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Living Colour is Not Their Favorite Black Metal Band
August 7, 2014 7:19 AM   Subscribe

Confronting Dragonforce about their racist, homophobic past. An interview by 'Grim' Kim Kelly. Prior to being famous for having the most difficult song on Guitar Hero, Dragonforce were members of a band called Demoniac, whose lyrics were often racist, homophobic, and generally bigoted. Kelly's confronts the band about their past.
posted by MisantropicPainforest (73 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Had to.
posted by exit at 7:23 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


"Hahaha, lol, it's not a big deal!" isn't really a particularly satisfying response. Bearing the daftness of their music in mind, I'm not sure why I expected something at least a little more thoughtful...
posted by Dysk at 7:33 AM on August 7 [7 favorites]


Oh no, there goes the pristine reputation of these technical and lyrical masterminds. All the tweens listening to them to drown out the tortured cries of the damned, erm, Justin Bieber songs coming from their sister's room will now immediately repent.

Or, well, get mp3s of the old stuff to use as new material for their XBox Live hate-rants.
posted by pseudocode at 7:35 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


It was really great seeing the band own up to their past and discuss the ways that had realized how problematic their lyrics were and how they were making a conscious effort to avoid racism and homophobia in their new music and...

Oh, wait, that was the interview from the Opposite Dimension.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:35 AM on August 7 [15 favorites]


On a music forum I used to post on, there was one member who would remind everyone about Demoniac literally every time anyone mentioned Dragonforce. Now, whenever I hear about the band, I immediately think of my friend's response:

There have been 63 0 days at this workplace without [poster X] mentioning that Dragonforce used to be Neo-Nazi band Demoniac
posted by Greg Nog at 7:37 AM on August 7 [2 favorites]


The money quote in this article is actually from the writer.

I’m a writer, we don’t have senses of humor.
posted by DWRoelands at 7:47 AM on August 7 [3 favorites]


Related: The Soft Pink Truth's take-down/trolling of black metal homophobia. It's a good listen if you haven't heard it.
posted by HumanComplex at 7:48 AM on August 7 [2 favorites]


(Not that the archness of that response means that I think the Demoniac stuff should be swept under the rug, mind; I'm actually rather delighted that both the original reminders and the meta-noting have basically cemented it in my head as "oh yeah Dragonforce is that band with weird problematic past)

ANYWAY it's amazing to see the words "having a laugh" come up thrice in such quick succession right at the beginning of the interview. It's sort of the perfect illustration of the tendency the reviewer's writing about in paragraph one, of young ignorant lads having no fucking clue what they're actually doing.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:48 AM on August 7


Holy shit you need to cop to it if you released music like that and don't want it to reflect on you. This is stuff I haven't thought about in a decade but I think it was Dimmu Borgir (although cursory Googling indicates I'm probably wrong) had a bunch of Aryan/fascist/*phobic stuff on an early release, abandoned that sort of thing entirely and admitted to what they did and why it was wrong. And while it doesn't entirely absolve the band of what they released into the world, considering the general tone and content of metal lyrics and the relative youth of the people involved, you can at least say "well they fucked up, but they did the right thing at the end."

Dragonforce, attempting to just totally erase their past, is doing the wrong thing.

Kim Kelly, meanwhile, does a great job in the interview even though it devolves into a Kerrang press junket or whatever.
posted by griphus at 7:48 AM on August 7 [10 favorites]


The comments are really bad for this article.

I'm glad that this article was written because it casts more light on the uncomfortably cozy and common relationship between fascist thinking and metal bands. Why is that a thing?
posted by oceanjesse at 7:50 AM on August 7 [2 favorites]


griphus, maybe you're thinking of Nachmystium?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:52 AM on August 7


No it was definitely a popular Scandinavian band. I remember because we stocked a (possibly bootleg) t-shirt for that early album in the punk store and someone pointed it out.
posted by griphus at 7:56 AM on August 7


Honestly, why can/do they not just say "Look, we were young and trying to say anything shocking that came to mind. We didn't quite get that 'Heil Hitler!' has a real-world resonance that 'Eat babies for Satan!' doesn't. But we never really meant either! Sorry we didn't know better."

If they just repeated that enough the issue would just go away. (Whether it should or not, I think I think it would.)
posted by tyllwin at 7:56 AM on August 7 [4 favorites]


the uncomfortably cozy and common relationship between fascist thinking and metal bands. Why is that a thing?

Its not. How many grindcore bands are fascist? Metalcore? USBM? Its a thing among a small subset of European black metal bands, mostly from Scandinavia, and really Burzum was the only one who was both any good and a full blooded fascist.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:56 AM on August 7 [6 favorites]


I think there's needs to be a distinction between the Actually Fascist bands that align themselves with Varg and the NSBM scene and all that, and bands like Demonaic who were just a bunch of dumb kids screaming "Heil Hitler" for shock value.

Not that dumb kids don't get involved in the NSBM scene and grow up into dumb adults in the NSBM scene, but don't think this issue here is that Dragonforce are a bunch of crypto-Nazis.
posted by griphus at 8:01 AM on August 7 [4 favorites]


No it was definitely a popular Scandinavian band.

Abba, you're thinking of Abba. The "mamma mia" band, right? that's Abba
posted by Greg Nog at 8:01 AM on August 7 [33 favorites]


I'm not really familiar enough with Cannibal Corpse to defend them or not. But if Totman's point is that if it's OK for Cannibal Corpse to sing about "hacking up babies" because "no one actually wants to do that" then it was OK for Demoniac to sing shit like "Heil Hitler" and “We will kill all the f****** and queer c****. We will wipe out the gays and the f***, he must have really no clue that violence, real systemic violence, against gays and black people and Jews, is actually a real thing worldwide.

(On preview, what tyllwin said)
posted by Cookiebastard at 8:04 AM on August 7 [3 favorites]


Little known fact: Abba's hit "Fernando" was originally titled "Francisco" in honor of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco.
posted by griphus at 8:08 AM on August 7 [13 favorites]


Little known fact: Abba's hit "Fernando" was originally titled "Francisco" in honor of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco.

Not according to Wikipedia.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:16 AM on August 7


Not according to Wikipedia.

TRUE FACT: Francisco Franco liked to Tango in the moonlight like a Dancing Queen.
posted by zarq at 8:20 AM on August 7 [7 favorites]


TRUE FACT: A macaque now owns the rights to Abba's back catalogue.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:23 AM on August 7 [7 favorites]


Frankly, the Dragonforce dude's "lol we were just having a laugh" replies sound basically like "lol that shit's still funny".
posted by Pyrogenesis at 8:26 AM on August 7 [12 favorites]



"Honestly, why can/do they not just say "Look, we were young and trying to say anything shocking that came to mind. We didn't quite get that 'Heil Hitler!' has a real-world resonance that 'Eat babies for Satan!' doesn't. But we never really meant either! Sorry we didn't know better."

Because they want to keep racist friends that they have, and feel that they may need that racist fan money again someday.
posted by Selena777 at 8:28 AM on August 7 [7 favorites]


Why didn't the reporter ask about his current beliefs? One way to get at whether those lyrics were youthful dumbfuckery or actually indicative of something more deeply troubling...
posted by chasing at 8:29 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


This thread makes me want to go listen to Napalm Death.

Offensiveness for the sake of being offensive has a long and history in metal and punk. This stuff isn't even remotely amusing, but look at the popularity of Anal Cunt, Agoraphobic Nosebleed, or GG fucking Allin for love of god (note: not defending Anal Cunt or GG Allin at all, but I do like ANb). It's not hard for me to imagine that these guys didn't really consider how offensive their stupid songs really were, although I bet they are thinking about it now that it's hit the web hard.

griphus, sounds like you could be describing Mayhem, although most of the popular Scandinavian black metal bands had some dodgy statements/iconography in their past (Ulver, Emperor, Satyricon). Emperor might be the one with the least fascist overtones, but even they had a convicted church-burning arsonist in the band.
posted by Existential Dread at 8:40 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


If we grant, for the sake of argument, that the lyrics were about having a laugh (and setting aside for the moment that this by itself may be problematic, anyway):

The problem with the response, I think, is that the weight of a particular action is not all about intention, it's also about possible result. Even if it was just for a laugh, there's probably a negligence issue involved with being young and dumb and not realizing that words carry weight when you have a potential audience that isn't going to know it was just a joke at some point down the line. It's okay to apologize for that, even if you aren't really racist or homophobic.

So it's also about putting potentially harmful ideas into the public consciousness that isn't going to be privy to the fact that you weren't being sincere, and which will potentially put ideas devoid of original context together with a genre that people find emotionally motivating. I will say that intention counts for something, and I have some sympathy about doing dumb things when young, and cutting people some slack. But assuming a best case scenario in which the intentions are relatively pure but misguided, I would still apologize for potentially causing more harm than good when I find myself being unintentionally clumsy or less than thoughtful.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:41 AM on August 7


No it was definitely a popular Scandinavian band.

It was Ace of Base.

I saw the sign.
posted by vitabellosi at 8:42 AM on August 7 [7 favorites]


At least it's not a band that doesn't suck.
posted by Zalzidrax at 8:42 AM on August 7


griphus, sounds like you could be describing Mayhem...

Def. not Mayhem.

I'm starting to think it was Dimmu Borgir and it was re: Stormblast and I just took a rumor as fact and have a false memory of actually fact-checking said rumor.
posted by griphus at 8:45 AM on August 7


Of probable interest: Dragonforce guitarist (and former Demoniac member) Herman Li appears on the Yo, Is This Racist? podcast. It's been a while since I listened to it, but IIRC he has some interesting(?) opinions about what qualifies as racist...
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:48 AM on August 7 [3 favorites]


Vice has really branched out from cocaine and sex-tourism into the concern-troll theater biz.
posted by batfish at 8:52 AM on August 7 [4 favorites]


Ace of Base

I wasn't kidding.--granted, not a metal band.
posted by vitabellosi at 8:54 AM on August 7 [2 favorites]


Vice has really branched out from cocaine and sex-tourism into the concern-troll theater biz.

They do a huge amount of internet publishing now. A lot of it very good.
posted by josher71 at 8:54 AM on August 7


[New Zealand is not a small Scandinavian country]
posted by oceanjesse at 9:07 AM on August 7


Not according to Wikipedia.

Pro-ABBA conspiracy
posted by shakespeherian at 9:07 AM on August 7


Vice has really branched out from cocaine and sex-tourism into the concern-troll theater biz.

I guarantee you Kim Kelly, who is one of the most accomplished and well-respected writers in the metal scene, is absolutely not a concern troll.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:11 AM on August 7 [5 favorites]


[New Zealand is not a small Scandinavian country]
posted by oceanjesse at 12:07 PM on August 7 [+] [!]


[citation needed]
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:11 AM on August 7 [17 favorites]


Good interview; I'd be bummed though if the exposure led to an increase in Dragonforce sales and concert attendance.
posted by Renoroc at 9:22 AM on August 7


According to the EU, I now have a right to forget ABBA, especially Fernando. Those of you posting links, I'll be getting those taken down post haste, thank you very much.
posted by Naberius at 9:36 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


It's not concern trolling if the concern is real. The "having a laugh" shit is flippant and yes hacking up babies for Satan is completely absurd shock value shit for everyone. Advocating the death of blacks and gays is directly offending and near terrorizing them and is a different thing entirely. To me this is a microcosmic example of "post racist western europe" racism. It's all in good fun, we never had slaves lulz.
posted by aydeejones at 9:42 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Boy those guys are duuuuumb
posted by smackwich at 9:42 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


And vice has branched out for years. You're really missing out if you haven't watched nearly every documentary at this point. The bro tone has come down a lot and we don't like tone arguments anyway
posted by aydeejones at 9:43 AM on August 7


Existential Dread, this is the second time I've seen mention of Ulver making dodgy statements in the past. Do you have a reference? If it's true it's a bit disappointing, I've always thought Garm seemed like a level-headed guy.
posted by angryostrich at 9:46 AM on August 7


Those of you posting links, I'll be getting those taken down post haste, thank you very much.

Can you hear the cries in MeTa?
I remember long ago another pointless thread like this
On my screen, in MeTa
You were typing up a screed and quickly sipping Mountain Dew
You were silenced all your life
And sight of favorites were coming from afar
They were closing now, the MeTa...
posted by griphus at 9:48 AM on August 7 [2 favorites]


GODDAMIT NOT GARM
posted by Young Kullervo at 9:51 AM on August 7


Too bad DF sound like dolts; coulda had a zingy gotcha over confronting Vice over their racist, homophobic and sexist past.
posted by klangklangston at 10:23 AM on August 7 [3 favorites]


Honestly, why can/do they not just say "Look, we were young and trying to say anything shocking that came to mind. We didn't quite get that 'Heil Hitler!' has a real-world resonance that 'Eat babies for Satan!' doesn't. But we never really meant either! Sorry we didn't know better."

Yes, young people, especially young men, can and will say pretty stupid stuff when they're young just to be shocking. [account of stupid stuff my friends and I did when we were in high school, including the composition and recording of songs with offensive lyrics, redacted] But these guys should come to grips with the fact that their past product is still out there for general consumption, as opposed to the stuff that countless young people did before them that is (thankfully) lost to the ages.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:26 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


coulda had a zingy gotcha over confronting Vice over their racist, homophobic and sexist past.

Also, very much this; good catch.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:27 AM on August 7


coulda had a zingy gotcha over confronting Vice over their racist, homophobic and sexist past.

Maybe it's just me but I've never encountered anything remotely close to the content of the described Demoniac lyrics in Vice, ever.
posted by Hoopo at 10:27 AM on August 7


It's a weird arena to be drawing lines in, because there is the point where you're like, okay, singing about Satanic murder and gruesome death is okay, singing about Nazis isn't... it requires some maturity to step in and say, oh, hey, we can do this because people know we're not really Satanists, we can't do this because people won't necessarily know we're not really racists or whatever. I'm not sure these guys actually know where that line is, they just got told not to do this anymore, so they don't. I'd have respect for them if they just said, "You know, we were singing about the most horrible things we could think of, and those were the most horrible things we could think of, because they're horrible, but then we realized the side effects of that were bad, so we stopped." I don't actually feel like there's much acknowledgment in this of where the problem is, and it does make me wonder how much of a joke it really was to start.
posted by Sequence at 10:28 AM on August 7 [3 favorites]


Too bad DF sound like dolts; coulda had a zingy gotcha over confronting Vice over their racist, homophobic and sexist past.

Eh, Kim Kelly freelances and writes for lot of outlets. I mean if this was a Vice employee or an editor doing it then I think there's a point, but this could have easily been published at Invisible Oranges or anywhere else.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:39 AM on August 7


Boy, I was just commenting to someone that there's a metal-shaped hole in my music knowledge. I was kind of puzzled about it, as I'll listen to almost anything, but these dudes have reminded me why.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:00 AM on August 7


Well crap. Apparently I'm the last one in the world who both really likes their music and had no idea about Demoniac or their um, viewpoints on race. I actually discovered them here, when they were mentioned in my Ask looking for metal recommendations. That'll teach me for listening to bands purely based on what they sound like, and not having any interest in the band's history.

I am glad to know, I guess. But also a little crushed. I really like their energy and sound, regardless of their talent level, which I'm not knowledgeable enough to comment on. I wish I could find more bands that sound very similar - especially now that I have this unpleasant knowledge.
posted by randomnity at 11:05 AM on August 7


Dragonforce?
Didn't their 5 minutes of fame end about 7 years ago?
posted by Flood at 11:10 AM on August 7


Boy, I was just commenting to someone that there's a metal-shaped hole in my music knowledge. I was kind of puzzled about it, as I'll listen to almost anything, but these dudes have reminded me why.

i sure hope you don't listen to rap or country or classic rock or blues or classical or literally anything else then
posted by Jairus at 11:12 AM on August 7 [2 favorites]


There's a lot to be said for turning a blind eye to all but the most egregious and unrepentant of offenses (Vikernes, Polanski, etc.) when it comes to art of any kind.
posted by griphus at 11:18 AM on August 7


[New Zealand is not a small Scandinavian country]
posted by oceanjesse at 12:07 PM on August 7 [+] [!]

[citation needed]


OK, here you go:
[New Zealand is not a small Scandinavian country]
posted by oceanjesse at 12:07 PM on August 7

posted by NoMich at 11:27 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


here's a lot to be said for turning a blind eye to all but the most egregious and unrepentant of offenses (Vikernes, Polanski, etc.) when it comes to art of any kind.

Also just flat-out not liking the artists while appreciating or even enjoying their work is totally fine. I still think Rock & Roll Part 2 works as a great anthem for sporting events, for example, even though Gary Glitter is fucking disgusting. Or you know, Ike Turner. A lot of the music he made is fantastic. I don't need to dwell on what an asshole he was to listen to good music.
posted by Hoopo at 11:40 AM on August 7


angryostrich, Young Kullervo, I've never run across any statements by Garm or any of the other guys in Ulver that make me uncomfortable. They've always been the most intelligent and self-aware of these types of bands, and I love their music and their art. The only questionable thing (which is why I included them) is the iconography on the album art/t-shirts from the The Marriage of Heaven and Hell double album. That central icon is uncomfortably close to some of the 'sunwheel' derived logos I've seen from some more obvious NSBM bands. I might be inferring something that's not really there, it just struck me when I saw it the first time.
posted by Existential Dread at 12:39 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


No it was definitely a popular Scandinavian band.

oh, no, i can't believe husker du would ever do stuff like that
posted by pyramid termite at 12:43 PM on August 7


don't worry, pyramid, husker didn't
posted by Ambient Echo at 12:58 PM on August 7 [4 favorites]


I think you mean....

husker dont
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:44 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


husker band
posted by Greg Nog at 1:52 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


I do appreciate that Vice isn't one thing anymore...one of vanishingly few media organs to continue to support "on the scene" journalism, and I truly love the podcasts with Reihan Salam.

MisantropicPainforest,

I don't claim that "Grim" Kim Kelly is categorically a concern troll, but I found this particular thing concern-trollish. Moreover there's at least some irony in adopting a tone of great moral seriousness about the adolescent antics of a metal band--especially under the larger (at least traditionally) bro-cultural umbrella of Vice--even if those antics are overtly racist and whatnot. But, to be clear, I'm not arguing it's a "thing that shouldn't be done." Truly, I'm kinda conflicted about it. In the rock'n'roll enculturation of my youth, Dwarves and Meatmen and AC records fit right in with Crass and Public Enemy and whatnot. Maybe it's an age thing. Or maybe I'm not a decent person... Probably I'm turning into David Horowitz as my youth drains away like the blood of a satanic ritual baby...
posted by batfish at 1:53 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


I could see putting the Geto Boys or Esham on that list, but Public Enemy, word?
posted by box at 3:01 PM on August 7


Boy, I was just commenting to someone that there's a metal-shaped hole in my music knowledge. I was kind of puzzled about it, as I'll listen to almost anything, but these dudes have reminded me why.

Oh good god. Do you also have a rap-shaped hole in your music knowledge, because I once read about a rap group that sang about nothing but pimps and hoes. We should probably all stop listening to pop music as well, considering what we just learned about Ace of Base. Sorry for continuing to pile-on, but I get grumpy about the fact that MeFi hates on the entire metal genre based on dumb shit like this, then complains about how small-minded it is when people claim to like "everything but rap and country."

Seriously though, I'm disappointed to read about this. I really enjoyed Dragonforce back in the day, and I still have a few of their songs on my running playlist to help me run faster fly across the distant mountains and through the fire and the storms. I occasionally think I ought to check out their newer stuff, but I don't think I can now.
posted by gueneverey at 6:10 PM on August 7


I could see putting the Geto Boys or Esham on that list, but Public Enemy, word?

Eh, this is like the mid '90s, when Geto Boys had not yet attained "classic" status and seemed sort of old and lame in the wake of The Chronic. Esham I did not become aware of until much later, and really only know as a proto Insane Clown Posse figure, if he is something else, which I am both too old to have fallen for, and, even in my most vulgarian phases, would have seemed like a "pulling the wings off of insects" kind of interest I am pretty sure. All the acts I mentioned would've, for instance, been in the same back-of-Thrasher-Magazine tshirt ad, so there's that kind of unifier... Apolitical or ideologically contradictory though always adversarial syncretism was kind of a defining feature of that era of skate/punk culture as I remember it... and then it got all fratty and turned into Vice.
posted by batfish at 7:37 PM on August 7


Loathe as I am to link to Lambgoat from this site, this seems worth presenting in light of the discussion of past mistakes: The writer who went after Dragonforce yesterday for their "racist, homophobic past" used to handle PR for Anal C*nt.

As usual, don't read the comments.
posted by Existential Dread at 8:35 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


others saw a literary assault dripping with righteous indignation.

I suppose that's one way to describe an extremely laidback interview that concludes with the radical idea that maybe we should be aware of bands we like heiling hitler
posted by Greg Nog at 1:38 PM on August 8 [3 favorites]


Look at the bandmate of Vicotnik of Dødheimsgard and Ved Buens Ende in his newest band (NM) if you'd like a far more egregious example (hint). No need to even mention that band for google.
posted by ersatz at 2:02 PM on August 8


For those still looking for examples of recanting of Nazi politics by early Scandinavian black metal figures, this one by Gaahl from Gorgoroth and Wardruna is the one that always sticks with me. It isn't exactly dripping with contrition, but it strikes me as an honest and clear-eyed explanation of why things were the way they were for him, and why they're not now.

It's enough, anyway, to allow me to listen to Wardruna without feeling like a great, steaming turd.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 3:19 PM on August 8


Anal Cunt did release the 5643 song EP. So, they will always have that.
posted by josher71 at 6:43 AM on August 9


I suppose that's one way to describe an extremely laidback interview

I read that as "Laibach interview" and I was all like "Someone else has heard of Laibach?!?!?"
posted by DWRoelands at 8:50 AM on August 13 [3 favorites]


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