The popular Neofolk bands that have joined the Operation Equinox Tour have had quite a bit of trouble from anti-fascist rabblerousers since the shows began. The tour is being co-sponsored by the far-right Heathen Harvest, which we covered previously in our look deep into their politics and the fascist sympathies of most the bands on this tour’s bill. The tour’s main sponsor, Annihilvs Power Electronix, is the face that many of the venues actually know, so when confronted many of the stage managers actually did not know about the Heathen Harvest connection (though the bands were already publicly controversial).
Lee Bartow of Annihilvs went back to Heathen Harvest in an interview to attack Antifa organizers who he thinks are unfairly targeting this tour and, of course, he believes his own multicultural background should insulate the tour from criticism.
The thing that strikes me as odd about this whole thing is, in the very few posts I’ve seen online about boycotting or resisting or calls to action against the perceived fascism of the artists on this tour, I have been either not mentioned at all, or mentioned only in passing, as though I am some peripheral figure to be half-mentioned. Nobody has contacted me directly about any of it. Looking at the whole thing from my particular perspective, [it] strikes me as one individual’s personal vendetta. The fact that I orchestrated the entire tour, coordinated with all the promoters, collected the funds for the airfare, and am renting and driving the vehicle, which will take them from city to city, has been entirely ignored. The fact that I have a Jewish mother and African-American father seems to me as the most likely reason for this. It would put a rather salient dent in the argument that we’re all a bunch of Nazis hell-bent on spreading a gospel of intolerance across the country. As a child, I bore witness to my father being threatened and insulted because of the color of his skin, and I myself was called a “penny-pinching Jew” by all the black kids in my neighborhood, while the white kids saw fit to call me “zebra” or “half-breed.” The implication that I’d have any interest in supporting anyone’s racist agenda is preposterous. But, particularly in the current age of Internet-armchair warriors, it’s extremely difficult for people to comprehend the nuances of real life. They are uncomfortable with the concept of moral ambiguity; they cannot comprehend that a half-black Jew would count someone like Boyd Rice among his biggest influences, nor do they have the capacity to realize that the world is not interested in hearing of their outrage. Some of the biggest Death in June fans I know are Jewish.
He went on to say that there certainly is a part of the “scene” that has these far-right connections, but he is just here for the music. This is a transparent attempt to whitewash the reality of the movement he is helping to promote, where he gives a tacit support of racial nationalism by not only providing them a voice, but making money doing so. He alleges that the Antifa protesters are really totalitarians, an easy go-to for those who want to defend fascists on free speech grounds, but he fails to see the role of community action in the attack of totalitarian racial movements in utero.
The confrontations for the tour continued and on Wednesday, March 30th, the Philadelphia show date at the Convent was directly confronted by community anti-fascists. According to a report back posted by It’s Going Down, this included the destruction of one of the band’s gear.
On Wednesday, March 30, the neofolk music tour “Operation Equinox 2016,” sponsored by extreme right blog Heathen Harvest, held its Philly show date. Held at a small former convent called The Convent in a deeply creepy, almost entirely white neighborhood that was filled with blue porch lights and cameras on residences, the show ended prematurely with the arrival of the cops, presumably called in by the cop-loving neighbors. While the cops were inside the show only a block away, a small mob of reckless vandals attacked the touring bands’ van, slashing its tires, painting the windshield and sides, and destroying several of its windows.
It’s disgusting and ridiculous that these bands even got booked at all. Fascist ideas should have no place anywhere, including in DIY music scenes. Yet this isn’t the first time we hear about crypto-fascist bands playing outside of the typical racist skinhead milieus, veiling white supremacist views in more sympathetic counter-cultural words and aesthetics. Wherever fascism rears its head, whether wearing swastikas and boots or studded vests and torn jeans, our reaction will always be the same: No Pasaran!
Let’s hope this is just the start not of just confronting the soon ending Operation Equinox, but Neofolk tours who maintain these New Right and Alt Right connections. Let this be a line in the sand for anti-racist Neofolk musicians and fans to stop supporting this wing of the movement.
The post-industrial, black metal, and neofolk music scene has been defined by fascist plausible deniability. The earliest days of the black metal scene were defined by iconoclastic misanthropic malaise, a generalized anger against everyone and everything. The scene was mired with early days of violence, but also embarrassing interviews from early bands about their obsessions with death and “evil.” This culminated in the murder of Euronymous by Varg Vikernes of Burzum, as well as the dozens of church burnings. The burnings themselves were both begging for some kind of high-schoolesque rebellion as well as a resistance against the past Christianization of Scandinavia, namely in Norway. Virknes eventually came out as a racial Odinist and white nationalist, with the church burnings being an act of religious war both against a “universalist/non-ethnic” religion and against an ethos that says “turn the other cheek.”
The black metal community was largely defined later by fellow far-rightist Michael Moynihan, who wrote the book Lords of Chaos about the early years. The book, largely built on interviews with the band, see the movement as being the manifestation of an Odinic demonic spirit welling up in them. This draws on an idea from Carl Jung that people have archetypical spirits in their collective unconscious based on race, with white “Aryans” having the spirit of Nordic gods inside of them. This is the foundation of racial heathenry and is an idea that both animated much of Nazi occultism and the contemporary ethnic Asatru and Odinic sects.
While National Socialist Black Metal is certainly a phenomenon, racism is not the permanent state of the black metal community. Instead, there are very real problematic elements in terms of violence and nihilism, some of which taking an elitist and masculanist obsession, but the vast majority of bands do not share nationalist sympathies openly. What people tend to pick up on is instead that they share many themes with genres like neofolk and martial industrial, both of which have strong ties to the far-right.
Neofolk broadly can be defined by resurrecting musical styles inspired by early pre-Christian music synthesized with modern post-industrial. You might find throw backs to Renaissance, Romantic, Medieval, and other eras mixed with traditional European “folk music.” This is then paralleled with a lyrical obsession with pre-Christian myths, paganism, warrior stories, fairy tales, along with general themes of occultism, religion, decadence and decline, and romanticism of the past. This has often been associated with fascism in as much as many of the prominent bands have lyrical and aesthetic content that draws both on Nazism and on broader fascist themes, of which fans often use plausible deniability to say that it is more about lurid obsessions rather than their own fascist politics. This might be accepted if the lyrics were not often a straight line to Pan-European nationalism, as well as seeing prominent bands directly associated with fascist movements. The most obvious of these has been Death in June, but Sol Invictus, Fire + Ice, Ostara, Allerseelen, and Waldteufel, among many others, have been shown to not only play with imagery, but to have aligned themselves with the far-right. This often ranges between Nordic racial paganism to the traditionalism of Julius Evola to right-wing interpretations of Aliester Crowley’s Thelema and Chaos Magick, all focused on hierarchy, power, strength, and elitist control.
It has often been difficult to verify these sorts of allegiances, mainly because they are incredibly subtle references. Much of the inspiration for neofolk is in resurrecting a European romanticism, yet the neofolk scene attracts many who have anti-racist sympathies yet also enjoy the mythos and themes of early Europe. If a person wants to verify exactly what this musical scene is delving into we luckily do not have to jump into esoteric Gothic magazines or foreign press because a few Americans have created a website to dumb down their own pan-pagan racism.
Heathen Harvest is a music website focusing on “post-industrial” for over a decade. Here you are really going to find news, interviews, features, and reviews about music spanning the “Dark genres” and “extreme music.” Though this could broadly include metal and industrial, it seems to have carved a niche for itself in the music associated with dark religious obsession, paganism, and the occult. If you know what you are looking at, even just a quick survey will reveal that there are racial sentiments boiling under the surface.
In almost every interview on the site they will begin referencing racial and neo-fascist themes. Often times questions reference the perennial traditionalism of Julius Evola, books like Oswald Spengler’s The Decline of the West, or racial paganism. While some musicians resist these associations, many play into them directly, even if not incredibly deeply. Ostara, for example, gets prompted repeatedly by the interviewer to discuss Spangler and traditionalism, which they oblige, but it is clear that they are having a difficulty making their way through the list of fascist texts that have been provided for them by the scene. What drives a common spirit is a disgust for the “modern world,” a term that has become in popular use from Evola. Some interpret this as things like industrial capitalism and environmental destruction, but in the traditionalist school this more aptly means multiculturalism, democracy, and equality.
Their podcast, The Forest Passage, drops much of the pretense and takes us directly back to the racism of the Alt Right. In Podcast #12, they open with jokes like calling our current period the “current year,” a joke from the rabidly racist and anti-Semitic podcast The Daily Shoah. They go on to deride “liberals” for their universalizing morality, they admire nationalism instead of “globalism,” and certainly side with the idea that elites should be running society. They had on Florida Libertarian Party candidate Augustus Sol Invictus, where they rapped about Left-Hand Path occultism and nationalism. In this episode one of the hosts discusses Germany’s choice to let in Syrian refugees, which they say is “destroying” Europe. They present contemporary politics as “Nationalism vs. Globalism,” presenting the common straw-man argument from fascists that to be against nationalism is to be in favor of global corporate capitalism. One of the hosts derives his name GJ Anarch from far-right philosopher Ernst Junger’s concept of the Anarch, which means a “sovereign person.” At almost any point on their website you can find references to the coming collapse, when the western decadence of the “Kali Yuga” will bring us back to a possible Western Golden Age. While they rarely jump into openly “racist” language, they have a consistent voice in favor of white racial nationalism. They functionally make the same arguments as places like the Radix Journal or The Daily Shoah, but have recolored it with esoteric, pagan, and counter-cultural language so as to provide an intellectual mirage that provides a feeling of rebellious superiority to their audience. Plainly put: They are white nationalism with an occultist lens and inside of a musical scene.
VICE Magazine did a recent article called “How a Thor Worshipping Religion Turned Racist” looking briefly how the resurrection of Nordic paganism became racially inclined. HH responded to this by stating that they mischaracterized racial paganism, going into the tired rhetoric about “love for your own doesn’t mean hate for the other.” They specifically come to the support of Asatru Folk Assembly founder Stephen McNallen and the band Changes, whose members were also members of the Third Positionist American Front.
If you claim to favour the global patchwork that is multiculturalism then you cannot set about removing chosen patches from that quilt. You also cannot take it upon yourself to redefine any of those patches lest the cultures that they represent have set out to harm you—and even then you’ll be fighting the force of a million forefathers who have slowly woven that world for their descendents. This goes for any folk around the world—all of whom deserve control over the culture of their ancestors. In practical terms this control may manifest as a sense of exclusivity, but consider this: exclusivity maintains the boundary between one thing and another—forest and field; football and rugby; public and private. It is no more hateful an act than it would be to reject D♯ from a musical composition in the key of A-minor.
The website goes on to have reviews of Julius Evola’s Fascism Viewed from the Right, a tome where Evola observes the points where fascism diverted from a true right wing path, as well as his autobiography, The Path of Cinnebar. Their commitment to “folksih” Heathenry, meaning racially defined Heathenry, is near complete, though they do hold a single article containing arguments in favor of universalist heathenry and against folkishness . Their reviews extend to right-wing journals, like the “radical traditionalist” TYR, also edited by Michael Moynihan. That occasional journal publishes work looking at the “pre-Modern European traditions,” though this is very eschewed. In reality it publishes articles on Odinism, Evola, and right-wing interpretations of myths and folktales, featuring white nationalist Heathens like Colin Cleary. HH are often covering Arktos Media, a traditionalist publisher run by white nationalist John Morgan. The publisher was founded to translate and publish works of the French New Right like Alain De Benoist and traditionalists like Julius Evola for an American audience. They have really gotten behind neofolk, both as a popular right-wing musical scene and one that focuses on the traditionalist and romantic themes of Europe rather than just the vulgar racism of the skinhead Oi! and Rock Against Communism scene(Though they include interviews with RAC musicians like Vapaudenristi.). They regularly review books with racial content, especially as it applies to edge political scenes like National Anarchism. This includes a shining review of A Life in the Political Wilderness by Welf Herfurth, which draws on the work of Troy Southgate, Tomislav Sunic, and Alain De Benoist. They follow similar queues to other nationalist website in reviewing the work by controversial French author and Islamophobic iconoclast Michel Houellebecq, giving a “traditionalist” review of his book Submission. All of this really is just a snippet as this content is such a regular feature that even a survey of it would be incredibly dense. HH is likely to counter these claims, citing reviews of books like The White Nationalist Skinhead Movement by Robert Forbes where they show little sympathy, but this should only be persuasive to those who do not have a firm understanding of what the new trends in neo-fascism are and how they differ from the antiquated skinhead gang culture. HH represents a vision of nationalism and anti-egalitarian thinking that grounds itself in spiritual and philosophical themes, and so its own self aggrandizement is likely what allows it to feel as though it is not in the same camp as Combat 18 and those that clashed with Antifa in Dover.
What is most insidious about HH is that is has crossover appeal, which is to say that it is not explicitly a racial website. Many bands refuse to take the bait on the racism, including bands like Agalloch. It should be noted that HH absolutely does not interfere with bands with left and post-left leanings, and gives them an open platform to speak up from this perspective. An example of this would be an interview they have BRUT, where the band members discuss the way that female musicians have been marginalized in the industrial and dark music scene. This runs in contrast to the way that many authors, editors, and podcast hosts make fun of the concept of “toxic masculinity,” and often discuss the need for men to come together in tribes(or, in particular, “white men”) against the modern world(Jack Donovan comes up more than once, and his books are reviewed on the site.). Given the fact that they focus on “extreme” music, you are going to get a lot of anti-authoritarian left bands as well, though there seems to be little differentiation done by them when it comes to HH’s affiliations.
What should be noted is that even the non-racist crowd inside much of these circles have supported and joined up with problematic musicians like Michael Moynihan, Boyd Rice, and Death in June. The boundaries are not set inside of neofolk as they would inside of the anti-racist world, so we have to keep that in mind so as to see them for their intentions rather than just their associations. While Agalloch may be willing to support Sol Invictus, they have also stated that their opposition to the “modern world” is exclusively because of techno-industry and not because of multiculturalism. This makes their associations equally problematic, but notes that not everyone inside of this musical subculture share the nationalist political roots.
Heathen Harvest has now prepared a tour across the U.S. of popular European neofolk and post-industrial bands, though they are only one of the sponsors along with Annihilvs Power Electronix. Operation Equinox 2016 will include the Danish bands Of The Wand and the Moon and Die Weisse Rose, the U.S. based Blood and Sun, and Vril Jager, Destroying Angel, and Scout Pare-Phillips. Blood and Sun also joined bands like Waldteufel at Stella Natura, a questionable neofolk music festival put together by the Asatru Folk Assembly. Luke Tromiczak of the band was interviewed on Episode 13 of The Forest Passage, where he talks about the romanticism and opposition to modernity in neofolk. According to New York City Antifa, Luke Tramicza has dressed as a Nazi brownshirt at shows, collaborates with Nazi bands, and has “associates in White Power circles.” Fascism Watch, who wrote a letter trying to have a New York City venue cancel a show with Blood and Sun and Death in June listed that he had “neo-Nazi connections in his native Minnesota.”
Die Weisse Rose actually naming themselves after the German pacifist student movement that resisted the Nazis, yet they list their politics as Revolutionary Conservative on MySpace. This puts them in line with people like fascist legal scholar Carl Schmitt, another obscure philosopher popular with this strain of the far-right.
Of the Wand and the Moon, the project of Kim Larsen, has often gotten painted with the same brush because of their focus on romanticism and runes, and while there is not strong indications from his music, his use of fascist symbols is so dense that it is hard to argue with these allegations. Larsen has especially been targeted for using the same runic Algiz necklace as members of the neo-Nazi Heathen Front. With situations like this it is quite difficult to determine exactly how to approach it, as well as his collaborations and compilations with bands like Death in June, Sol Invictus, and Allerseelen(She was also featured at Stella Natura). What this says very clearly is that even if Larsen does not hold racial ideas, he is certainly not an ally to the aims of anti-fascist progress and standards. Vril Jager takes its name from a Nazi-era fighter plane, and also a project of Kim Larsen.
This tour provides an opportunity for anti-fascists to either confront the concerts directly or to pressure the bands not associated with racist causes to distance themselves from the more problematic elements. If bands like Die Weisse Rose eschew racist politics, then it is reasonable to hold them to the same standards of association that we would in any other community. No one wants to be culturally policed, but instead it is critical to continue to show the reactionary power that fascist music can have and how it is mobilizing a very dangerous white nationalist movement that is leading to mass violence against refugees across Europe. Segregating bands like Blood Axis and Death in June from the rest of the musical movement, putting them in the same camp as skinhead “white noise” scenes, will help to keep the organized racism out of subcultural and Goth spaces. With this kind of creeping sub-cultural fascism, anti-fascists need to confront them directly and build a movement that is not going to allow it to seep in under vague philosophical arguments that attempt to divert our attention from the reality of their genocidal racism.
This gives you an opportunity to contact the venues to tell them that the community does not want to deal with racist bands and promoters, as well as to contact the bands directly to tell them that this music community will not accept fascist associations. The shows will be on the east coast and midwest, so local counter-organizing can happen drawing on the larger anti-racist movements of the regions. Below some of the dates below is the venue contact information.
3/23/2016 Nothing Changes – New York, NY *combined performance
3/25/2016 Machines With Magnets – Pawtucket, RI
Address: 400 Main Street Pawtucket, RI 02860
3/27/2016 Black Bear Bar – Brooklyn, NY @ Sort Påske Festival
70 N 6th St, Brooklyn, NY 11249
3/30/2016 The Convent – Philadelphia, PA *combined performance