Horna, a Finnish black metal band, is set to bring their tour through Laguna Niguel on Thursday night, that is if protesters don’t get it canned first. A social media campaign is whipping people up to blitz the Karman Bar in Laguna Niguel with calls demanding the venue nix Horna’s headlining show. The tactic worked in other tour stops along the way amid a controversy, not over the band’s professed satanism but two of its members’ documented ties with the National Socialism Black Metal (NSBM) movement–yes, that’s a thing.
Five days ago, an article on the “MetalSucks” website sounded an alarm on Horna just before the beginning of their U.S. tour. It drew attention to guitarist Shatraug and singer Spellgoth for their “strong” NSBM ties. In making the case, writer Axl Rosenberg revisited Shatraug’s previous black metal band Blutschrei and now-defunct Finnish record labor Grievantee Productions.
With Blutschrei, Shatraug lent his guitar talents to the band’s 2006 album The Voice of Forbidden Pride with quaint songs like “White Agony.” The lyrics of another beamed, “Let us take the course of time / And turn our heads toward / The rising of a better Reich.” Sure, nothing fashy there! If that ain’t enough for convincing, Greivantee Productions, under Shatraug’s ownership, also distributed NSBM bands before folding in 2012 like Kristallnacht, named for the Jewish pogrom in Nazi Germany that became the symbolic beginning of the Holocaust. Another distributed band, Hammer, proudly displayed a swastika on its logo.
Anti-fascists are also highlighting Spellgoth’s keyboard duties in another band Peste Noire (Black Plague), which describes itself politically as “French nationalist” and even “right-wing anarchist.” But the band’s logo is a not-so-subtle riff off of White Aryan Resistance’s one. The cover art for Peste Noire’s latest album also features a despicable blackface display.
Horna chose softer words when addressing the cover on social media in response to a comment. “This ‘art’ is ridiculous,” the band wrote. “While it tries to be satire with [band founder] Famine portraying himself on both sides it has nothing to do with Horna. Obviously Spellgoth did his guest recording long before any layout was made.” Satire? Sure…
Other album art includes more blackface, only this time with a noose and a Klan hood.
It appears the show will go on, despite howls of protest. “The Karman bar does not support hate or racism of any kind, nor do we take sides on political agendas or propaganda of any kind,” reads a statement provided to the Weekly on behalf of the venue. “We do not engage in discussions about politics or religion in the bar industry for any reason. This is about music. We do support free speech and creative expression and we will continue to host entertainment of all creeds, colors and ideologies.”
In response to the campaign to cancel shows, Horna also put out a statement on its official Facebook page on Sunday. “Horna has never been and never will be anything but Satanic Black Metal,” it reads. “We judge every man and woman only by their demeanor, not by their race or sexual preference. We have zero interest in politics, left or right.”
In a past interview on a blog, Shatraug carefully chose his words when asked what NSBM means to Horna. “Most of it are crappy drum programmed bedroom projects…No support for bands like that.”
But the controversy that hounds Horna ain’t new. It’s followed the band in Europe for years. In 2010, Horna put out a much more defiant defense ahead of a slew of shows that got challenged on similar grounds. “A big fuck off to Antifa and their fascist intolerant propaganda,” the statement read. “We are satanist, religious, devil-worshiping, alcohol-consuming occult bastards and our band has NOTHING to do with NS.”
Napalm Death pulled out of Blastfest, a Norway festival, in 2016 when Peste Noire got announced as an act on the bill. Pressure from antifa eventually got the band booted from the festival by organizers. When that happened, Horna quit Blastfest in solidarity with Peste Noire.
The show at Karman Bar isn’t listed on the venue’s website, but an event page on social media continues to promote it. Stay classy, Laguna Niguel!
Updated with statement from the Karman Bar
Gabriel San Román is from Anacrime. He’s a journalist, subversive historian and the tallest Mexican in OC. He also once stood falsely accused of writing articles on Turkish politics in exchange for free food from DönerG’s!