To Hell And Back is a weekly column in which Noisey metal editor and lifelong hesher Kim Kelly explores the extreme metal underground and recommends her latest faves.
Usually when I sit down to write this column, it takes me a little bit of time to come up with an appropriate theme, or to think up something personal (but not too personal) way to interrogate metal culture, or to pinpoint which current wave of metal drama is worth dissecting. This week, though, there’s been so much going on that I can’t even narrow it down past a trio of big happenings—so let’s dive into all three of them, shall we?
First, this is technically something I’d planned to cover last week. Blackened Death Records (which is headed up by Gaylord’s Richard “Pope Richard” Weekes, who we featured recently) dropped the second installment of their W.O.M.A.N. (Worldwide Organization of Metalheads Against Nazis) compilation. The comp features “three hours of antifascist audio destruction,” and 100 percent of all sales are being donated to Doctors Without Borders. The tracklist is wild, too—literally dozens of bands are involved, from bigger names (Ghoul, Jucifer, Immortal Bird, Neckbeard Deathcamp) to Noisey faves like Hellripper, Redbait, Libtrigger, Void Ritual, and Twilight Fauna, as well as many, many more, all of whom came together here to stand up against the toxic fascist elements in our scene.
Leading off with Ghoul’s “Nazi Smasher,” W.O.M.A.N. II (as well as its predecessor) is an essential addition to your record collection. More of this in metal, please.
Secondly, a whoooooole load of bullshit just went down in North Jersey this past weekend, courtesy of the club Dingbatz and promoter Kyle “KEP” Powell. Powell (who also plays in death metal band Engorge and earnestly refers to himself as a “NecroBlackDeath Machine”) invited multiple known anti-Semitic, white supremacist, fascist bands to play an event called Vengeance Fest III on October 20th at the Clifton, NJ venue. In anticipation of the show, Powell posted an image of a "fest exclusive" Intolitarian shirt that showed the bloody face of an Orthodox Jewish man with the text "Israelite: Parasite" (he later deleted the post).
When concerned locals contacted the club’s owner, Frank Barnes, to complain, the club hastily cancelled the appearance of three bands—Intolitarian (fronted by Satanic Skinhead Propaganda owner Antichrist Kramer), Nyogthaeblisz (who are perhaps best known for being kicked off Chaos in Tejas festival as well as multiple other shows up and down the East Coast), and Northern (formerly known as Cold Northern Vengeance)—and issued a public apology on Facebook. However, all three bands played anyway, which means that either the venue lied, or made a conscious decision to go back on their word and let these bands have their way. Nyogthaeblisz are known for pulling this kind of stunt—they snuck onstage at cancelled shows in Philadelphia and in Brooklyn last year, the weekend after a neo-Nazi drove a car into a crowd of protestors, murdering one and injuring dozens more. (It seems pretty weak and petty to me to insist on playing somewhere you’re not wanted, but what do I know, I’m certainly not their target audience).
Barnes explained his justification to allow known fascists to play the venue he personally owns in familiar terms. “You get put in a no-win situation in whatever you do here,” he told NorthJersey.com. “Being an owner of the club you look at it as freedom of speech. When does the censorship issue come in and where does it escalate from here?” Because apparently, the Founding Fathers were extremely concerned with the future “right” for some subpar black metal jagoffs to be paid to play in front of a paying audience in a privately-held venue. By now, “free speech” has become a right-wing dog-whistle for “I want to be an asshole without suffering any consequences for my actions,” so that seems to cover his view here quite nicely.
For context, this is the entirety of the text of the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” That’s it. I’m trying to find the part where it asserts that racists must legally be given public platforms in order to do racism. Maybe I need to get my eyes checked?
Powell’s justification was, "It’s a black metal show so black metal deals with evil and doom and various things of that nature," which is so sad and dorky I’m not even going to address it beyond saying that black metal—and black metal fans who aren’t complete bootlicking boneheads—deserve better. I am so fucking tired of this shit, honestly. Stop being pathetic little babies, accept that most people don’t want anything to do with you or your mediocre riffs, and go jerk off together somewhere poorly heated, you fascist shitbags.
Metalheads who aren’t complete racist dumpster sludge aren’t “offended” by how cool and edgy and “dangerous” these bands are; they’re sick of their temper tantrums and aren’t interested in watching them vomit out a somehow even shittier version of Richard Spencer’s lamest fever dream. Calling people “SJWs” for pointing out how widely unpopular your bigoted shtick is may make you feel better, but makes you look like even more of a forum-hugging pissbaby; from what I’ve read in various subterranean comment sections, I thought metal was supposed to be about strength and discipline, not safe spaces? Seems like these bands found a cozy little safe space at Dingbatz. Less of this in metal, for fuck’s sake.
One bright spot this week came from an unexpected source—Melissa Moore, who most people in metal world know better as Vis Crom, the unbelievably talented lead guitarist of Texas black metal institution Absu. Incensed by the Trump administration’s cruel, inhumane, and utterly misguided quest to erase legal recognition for the 1.4 million transgender Americans currently living under its draconian rule, Moore—who is a trans woman—posted on Facebook urging people to vote out the “Republican scum” in November 6’s midterm elections.
“I intend to be a knife to the throat of these evangelical scum, but I can’t fight alone,” she wrote. “We are all on the same team. Sex, Drinks, and Metal for life!!! 666” (which now stands as the single most badass Sarcofago reference of all time). On a personal note, Melissa and I have been friends for over a decade, and I’m so proud of her for speaking her truth and standing up against transphobic bullshit.
If you want a picture of a true metal warrior, it’s not some bigoted jabroni in stage makeup and mall sunglasses— it’s someone like Melissa, who shreds hard and fights even harder to make the world better for heshers of every stripe (except the Nazis; now, as always, fuck the Nazis).
Speaking of which, one of my favorite new-ish releases this week comes courtesy of Nazi Killer. Check out their latest below, as well as a heap of other dope records from nice people. I couldn't figure out how to embed the new Bonedust record, but it's streaming here and is fuckin' terrifying in the best possible way (which is wholly unsurprising, given that it's coming from Pippi Zornoza of Worms in Women and Cattle and Chrissy of Assembly of Light Choir).
I'd be stoked on Nazi Killer's over-the-top, insanely aggressive powerviolence no matter what the Leicester outfit decided to call themselves, but the fact that they're called Nazi Killer really is the icing on the cake here. Total support, 666%.
Glacial Tomb contains members of various other notable bands (hi, Khemmis!), but on the Denver trio's first proper full-length, they prove that they're more than capable of standing on their own two (well, six) feet and carving out a niche of their own within the extreme metal pantheon. Glacial Tomb never shies away from melody and clearly puts a lot of thought into their actual songwriting, but the project's major focus is on churning out the most punishing blackened death possible. In short, this shit rips. (I'll also always love them for giving the world a nasty black metal cover of "Fuck Nazi Sympathy").
This Manchester collective were just announced for this year's edition of Roadburn— a huge get for any band, let alone one that's been flying under the radar in a purposefully mysterious sort of way. Their stridently percussive take on post-everything heaviness straddles the line in the shifting sands between post-metal, post-rock, shoegaze, doom, prog and whatever Neurosis is, indulging in meandering, wistful melodies and outre elements whenever the mood strikes.
Portland, OR's Holy Grove's spin on stoner doom overflows with warmth, purpose, and spacey vibes. It feels cozy, and organic, the kind of thing you'd want to throw on your record player while curled up under a ratty old blanket with someone you love and a few nips of good scotch. This week, we're premiering "Cosmos," the album centerpiece that stretches past 12 minutes, and sees Holy Grove vocalist Andrea Vidal trade off with YOB's Mike Scheidt in a beautifully doomy duet. It's taken off their upcoming LP, Holy Grove II, which drops November 9 via Ripple Music
Icelandic black metal remains one of the genre's most compelling geographical entities, but there's much to be said for the isoilated island's death metal offerings, as well; Narthraal have been holding it down on the brutal end since 2012, and their newest material sees them incorporate some unexpectedly doomy and blackened elements into their deathly core. Death metal in general has been getting demonstrably weirder and more progressive, and I'm quite interested to see where they take this.
Whew bud, these dudes are pissed. Culled hurl out bottom-heavy, noisy, hardcore-saturated sludge that serves as a perfect vehicle for their spitting-mad screeds against society's ills, explicitly calling out nationalism and identitarianism for the scourges they are. (They also fuck with Chomsky, which is always a plus in my book). The Alberta, Canada quartet latest record, Thin The Herd, Fail To Learn, drops October 26 via Hibernation Release.
Brazilian super lo-fi anarchist black metal with an explicitly pro-LGBTQ, pro-IRPGF, pro-Rojava revolution, anti-racist bent—honestly, what's not to love?
Kim Kelly is Noisey's resident heavy metal buzzkill; follow her on Twitter if you dare.