The other day I was listening to Nokturnal Mortum and two things suddenly hit me – 1) as much as I like the music I can’t possibly stand the meaning of some of the lyrics AND 2) I promised the team to write an editorial on the subject loosely defined as “meaningful lyrics” and never did. I know I can’t possibly cover everything related to metal music, lyrics, ideology, etc. (I would need to write a book, and I don’t have the time) Thus, let me just try and share a few random thoughts with all of you.
The main issue at hand - if the band has an undeniable targeted ideological message in its lyrics and if you strongly disagree with it, would it be morally right for you to like the band, buy their CDs in a way propagating this message? I will abbreviate the subject even more and boil it down to NSBM (National Socialist Black Metal) movement, especially considering we had a lively debate about it within our group recently after Daniel reviewed Graveland. I struggle to answer this question personally in the case of Nokturnal Mortum and if you have patience to read this to the end you will see why.
As a disclaimer, I have absolutely no problem with religion bashing, blasphemy, Satanism etc., etc. in death or black metal. Religion, of any ilk, shape or form, is probably the most poisonous self-creation of humanity as people have continued to eradicate each other in the name of it for several thousand years already. Growing up in the old Soviet Union, Ukraine specifically, I actually wasn’t brought up along any of the religious lines. You can call me an Atheist, I guess. As you all possibly know Communism did not sit well with Religion as the latter requires people to worship at the altar of the Deity and that would detract from the Personality Cult, idolizing and believing in Party Leaders. Thus, Church was separated away from the State and religion was banned from schools and not practiced very openly. In metal, rebellion against religion is one of the high-flying banners and, as most of metal bands hail from mostly Christian countries, Christianity is specifically being derided. I find it very honest, true and powerful when bands like Amon Amarth appeal to rediscover their Viking/Pagan roots while claiming that it was Christianity that eroded those roots in the first place.
NSBM bands (and I know I am making a generalization here) take things to another level. Their ideas of stomping on Christianity, coming more from the angle of how Judeo-Christian ideology has to be eradicated and both Christians and Jews exterminated, resonate with the ideas Hitler and NSDAP applied in life so ruthlessly. I find it particularly ironic that a lot of NSBM bands hail from Slavic countries (Poland, Ukraine, Russia). Aryan Slavonic order, what does it mean? If you read the “original” Nazi teachings you can learn that Slavs, while not Jews, who were marked for complete extermination, were still considered a second-rate race that was earmarked to work in factories and agriculture to feed the Aryans. True blue-blooded German Aryans never considered Slavs to be anywhere their equals, and while not being considered total scum they were about as good as servants.
I am with Nokturnal Mortum bringing back to life the images of Slavic Rus, the images of Pagan Gods people abandoned. Not enough kids growing up in Ukraine these days know their history – and it is a shame the honorable Slavic roots are lost. For example, people do not know that Knyaz Vladimir adopted Christianity around Year 980 and banished Pagan Gods. He made all Kiev residents to go and take baptism in Dnieper River and burn/drown their Pagan idols. And, oh yeah, Judeo-Christians really had little to do with it, as it was a pure political decision. Vladimir needed alliances with largely Christian European countries to align himself against Pagan nomadic tribes who terrorized Rus. The legend actually has it that he listened to Christians, Jews and Muslims for several days and picked Christianity. Out went Perun, in came Jesus Christ. Russian history has ample examples of this nature, when Peter the Great in the early 18th century ditched old Russian customs to adopt more Western European values. Out went beards, fur coats, kolyadas and dances by the woods’ fire, in came wigs, European style jackets, minuets and salons. I hope you aren’t being bored with my history lesson but in all honesty Nokturnal Mortum should bash Knyaz Vladimir and Peter the Great for getting away from the roots. Knyaz Vladimir actually has a huge statue built for him on the hills of the Dnieper River in Kiev. Just like the Statue of Liberty Knyaz Vladimir Statue is visible from many angles and spots, holding a huge size cross symbolizing forceful baptism of Kiev, probably waiting for a Ukrainian Varg Vikernes for it to be burned.
I am entirely on the same page with some of the NSBM material where they strive for inner strength, power of the individual and self-sufficiency. Hell, I seek inner strength every day, trying to empower myself and bring about self-sufficiency. I don’t rely on religion or any “democratic government” to help me, I just use my intellect and education my beloved Ukraine has blessed me with. I am puzzled why “seeking strong individuals” and “going back to our true ethnic roots” equates in the hands of NSBM bands with “destruction of jewish and judeo-christian anti-culture” and “subhumans”? Smacks of NSDAP again, and that is no way to gain inner strength.
Let’s back up a little bit to Nokturnal Mortum. I admire the guts in these guys. Do you think it was easy to get up on stage around early 90s in their corpsepaint and play black metal in Kharkiv, Ukraine, when the ashes of Soviet Communism were still warm? And for Nokturnal Mortum face painting and image was not a gimmick. Their brand of black metal rules, and they didn’t wait for Immortal to disband to start ripping them off. But imagine you are a Jewish kid, and you are into black metal (Aaron, does it ring a bell?) and you walk into a Nokturnal Mortum show where they play, let’s say Nechrist or Black Raven from Nechrist album. How would you feel hearing something like this (translation from Russian mine):
Смерти Лик. Вороний Крик. христос - пес, жид поганый, безродная тварь. Силой Славянской веру твою превращаю в Гарь!
The face of Death, cry of the Raven, Christ – dog, disgusting jew, kinless beast. With the Slavic Force I convert your faith to Ash Dust
Меч в руке, кишки на клинке - Такова должна быть Расплата! Расплата за кровь наших Отцов, За боль Матерей Расплата, За лживость речей, за постройку церквей жидовское племя должно быть распято!
Sword in your hand, bowels on your blade – this is what Retribution must be! Retribution for the blood of our Fathers, Retribution for the pain of our Mothers, for deceitful lies, for building of the churches, jewish tribe has to be crucified!
Черный Ворон, Чернее, чем Ночь Ты лети над Землею Славянской! Где могилы великих Воев - Отцов! Павших когда-то от рук христианских! Собери воедино всех Сыновей, Собери и поведай им песню Мою. О том, как распятый, дохлый еврей Топчет бесстыдно Землю Мою и Твою!
Black Raven, Darker than Night, fly over Slavic Land! Over the graves of the great Warriors – Fathers! Who fell sometime ago from the christian hands! Gather round all Sons, Gather and sing them My song. About how crucified dead rotten jew stomps shamelessly the Land, Yours and Mine!
So, if you are that kid, regardless of the fact you love the authentic feel of the music, regardless of the fact you love the power of liberation it brings, regardless even of the fact you have little to do with Christian or Jewish cultures, you are simply out. You are not welcome there as you are really not an Aryan Slavonic brother (I am still baffled by the term). I grew up in Kiev, I went to the most Ukrainian school in town, Taras Shevtchenko is my favorite poet, and still I would feel sorry for that kid.
Some NSBM bands go further and really make political statements, take that same Graveland for example. While in the recent interview in Pit Magazine Rob Darken calls to “Start the holocaust again, kill Jews and Christians” he also suggests to “Destroy the Jew, Clinton”. Clinton, of course, is a lot of things, but Jewish he isn’t. You want to make a statement – get your facts straight, at least. By the way, in my modest personal opinion, Nokturnal Mortum beats Graveland musically any day.
I don’t know why The End Records cut off ties with Nokturnal Mortum, but maybe they ran into the same dilemma I did, could not reconcile obvious musical talent and great music with the ideological stand, but it could be something entirely different and business related. Still, I would rather listen to havoc, blasphemy and debauchery lyrics of death metal, tongue-in-cheek thrash humor, personal philosophies of Mikael Stanne I can’t possibly grasp, cries for help by Schuldiner and Paul Kuhr (Novembers Doom) or suicidal tendencies of Sentenced.
I am not a fan of religion and I feel that people have to fight this poison. I personally would do it through the power of education, but I realize it is not the way for everybody. Somehow, however, I find NSBM proclamations offensive while Amon Amarth call back to the roots is authentic. Thus, in the end, for me at least, words do matter, especially as they bring so much meaning.
Killing Songs :
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