There are a few misconceptions floating around Neckbeard Deathcamp—the internet’s favorite anti-fascist black metal phenomenon—that the pseudonymous rabble-rousers behind it would like to clear up. Firstly, the band’s debut, White Nationalism is for Basement Dwelling Losers, has garnered criticism for its sloppy, Proclamation-with-more-distortion-somehow recording quality; however, as guitarist and principal songwriter Superkommando Uberweinerschnitzel explains, that was intentional. The album is supposed to sound like a lo-fi war metal pastiche, because that’s exactly what it is.
“This was originally supposed to just be a one and done joke side project release, so the fact that anyone takes it seriously is both cool and weird to me,” Superkommando says. “I think many people overlook that the music itself is also a parody, and not just the imagery. I agree with the people that say it’s shitty generic black metal, because I purposely played sloppy, E-standard tuning, generic guitar riffs to parody how terrible NSBM bands sound. I was kind of annoyed at how successful this thing became because of the minimal effort.”
Indeed, the self-proclaimed “fedora-crushing militant black metal” project (whose three members are spread across various undisclosed locations in the United States) kicked up a veritable firestorm with their debut, which was graced with white nationalist-skewering imagery and which vocalist and visual propaganda creator Kriegmeister Hatestürm describes as “the shitpost heard ‘round the world.” Prosthetic Records were certainly listening—the independent metal label signed the band and reissued White Nationalism is for Basement Dwelling Losers within weeks of it surfacing on Bandcamp.
Learning the intention behind the music’s genesis makes the joke even funnier, especially since quite a lot of people, myself included, actually appreciate the way it sounds. There’s just something about crappy, clumsy raw black metal that lights up the pleasure centers in my lizard brain, and I was delighted to come across some purveyors of the sound who actually had something to say, instead of murmuring some tired bullshit about trees or Norse mythology.
Neckbeard Deathcamp also wields that message like a cudgel. If you only listen to one song this year about drowning Richard Spencer in piss, make it this one. Songs like “Incel Warfare” and “The Fetishization ov Asian Women Despite a Demand for a Pure White Race (Outro)” illustrate the collective’s masterful grasp on the trope-filled subcultures of underground neo-fascist black metal and 4chan-based “SJW-triggering” internet trolls; their thunderous disdain for those who dwell at the crux of that Cheeto-dusted realm is a balm to the soul of anyone who’s witnessed this particular strain of edgelord scum in action.
As their lyrics and overall aesthetic suggest, at least one member of Neckbeard Deathcamp (if not more) is both Extremely Online and fluent in Reddit-nurtured, alt-right-tinged Kekspeak, which adds a surrealist element to their gleefully violent, half-deranged lyrical screeds against their greasy edgelord enemies.
“There’s layers and layers of memes in the lyrical content,” Hatestürm explains. “Superkommando and myself both have a pretty large online presence and a lot of friends through promoting music in other projects. A lot of my friends already come to my page—the whole running joke is that I’ve become the antifa social justice supersoldier from the Internet—and Superkommando’s thing is that he’s in a lot of bands, so he has a lot of traction in a lot of communities. Reddit played a very large role in this whole thing, too; we’re on the third page for top of all time metal posts on /shreddit, right behind the death of Jeff Hanneman!”
Meme culture infuses every aspect of the band’s aesthetic, enough so that the more esoteric references fly straight over most people’s heads, and even the more recognizable ones can cause confusion. After music writer Laina Dawes questioned the band’s intentions in putting rapper Rick Ross’s face on their stickers, pointing out that that using Black images ironically within the context of a scene that has long struggled with racism and inclusion isn’t really that funny, I asked Hatestürm for clarification.
"I’m actually quite open to criticism in our shit, as long as it's constructive; if your goal is to help us fashion a more capable sword to drive into the alt-right, I'd love to talk shop,” he told me. “I admit certainly the Rick Ross skull wasn’t a particularly considered symbol, as it was fashioned during a time in which the whole thing was really just meant as a joke for our friends. It's a pun on Blasphemy's Ross Bay Cult records as much as it’s a joke about putting Rick ‘The Boss’ Ross on some shit to make fun of racist nerds, as he is certainly everything that they are not [laughs]. So yeah, it's a little ignorant, and I will bow to anyone's claims about that being an ugly thing to do, but it would be nice to walk with a certain amount of good faith from our allies that everything we do is directly set to destroy the far right, and by putting our bodies directly in harm’s way with this, that we mean fucking business.”
Hatestürm continues:“I'm not willing to endorse everything about the guy, but Rick does seem like the kind of person who wouldn't send us a cease-and-desist letter if he didn't like us. He seems like the type to show up and beat our asses. And that's a thing I like."
Dank memes and decapitated Pepes aside, the intolerance for the fascist creep that Neckbeard Deathcamp preaches is very real. As Hatestürm howls on “Zyklon /b/,” “May every coward who takes power in finding edge on fascist razors be crushed under the very boots they sought to wear […] May every last second of the end of your life be a thousand years in agony, you spineless worthless sacks of shit/ Grind your corpses to dust and piss in the urns / Fuck you forever.”
Despite all the goofy imagery and cries of “gimmick,” as far as Hatestürm is concerned, this is war—and the band's modus operandi for waging that war is turning the logic of the alt right, with its logic that its targets are "too" sensitive, on its head.
“You have women and femmes and people of color who trust you to put them in spaces in which they’re not going to be directly harmed, and you have all these losers like Goatmoon and Absurd who go out and end up doing it—all that shit translates to violence,” Hatestürm says. “All the language translates to violence, all the jokes translate to violence; rape jokes translate to violence, racial slurs translate to violence. All these guys are like, ‘Lol, fuck you and your feelings,’ until you start picking at something that’s actually hurt them. Clearly in our regard, making fun of people for being a bunch of fucking basement weebs has worked, but if somebody else starts a band about high school parents’ divorces, watch kids come crawling out of the woodwork and start talking shit about that. It’s all ‘lol funny’ when it doesn’t hurt you.”
As drummer Hailz Komradez says, most black metal musicians and fans are not bad people at all, and are just as frustrated with this reactionary garbage as the rest of us. “There is just, unfortunately, a small sect of people within the black metal community who have a very misinformed and unacceptable set of ideals,” he explains. “This results in a negative, and to outsiders, cringey and almost satirical, image for black metal as a whole. NS cannot be accepted in the black metal community, or in any other community.”
In a recent interview with writer (and Noisey contributor) Kelsey Zimmerman, the band also denied having an explicit antifa affiliation, which surprised me as well as others on the left who’d welcomed the band’s rise; from their lyrics and my own conversations with the band’s members, I’d have expected them to say quite the opposite. When I emailed Hatestürm following our initial interview for clarification, he told me that it was sort of a joke response, lampooning the way that certain black metal bands, like Marduk or Taake, vehemently deny having any right-wing political affiliations, while openly (or more clandestinely) flaunting said affiliations.
“The anti-fascist effort has always employed a diversity of tactics, ”he wrote. “Antifa(tm) certainly has my open and ongoing support, but [Neckbeard Deathcamp] itself has no way of effectively participating in the street aspect of things, which I think eliminates our ability to be ‘Antifa(tm).’ As individuals, we are afforded more diverse pursuits along these lines. I protest constantly, I work with plenty of anti-fascist organizations, I've punched a shitload of racists in the head, and I am also hugely in favor of deplatforming. Clearly, it's all working. I haven't seen Richard Spencer crawl out into the light in months, and, frankly, I am impressed by how often a bunch of loser fucking nerds who pride themselves on being "big tuff metal dudes" and "anti-safe space" fold like Play-Doh at the slightest threat. Just call us the antifa Peste Noire.”
Superkommando describes himself as left-leaning, and supports the band’s message, anti-fascist black metal as a whole, and radical movements to fight oppression of any kind. However, unlike his bandmate, he says he has no personal affiliation with any specific groups, and professes more of an interest in local politics than in militant anti-fascist action.
“Honestly, for me, I think the majority of NSBM musicians and the music itself is garbage, politics aside,” he says. “I’m frankly tired of unempathetic losers playing the style of music I love. I’m tired of being told I should give an artistic pass to people who think that certain family members and friends of mine are subhuman and should be executed. They are garbage human beings, and we are here to make a statement about it.”
These sentiments are shared by a number of other extreme metal bands, black metal and otherwise, but few rep them as stridently as Gaylord, a UK-based black metal project that we featured earlier this summer. According to Superkommando, it was a total no-brainer for them to collaborate with Richard “Pope Richard” Weeks on their first post- White Nationalism release, a split EP called United Antifascist Evil that we’re streaming here.
“I am super excited to work with Neckbeard Deathcamp on United Antifascist Evil, Weeks told Noisey via email. “We have forged a handful of diabolical tunes to help in the quest of annihilating the right through sonic torment. Whether committing direct action on the streets or making Rob Darken memes at 3AM, this is the perfect soundtrack to accompany you on dismantling the right.”
Gaylord contributed two tracks—”The Alt-reich Will Lay in Mass Graves Under the Blazing Banners of Antifa” and “Growing Cold in the Early December Dawn”—to match Neckbeard Deathcamp’s trio of offerings: “White Genocide,” “Nightcore Covers of Peste Noire Songs,” and “Chrischan Conservatism.” They’ll be releasing the album on Bandcamp as a pay-what-you-want download, and all proceeds from digital sales will be donated to Planned Parenthood. According to Hatestürm, “White Genocide” is about “strangling a certain alt-reich figurehead in a grocery store parking lot.”
So now that they’ve got all this momentum rolling, what’s their end game? How sustainable is a project like this? Is Neckbeard Deathcamp a flash in the pan, or the future of black metal?
Given that they’ve recently signed to Prosthetic Records, completely sold out of physical copies of their debut, confirmed a vinyl re-release, and—despite having yet to play live—been added to Stygian Rites Fest in Rapid City, SD as well as the 2019 edition of Maryland Deathfest, the largest and most prestigious metal festival in North America, their particular militant campaign is showing no signs of slowing down.
“We are not a political label, yet we live in trying political times,” Prosthetic co-founder EJ Johantgen told Noisey when we reached out about the band’s signing. “It just so happens that some of the most exciting creativity in metal is coming from bands who are comfortable enough to speak out against what is unjust, or, more importantly, tyranny. That bravery is the true sign of being a real artist. They are dangerous. Metal should be dangerous.”
Their MDF announcement was met with a predictable round of bellyaching from reactionary Facebook metal crybabies, but clearly the organizers saw something special there. It’s notoriously difficult to get booked for MDF unless theorganizers are fans of your band, but as Hailz says, “We just emailed them!” He also promises that “This will be a hell of a live show, with wicked blasts and lots of anti-fascist propaganda—and as far as the shittier corners of metal go, ‘talk shit, get hit’ is I'm going to say.”
As the Neckbeard Deathcamp war machine continues to grind on, the inadvertent leftist metal heroes behind it are doing their best to stay grounded, and to avoid being pigeonholed by their blockbuster first release. They told me they’ve got several other top-secret collaborations in the works, and, as Superkommando tells me, once the band does kick off their next phases as a live (and potentially touring) entity, they don’t even want to play anything off White Nationalism is for Basement Dwelling Losers.
“My hope is to show that this project, while initially just a one-time joke, is no longer such,” he explains. “We want to put on a good show and play a bunch of new music and just do our thing. The new stuff we are working on is way more fun musically, and I think a lot more people will enjoy it. We shifted gears to a more "serious" black/death metal type sound; lyrically and thematically, the songs are still reminiscent of White Nationalism, but I really only consider this a small taste in the evolution of our sound. We found our way into this business, and we aren't going to be seeing ourselves out of it anytime soon. The plan is to keep this steamroller going as long as possible until our enemies are decimated.”
For his part, Hatestürm leaves us with a warning.
“On the second [album], we fully intend to ratchet up the cruelty,” he says. “It’s only going to get worse from here.”
Kim Kelly is an editor at Noisey and metal's well-meaning antifa big sister on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on Noisey US.