Sometimes social justice warrior database Metal-Archives decried the antifascist attack on the Canadian black metal festival Messe des Morts on the Metal-Archives Facebook page. Even the whining neo-liberals are ticked about actual Communists ruining their festival experience. Éric Sédition, one of the leaders of the Montreal antifascists terrorists, is a confirmed member of the Industrial Workers of the World according to his Twitter. The IWW wish to establish a new socialist world order to supplant capitalism.
In light of the extremely poor and misinformed media coverage regarding Messe des Morts Festival, we would like to address the situation. The festival, artists, attendees, and promoter have been misrepresented greatly and this needs to be addressed. This was NOT a political event, and it grossly incorrect and slanderous that the Canadian media have called it fascist, white supremacist, and national socialist.
First of all, full support to Martin and Sepulchral Productions for the professional and safe handling of a world-class metal festival. It was a pleasure to attend and we must not allow debacles such as this to stop the performance and cultural celebration of metal. We will return next year.
Graveland expressed some extreme views in the past, particularly in the 1990s. The band was driven by a strong sense of self-definition, which in post-Soviet Poland was Pagan, pro-white, and nationalist. It is no coincidence that “NSBM” was born in Poland in 1991 (Graveland) and East Germany in 1992 (Absurd, who contributed lyrics to Graveland)). As times have changed, these themes have also faded from Graveland’s lyrics. Rob Darken has distanced himself from this and directly addressed this, most recently on graveland.org stating “Graveland is not NSBM” and explaining and denouncing some things from the past.
I certainly don’t expect everyone to be entirely comfortable with this, but understand the sentiment. To recant an ideology is a strong symbolic gesture. To offer the olive branch, and travel to North, South, and Central America to share this in an unambiguously non-political context is quite substantial for one of black metal’s most notable and influential bands. It is worth noting that every “accusation” against Graveland I have read/heard refers to things from over 15 years ago. The photos with Honor, the SPLC’s classification as a hate group, older lyrics, and other things. We should not think that people can not change, that their views and their world can not change. It may not be a vindictive and satisfying cleansing of the past, to a zealot, but it seems disingenuous to not acknowledge the difference between the past and now. Graveland is honoring their past by playing their early music, but they have also left behind songs like “White Hand’s Power” and “White Beasts of Wotan.” They’re not masquerading as “Graveland: Censored Edition” but they have certainly taken many turns for the better. There’s one “smoking gun” regarding the objectionable ties, and I’ve hardly seen it mentioned. That would be, of course, the fact that they reunited for a festival called Hot Shower with more than a few sketchy associations. I would not handwave that away.
Messe Des Morts is an international festival featuring bands from eight countries and three continents this year. Messe Des Morts is not a political event, which was completely and unambiguously stated by the organizers, and recognized by the attendees on the two successful days of the festival. There were no Roman salutes and no swastikas, not only by the rules, but simply because the event and attendees are not fascists. While the smoke cleared, literally, in front of the barricaded venue, I met people from many cultures and continents. Several of them were proud to speak to a television camera – without a mask – of their heritage (First Nations, Asian, Latino, and White) and disagreeing with the assertions of masked terrorists that this was a fascist event.
We shared this experience because of the metal bands we went to see. This is a gathering of cultures, and all of us who attended the festival are better for it. As an American in a foreign country for the first time, it was a great multicultural event in which I met people I never would have otherwise.
We are worse off – our society, and metal – because of those who refuse to be civilized and immediately resorted to violence. This event has been announced publicly for months. Concerns were voiced publicly, and they were also addressed unambiguously by the organizers. It was made very clear that this was not a political event, and political gestures would not be tolerated. There was little response other than violence.
Further unsettling, there were very clearly legitimate means to object to this, as MP Alexandre Boulerice was reportedly in attendance to support the “protest.” His remarks were extremely vague.
“Boulerice said he was “concerned” that groups with fascist leanings and whose members made remarks resembling “white supremacists” were in his riding.” (CBC)
“I understand that musicians are allowed to play their music but I believe that citizens who are uncomfortable with movements with ties to the extreme-right are also allowed to express their views.” (Boulerice)
Expressing their views would mean peacefully protesting like civilized people, using free speech. It does not mean resorting to threats, intimidation, and violence, such as smoke bombs, pepper spraying police and attendees, and making bomb threats, as was the case. This is not free speech; this is, in fact, stifling the free speech of others, and much closer to fascism than anything endorsed by the festival or its fans.
It is an embarrassment to Montreal that a politician did nothing to resolve this through civilized nor official means. The festival was organized legally with sufficient notice given to police. A member of parliament showed up to join a small group of violent, masked “protesters” whose actions were criminal. These actions against the public were a small act of terrorism, and it is a shame on Montreal.
(please excuse the syntax errors, this contains both a statement and a personal account, written after a long trip)
-Zodijackyl, on behalf of Encyclopaedia Metallum