There is a rising worldwide clash between a renewed, internationally backed fascism and those fighting for a better future. Subcultural scenes are no exception, with many now locked in wars of ideas of varying intensity. In these cauldrons of turmoil, new ideas, tactics, and approaches are being tested by antifascists in less-than-ideal environments, with growing success. These spaces, which this chapter will refer to as “embattled communities,” provide antifascists all over the world ideas, examples, and important lessons in resisting fascism.
This research focuses on two potent examples of such embattled subcultural communities: the world of heavy metal and Norse Paganism. Both communities have long, complicated histories with elements of the modern far right thanks in part to both being early targets for fascist entryism. They also share many of the same hallmarks as other subcultural communities in their relative lack of truly dominant institutions and the pervasive influence of subcultural capital. This combination of shared factors makes both ideal for better understanding how antifascists in subcultural communities can resist and eventually roll back fascists in their own spaces.
The best place to begin is with the concept of embattled community. These are communities, as defined by shared space or affinity, in which antifascist and fascist groups are engaged in active conflict. Such clashes can range from soft power struggles for support to hard power use of force and violence. Embattled communities all face their own degrees of confrontation in clashes that remain an extension of the larger struggle against the reactionary and fascist right. Embattled communities share some broad similarities with the environmental justice concept of front-line communities, although the direct sources of harm and pollution are very different.
An embattled community is not facing the same challenges as those confronting fascist entryism. “Entryist” attempts are best seen in this framework as the first wave of broader fascist attempts to spread their influence into new spaces, with embattlement as one outcome. This condition is characterized by a state of continuous struggle and confrontation in which fascist groups participate openly in shared subcultural spaces, recruit, and can openly harass or attack perceived enemies. Entryism is characterized by fascists being forced by lack of support, strength of opposition, or a combination of the two to operate covertly. To put it bluntly, the problem facing embattled communities is the rats are already inside the walls.
~ Ryan Smith, ‘Subcultural Antifascism: Confronting the Far Right in Heathenry and Heavy Metal’ in Shane Burley (editor), ¡No pasarán! Antifascist Dispatches from a World in Crisis (AK Press, 2022).
Based in Central Victoria, the black metal label Australibus Tenebris (AT) organised a gig, ‘Return of the Wolves’, in Brisbane on February 4 … only for the venue to cancel it.* This has made some of their fans very angry and is regarded as a bad move.
It’s also the third time the label and its bands have faced such difficulties, having had a previous gig at the Northcote Social Club in February 2020 cancelled. Before this, another gig at The Last Chance Bar in May 2018 ran into similar difficulties. Below are some further details on the label, its associated bands and events, and their promotion of neo-Nazi aesthetics, culture and ideology.
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AT was established in 2013. It’s run by two metalheads: ‘Necropriest’ (Matthew Priest) and ‘Bloodoak’ (N/A). The two perform in the band Gurn — which was scheduled to perform at ‘Return’ — along with various others on the AT label (Blood Ritual, Funerary Temple, Goatblood, Molog, Rattenkönig).
Priest and Bloodoak were interviewed by black metal blog Raw War in January 2016. Reflecting on their experience playing in their previous band Mardraum they stated: we have experienced a lot of Jew-like behavior in the so-called “Melbourne Black Metal” scene, even though we do not consider there being a scene … that Mardraum was ever a part of, due to the cancerous amount of PC faggots and circle-jerking posers that infest it. ‘Southern Darkness’, Mardraum’s 2015 album, was released on Greek NSBM label Totenkopf Propaganda.
In 2021, Necropriest played bass and Bloodoak keyboards on the song ‘The Aryan Godmind’ by National Socialist Black Metal (NSBM) band Wewelssburg for a split 7″ titled ‘Wir kapitulieren nie!’ (‘We will never surrender!’ — a Nazi slogan) for NSBM label Hass Weg Productions. Necropriest also played drums on the 2020 Shadowgate release ‘Return of the Insurgency’ by American NSBM band Einsatzgruppen on NSBM label Northern Blood Productions.
At Saturday’s gig, Gurn were going to be sharing a stage with Urban Magus. Urban Magus is the side project of ‘Camazotz’, the driving force behind the NSBM band Spear of Longinus. Spear of Longinus has also shared members with Demonreich and Skullthrone; two other bands scheduled to perform on February 4.
Along with Gurn, Necropriest and Bloodoak also constitute the bands Goatblood and Rattenkönig. Goatblood’s first ‘Demo’ (2015) was limited to 88 (fnarr fnarr) copies, and it has two releases on the German NSBM label Hammerbund: ‘Defiance & Intolerance’ (2017) and ‘Hate Division’ (2018). Rattenkönig has released ‘Rotten Demos’ (2017), ‘Conjuration of Hate’ (2019) and ‘Rodentia’s Wrath’ (2020) via Hammerbund. AT itself has released recordings by several of neo-Nazi metalhead Jack Sansom’s bands Perseverance and Vrag.
And so on.
While the design and imagery of AT releases is largely indistinguishable from Over 9,000 other black metal labels, every now and again other, specifically NSBM themes emerge. Thus, leaving aside the fact that Priest has a tattoo of the Sonnenrad (Black Sun) on his elbow, various promotional material incorporates more-or-less subtle neo-Nazi symbology.
In summary, AT and its associated acts are enmeshed in the production, distribution and promotion of NSBM.
*’Return of the Wolves’ : Demonreich / Fornicatador / Gurn / Skullthrone / Urban Magus / Serpentum / Dreadful Noise / Embrace the Solar Winds.