As a longtime fan of heavy music, black metal is one of my favorite subgenres. As an activist and advocate, as well as an educator, it’s also one of the hardest music scenes to even try to defend. While the reputation of black metal speaks for itself, from its myriad portrayals and non-fiction writing about it, the scene is most commonly associated with Norway, its epicenter in its early days of the Nineties. In a country that is predominantly Christian, it therefore follows that there would be an anti-theistic uprising and a counterculture that came about, even if said counterculture got out of hand often and with brutal results.
Was this the case when black metal made it stateside, and bands began donning the corpse paint and executing the rituals as their Northern brethren did? This is one of the central questions of USBM: A Revolution of Identity in American Black Metal, a new book by longtime Decibel contributor Daniel Lake examining the American black metal movement, namely its shortcomings in diversity, racial tensions, and outright bigotry.
To sum up the excerpt, which will be linked below, old habits die hard. Playing around with Nazi imagery and ideology for show eventually radicalized some of the players, leading to an uptick in hostility and white male fragility within the scene. While there is an argument that the genre is a hateful one at its core, and even with the anti-Christian roots taken into account, it can also be said that his hatefulness is taken to gross extremes, be it overtly (violence and murder) or more subtly (anti-Black messages, white power symbols and gestures).
See the book trailer below: