The Coming Translation of “As Wolves Among Sheep”: A History of National Socialist Black Metal
The English translation of As Wolves Among Sheep provoked a few anxious emails from the editors at CVLT Nation. If you didn’t know, CVLT Nation is against Nazism. I was proposing to report on the National Socialist Black Metal history book. To be clear, I am against Nazism, and I do not consider myself neo-pagan and heathen – just a black metal fan. CVLT Nation should’ve been worried, because what I read and cannot reprint (due to the publisher’s behest) was fraught with fandom’s blind adoration.
The Italian publisher, Tsunami Edizioni, specializing in rock literature on Rage Against the Machine and Scorpions, published As Wolves Among Sheep dryly in 2013. Bolzer’s tattoos were more controversial.
Max Ribaric has written the history of neo-folkies Blood Axis, Days of Blood, while David Maspero is a graphic designer, and both publish the long-running Occidental Congress zine. They’re concerned with a genre that tools with ambiguity. Reporting on Blood Axis clarifies a strain. If they’re not advocates, they’re still into some troublesome music.
And it is Michael Moynihan of Blood Axis who wrote the popular black metal history, Lords of Chaos.
Maspero and Ribaric’s translation signals a reappearance of National Socialist thought in English-reading countries, specifically the United States. This produces an acute anxiety. Americans have never encountered a nationwide movement from the extreme right, nothing like France’s National Front. We placidly hem and haw at the sight of a swastika.
In a genre that means to offend, this offense overpowers American black metal, its morality in anti-moral music, which has composed songs that avoid race and nation, unlike its European brethren. As Wolves Among Sheep is a foothold for those ideas to permeate passive fans.
Tsunami Edizioni sell Maspero and Ribaric as observers. It’s unclear whether the authors are against Nazism. Already, that stance is doomed to assent.
Objectivity wanes in the prose. Maspero and Ribaric’s account of the Polish scene with the lax use of words like “strength” and “purity.” The amount of care that the subject requires to remain “objective” and distanced is not printed. The observers are fans.
The scanned reproductions of the book depict chapters on Absurd, Spear of Longinus and Der Sturmer, the scenes in Germany, Russia, and America, opposed by one chapter on red and anarchist black metal, all beginning with the acclaimed inventors Poland’s Lord of Evil and their 1993 demo, In Nomine Rex Infernus. There are over five hundred pages on this seeming niche, really a large minority.
The title’s “As” indicates a double comparison. NSBM is composed by wolves in a genre of sheep that only appears as the former. The title signals the extremity of NSBM in the genre. Like Norway’s burst of violence, you’ll read of the Sandro Beyer’s murder and the Temple of Fullmoon.
For the Polish scene, the authors repeatedly conclude that few stayed with NSBM. They grew tired of that extremity, then rejected it. Though Behemoth never ventured so far, Nergl was a despised rejecter in Poland’s Evil Pagan Black Metal.
The phase, with its usage of “pagan,” is key to musicians’ ability to sidestep their inclusion in NSBM – as the publisher made clear, “not all of them can be labeled NSBM, even if their importance within the genre is huge – think of Graveland, for example, that helped kickstart the movement but claim no affiliation with it whatsoever.” It is still the fringe on the extreme right where heathens exist unconfined by the sub-genre’s acronym. Maspero and Ribaric account for the distances NSBM has gone.
To be clear: do not read this book because NSBM suddenly appears more “kvlt.” If you’re using that word, you’re lost.
The state of the American black metal fan: love the music, but disregard the politics. Yet, the subject of NSBM is ripe. How does one learn without supporting the ideas?
As Wolves Among Sheep sets up a parameter around the subject by its being an account, an interpretation of ideas and the history of their manifestation in black metal. The mode grants distance. It is at this point the written work ceases to be propaganda and the book fails with its prose. As Wolves Among Sheep is a lesson on National Socialist Black Metal as much as it is on the care that objectivity requires in order to tell a story.
At least it reads better than Lords of Chaos.