When we made our “Guilt-Free Guide to Black Metal”, we spent a considerable amount of time deliberating over who was and wasn’t worthy of inclusion. That list featured 25 artists, meaning that whilst it’s by no means exhaustive, it took a fair bit of work. Suffice to say, then, that we were blown away to discover a massive, 20-page list of anti-fascist and left-leaning bands put together by a metal fan who has dubbed himself the “self proclaimed archivist of the anti-fascist black metal renaissance”. The list, which goes by the name Do You Hear The People Scream?, features a staggering amount of bands from across metal’s various subgenres, with links to their Bandcamp. In addition, there’s also Spotify and Apple Music playlists featuring the artists in question.
“I always like researching bands and it was just a thing I did for friends,” the list’s creator, Simon, tells us. In February last year Simon was researching a band in a Facebook group centred around the RABM scene, and realised that there were a lot of people making lists of bands to avoid due to their fascist ties, but that lists of left-leaning bands to check out were much more scarce. “At this moment I remembered a list of RABM bands I once made for a friend and thought ‘hey, why don’t do it for everyone’. First I tried to keep it only black metal but soon I discovered that the left-wing metal scene is just too diverse to draw a neat line like that, and a month later, in March 2021, my list went online.”
The project quickly became collaborative, as hundreds of suggestions came flooding in for bands to add. “In the beginning I had enough material to update it like daily or every other day,” Simon enthuses. “Later when it all calmed down a bit I created a weekly update plan.” Most suggestions come through DMs and comments, but the Antifascist Black Metal Network have also provided Simon with new names to add to the list, as have labels and artists who are always sharing stuff on their own socials.
Taking charge of a list of anti-fascist and “safe” artists comes with some legwork, of course, and often entails researching bands to be sure (or as sure as you can be) that they aren’t in fact problematic in some way. “There are some dead giveaways if a band is safe or not,” Simon tells us. “If they are posted on Antifascist Black Metal Network or have artwork by Hagiophobic I usually don’t need to ask questions, also labels are of course a great way to sort out bands, that’s why I’m also in contact with some of them as well. But if I don’t have enough evidence about a band in the first place I start some rather big research. First I search them on various Facebook groups and Metal Archives, just to see if there is anything that stands out about the band. If I can’t find anything I’ll continue with their label and social media to see who they work with and who they are connected to. If even that doesn’t spark any info, I’ll find out where they are from and ask artists and labels from their local scene. Also I often reach out to the band themselves and respectfully ask what they are about.”
Of course, you can never guarantee that a band is truly “safe” from problematic ties, nor can you ensure that things won’t change down the line. Predictably, Simon has had to learn this the hard way. “There was a handful of bands I sadly had to remove again, about 20 I’d guess,” he reveals. “There are some really bad cases like Gaylord where the person behind the band is an actual stalker or another band I don’t remember the name of but the dude was so straightedge he turned into a pro-life/anti-abortion activist. But besides that, it’s just bands not knowing how to behave. It’s really sad to say this but when I get a request to remove a band it’s 90% French RABM bands fighting against each other… In these cases I try to find all the information I can get about the bands (cause I’ve got quite good connections inside the French scene) and decide based on that which band(s) to remove. It’s sad because infighting like this means a lot of work for me and hurts our global community and network we’re trying to build.”
Simon is making an effort to improve our scene and kick out the fascists lurking within, but he’s not alone in that fight. In fact, he’s part of a vast community of people striving to do the same, from the artists he’s covering to the labels, blogs and social media pages all promoting progressive artists. “As a last thing, I would like to thank all the people who are sharing and using my list,” says Simon. “Even though I sometimes get hate for what bands I remove or don’t remove or whatever, I still love working on the list, because after all it’s my hobby. I do it in my free time while I still have a ten-hour day job and local anti-capitalist and anarchist community work I do. I created this list for everyone to use as a free archive and share it worldwide with other metalheads to create a huge community, and when I see people using and sharing it I get the feeling of having done my part in something useful and that my work is well appreciated. Thank you all! Also never-ending thanks to Hagiophobic, who created a customised version of the RABM logo for my list, and to Wolfram, the man behind the black metal project Scource666, who hosts and updates the Apple Music playlist for me.”
Words: George Parr