a black metal music festival due to take place in the city.
The three-day event – Darkness Guides Us – is due to take place in November, but critics have expressed concern that bands invited to play promote fascism.
They are concerned 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.
It was reported recently that the headline act at Darkness Guides Us – a Norwegian band called Taake – would play at a secret location in Glasgow after claims the band were neo-Nazis.
The Ferret can report that other bands invited to play at the music festival also appear to embrace fascism, although the organiser of Darkness Guides Us dismissed claims that the event, or any of the bands invited, promote neo-Nazi views.
Darkness Guides Us was due to take place at Classic Grand in November but the festival said that some bands would play at secret locations due to controversy surrounding their appearance in Scotland.
They include 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.
It is unclear if the festival will go ahead, however, as Classic Grand issued a statement on 4 March 2020 saying it would no longer be hosting the event.
A statement on the venue’s Facebook page says: “The Classic Grand has been made aware of certain connections to facist ideology being associated with the festival which was due to take place in November of this year.
“As such we have made the decision NOT to be associated to this festival and will no longer be hosting this event. The Classic Grand is not, nor do we give, a platform to any form of hatred.”
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 – 88 is a neo-Nazi code for Heil Hitler because ‘H’ is the eight letter in 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.”
Last year, the festival tried to book a band called Kroda but the group was not allowed to enter the UK.
A source told The Ferret: “This band (Kroda) is not merely another ‘edgy’ project playing with controversial imagery or espousing dumb reactionary opinions for subcultural credibility but a well-known neo-nazi black metal band with some very worrying links to Ukrainian neo-nazi criminals, activists and even the infamous Ukrainian neo-nazi paramilitary organisation Azov who have been accused of war crimes.”
There are acts playing at ‘Darkness Guides Us Fest’ who have open sympathies with far right views, something the organisers are clearly aware of having already gone so far as to provide a secret venue for one of the acts. HOPE not hate
The anti-racism organisation, HOPE not Hate, said that NSBM is a “small but very nasty movement within the much wider black metal genre” and challenged Glasgow City Council to explain why it is allowing these bands to play.
A spokesman for the group said: “There are acts playing at Darkness Guides Us who have open sympathies with far right views, something the organisers are clearly aware of having already gone so far as to provide a secret venue for one of the acts.
“These bands should not be invited to play on any stage, and serious questions need to be asked of Glasgow City Council as to why it is allowing people who willing collaborate with hate to host a music festival in such a multicultural city.”
HOPE not Hate argued that whilst these bands did not have large followings or influence, there was a wider problem within the black metal scene. There were connections between labels and bands whose lyrics might not be political, but whose members had “expressed sympathies for prejudicial viewpoints or far right politics at various points”.
The group added: “At that point the job of identifying and removing actual far right bands from the broader black metal scene becomes more challenging and requires increasing vigilance and research.
“This is why the rise in the number of outspokenly antifascist black metal bands and festivals is both very welcome and encouraging when it comes to reclaiming stages, festivals and the scene more broadly from a creeping fascism.”
“From the many citizens who went to Spain to fight Franco’s fascism in the 1930’s to the short shrift given to the Scottish Defence League recently, Glasgow has shown itself time and time again as proudly anti-fascist,” a spokesman for UAF added.
“There are strong fascist links for a number of the bands on the festival line-up. For example the cover of Satanic Warmaster’s album “Return of Iron and Blood” features a band member surrounded by German Nazi flags.
“If these bands are allowed to play it will act as a focus for the extreme right to come together and organise. If the festival organisers don’t support fascism then they must cancel these bands.”
Bands like Guns and Roses, Motorhead, Slayer, and the likes of Sid Vicious and Siouxsie, all used nazi imagery at one point to shock or provoke. Dimitris Artofsin, event organiser
However, the organiser of Darkness Guides Us, Dimitris Artofsin, rejected the above claims and accused critics of enacting a “witch hunt”.
He said: “As a person whom the far-right would not consider white, it is not in my best self interest to bring over bands that are neo-nazi, so I completely dismiss the allegations of those campaigners.
“In the 90s promoters had to answer to the public and the media about anti-Christianity, nowadays it’s politics. Bands like Guns and Roses, Motorhead, Slayer, and the likes of Sid Vicious and Siouxsie, all used nazi imagery at one point to shock or provoke. Identifying with anti-social symbols to provoke is natural for this kind of music.”
Artofsin continued: “Satanic Warmaster are not neo-nazi. Dubious lyrics in one song out of 200 would not change that – they have denied being part of the NSBM movement countless times.
“They have performed in countries such as Mexico and Colombia, which would have never happened if they were nazis. Believe me bands that are nazi do not deny it and would never have a platform to perform at Darkness Guides Us.”
He added: “If a member of a band has far-right or left beliefs does not concern me as long as it is not reflected in the music and their attitude towards the people attending the festival.
“Last time Satanic Warmaster played in Glasgow there was no incident at all. I know because I was there, not any skinheads or white nationalists present, just black metal fans enjoying a great band. This time would be no different. Even Antifa (a US anti-fascist campaign) retracted their accusations on Satanic Warmaster.
“A witch-hunt of modern-day social-justice warriors against black metal is all that there is to it. Darkness Guides Us is all-inclusive, last year we had people travelling from Turkey, India, Japan, Israel to name just a few countries. The only thing that is gonna change this year is that we are gonna use an additional venue for the bands that are too controversial for public consumption.”
Aki Klemm of Kalmankantaja, 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 Glasgow City Council spokeswoman said: “Under licensing legislation, the licensing board is responsible for the licensing and regulation of the sale of alcohol in pubs and clubs. Neither Glasgow City Council or the licensing board have any control over the nature or content of any entertainment provided in such premises and they will not be notified where such acts are performing.”
Satanic Warmaster did not reply to our request for a comment.