Nazi Ties and Cancelled Tours: The Problem with Horna’s Political Neutrality

In the ongoing war to expunge metal of its fascist fringes, the Racist Band of the Week last week was undoubtedly Finnish black metallers Horna, who received backlash after MetalSucks drew attention to the fact that the band were due to tour the US. Since then, several of the band’s tour dates have been cancelled thanks to anti-fascist protestors pointing out some of the band members’ NSBM affiliations – which weren’t exactly hard to trace. As usual, the band responded with the typical remark – “we have zero interest in politics, left or right.” So, let’s unpack this statement, and show it up for the utter bollocks it is.

For one thing, an apolitical stance is itself a form of political stance, and the cowardly fence-sitting rife amongst many metal bands, labels and journalists is surely a major part of the reason why the scene continues to have such a problem with bigotry – with many refraining from denouncing white supremacist bands even if they aren’t exactly going out of their way to support them either. Nevertheless, plenty of bands do choose to keep their work separate from politics. The nature of pretty much everything you write about being inherently political notwithstanding, that is of course their prerogative.

Horna, and the members that comprise them, however, are not one of those artists. Their statement claims that they “judge every man and woman only by their demeanor, not by their race or sexual preferences.” A lovely sentiment rendered utterly meaningless by their own actions. Guitarist Shatraug (aka Ville Iisakki Pystynen) was once a member of Blutschrei, a band with lyrics like “Mother Europe, here I stand, a proud son today and a white father tomorrow” and “let us take the course of time and turn our heads toward the rising of a better Reich.” He also ran the thankfully no longer existent Grievantee Productions, which boasted a roster of NSBM acts, including Hammer, whose logo included a swastika. Which, as we all know, is a universally apolitical symbol.

Meanwhile, vocalist Spellgoth (aka Tuomas Rytkönen) is also keyboardist for Peste Noire, a band whose far-right affiliations are well-know. Not to mention the fact that the tour is being promoted by Hate War Productions, a self-professed “not anti-war” company whose Facebook About page claims that “a massive thinning of the population is in order.” Horna may claim not to judge by race or sexuality, but they have aided, accepted aid from, and worked with people who openly support ideologies based solely on hatred. If that’s not inherently political then what is?

Using the “apolitical” excuse is becoming a predictable go-to for bands accused of nazism. It’s designed to take the middle-ground – to appease “centrists” and “liberals” so that they can continue to enjoy the band’s music relatively guilt-free without alienating the racists who inevitably make up a significant portion of the band in question’s fan base. It’s a bullshit explanation totally at odds with all the evidence, but it appears to work. It’s worked for Horna, who have had fans rally behind them despite cancelled tour dates; it worked for Taake, who are due to play this year’s Bloodstock despite a track record that goes against their claim that “Taake is not now, has never been, and never will be a nazi band”; it worked for Watain who maligned the “ill-willed ignorance of all those who maintain that Watain have any political agenda whatsoever” after a guitarist stepped aside as a result of throwing a Sieg Heil in promotional photos – ya know, like a nazi band might.

Next time a band busts out this lazy-ass excuse that seldom holds any truth and is totally devoid of any true regret, don’t fall for the sham. They’re pandering to far-right shitheads, and they’re doing it knowingly. A band with blatant ties to nazism, whether it’s as an active participant in the NSBM scene or through helping, working with and sympathising with white supremacists, cannot be considered apolitical. It’s a bogus excuse.

Despite NSBM’s continued existence, the New Wave of Anti-Fascist Heavy Metal is here to stay. Read more here.

Words: George Parr