It’s perhaps not surprising to see how many people leapt to criticise the cancellation of a Taake show at New York City’s Le Poisson Rouge, given that metal fans can be rather hostile when it comes to what they deem as censorship. What is surprising, however, is how many self-professed liberals also criticised the decision, given the band’s iffy past. In general, the backlash has been blown way out of proportion – this could be the first steps the metal scene needs to turn its back on its fascist fringes.
In an interview for Metal Insider, Jeff Podoshen suggests that Antifa have intentionally mentioned frontman Hoest’s misdeeds out of context, but the context is largely irrelevant here. There may be worse, out-and-out Nazi bands in the world, but the campaign against Taake shouldn’t really be as shocking as some have made it out to be – this is a band stupid enough to get fed up of having to clarify they aren’t Nazis despite a frontman who has performed with a swastika painted on his chest. They may claim that they aren’t political, but whether Hoest intended it as simple provocation or as a genuine appeal to sincere Nazi sympathisers, using Nazi imagery is a flat-out political move, whichever way you look at it. Sure, it can be important not to take the lyrics of dudes in corpse paint who give themselves pseudonyms too seriously, but when you employ the cheap thrill of Nazism, even for provocation’s sake, you’re contributing to the genuine neo-völkisch movement of NSBM.
Some even cite the band having toured the US many times before without issues as a defence – the swastika issue was an isolated event, in the past, that they’ve apologised for, so what’s the long-term harm? Crucially, however, it’s not the only misstep the band has made – just check out this shirt and these lyrics. Hoest’s “apology” at the time also left a lot to be desired:
“Taake is not a political Nazi band […] everyone should know by now that our whole concept is built upon provocation and anything evil […] we truly apologize to all of our collaborators who might get problems because of the Essen swastika scandal (except for the Untermensch owner of that club; you can go suck a Muslim!)”
Everyone knows the best way to prove you aren’t racist is to use the phrase “suck a Muslim” in your apology, alongside the term “Untermensch” (translation: subhuman), a phrase popular amongst Nazis when referring to someone deemed to be of an inferior race. Furthermore, Hoest continuously referencing the fact that the band has performed in Israel as a counterargument is about as convincing as when someone defends their use of the N-word by claiming they “have black friends.”
Surely the metal scene waking up to its injustices and doing something about them can only be good, no matter how longstanding the injustice? In fact, the more prolonged the issue, the more impressive the rectifying of said issue. No one can stop bands with revolting ideals, or even those who misuse offensive imagery for provocative purposes, from creating music, the best we can do is scorn them, broadcast their misdeeds and suffocate them of support until it’s embarrassing to be seen with them – cancelling a show surely follows this guideline. In fact, it’s starting to work – King Dude dropped off as Taake’s support for the tour following the accusations (though he has also toured with other dodgy acts like Blood And Sun and Death In June), explicitly citing that he doesn’t want to endorse a setting in which hate is preached:
In an opinion piece published on Decibel’s website, Neill Jameson argues that Nazi rallies happening in the US should be of bigger concern than the touring schedule of a mediocre band. He’s right, just as I’m right when I say that breaking your leg is worse than stubbing your toe – I’d still rather neither happened. He also appears to misunderstand the concept of Antifa in his piece – it isn’t a single organisation so much as a conglomerate of anti-fascist campaigners operating within the US. Tweeting about a band with ties to Nazi imagery surely falls under the category of “anti-fascism”, and isn’t exactly likely to take much time out of their schedule.
His centrist dialogue is somewhat more questionable when you realise the hypocritical standpoint they come from – his band Kreig included racist language on the packaging for their split with Satanic Warmaster, a band who were once included on a compilation called Declaration Of Anti-Semitic Terror and have themselves had shows cancelled due to, you guessed it, links with Nazism. One can see how defending a band with a dodgy past might benefit Jameson.
The article also spends some time addressing the fact that the move is going to lose Antifa support and piss people off (because Antifa’s main goal, as we all know, is being liked), whilst simultaneously defending the case of a band who’ve done exactly the same. Honestly, the sort of people who are going to be pissed off about the show’s cancellation aren’t exactly ones who were going to support Antifa in the first place, nor are they the sort of people Antifa would want to associate themselves with.
Ultimately, cancelling one Taake show isn’t going to miraculously solve the metal scene’s issues, but it could be the slow tumbling of the first rocks that start an avalanche of positive social change in metal. People will inevitably jump in with cries of the first amendment, but where hate speech is concerned, the right to free speech has no bearing. When you try to limit the freedom of others, that cannot be considered free speech, because the whole concept of free speech is that it is meant to be free for everyone.
Words: George Parr (@GeorgeJParr)