What does it take to provoke in the metal scene today?

wolves among sheep


In the 90’s black metal was provocative and outright dangerous, a number of church burnings can be attributed to it’s torch carriers (pun intended). But nowadays black metal bands don’t even dare to make music about Islam, no less torch mosques. It’s basically become yet another safe teenage revolt within the defined confines of the consumerist society.

And therefore NSBM plays a rather interesting role in this situation. You could say that it’s the final thing keeping black metal “pure” according to it’s traditional values: Aggression, hatred, violence, unacceptable taboos, controversial provocation, and putting yourself outside of society.

The Swedish book “Blood, Fire, Death” which details the development of the Scandinavian metal-scene dedicated a chapter to NSBM, and the following point was made – keep in mind Im quoting loosely here:  “You can sing about murder, rape, torture and all kinds of atrocities, and still be accepted by the music establishment. But as soon as you start heiling you can say goodbye to all future gigs.”

We saw it happen to punk. It went from being a genre in opposition to the establishment to becoming yet another product within the cogs of the establishment, comfortably sedated and finding it’s way to top charts, magazines and TV.

We saw it happen to death metal and later even black metal. It’s interesting how that degree of extremely violent lyrics and concepts can become assimilated into the market, like any other genre of music. The controversial aspects were transformed into consumption, rather than ideals. The content of the music became a kind of parody of itself, something meant solely to provoke. The bands don’t actually worship the devil, it’s just a symbol to upset.

However it should be noted that Watain is a band which is very serious in their Satan worship. And yet they’ve managed to get picked up by the music establishment, gotten mainstream and even won a Swedish Grammy.

This despite the fact that the singer encourages acts of terrorism in the name of Watain, celebrated a school shooting during a gig, and once said that he’d like to have a concert on 6 billion corpses. 2 out of these 3 statements took place before the grammy, and none of them are jokes.

And still the band gets described by mainstream music journalists as “interesting with something that’s the opposite to all the goodie-two-shoes presentable.” They’re saying this about a band that possesses bigger hatred than the nazis do.

But I suppose Watain’s salvation is the fact that when it all comes around they do believe in equality. They hate everyone, unlike nazis, and thus they somehow fall in line with the progressive leftist hegemony in Sweden. It’s okay to hate people, as long as you hate everyone. Because then at least you believe in equal human value. Even if that value is zero.

To sum it up: In the minds of the establishment, Watains hateful ideology is the charming spice in a dull everyday landscape of music, and not something you take seriously.

Unlike NSBM, which genuinely challenges the political system. And therein lies the interesting aspect of the genre. It is completely unassimilable. Can you imagine how the music industry would go about in transforming NSBM to the next big thing in the metal world? It’s unthinkable.

NSBM is more than just music. It is a political ideology. The absolutely worst, ugliest, most hideous ideology the Western world knows of. NSBM is forever doomed to lurk in the shadows, far from the acceptance of the mainstream establishment. They are pariah even amongst outcasts, and thus representatives for a true underground movement.

But at the same time, national socialism is just another pack-mentality. A sheepish ideology with the aim to make everyone the same. In that way it completely contradicts the fundamental values of black metal.

Nazism is not misanthropic, it loves white people. Nazism is not individualistic, it is collectivist to the highest degree, with a future dream of racially pure white-picket-fence societies where people live in accordance and stability. The theme is actually one of love, rather than the misanthropy which usually permeates black metal.


I was inspired to write this article after reading the book “Wolves Among Sheep”, a great read about the NSBM scene which doesn’t try to condemn or promote, but merely state things as how they are. Order it here if you’re interested.