A Brief History Of Neo-Nazi Music In Australia

‘Rock Against Communism’ (RAC) is the term given to a genre of racist, right-wing rock ‘n’ roll music popular with boneheads (neo-Nazi skinheads). It emerged in England in the late 1970s in the wake of punk rock and the music festivals celebrating ‘Rock Against Racism’. Rather than being concerned solely with opposition to ‘communism’, as a literal reading of the term would suggest, RAC music is closely identified with the promotion of (White) nationalist, neo-Nazi, racist (especially anti-Semitic), and violent themes. [1] Its leading proponent, until his death in 1993, was Ian Stuart Donaldson of the band Skrewdriver. [2]

RAC and bands advocating ‘White power’ or neo-Nazism have tended to have a very low profile in Australia, punctuated by periodic scandals in the tabloid media. [3] The political marginality of neo-Nazism reinforces this fact. The obscurity of the genre is further reinforced by the common desire of performers and followers to remain relatively anonymous, at least insofar as state and other authorities are concerned. Although not named as such, interest in the genre probably peaked with the release of Geoffrey Wright’s 1992 film Romper Stomper about a gang of boneheads in the Melbourne suburb of Footscray and a soundtrack which featured a number of RAC songs written specifically for the film.

Probably the first group in Australia to adopt a White racialist ideology–and thus become Australia’s first ‘Rockers Against Communism’–was Perth-based rock ‘n’ roll band Quick & The Dead. Other pioneering RAC bands which followed in Q&TD’s boots were White Noise, Open Season, White Lightning and, later, Fortress.

From the late 1980s, the genre has followed wider musical trends to incorporate hardcore and heavy metal within the overall rubric of promoting White racial consciousness. The 1990s was in some ways a fairly barren decade for White power music, but the 2000s have witnessed the emergence of a few more bands to add to the somewhat meagre roster, and the recent reformation of some of the older generation of bands (Q&TD, Open Season) may also inspire some of their younger fans to pick up an instrument.

Another key development has been technological, with the advent of the Internet bringing with it possibilities for communication and exchange that were not possible, or very much more difficult, prior to its emergence. [4] On the flip-side, the easy reproduction of digital music requires followers to sustain higher levels of financial commitment to the milieu, a commitment which generally only accompanies greater ideological fervour. Merchandising and live performance can augment sales of music to some extent, but the problem is ongoing, and reflects wider trends within the music industry as a whole.

Quick & The Dead

Quick & The Dead (Andrew Baird aka Andrew Bored: vocals / Murray Holmes aka Murray OHMS: bass / Mark Oakley: guitar / Andy McPherson aka Andy Priest: drums) formed in 1979 as Audio Damage (one of several names the band adopted), becoming Q&TD in 1981. Q&TD released two albums, one self-titled and the other Kickin’ Into 1982 (both on cassette), a 5-track 7″ EP (Another Violent Night) and a live album. The band’s ouvre has recently been re-released on a limited edition 4-disc compilation CD: The Intimidation is Intentional, Another Violent Night (Coldsweat Records).

After the band split in mid-1983, two members went on to form another ‘White power’ skinhead band named ‘White Noise’; bassist Murray Holmes went to England and joined Skrewdriver in 1984 (leaving again the next year), one of two Australians to play with the band at this time (along with guitarist Adam Douglas). This line-up recorded the seminal album Hail the New Dawn (for which Nicky Crane provided the cover). Q&TD reformed in 2007 in order to play the annual Ian Stuart Donaldson (1957–1993) memorial gig in Melbourne, Donaldson being both Skrewdriver vocalist and the driving force behind RAC in its earliest years.

White Noise

Formed in 1985 following the disbandment of Q&TD, White Noise (Jim King: vocals / Glen Sheridan: guitar) was known for a short time as ‘Final Solution’. WN recorded a few titles: several 7″ singles on the Street Rock ‘N’ Roll label (an imprint of German label Rock-O-Rama)–’Sick Mind/Rebels’ (SR12, 1989); ‘Clockwork Violence/Head Kicked In’ (SR13, 1989); ‘Ace Of Spades/Thinking Of You’ (SR50, 1990); ‘On The Streets/Violence’ (SR51, 1990)–and the album The First Assault, also released on Rock-O-Rama (RRR 77) in 1988. Reckless Aggression (RRR 100) was a live album released in 1990. Panzerfaust Records released a compilation album in 1999 also titled The First Assault.

White Lightning

Make a stand for your great nation / Against the scum who are going to die. White Lightning released just the one album, We Rule, in 1988. It was re-released as Destiny on French RAC label Rebelles Européens (1987–-1994) in 1990 (RE332190). Although apparently collapsing in 1994, in 1995 Rebelles Européens made a short-lived recovery assisted by an Australian label, White League (White League released a handful of CD recordings before it too dissolved). Former guitarist ‘Aussie’ Nigel Brown (Broadsword, Celtic Warrior, Fortress, No Remorse, Raven’s Wing, Retaliator, Wolfseye), together with Billy (Violent Storm), re-recorded and re-released Destiny as We Rule on Welsh label ‘Independent Voice Records’ in 1998. Two of White Lightning’s other members–Chumley (vocals) and Simon (drums)–now play in the band T.H.U.G., and continue to perform some White Lightning material.

    No Remorse formed in 1986. Vocalist Paul Burnley was born Paul Bellany, son of Scottish painter John Bellany. Bad luck seemed to follow the band around in the early ’90s. In 1992, they were scheduled to play a gig in Spain with Welsh band Violent Storm: three of its four members were killed in a car accident; vocalist Billy survived to record songs with Paul as Celtic Warrior. In 1994, No Remorse played a gig in Wisconsin (US) to commemorate the death in 1993 of Ian Stuart Donaldson. Following the gig Joe Rowan, a Hammerskin and vocalist with the band ‘Nordic Thunder’, was shot dead during an altercation at a petrol station.

Open Season

A short-lived (c.1988–1991) but well-regarded band from Sydney, Open Season released a few titles: a split 7″ with French band ‘Legion 88′ on the ‘White League Australia’ label (a continuation/imprint of French label ‘Rebelles Européens’) and the album Front Line Fighters in 1991, also on ‘Rebelles Européens’. The band played a number of gigs with Fortress (Phoenix Rising) and White Lightning in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. According to vocalist Jim: “In Sydney we had no trouble getting gigs, however in Melbourne it was slightly more difficult… only the one time a venue cancelled [on] us and that was when they [were] threatened to be blown up if we played. We still played that night but in another venue.”


Above: Demonstrators outside neo-Nazi group National Action’s short-lived HQ in the Melbourne suburb of Fawkner, 1997.

In 2009, Open Season reformed to play a few dates in Australia, including that year’s Ian Stuart Donaldson memorial gig, and a gig in April 2010 on the Gold Coast to celebrate Adolf Hitler’s birthday.

Blood & Honour

In the late 1980s the local scene became organised under the banner of Blood & Honour, the organisation Ian Stuart Donaldson helped to establish in England in 1987 following clashes with the White Noise Club, the organisation the National Front had established to capitalise on the popularity of RAC. After Stuart’s death in a car accident in 1993, B&H was subject to further, even bloodier conflict between rival factions, one of which came to be aligned with the openly terrorist ‘Combat 18′. (Charlie Sargent, the former leader of Combat 18, is now serving life in England for the murder of a fellow fascist.)

B&H Australia was the first of many foreign franchises to be established by B&H, which has revived in recent years in the UK, but is also a strong presence in parts of Europe, North and South America. It was also in the late 1980s that the Hammerskins–a bonehead gang founded in Texas which soon expanded to other states and then overseas–was brought to Australia, where the gang is known as the ‘Southern Cross Hammerskins’. The two organisations have worked together closely during the last few decades, and established a hegemony over local boneheads that is only rarely challenged, most recently by another bonehead gang called Volksfront Australia (the parent organisation of which was established by boneheads in an Oregon prison in 1994).

Blood & Honour/Combat 18 has had an even more marginal presence in Australia. Its latest excursion into the public domain followed the conviction of one of its members for his involvement in a shooting incident at a mosque in Perth. Blood & Honour, Combat 18 and the Hammerskins have become proscribed organisations in a number of European countries (Germany, Spain, Portugal) over the last few years, but are legal associations in Australia.

Fortress

Repatriate, ship ’em out, send the bastards back / If they don’t fucking like it, it’ll be in body bags. Fortress were the mainstay of neo-Nazi rock ‘n’ roll in Australia in the 1990s, outlasting both Open Season and White Lightning but not being joined by many other bands until the end of the decade. Like a number of other Australian bands, Fortress proved to be far more popular in Europe than they were in Australia, although their extremist political views placed them in a different category to others.

The band kept the flame of RAC music alive throughout the 1990s, releasing a number of recordings and touring Europe. Originally known as Phoenix Rising, Fortress released their first, self-titled mini-album on the German Rock-O-Rama label (RR 130) in 1992. Their second album Seize The Day was released on Victory Records in 1993 (‘Victory Records’ being one of many substitute titles employed by Rock-O-Rama’s owner Herbert Egoldt (–2005) to avoid the various legal and political difficulties associated with releasing neo-Nazi music). Their third album Into Legend was released on Resistance Records in 1996 and their fourth and final studio album The Fires Of Our Rage was released on Great White Productions in 1999.

Vocalist Scott McGuinness also recorded albums as Dissident (A Cog In The Wheel and Unity Drum as ‘Dissident II’), Axis (Agitate) and Exxtrem (with members of German band Noie Werte). Scott was the vocalist for several other projects, including Garrison and Raven’s Wing. Garrison was recorded with the assistance of drummer Coz (aka Mark Howitzer) and touring English band Brutal Attack in 1996. (In a similar vein, members of touring Belgian band Kill Baby, Kill! recorded Garrison II with Deaths Head and Ravenous, released in 2008 on Strong Survive Records.) The Raven’s Wing album Through The Looking Glass was recorded for German label Destiny Records. Originally released in 1997, it was re-released by Rock-O-Rama in 2008, and featured the talents of ‘Aussie’ Nigel Brown, Keith (KK) Warslut of Deströyer 666 and Coz (again on drums).

Bail Up!

Originally based in Canberra later Melbourne, Bail Up! featured the talents of Damian on vocals and Rod on guitar. They played a number of gigs (including a brief tour of Europe) and released one album On The Rampage in 2002, a split with English band Battle Standard on Rampage Records (UK). Damian, however, is best known for having held the world record for the longest tattoo session:


Longest tattoo session
Uploaded by guinnessworldrecords. – Arts and animation videos.

Very Metal

The last 10–15 years has seen a relative decline in RAC as a specific genre and a proliferation of other musical forms employing similar themes. The most notable is heavy metal, especially black or thrash metal. The convergence of the two has produced a genre known as ‘National Socialist Black Metal’ (NSBM). [5] Generally speaking, however, racialist themes in heavy metal, where they exist, have been submerged in more general exhortations to misanthropy, Satanism and the glorification of violence. Thus, outside of the very few who self-consciously describe themselves as NSBM, relatively few bands adopt an explicitly racist or fascist identity, preferring to flirt with neo-Nazi imagery and racial symbolism. In Australia, bands such as Spear of Longinus (Brisbane) are the exception rather than the rule.

One, reasonably prominent band which has come under scrutiny for its links to racism and fascism is:

…Melbourne band Deströyer 666, which recently released their CD “Unleash the Wolves” through Modern Invasion Music (based in Frankston). Though their lyrics are carefully coded to avoid any obvious racial attacks, their inner sleeve thank-yous go to the members of Fortress, Squadron and Ken McLellan from Brutal Attack (the British bonehead group, formerly known as Dead Paki In The Gutter, toured Australia in 1996). Members from all of these groups recorded a mini CD together in Australia over two days last year entitled “Garrison”, also released through Nordland – an incestuous scene, it is.

How seriously the histrionics associated with metal acts should be taken is an open question. That said, heavy metal bands have on occasion been more than happy to share a stage and to raise funds for neo-Nazi groups: Deaths Head, Ravenous and Vomitor played a White Christmas B&H gig in Brisbane in December 2000 (Blood and Honour zine, No.21).

Apart from Spear of Longinus, few Australian metal acts have embraced NSBM. One-man band Arysk is another exception, as are (arguably) Abyssic Hate, Deströyer 666, Gospel of the Horns and Vomitor, although apart from some lyrical allusions and the collaboration of individual members in neo-Nazi recording projects–KK Warslut/Deströyer 666 (Raven’s Wing), Ryan Marauder/Gospel of the Horns (Deaths Head) and Mark Howitzer/Gospel of the Horns (Garrison, Raven’s Wing)–none of the latter are self-proclaimed neo-Nazis. A few metal bands who are explicitly neo-Nazi in political orientation are Deaths Head and Ravenous.

Deaths Head / Ravenous

Originally based in Brisbane, Deaths Head (1999) and Ravenous relocated to Melbourne in the early 2000s. Ravenous is–or was–Shannon (bass/vocals), Joel (drums) and Donovan (guitars). The band released one album, Blind Faith, on Midgard Records, in 2001.

Deaths Head is Andrew (guitar) Jesse (vocals–also Kilgore and Spatter Pattern) Ryan (bass–also Gospel of the Horns) and Joel (drums). The band has been one of the most prolific and long-lived of local RAC performers. Their first album Onslaught (2001) and second album Feast Of The Jackals were both released on US label Panzerfaust Records. (A demo tape called Hang The Traitors was released in 1999.) The band toured Europe in April 2003 playing gigs in France, Germany and Switzerland. Their third album Hatreds Disciples was released by North X Records in 2005, followed by a live album Metal Skin in 2006 and Kriegslied in 2008 on BHS Service. A Decompilation of the band’s songs was released on Moloko Plus last year and the band’s latest is a concept album titled Baldr on GKS33. (Deaths Head also released a split with Purification on Ingo Knauf’s German V7 Versand label in 2004.)

Viking Power Rock & Roll!

Music to save your soul / Viking power rock and roll. Blood Red Eagle were formed in Newcastle (NSW) by Douglas Schott. BRE has released several albums: The Warrior EP (Barracuda Records, 2003), An Evil Shall Break Forth (Viking Thunder, 2005), Return To Asgard (Barracuda Records, 2005 / Dim Records, 2008), Teutonic Atavism (Eigenproduktion & B&H Finland Magazine, 2005), Australiana (Pure Impact, 2005) and Burning Down The Churches (Free Your Mind Productions, 2007). Once closely associated with B&H and the SCHS, the band has been rejected by them and realigned itself with rival neo-Nazis in Volksfront. BRE have played shows in Australia, New Zealand and the USA.

Others

In 2001 the band Blood Oath garnered some media attention on account of the fact that its members were also members of an Australian Army unit 3RAR. [6] Originally the vocalist in the equally obscure Southern Cross before Blood Oath, Gideon later loaned his vocal talents to Code 13 (US). Brisbane band Honour Guard were about in the late ’90s and early ’00s. They released one album, titled The Beckoning Of The Blood. ZOG pulls strings destroying our lives / Laughing in your face my people will rise. More recently, Indigenous Hate formed in WA to play, but seem to have crashed and burned soon after launch. Ultraviolence is seemingly Adelaide’s only contribution to RAC, which is somewhat surprising given the relative popularity of National Action in that town.

Finally, an honourable mention must be made of Xenophobe from Napier, Aotearoa/New Zealand, New Zealand’s only neo-Nazi band on New Zealand’s only neo-Nazi distro, Blood Sacrifice Productions.

Gigs

Given the paucity of bands, gig are fairly rare, and when they do occur are organised in semi-secrecy to avoid legal and/or ‘political’ complications. The central event on the neo-Nazi calendar is the Ian Stuart Donaldson memorial gig, held every year in September on or about the date of his death. The first such gig was held in 1994; 2010 was the 17th year in which the occasion has been commemorated. Other gigs have been less frequent–to celebrate Adolf Hitler’s birthday (April 20), ANZAC Day (April 25), or for other reasons. As noted, all such gigs are held in relative secrecy, both in order to avoid harassment from media, police or anti-fascists (although none has ever been directly attacked) but also in order to avoid potentially negative repercussions for venues willing to offer neo-Nazis a platform. A list of recent ISD gigs and their line-ups include:

    2003: Bail Up!, Blood Red Eagle, Deaths Head, Fortress, Ravenous
    2004: BRE, Bully Boys (US), Deaths Head, Fortress
    2005: Bail Up!, BRE
    2006: Bail Up!, BRE, Ultraviolence
    2007: Bail Up!, Final War (US), Fortress, Q&TD
    2008: BRE, Kill Baby Kill! (Belgium), Ravenous
    2009: Open Season, Ravenous (The Commieknockers)
    2010: Blue Eyed Devils (US), Deaths Head, Open Season, White Knuckle Driver (US)

Distros

9% Productions

Run by and with the support of members of Blood & Honour / Southern Cross Hammerskins 9percentproductions.com derives its name from the supposed fact that 9% of the global population may be classified as ‘White’. 9% sells music, patches, pins, tees and other neo-Nazi merch as well as a handful of books and pamphlets.

Heathen Noise

Closely allied with Volksfront Australia, Heathen Noise is a relatively new distro based in Sydney.

Scythian Services

Ken Cratchley is–or was, until very recently–a member of the NSW Humanist Society‘s Committee of Management. He’s also a member of the ‘Christian Separatist Church Society’, [7] the Stormfront website (joining it in November 2002, where he posts using the handle ‘Pastor Bullets’) and runs a neo-Nazi music distro known as ‘Scythian Services’ (SS). Sydney-based band ‘Southern Storm’ have two albums on the SS label: Stormtroopin’ (2004) and Suden Sturm (2003), and have also released a split with ‘Runes of War’ titled It’s Time To Get Revenge On Our Enemies (2009) on US-based NSM Records. (SS also released the album Aryan Law by Runes of War.) According to the National Socialist Movement, Southern Storm features an Australian member of the neo-Nazi party (note that the NSM has entered into a very fruitful collaboration with the Phoenix, Arizona Police Department of late in a continuing war on illegal immigration). A song by Southern Storm appears on an ISD Records compilation released in 2004, a curious fact given that ISD Records was allied with Combat 18.

War Doctrine / White Noise Productions

White Noise Productions is a local promotion established in mid-2008 by Adamus Exul vocalist Gareth/Jack Sansom aka Mord (ex-Wood of Suicides bass/vocals). Originally intended to promote local metal acts, for unknown reasons Gareth decided in early 2010 to convert WN into a tool for promoting B&H and other neo-Nazi music. Gareth also manages local (non–racialist) band Perseverance and recently opened a (neo-Nazi) distro named War Doctrine which markets NSBM and other neo-Nazi agitprop (books, clothing, flags, etc.).

Notes

Three articles in the Australia/Israel Review provide further background reading on the Australian neo-Nazi music industry: The Music of the Nightmare by Allon Lee (December 2007), Sounds of Hate by Tzvi Fleishcher (August 2000) and Sounds of Violence by Michael Shannon (April 1997).

[1] “The decline of the original skinhead subculture by the early 1970s, and its rebirth later in the decade under the influence of punk rock, opened the way for new influences. Not only did fresh musical genres arise around which skinhead identity could coalesce–above all so-called “street punk,” or “Oi!” music–but, for reasons to be discussed below, right-wing politics became fashionable and were embraced by increasing numbers of skinheads. This politicization–which became prominent at the end of the 1970s and reached a peak in the early 1980s–produced a crisis of identity in the skinhead scene. A schism developed between–on the one hand–right-wing skins ambivalent toward, or dismissive of, the subculture’s black roots, and–on the other–left-wing or “unpolitical” skins who upheld these roots as being central to skinhead identity. The conflict between the two sides in this debate became a struggle to define the essence of the subculture, a fight over authenticity.
Music played a crucial role in this process in two ways. First, music appreciation–specifically, knowledge of the reggae classics around which the skinhead subculture was originally organized–became, for one group of skinheads, a litmus test for authenticity. Second, genre itself became a contested site. On the one hand, the skinhead revival of the late 1970s crystallized around a punk-infused revival of the Jamaican sounds of Ska (a precursor to reggae) centered on the Two Tone label and bands like the Specials and Madness. These multiracial bands were explicitly political in their support for racial unity centered on appreciation for music. Yet their fortunes were inextricably linked with the skinheads who embraced them, yet all-too-frequently wrecked gigs with politically-inspired violence. On the other hand, the skinhead version of punk rock–Oi!–arose to supply the basis for the creation of an explicitly political style of skinhead music. Although the majority of the Oi! bands considered themselves “unpolitical,” by providing an artistic forum for skinheads to express their own ideas, Oi! became a mirror of the left-right divide within the skinhead scene. It was out of this polarization that the genre of “Nazi rock” developed, and through it that successive iterations of the struggle for skinhead identity were played out.” Timothy S. Brown, ‘Subcultures, pop music and politics: skinheads and “Nazi rock” in England and Germany.’, Journal of Social History, Vol.38, No.1 (2004).
[2] See White Noise: inside the international nazi skinhead scene, edited by Nick Lowles and Steve Silver (Searchlight, 1998) for further information on the roots of RAC.
[3] The most recent example of which accompanied a gig on the Gold Coast in April 2010.
[4] An early analysis of some aspects of this is contained in Gareth Norris, Robyn Lincoln and Paul Wilson, ‘Contemporary comment: An examination of Australian internet hate sites’, ePublications@bond, Humanities & Social Sciences papers, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, January 2005 (PDF).
[5] See the Definitive Metal Family Tree from Sam Dunn’s 2005 documentary film Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey for further classification.
[6] See Admiral Barrie announce[s] team to investigate 3RAR, PM Archive / Nazi accusations against members of 3RAR, The World Today Archive / Army Battalion Identified As Having Neo-Nazi Links, AM Archive: ABC, December 19, 2000.
[7] “For many the means of interpreting the Bible is part of their argument that our society has been “corrupted” by the Jewish conspiracy throughout history. The Christian Separatist Church Society (CSCS) is one of these groups that subscribes to such beliefs. The CSCS proposes that because the King James Version of the Bible was originally written by Jews, it was meant to hide the actual truth. Instead of taking their scripture from such versions as the King James, New International, or Revised Standard Versions, they only recognize the Anointed Standard Translation (AST) derived from the Greek Septuagint, which is argued to be the earliest translation of the Bible from Greek to English. On the CSCS’s web site they quote numerous scriptures to support their claims that God advocates the hate and separation of all sinners, interpreted by many followers of such groups as minorities.” Wes M. Toole, Religious Extremism: Christian Right or Wrong (2000).

Bonus!

100 Per Cent WhiteA Diverse Production for Channel 4. Filmed, produced and directed by Leo Regan — is an excellent (Geraldine Doogue:) “fascinating” documentary film, examining the lives of several boneheads (including Neil Parish) 10 years after the filmmaker first encountered them, at a time when they were each actively involved in C18 and allied groups.

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2014 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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12 Responses to A Brief History Of Neo-Nazi Music In Australia

  1. inglourious_basterd says:

    A comprehensive analysis which makes sense out of that ghastly wall of hate noise.

    The penitentiary smell is never far away from these clowns.

  2. The “Christian Separatist Church Society” reminds me of some German nazi Christians who believed that Jesus was not Jewish but “Galilaean” (= Gaulish = Celtic = Germanic = heroic Aryan) … do they belong to the North American “Christian Identity” movement?

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  4. lumpnboy says:

    I assume that photo from Fawkner was taken by one of those clowns. There I am, recorded for posterity standing next to a member of the ALP…

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  11. tim says:

    Ken McLellan had [?] a black woman and 2 kids with her! Funny isn’t it?

  12. Pingback: Comments on ‘Hunting Australia’s neo-Nazis’ [The Saturday Paper, April 5, 2014] | slackbastard

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