Is the Black Metal Band Marduk NSBM (National Socialist Black Metal)?

Marduk is a black metal band that formed in Sweden in 1990, releasing their first album Dark Endless in 1992; their latest album Viktoria is their fourteenth LP to be released. Two years ago, in early 2017, their show in Oakland was cancelled by the venue to prevent a local anti-fascist group from violence after they reportedly threatened the venue staff. This was due to accusations that Marduk promotes racism and fascism. Is this accusation true?

Nationalist Socialist Black Metal, or NSBM, is a subclass of black metal that promotes Nazism. They use Nazi symbols in their artwork and promote Nazism in their lyrics. Bands like М8Л8ТХ, Goatmoon, Der Stürmer, Stahlfront, Sunwheel, Absurd, and Dark Fury are all known for being NSBM bands. What ties NSBM bands together is, obviously, their sympathies with Nazism. But another thing that tends to tie them together is paganism. The Nazis were known to emphasize the pagan roots of the Germanic people, making paganism an important aspect of understanding Nazism as a philosophy.

Marduk, on the other hand, is a strictly Satanic band.

Many NSBM types reject Satanism because it is still a Christian mythology. One can see the overt Satanism in Marduk’s lyrics, even in what could be construed as Nazi-themed songs. For instance, in the song “Panzer Division Marduk” from the album of the same name (emphases added):

Black, fearsome and grim and mighty
Panzer division Marduk rolls over enemy land
Striking hard and fast against your lines
We blow your fortress into sand

The victory is Satan’s but the battle is ours
We avenge you for centuries of rape, murder and theft
Behold the power of our killing machine
There’ll be nothing but dust when the vultures have left

Forged in the essence of the unholy flames
By the first angel once fallen from the skies
The war hounds of hell can’t be stopped on our march
To extinguish the goodness and lies

Panzer division Marduk continues its triumphant crusade
Against Christianity and your worthless humanity

Aside from the obvious shock value of calling themselves a panzer division, there is little pro-Nazi sentiments in these lyrics. Another song, called “The Blond Beast” could be construed as being about Reinhard Heydrich, the high-ranking German SS officer and a principle architect of the Holocaust.

Blackest shadow full of death
The Blond beast comes marching in
Sender of fear and abhorrence rise
Through clouds of ash and decay
Black birds of carrion follow
He comes to fill the graveyards up
Setting sails towards your last mask
Through bleeding wounds yet to come

The gentle touch of violin strings
The crows of death and ashes sing
… the Blond beast

Enraptured wolf-packs high on blood
Bohemia, Moravia
A funeral nation with a funeral urge
Local morale pulverized
None dare to raise a hand
Exile revolt – nails of doom
Protectorate within your grasp
All opposition erased

The gentle touch of violin strings
The crows of death and ashes sing
Gently caressed by Azrael’s wings …the Blond beast

The gentle touch of violin strings
The crows of death and ashes sing …the Blond beast

There is nothing in these lyrics that claim to be pro Holocaust or championing Heydrich. Indeed, there could be an alternative interpretation of the lyrics. The term “blond beast” goes back to Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morals. Nietzsche defined the blonde beast thus:

At the centre of all these noble races the beast of prey, the splendid blond beast avidly prowling around for spoil and victory; this hidden centre needs release from time to time, the beast must out again, must return to the wild – Roman, Arabian, Germanic, Japanese nobility, Homeric heroes, Scandinavian Vikings – in this requirement they are all alike. (p. 23, emphasis added)

This sounds exactly like what the lyrics above were discussing. The important thing, though, is that Nietzsche defines the “splended blond beast” as “Roman, Arabian, Germanic, Japanese nobility, Homeric heroes, Scandinavian Vikings” which do not all sound like Hitler’s Aryan people.

And, of course, here is Marduk playing the song “The Blond Beast” in Tel Aviv, Israel, a decidedly anti-Nazi crowd:

Marduk do use a lot of World War II references and imagery in their music and artwork. This much cannot be denied. And, in the usual shocking black metal style, they emphasize the German side of the conflict. This can be seen in a song like Afrika:

Futile struggle – an ocean of merciless sand
Invincible waves of fleas and flies
Iron nights and days of steel – at any cost shall we make them bleed
The tanks roll forward in Afrika – Afrika

Desert fox versus desert rats
A march through endless clouds of dust
Scorched iron oasis – desert blitz – Afrika – Afrika

Fever, cramps and diarrhea – as easy as 1 2 3
All that matters is crushing the enemy
Entangling arm of death – 88’s coughing mortal breath
The tanks roll forward in Afrika – Afrika

Shell after shell over bone-dry plains
The star of Afrika descends into flames
Underrated – shallow stony graves – Afrika – Afrika

Counterattack – bleeding dry – Afrikakorps – outnumbered
Forcing the fox in retreat – fighting force collapse
Now facing the long road back

Tripoli, Benghazi – Stukas pounding tirelessly
Deafening explosions keeps the pace
Tobruk captured and painted red – El Alamein ahead
The tanks roll forward in Afrika – Afrika

Sand and drought flavored killing spree
The smell of palm trees and gasoline
No more retreat, only defeat – Afrika – Afrika – Afrika – Afrika

These lyrics take the point of view of Erwin Rommel (the desert fox as he was known by his enemies) during the North African part of World War II. However, in reading the lyrics, it seems like it is a much more historical look at the conflict rather than one taking a pro-Nazi stance.

I do have to admit some bias here. I like the band Marduk, but I hate Nazis, so I have a personal interest in wanting Marduk not to be NSBM. So, perhaps, this post was mostly a way for me to rationalize and justify continuing to listen to this band. What do you readers think of my analysis here?

5 thoughts on “Is the Black Metal Band Marduk NSBM (National Socialist Black Metal)?

  1. Marduk is certainly not NSBM in my opinion…. but like many other bands is banking on people like you giving them the benefit of the doubt for having WW2 motifs and “historical lyrics”. Sounds a little bit like apologism on your end. And that they need defending. Like why don’t these lads have songs about having their homes burned by the wehrmacht from a Russian perspective (Stalengrad) or being forced to reckon with post-war come-uppings for being Nazi sympathizers in Holland or for being one such Arab “desert rat” being forced into SS conscription? Certainly sounds curiously one-sided….

    These guys weren’t always like this. Opus Nocturne and Those of the Unlight are great satanic bm forays. But this Panzer Division opportunism….I guess they do a better job smokescreening their DI6 styled Nazi fetishism, but they don’t approach the topic with any iota of critical thinking – it’s middle school book report dross much like their current output (Opus Nocturne and Those of the Unlight still gets a shout out), so who are they appealing to, exactly?

    1. I agree that there may be some apologism on my part. As I said in the main article, I admit to bias: I enjoy Marduk’s music, but I do not enjoy Nazis, so I may very well be just attempting to justify listening to their music to myself.

      As for why Marduk makes songs that take on the point of view of the Germans in WWII, I would imagine is more for the shock value. It would be more interesting, I would agree, if they talked about other aspects of the war – there would certainly be plenty of shock value to talking about atrocities in the USSR or in China from the Russian or Chinese points of view.

  2. Hmm having just found black metal and i hate the scene being plagued by fucking nazi’s.. Before i start to listen new bands i try to find out if they are connected to NSBM-scene and if they are i dont even start to listen. I am fiercely anti-rasist and anti-fascist though i am satanist but imho i dont think satanism has room for rasism. Hate yes but rasism no. Being a satanist means that you dare to hate your enemies but i dont think you can label any race or colour your enemies. Creeds yes but skin colour or sexual orientation? NO! But to the point i also noticed this about Marduk that they are using war parafinalia and they have written songs from nazi-perspective but is that enough for me to think they are nazi’s themselves. No but it cast’s some doubt and a shadow on their music a long smelling shadow. More to the point i think that every reasonable person who isnt a rasist and he gets accused of being a rasist he should publicly disawov that lie! I think that being rasist is so fucking appalling that even a satanist shouldnt be afraid to speak out for rasism. So i wont listen to Marduk until after the fact they give some sort of statement regarding accusations and i think im not alone as Black Metal fans we have responsibility to the genre to try to further the cause and try to make it better and this is not achieved if we are labeled nazi’s. And this in my opinion is a great shame in BM circles…

  3. Yeah, I would much rather have an honest assessment if Marduk are neo-Nazis or not. I am enjoying the tunes, too, but I want to know the truth not some self-justifying story. I guess I have to go elsewhere for that.

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