(Correction 5:59pm, 4/18/19: Horna was previously reported as opening for All That Remains. They actually just had a show at the same venue on a different stage.)
In Finnish, “Horna” means ‘abyss’ or ‘hell.’
Horna is a Finnish black metal band with extensive ties to national socialist black metal (NSBM.) What is NSBM? Well, most people know “national socialists” better as Nazis.
Horna attempted to play 14 shows across the United States between March 28th and April 10th.
11 shows were cancelled.
3 shows kept the original venues.
5 shows had to change venues in the same city.
4 shows had to be moved to different cities.
2 shows didn’t find new venues.
3 shows had to change venues twice or more.
Antifascist activists and concerned music fans staged a massive call-in campaign for every venue that Horna was set to play. Heresy Labs, which describes itself as an “autonomous media project” that “monitor[s] fascist presence within cultural spaces,” lead the charge online through a massive Twitter thread that updated activists on where Horna was playing–and attempting to play. Heresy Labs provided venues’ publicly available phone numbers and locations and put promoters, Horna fans who threatened action against protestors, and even a Food Truck that catered for a show on blast.
Danger followed the shutdown campaign. Some promoters claimed call-ins included threats of arson and murder. Horna fans threatened retaliation against an antifascist metal band. Some activists LCRW spoke to had their phone numbers leaked through a venue’s caller ID system–one source saying they received a threatening call from a venue’s official phone number. Others said when they went to protest a show, they had sand thrown in their faces by fans. Businesses in downtown L.A. received warnings that protestors at Horna’s show there would be met outside by the Proud Boys. Members of fascist fight club Operation Werewolf apparently attended the Denver show. The leader of Attomwaffen Division, a Neo-Nazi terrorist network linked to at least five murders, was spotted at a show in Houston.
BLACK METAL FLY IN A WEB OF WHITE POWER CONNECTIONS
Horna formed in Finland in 1993. They were originally called Shadowed, but changed their name a year after they started playing. Like many bands, they’ve gone through multiple lineups. Their sole original member and guitarist is Ville Pystynen, who goes by the stage name Shatraug.
Pystynen said in an interview with the Canadian Assault Zine in 2006 that he was discharged from military service in Finland in 2000 after assaulting a commanding officer. Finland has compulsory military service for men.
“I was into it but at the same time I couldn’t take all the tossing around and obedience. Got a bit over-heated, used my fists against a commanding officer, out I went. Not the best end for it but at least I avoided jail which was good,” Pystynen told Canadian Assault’s Dale Roy.
Pystynen’s personal ties to NSBM are significant.
In addition to Horna, he played guitar for Blutschrei. Their lyrics from songs like “Battle for Survival” off their sole album, The Voice of Forbidden Pride” include “Let us take the course of time and turn our heads toward the rising of a better Reich.”
Pystynen also ran a now-defunct label called Grievantee Productions which signed NSBM bands like Kristallnacht, Raven Dark and Hammer. Raven Dark is a member of the Blazebirth Hall–a group of associated Pagan NSBM bands. Kristallnacht’s songs includes lyrics like “Resistance to the Z.O.G., unholy war we wage.” Z.O.G. is a common term in anti-Semitic conspiracies. It means “Zionist-Occupied Government.” Hammer’s logo has a swastika, their 2008 album “Shoax” appears to be a combination of the Hebrew word “Shoah,” which means Holocaust, and the English word “hoax” and one song on their album is titled “Nuclear War Against Israel.”
A 2017 article in the Austrian paper of record, Weiner Zeitung, said that Pystynen had ties to Nazi bands including Aryan Art, Aryan Blood, and Final Solution. Archived screenshots on a 2007 antifascist blog appear to show that Grievantee Productions sold Aryan Blood and Aryan Art CDs and tapes.
In a 2003 interview that appears in the German-language book Unholy Alliances: Black Metal between Satanism, Paganism and Neo-Nazism by Christian Dornbusch and Hans P. Killguss, Pystynen openly embraced National Socialism.
“In my opinion National Socialism means to be proud of one’s own heritage and one’s own country, to believe in one’s brothers in arms and to those values which exclude any foreign influence or religion,” Pystynen said.
Horna’s Nazi connections go well past its longest-serving member, however. Current and former members have their own ties to NSBM.
Lauri Penttilä, who’s gone by the stage names Werwolf and Nazgul von Armageddon, served as Horna’s vocalist from 1996-2001. Penttilä was also the sole member of Satanic Warmaster and had a split EP with Nazi band Aryan Blood. Satanic Warmaster’s songs include “Legion Werwolf” with the lyric “The fist of the conqueror, the hammer of our supremacy.”
Tuomas Rytkönen, aka Spellgoth, the current singer in Horna, recently joined Peste Noire, sometimes called Kommandos Peste Noire, another band with significant white nationalist ties and long-running friendships with members of Horna.
Peste Noire appears on NSBM labels like La Mesnie Herlequin and Militant Zone. The band’s first release was called Aryan Supremacy. Some of their promotional artwork shows a man in blackface with a noose around his neck held by another man in a Klan robe. Peste Noire’s logo is an almost identical copy of the logo of White Aryan Resistance–a neo-Nazi organization tied to the murderers of Mulugeta Seraw in 1988.
Peste Noire was a favorite band of members of Discord servers leaked by Unicorn Riot. One such server was the Bowl Patrol chatroom, an online meeting place for fans of bowl cut-sporting white nationalist mass murderer Dylan Roof.
In a February 2018 discussion about their favorite bands, one user told another “Glad you Pestepilled me.”
Another wrote he wanted to attend an NSBM festival in Ukraine called Asgardsrei, which Peste Noire was slated to play.
In a thread about music at the TradWorkers server for Matthew Heimbach’s now-debunked Traditionalist Worker’s Party, a user called “dd✳555” recommended Peste Noire, saying they’re “Really wonderful music based on French Nationalism.”
“NSBM is redpilled and white and brings a lot of guys in the movement, and a ton of NSBM guys are very ideological and put out great articles,” another user, “Kombat-Unit,” wrote in the thread.
“I think the problem is–really good musicians don’t want to get labeled as NS. It narrows their ability to play and record,” dd✳555 responded.
““It’s just Satanism,”” Kombat-Unit replied with apparent sarcasm, the whole sentence in quotation marks.
In a 2017 interview with NSBM label Militant Zone, Peste Noire’s frontman, Ludovic von Alst, aka Famine, said “I am a racialist, an ethno-pluralist, absolutely against race mixing, but not a supremacist.”
In the same interview, von Alst admitted to supporting the Azov Battalion–a neo-Nazi paramilitary that was officially incorporated into the Ukranian National Guard in 2014. In 2016, The UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reported that Azov forces engaged in “[m]ass looting of civilian homes” and “targeting of civilian areas between September 2014 and February 2015." In 2015, the OHCHR reported they allegedly tortured and raped a mentally disabled person and electrocuted and water-boarded a Donetsk Republic supporter. These are all war crimes.
Azov does international outreach to other white nationalist organizations through their political wing. They recruit foreign volunteer fighters, organized MMA matches with the likes of Berkeley and Charlottesville brawlers Rise Above Movement, helped organize Asgardsrei, and a key figure in their political wing is involved with the Militant Zone label.
Other links exist between Horna, their members and the world of NSBM and neo-Nazism that are beyond the scope of this article to document. Paramilitary groups like Misanthropic Division, prominent Russian NSBM band M8L8TH and Counter-Currents Publishing, which the SPLC describes as the “epicenter of ‘academic’ white nationalism,” to name a few, enter the picture quickly.
“It’s just so much shit. How do I even begin to write a tweet about it?” a Heresy Labs representative told LCRW.
DOES IT REALLY MEAN THEY’RE A NAZI BAND?
On March 24th, when the call-in campaign against them was just getting underway, Horna made a statement on their Facebook page denying being a NSBM band.
“Regarding recent publicity, HORNA has never been and never will be anything but Satanic Black Metal. We judge every man and woman only by their demeanor, not by their race or sexual preferences. We have zero interest in politics, left or right,” the post read.
“Love Horna – Hate Antifa” and “Fuck metalsucks” were the top two most-liked comments on the post.
Many of the band’s NSBM connections were brought to light shortly before the current tour began in an article on MetalSucks.com.
Even if its members argued that their associations outside of the band don’t affect Horna’s apolitical nature, the band itself has direct relationships with NSBM.
Weiner Zeitung, the Austrian paper of record, wrote in 2018 that Horna was on a bill with two unnamed neo-Nazi bands in 2017. There were apparently swastikas and a Celtic cross on the flyer for the show.
Horna and their side project Sargeist have also signed with World Terror Committee–a label run by Sven Zimper, aka Unhold, a member of the anti-Semitic band Grand Belial’s Key and notorious Nazi band Absurd. The German state of Thuringen’s domestic security agency, the Landesbehörde für Verfassungsschutz (LfV,) classified Absurd as a “right wing extremist group” in 1999.
While most of their lyrics seem to stick with standard black metal themes, Horna also has at least one song referencing exterminating Jewish people. The last line before the final chorus of “Noutajan Kutsu” or “Retriever Invitation” off their 2006 album Ääniä yössä translates to “When our Lord can finally prove/the destruction and death of the Jewish people.”
SHUTTING DOWN EXPLICIT FASCISTS MAKES YOU THE REAL FASCIST
This isn’t the first time antifascists have clashed with Horna and its affiliates.
In 2017, Peste Noire and Horna were both slated to play Blastfest in Norway. Peste Noire–one of the headliners–was dropped, according to Metal Insider, after French antifascists pressured the festival’s organizers. Horna dropped out of the show in solidarity with Peste Noire, who they said were “good friends of ours.”
“It is also time more bands should do something about the fascist “antifa” bullying instead of looking the other way,” Horna said in a statement on their Facebook page.
“PS,” they added, “Before anyone assumes any political bullshit - we do not bow left nor right! We bow only before the Lord…”
Before that, several shows were cancelled on one of their European tours in 2010 due to their ties with NSBM.
“A big fuck off to Antifa and their fascist intolerant propaganda!! HORNA has never been a band with NS message. We are satanist, religious, devil-worshipping, alcohol-consuming occult bastards and our band has NOTHING to do with NS," a March 11th, 2010 statement by the band in response to the shutdown read.
LAGUNA NIGUEL–MARCH 28TH
In 2008, Horna toured the U.S. for the first time. They hadn’t been back to the U.S. in over ten years.
Horna’s first stop was the Karman Bar in Laguna Niguel, a small Orange County town between the 1 and the 5 just north and west of San Juan Capistrano.
The Karman bar didn’t list the March 28th event on their website or their Facebook page. Instead, their U.S. promoter Hate War Productions, which ran their previous U.S. tour, had the event listed on theirs.
Activists called in, but the Karman Bar let Horna play. Two of their employees shared a statement rationalizing the bar’s decision, saying “[w]e have never discriminated due to “speculations”” and described the activists calling in as “social justice warriors screaming with no information.”
Horna’s ties to white nationalism, as previously stated, are well documented.
The show went through successfully.
Next stop was March 29th’s show Club Red in Mesa, Arizona. All That Remains was supposed to play the same venue that night on a different stage.
Lavin has been a recurring target for right wing pundits after she mistakenly reported an ICE agent as having a tattoo of an iron cross–an error she promptly retracted and apologized for. Fox host Laura Ingraham called her and another reporter “little journo-terrorists.” Lavin has since faced death threats and harassment.
“Didn’t you smear a guy as a Nazi cause you misunderstood a tattoo? I don’t think people are gonna feel that bad for you,” Labonte said to Lavin.
“If Phil really hated Nazis he’d get the band horna kicked off the bill at the show his band has with them in Mesa AZ on March 29th since they’re involved in the NSBM scene,” an activist replied.
Labonte replied, saying he’d have his management remove Horna from the show.
“I believe in free speech, I also believe in freedom of association and we don’t associate with those types of beliefs,” Labonte said.
Screenshots of texts between Labonte and his manager that proved Horna was dropped weren’t initially viewable because Labonte blocked LCRW on Twitter. LCRW had not previously reached out to Labonte.
Angry fans called for retaliatory action against Neckbeard Deathcamp, an antifascsist band whose debut album, “White Nationalism is for Basement-Dwelling Losers,” made them an internet sensation. One Horna fan, Jesus Adan Bracamonte, who listed himself as a session guitarist for NSBM band Odium Totus on his Facebook, called on people to shut down their June 11th show at Club Red.
“New Zealand part 2 anyone?” a commenter named Daniel Shipley said on the thread, referring to the recent mass murder of 50 people by a white nationalist targeting Muslims in Christchurch. The post got eleven likes–apparently the most of any in the thread. Bracamonte apparently deleted his Facebook account shortly after the post caught the attention of antifascists on Twitter.
Horna’s show was moved 25 miles away to the Starlite Lounge in Glendale. 85 people attended according to the event page. At All That Remains’ show at Club Red, 215 people went.
LOS ANGELES–MARCH 30TH
The Los Angeles show at the Five Star Bar on March 30th may have gotten the most media buzz in part because of a Daily Beast report that said the Proud Boys might show up. According to the article, “[m]ore than one” local business received warnings the alt-lite fraternal “Western Chauvinist” group which frequently brawls with leftist protestors might show up outside of the venue. Local businesses didn’t want to go on the record, but two people who LCRW reached out to confirmed the Daily Beast’s reporting was accurate.
A campaign of call-ins and flyering in the neighborhood worked–the Five Star Bar cancelled the show on March 28th. The owner of the bar claimed he’d consulted the Anti-Defamation League and the ACLU about the matter.
Fans were furious.
“We’ll take care of any protesters….if it comes down to it,” Bill “Stonie Cat” Cervantes commented on the event page.
“Please let there be protesters,” Warren Rathbert replied.
“I’ll step on the cock of anyone who fucks with my black metal,” Alice St. Romain replied.
Several others commented “I’m in” or “Ready.”
Hate War Productions scrambled to find Horna a new venue and offered to honor tickets to the cancelled show at the door for the Karman Bar show.
Then, on the night of the 30th, Hate War told people who bought tickets to meet them at a Bob’s Big Boy in Downey.
“Look for a few metalheads somewhere in the parking lot- show them proof of your presale & you’ll get the address to the venue….” Hate War’s post read.
“The promoters pulled an old stunt where those who purchased tickets go to a “meeting place” where they will learn the actual location for the show. It’s how neo-Nazis did shows back in the day to avoid opposition or shutdowns,” Daryle Lamont Jenkins, director of One People’s Project, an anti-racist nonprofit, remarked in a tweet.
Hate War eventually announced the venue as Bricks Restaurant and Sports Bar in Maywood, just south of East LA down the 710. Some folks in the comments said it was too far for them to make it. One was trying to sell their tickets.
Heresy Labs representatives told LCRW they suspected the phone numbers associated with Bricks were unplugged. When we called that night, one phone line couldn’t be reached because of “errors in the network” and two went to voicemail. Bricks did not respond to requests for comment.
Some antifascists went to Bricks that night. Sources told LCRW that Horna fans threw sand in their faces.
“Horna gigs disrupted, forcing show promoters to spend extra time, energy, and resources to relocate,” activists at Long Beach Antifascist Action tweeted, adding “…and at the end of the day, Horna had their gig but loose lips sinks ships.”
“You all were outnumbered last night! bahahah lucky that nobody beat your asses into the pavement,” an attendee replied.
“Horna has some pretty fucked up NSBM ties,” the Oakland Metro Operahouse’s statement read in part. They cancelled the show on March 22nd.
The Metro Operahouse previously caught flak for letting Marduk, a Swedish band with NSBM ties, play in February 2017. The show was eventually cancelled.
At the time, Jeremy Christian, a Patriot Prayer rally attendee, was notably furious about Marduk and other bands with NSBM ties having shows called off or protested.
“Since you brought up Violence, I’m going to stab some masked up bitch protesting Black Metal shows as soon as they touch me. All thanks to your ignorance and insolce [sic] you wretched wench,” Christian wrote on Facebook.
Two months later, Christian murdered two people and seriously injured another on a Portland train. The victims intervened after Christian went on an Islamophobic tirade against two women on the train, one of whom was wearing a hijab.
Oakland was the only city Horna couldn’t find a replacement venue in.
BEND, OREGON–APRIL 1ST
On April 1st, Horna were supposed to play at the Bossanova Ballroom in Portland. It was called off within hours of Oakland’s show’s cancellation. The venue cited Horna “using hate speech” and band members’ “ties to far right and racist business interests” in cancelling the show.
“We found out the Portland show had been cancelled because of the promoters personal opinions about the bands,” Nichole Northcraft of Northcraft Productions said, “so me and my Fiance (Brandon Self) along with his father (Mike Self), decided to pick up the show.” Northcraft Productions and the Self family’s Coma Booking and Promotions put on the show.
“So we found it funny that a supposedly “Nazi” or “white supremacist” band was even touring with a band (Cultus Profano) that’s mixed race,” Northcraft and Brandon Self, who answered some questions jointly through Northcraft’s Facebook account, said.
The call-in campaign continued. Northcraft and Self said they heard threats like “We are going to burn down the venue with all you ‘Nazis’ inside,” and “We are on our way right now to shoot everyone in the venue.”
Northcraft and Self said activists “wanted us to cancel the show because of their personal opinions over the matter” and called Horna’s well-documented NSBM ties “ridiculous accusations.”
As previously stated, Horna’s ties to neo-Nazism are well-documented.
Northcraft and Self said “the show was a success with no issues of any kind” besides the phone calls.
Antifascists claimed they’d received threatening phone calls and that their numbers were leaked by someone at the venue. Heresy Labs advised activists calling the venue to dial *67 first to hide their numbers from the venue’s caller ID.
“I did have a post up no longer than a hour with a few of the numbers that called third street pub making threats. But in my post I shared the numbers given to me from the bartender,” Northcraft admitted.
“However,” she continued, “we definitely told anyone who wished to get involved NOT to make threats like they were doing to us.”
One source who asked not to be named reached out to LCRW and recounted being threatened by someone using the venue’s number and receiving multiple calls from numbers they didn’t recognize.
“I called at 7:21 and a younger male answered,” the source said. “He was soft spoken. I was polite and said something to the likes of “Hey man, I really think you should cancel Horna tonight,” and he mumbled, “Sorry, but we can’t.””
“It’s going to be really bad if you don’t cancel this is going to turn out really badly. This is not a threat let me be clear, but people are going to be mad,” the source recounted telling the Third Street Pub employee. They said the employee responded, “Ok, thanks for your concern.” The exchange, according to call logs provided by the source, lasted 40 seconds.
Call logs show one minute later, they were called back by the bar’s publicly listed number. The source says a “gruffer sounding guy” spoke.
“Hey [source’s real name]? You show your antifa ass down here and I’m going to fucking–” the source recounted the caller saying. “[A]t which point I hang up,” the source recounted. The call lasted 11 seconds.
“I honestly just made that post to annoy those who were going out of their way to mess with us or the venue. Shortly after I removed that post to stop any more unnecessary drama,” Northcraft said.
Half an hour later, the unnamed source got a call from a Brooklyn area number, which they didn’t answer. Three more calls from unknown numbers followed that night. Another twitter user who claimed to have called the venue said they received a threatening message from a New York number.
“By the end of the night, not one single fight, argument, protest, or any sort of issues or drama happened [at the venue,]” Northcraft and Self said. “Just a bunch of temper tantrums from local antifa and pyrate punx.”
On Facebook, Northcraft admitted to sharing activists’ phone numbers on a Facebook post by Rachel Gregori. Gregori is Captain of Bend Pyrate Punx, in her words “an international non-profit DIY organization out to help touring bands.”
“They’re now threatening people who call 3rd st. Apparently there are tons of Nazis outside (from what I heard,)” Gregori wrote at 8:23pm that night.
“Not threatening anyone sharing numbers darling,” Northcraft replied at 8:31pm.
The two exchanged barbs, Northcraft repeatedly denying Horna had any association with NSBM.
Northcraft and Self told LCRW that “[n]either the crowd, nor any of the bands, supported any sort of “Nazi” or “White supremacist” attitude or memorabilia,” adding “Obviously, if any of the bands had been supporting that bullshit we would have pulled the plug immediately.”
Gregori says “the promoters [Third Street Bar] work[s] with are well-known as being fencewalkers and enablers,” including Northcraft and her connections at the local chapter of New York Death Militia (NYDM,) an international network of show promoters and metal fans who cross-promote each others’ events. According to Gregori, many but not all chapters of NYDM “often overlook the racist tendencies of metal bands to make a quick buck.”
“The NYDM and its ORDM chapter had absolutely nothing to do with this show whatsoever. I know for a fact, however, that nothing gets over looked to just make a quick buck,” Northcraft said.
Representatives of NYDM did not respond to requests for comment at press time.
Northcraft and Self also denied having any personal sympathies to white nationalism.
“My dad and I are of Spanish decent so it’s quite literally and genetically and logically impossible for us to be white Nationalist,” Self said.
“We at COMA and Northcraft simply do what we do for the love of music. We dont associate with any sort of labels or groups and we treat our venue with the same mindset,” Northcraft and Self wrote in a joint statement to LCRW.
In the aftermath, antifascists put Northcraft on blast and notified the employer she listed on her Facebook page. Northcraft said the info on her Facebook was dated and she hasn’t faced repercussions from her current employer. The former employer appears to confirm this, telling antifascist activists on Twitter she is “not a current employee.”
Gregori and others who asked not to be named told LCRW that to their knowledge, Horna is the first band with documented white nationalist ties to play Third Street Pub. However, they said the venue has “a reputation of attracting people with white nationalist ties.”
“I’ve been in there several times and have never come out without having some sort of race-fueled interaction with their customers,” Gregori said.
Gregori says there have been issues at the bar for “the past ten years.”
“My brother and his wife were confronted by a few patrons at the bar, one with a white nationalist affiliated tattoo, and threatened at knifepoint. One threw a glass at his wife’s face,” she recounted, saying the incident happened four years ago. Around the same time, Gregori said a friend “was in a fight” inside of the bar “with several alleged nazis there, similar tattoos.”
“In both instances the police were called, but the owners have done nothing to disassociate themselves or change the customer base of their business,” Gregori told LCRW.
When asked if he was familiar with the reputation Third Street Bar had, Self said that “This is all based on hers and others personal opinions and them being overly outspoken.”
“We’ve never had any issues with any sort of racist or hateful groups in the bar and if there were it was simply because opinions were tossed around and at that moment there were people who disagree with said opinions,” he added.
Gregori says Bend is “especially isolated and whitewashed."
“The minority communities are so small that many white folk here are stuck perpetuating racist ideologies and can go their whole lives without ever personally experiencing those other cultures,” she said.
“It’s always been an issue in the punk and metal music scene here, more so now than ever due to the rise of the alt-right and widespread use of social media,” Gregori said of the local racist and neo-nazi presence.
“Before that,” she continued, “we used to just chase boneheads out of the venue and they’d go back to whatever hole they crawled from and never come back. Now they’re able to organize online and find others with similar mindsets, book controversial bands and doxx anyone that has something to say against it.”
April 2nd, Horna was supposed to play Come and Take It Live in Austin. After claiming to be “in the process” of cancelling the show, the venue relented on March 27th and Horna had to find another venue yet again.
The show was moved to Texas Mist, also in Austin. After the threats some activists received the previous night, Heresy Labs told the call-in campaign to dial *67 or use an encrypted calling service to hide their numbers from the venue’s caller ID system.
Texas Mist, according to Heresy Labs, removed the event page and denied Horna was playing when activists called in.
“They were telling people they had the wrong number, pretending to be a McDonald’s a while ago,” prolific antifascist doxxer Antifash Gordon said, adding, “If they’d just insisted it wasn’t happening at the outset, I might have believed them?”
The show did go on. Darren Cowan, a reviewer at the website Metal Centre said the club was small and the crowd size was “modest.” He said “[a] wide assortment of races attended the show, too, something common throughout the world when it comes to “NSBM” bands.”
Pystynen, Cowan claims, told him after the show that “They (antifa) are going after the wrong bands.”
“HORNA presented an imposing stage facade. Part of this was natural due to their large Nordic frames,” Cowan wrote.
“Front man, Spellgoth didn’t shy from his opposition to Antifa, wearing a shirt that said, “Satanic Resistance Crush Antifa,”” Cowan’s review continued.
He added that “[t]here were no seig heils [sic], Swastika’s or panzer division tanks on stage or in the crowd.”
But the next night in Houston, there would be Seig Heils.
“I don’t vet the bands or go in a search about band members political or social views prior to booking,” Houston’s The White Swan booker and bar manager ‘Gore Tooth’ told LCRW, continuing, “I book several shows a week while hosting 4-7 shows a week regularly.”
“I’m just giving you an idea how Horna was booked 2.5 months prior to the date,” he added.
“Due to the overwhelming bullshit associated with the Horna show next Wednesday April 3rd, we’re not hosting the event,” Gore Tooth wrote on the venue’s Facebook page on March 27th.
The Houston Press’s Jef Rouner reported the shutdown campaign locally consisted of “Houston Socialist Movement, Houston United Front Against Fascism, Pantsuit Republic Houston Racial Justice Committee, and the Young Communist League.”
Gore Tooth said the shutdown campaign “consists of people that have called with their numbers blocked leaving messages that they’re gonna burn us down (terrorist lynch mob.)” He claimed the shutdown campaign and “the anti-anti-hate group which consists of probably racists…turned a concert into a Jerry Springer episode and people are coming for the fireworks.”
“What a joke,” he added. “It’s no longer about the music.”
Heresy Labs said members of Texas Patriot Network (TPN), an explicitly Islamophobic activist group, were planning to support Horna’s show.
TPN’s website describes them as a “non-partisan” group dedicated to ALL Texan’s Natural and Constitutional Rights” and claims they are “NOT racists, bigots, a hate group, militia” and “are NOT the silent majority any longer!” The group has some connections to Patriot Prayer, Joey Gibson previously hosting a rally in support of Alex Jones with their participation.
Houston United Front Against Fascism (HUFAF) organizer Dr. David Michael Smith, also a ‘semi-retired’ political science professor, says TPN was planning to protest the show at the White Swan until it was cancelled. He said TPN is “anti-communist, anti-muslim, anti-migrant, and sometimes don’t want to be seen with people who have swastikas but there’s not that much difference there.”
“They’re the kind of fash that don’t understand that they’re fash,” he added.
HUFAF has stood opposing TPN protests multiple times, often with both groups armed.
Dr. Smith said “a lot of the time they’ll put stuff up [online] but never show up.” He said the Horna show was one such event.
“The ultimate reason we cancelled the show at our venue is I caught word from friends in low places that a small group of KKK members [was] coming ON OUR BEHALF from Santa Fe Texas,” Gore Tooth told LCRW, continuing, “Maybe they are the Atomwaffen nerds, I dunno. But, we refuse to be represented by scumbags like that.”
“They are just as bad as Antifa with their members threatening to burn us down. They’re all terrorists,” he added.
“It was really only an hour before the protest that we found out that Horna was going to be performing, along with a couple other bands, at this venue called the Hellcat Café,” Dr. Smith recounted. The Café was in a mostly Latinx neighborhood in Houston which Dr. Smith said was “not one that was super conservative or heavily right-wing.”
“We knew that this kind of performance would draw some fascists and some folks who were like, proud to be fascists, too,” Dr. Smith recounted.
Cole, another activist at HUFAF told LCRW 13 people showed up to protest the show.
“Four of us were openly armed (likely the reason we had zero issues,)” Cole told LCRW.
“One thing about Texas is that you can be carrying a rifle or a sidearm publicly and you don’t have to have a license for a long gun and cops often won’t even ask you for a license for your handgun. It’s a little bit different than New York or California,” Dr. Smith said, chuckling a little.
“An advanced civilization–a just civilization wouldn’t have a need for any of this kind of stuff, but it’s not that in Texas right now,” he added.
“We got out there and three of us had rifles. I was also carrying a 40 caliber. My wife was carrying a 9 millimeter openly–it was for self-defense,” Dr. Smith continued. “We certainly weren’t going to try to shoot up the place. We’re not into that kind of stuff, but we definitely wanted to make sure we were not fucked with–and we didn’t get fucked with.”
Dr. Smith says they had bullhorns, chanted, and used battery-powered lights to “shine a little light on what we were doing.”
“We got as close to the club as we possibly could and we did what we had to do,” Dr. Smith recounted.
“One of the ugly things about the evening was that we did notice this Attomwaffen leader, John Cameron Denton, who lives in the county north of Houston.”
John Cameron Denton, the leader of Attomwaffen Division, a neo-Nazi terrorist network with ties to five murders, showed up to the show with other members of the group. On the Attomwaffen servers, Denton’s alias was “Rape.” A photo of Denton by Cole circulated on Twitter. That photo and others provided to LCRW by HUFAF activists show Denton and others making the Nazi salute at the show.
“When we identified him, one comrade got on the megaphone and said “Yo is that JCD of AW over there? You’re a long way from Montgomery, boy! Thought this wasn’t a nazi show!”” Cole recounted.
“He and his puke buddies were just doing Nazi salutes. Over the course of the evening we heard a few comments about ‘inferior genes’ and comments like ‘How many Jews are out there?’ You know, anti-Semitic bullshit,” Dr. Smith recounted. “They tried to troll us as much as they could, shout anti-communist slogans.”
“We couldn’t attribute any comments to Denton or his puke friends, but it’s what you’d expect from Nazis,” Dr. Smith said. He says there were “maybe a dozen, maybe fifteen” neo-Nazis including Denton present.
“The punk never responded, only sieg Heiled multiple times and waved. His friend jumped up on a table and opened his jacket to reveal a Sonnenrad shirt, before we were able to grab a picture though,” Cole said.
The Sonnenrad or “black sun” is a Nazi icon first popularized by Heinrich Himmler in 1933. It depicts a sun whose twelve rays are a pre-Germanic ‘S’ rune. It gained notoriety recently for appearing on the cover of the Christchurch shooter’s manifesto and on his bulletproof vest.
“The AW guys knew [that] we knew who they were, most other people in the venue did not. None of them gave us any trouble and we protested outside the new venue for 5 & 1/2 hours,” Cole said.
“On the one hand, we were disgusted and angered by seeing Denton and feeling bad that we couldn’t get our hands on him,” Dr. Smith said. “On the other hand, we maintained good discipline because nobody’s going to do anything adventurous or stupid and go to prison.”
Show attendees who were unaware of Horna’s white nationalist connections heard HUFAF members out, according to Cole, and community members in the area were supportive of the effort.
“Cops and constables came by from time to time and basically, you can tell it’s Texas because if you’re not shooting somebody, they’re basically okay with the weapon,” Dr. Smith said, chuckling again. “It’s weird out here. I’ve been here twenty years, it’s so weird.”
“The last cops that came by, a young European-American woman cop and an African-American cop–and he actually heard one of the racists yell something on the patio–there was a patio where a bunch of them were assembled–and he yelled something funny back at them. He knew instantly what the word ‘fascism’ on our signs meant. Some of the people, you had to explain to them ‘white supremacy, remember Hitler?’ And so on.”
The protesters were at the venue until around 11:30. Dr. Smith said everyone got home safely.
Cole said “an effort is underway to continue to call out the venue who ended up hosting them in the end.” Dr. Smith said it wouldn’t be a major priority for the group since other organizations like TPN are planning actions soon, but activists with HUFAF and other organizations would call and urge the Hellcat Café to “not make the same mistake again.”
“Look, any small business needs business, right? And we understand that if you’re operating a bar and making a couple thousand dollars it’s good for them–but not at the expense of housing Nazis,” Dr. Smith said.
“I did see the pictures of those two individuals [from Attomwaffen] saluting,” Gore Tooth said, continuing, “And I seen a lot of concert-goers and the promoter talking against them the next day. They’re fuckin idiots. There aren’t any Nazis left in the world. Nazis ended in the 1940s as far as I’m concerned. These people identifying as such are posers. They’re just no-brain racists using imagery from historical happenings to give their ignorance a foundation.”
“I think there is an crucial lack of awareness in metal’s self-proclaimed “anti-SJW/anti-antifa” contingent that stems from both privilege and their lack of involvement in any actual activism,” Teen Vogue labor columnist and metal scene writer Kim Kelly said in response to tweeted photos of Denton.” They don’t understand that this is a war. They don’t understand what is at stake,”.
“Whether it’s a music club or a campus meeting or some kind of forum in the community, if they’re fascists, we must deny their right to be there and to recruit and proselytize and spread their propaganda,” Dr. Smith said. “We must reject the liberal notion that they should enjoy First Amendment rights. We’re not interested in legal solutions within a capitalist state. We’re going to be there to shut them down every time we can.”
The Hi-Dive Bar in Denver blacklisted the promoter, MetalDP, and cancelled Horna’s show. The announcement came in a Facebook post that linked to the MetalSucks article on Horna’s NSBM ties.
“Horna is not a NSBM band, even the author of the article could not say that they were,” MetalDP said on the event’s Facebook page on March 22nd, adding that he was uncertain about “[t]he fate of this show in Denver.”
MetalDP struggled to find another venue. On the 2nd they claimed they found one that was “bigger, more than double the old venue’s capacity” and it would be “revealed the day of the show.” Six hours later, MetalDP updated fans, saying that “the venue is in Denver and will actually be a little smaller. Not quite half the size, which also means the show could sell out.”
Activists scoured social media for clues as to where it would be. They first thought Horna would play at 3 Kings Tavern on South Broadway. MetalDP denied this, saying “stop harassing them, they have nothing to do with this show.” On the 3rd, opening band Morgue Whore was listed as playing Herman’s Hideaway on South Broadway on the 4th. MetalDP updated fans and directly addressed activists that day, saying “It will not be at any venue anymore, you never guessed it right anyway with your ludicrous whack-a-mole accusations.”
At about noon on the 3rd, MetalDP said the show “has been moved to private property,” the “[v]enue will not be made public,” and “[p]rivate property means no trespassing.” On the 4th, they posted an updated flyer listing the venue as Denver’s 7th Circle Music Collective. It was misdirection. 7th Circle hosted a completely different band called A Light Among Many.
“THANKS YOU GOONS. What a fun night. One point for antifa,” A Light Among Many’s account commented on their event’s page the next day.
Opening band Weapönizer posted another fake flyer claiming the show was at the Lion’s Lair on Colfax Avenue. MetalDP posted fake flyers claiming the show was at The Marquis Theater on Larimer Street. They also claimed the show was happening at The Roxy Theater on Welton Street and a skating rink in Aurora.
It actually took place, according to Colorado Springs Antifa, in a Denver warehouse “owned by Colliers International, a Canadian based global real estate giant.” Colorado Springs Antifa researchers verified the location through matching old photos of the warehouse from when it was a music space called Dryer Plug with photos from the Horna show.
Colorado Springs Antifa claimed that members of Operation Werewolf attended the show.
“Mixing together equal parts fight club, strength regimen, motorcycle club and esoteric order, Operation Werewolf is more than the sum of its parts,” the group’s website says, continuing, “It is not an organization, but an organism- living and breathing by its tenets and watchwords, “Iron and Blood.””
On the their website, there’s OW “propaganda” zines, shirts, hoodies, “99% pure” OW-branded CBD, and “choose your own adventure” books that double as workout manuals. OW market themselves as a lifestyle brand, but they’re an offshoot of the Wolves of Vinland (WoV), a white nationalist neo-Pagan group.
Rose City Antifa profiled the WoV and OW in 2016. They described OW as a “feeder” organization for Wolves of Vinland.
“Most new members from the current era of [WoV] are drawn up from the OW ranks, for their dedication to the political and quasi-religious goals which are preached ad nauseam in OW forums, publications and merchandise,” Rose City Antifa wrote.
WoV received funding from white nationalist Counter Current Publishing. The Washington/Oregon chapter of Wolves of Vinland’s leader Jack Donovan, who describes himself as an “anarcho-fascist,” spoke at the white nationalist American Renaissance conference and at Richard Spencer’s National Policy Institute.
Donovan and OW leader Paul Waggener preach an anti-trans, anti-PC culture hyper-masculinity that became popular with the mens’ rights activism (MRA) currents in the alt-right. One of their t-shirts featured in a promotional video but apparently not available in their online store has the slogan “Only the inferior strive for equality” on the back.
Horna planned to play two shows in Chicago. Their locations on the band’s Facebook events page is posthumously is listed as “North Korea.”
Live Wire Lounge was supposed to host their early show. Cobra Lounge was supposed to host their late show. Both venues cancelled and punk venue Exit Chicago removed Horna tickets from a raffle they were having.
They played one show at Ranger Studios and Sound, a recording studio in the west Chicago suburbs. The promoter, Sound Zero Productions, asked people not to mention antifa in the comments of the photos they posted after the performance.
Horna were supposed to play Schizophrenia Hall in Hyattsville, Maryland. Hyattsville Mayor Candace B. Hollingsworth got involved in the shutdown campaign.
“That’s not in the city (outside of my/our jurisdiction). Still worth letting county representatives know,” she wrote on Twitter on March 24th.
Juan Luis Cruz, the owner of metal promotion Templo de Lucifer Prods, had the show moved to El Gran Chaparral in New Carollton, Maryland the next day. He claimed early tickets were sold out the day before. El Gran Chaparral decided against hosting the band and on the 26th, Cruz had the show moved to an undisclosed location in Ashburn, Virginia, available only to those who bought tickets.
Templo de Lucifer Prods also accused MetalSucks writer Axl Rosenberg of being a pedophile.
For days afterwards, people asked where the venue would be. Cruz cited Heresy Labs tweets updating activists on the location of the show to justify not announcing the venue until “two hours before the show star [sic].” On the day before the show, he told ticketholders to meet at the Rosel Hill Shopping Center in Alexandria, Virginia, which he said was “ten minutes” from the venue.
“There is Macdonald[sic] on that shopping center u all can meet there,” Cruz wrote, adding “antifas[sic] will not win this.”
“First band is supposed to start in 70 minute; where do we go?” Dale Rich asked at 3:50pm the day of the show.
Cruz posted the location half an hour later. It was the Filipino Multicultural Center in Oxon Hill, Maryland.
A fan wrote the next day that “everything went perfectly, attention to the bands, sound, local, camaraderie with everyone, no mayor [sic] incidents, and the most important thing no masked protesters.” They followed this with several middle finger emojis.
April 7th–Brooklyn, New York
“The last time I saw Horna live their vocalist whipped out his dick on stage and pissed on his hands because uh, Satan, I guess?” Chris Birch wrote on the event page for Horna’s Brooklyn show.
Video apparently backs up this claim.
The banner image for the New York show was a house on fire with ‘SOLD OUT’ in red letters over it. They were supposed to play the Kingsland on Norman Avenue. The Kingsland issued a statement, quoted in Brooklyn Vegan.
“The dangers of working with outside bookers is that at times, things like this fall through the cracks and when that happens, we take heed to the warnings and heads up from you. Our brothers and sisters who are the beating heart of NYC live music culture,” the Kingsland’s statement read in part.
They cancelled the show within a day of the MetalSucks article about Horna’s NSBM ties.
“#1 no show was cancelled it was just moved
#2 if you have your ticket don’t panic just wait for info
#3 FUCK ANTIFA. Fuck THE KINGSLAND,” Promoter Metal Mafia Records wrote in a now-deleted post.
Heresy Labs pointed out that Metal Mafia’s founder, Eduardo MacLeod, posted an anti-Semitic meme on his Facebook page. He also posted an Islamophobic one last year. MacLeod’s band, Azanigin, was booked to open for Horna in New York and New Hampshire.
Metal Mafia claimed the location would be revealed via email to ticketholders. Several people in the following days posted that they couldn’t go and were selling their tickets.
The day before the show, Heresy Labs claimed that Horna’s show was at the SL Lounge in Elmhurst, New York. On the day of, New York City Antifa claimed it was moved again to Las Catrinas Bar in Queens. Fans were annoyed.
“Dear Horna, I know you wanted to avoid Antifa because of bad press but changing the venue 3 times is pretty annoying,” Eva Sanchez wrote on Instagram.
“I get the feeling that metal mafia records purposely changed the location to a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood,” Sanchez wrote on a later post.
Some antifascists showed up to observe, apparently without incident.
“Half the people there were locals speaking Spanish. Doesn’t seem like a recruiting opportunity for them. I’m on my way home now,” one antifascist wrote on Twitter.
They were later mocked on the Facebook event page.
April 9th–New Hampshire
After taking Monday the 8th off, Horna played The Chop Shop Pub and Grub in Seabrook, New Hampshire. It was one of three dates (Allentown and Laguna Niguel being the other two) they were able to keep at the original venues.
Chop Shop owner Bill Niland refused to back down from hosting the band, telling the Seacoast Online “What the Antifa people have supplied me with for proof is propaganda written by Antifa supporters,” adding that “What they are doing is wrong and original music supporters should not support their censorship.”
Niland claimed that he couldn’t find any other sources to back up antifascists’ claims.
Horna’s ties to NSBM have been documented by reporters, primary source documents, and statements from band members, not just antifascist groups.
Niland also told Seacoast Online he was “contractually obligated to host the show, as he is working with an outside booker that is bringing Horna to the Chop Shop.”
“My attorney says if I cancel, the agency will come after me for the full monetary value of the event. Plus attorney costs,” Niland said in his Seabrook Online interview. “I am not in a position to defend nor pay out for canceling the show.”
The show, Heresy Labs pointed out, was hosted by Paul Heathen, aka Paul Hamblet of NortherN/Cold Northern Vengeance. Heresy Labs described them as a “Nazi heathen metal band.”
NortherN used a Sonnenrad, the symbol emblazoned on the Christchurch shooter’s manifesto and bulletproof vest, in one of their banners. They also used a wolfsangel, an ancient Germanic symbol appropriated by the Nazis, in its logo on the flyer for the show with Horna.
“I want to go. Love your music!! Hails! 88,” Joey Hunt commented on the photo of the flyer. 88 is a well-known neo-Nazi code for the phrase “Heil Hitler.”
But probably most telling, they posted an anti-Semitic meme on their Facebook page last year that as of this writing is still up. The meme shows a photo of two Orthodox Jewish boys. Fans of the band commented “Ugly fuckin creatures man” and “Heebillies.” “Heeb” is a slur for Hebrew.
In a statement on Facebook, the band said it has “never claimed the NSBM label.”
The show was a success.
“Thank you for coming! People from all kinds of ethnic backgrounds came to this “Nazi” show. Imagine the logic behind that?” Hamblet wrote on the event page.
April 10th–Allentown, Pennsylvania
“Police will be hot on the block just in case, guess the Metal haters called and they were kind enuff to watch parking and area,” Skip Horn of Biz R Entertainment, the promoter for Horna’s last show of the tour wrote on the day of the show.
“If you wear ..Any[sic] Hate propaganda you will be asked to leave,” he added.
The show at Jabber Jaws Bar and Grille in Allentown was met with protest organized by a page called Lehigh Valley Antifascist Updates (LVAU.) LVAU gave activists a script for call-ins and announced they’d be at the venue from 4-8pm. Lehigh Valley Democratic Socialists of America were in attendance.
“Known neo-nazis will be at this show. Please come out and show this kind of hate is not welcome in our community!” the event page’s description read.
“You got chased off by the people you pretend to protect haha. Everyone hates antifa just give up,” Joseph Tommasi said on LVAU’s page.
Tommasi also posted a 21-second video showing a handful of activists, some masked, being shouted at.
“You’re on my fucking property in my neighborhood!” someone shouts out of frame.
One of the activists apparently tries to ask the shouting person if they know what’s going on inside the venue.
“I don’t, nor do I care right now. Go the fuck over there! And mister-fucking-I-have-a-mask-on, go the fuck over there!” the out-of-frame person says. The protesters appear to turn around and leave and he says “Thank you” as they do.
The Allentown show was the last of three to keep its original venue. The number of people going wasn’t made public. Rough head counts of photos at the show indicate at least 30 people attended.
Anarchist news site It’s Going Down claimed “Horna wrapped up its US tour at a sports bar in Allentown, PA playing to a room half full of old, bald metal nazis.”
BURNING THOUGHTS, BURNING ACTIONS
Two days before Horna’s first show of the U.S. tour, the 21-year-old son of a sheriff’s deputy, Holden Matthews, allegedly burned down a historically black church in Louisiana. The day they played Austin, another burned down. The day they played Denver, a third. Matthews was arrested on the day of Horna’s last U.S. show. He’s now facing hate crimes charges.
It should be noted that at least one of the pagan/Norse religion groups Matthews belonged to on Facebook expelled him for his alleged actions. There are people who genuinely practice these beliefs peacefully and there are white nationalist groups like Wolves of Vinland/Operation Werewolf who incorporate them into their narrative. Similarly, NSBM is merely a subsect of black metal. The genre has a broad range of tendencies including an explicitly antifascist subsect.
But Matthews was in a black metal band called Pagan Carnage whose lyrics include “The holy church is now destroyed/Burning down in Odin’s name.” The song was posted to YouTube mere days after one of the church burnings he’s charged with carrying out.
“I can’t stand all these Baptists around here, bunch of brainwashed people trying to find happiness in a religion that was forced on their ancestors just as it was on mine. I wish more blacks people would look into ancient beliefs of pre Christian Africa,” he wrote on a Facebook post about “Afrikan spirituality.”
Similar sentiments drove Vikernes and others in the early 1990s Norwegian black metal scene to burn down 50 or more churches. White nationalists who adopt pagan beliefs often see Christianity as a malign foreign influence equitable to Islam and Judaism.
Matthews, like John Cameron Denton of Attomwaffen Division and Norwegian mass murderer Anders Bering Breivik, is a Burzum fan.
There’s no evidence Horna themselves inspired these attacks, but they’re part of a broader ecosystem of fans, bands, music labels, lifestyle brands, festivals, public intellectuals, and ultimately militias and terrorist networks that sure as hell did.
NEW BATTLES, OLD WAR
When neo-Nazis and fascist rhetoric began to infiltrate punk and rock music in the 70s and 80s, Rock Against Racism concerts became the rallying cry against it. In response, neo-Nazi bands like Skrewdriver organized Rock Against Communism. Fascist and white supremacist movements were militantly resisted in punk rock, but this didn’t happen uniformly across music.
“The fact that not enough has been done about it in the music scenes, especially in the “dark” genres, also shows why fascists have focused in those areas: because they can hide behind subjectivity, “free speech”–much like the plausible deniability in ironic hipster racism and memes,” Heresy Labs told LCRW.
Some subsects of music like NSBM have had time to grow and become organized. Other, newer genres like neo-Folk are now experiencing issues with alt-right entryism. Horna’s tour and the shutdown campaign against it are the latest battle in a long conflict over cultural spaces.
“It’s definitely generating discussion in the metal community about taking things like this more seriously, if nothing else,” Heresy Labs said. “And [it’s] also getting anti-fascist activists to take things like this happening in the music scenes more seriously too.”
SO WHAT DO YOU DO?
Horna tried to categorically dismiss the accusations against them. They insisted they were just another black metal band without substantively addressing any of their past and present associations–or lyrics.
Many fans, promoters and venues followed suit, denying, dismissing and rationalizing the band’s links to the world of NSBM away. They often used a vague notion of free speech to defend hosting the band. More often, they hid behind the ethnicities of people who didn’t have a problem with Horna when confronted. Some asked how Horna could be a racist band when they toured with multiethnic music groups and multiethnic crowds attended the shows. None substantively addressed the basic argument antifascists were making.
Antifascists argue that when bands with active ties to NSBM like Horna get to play shows, fascists and white nationalists come out of the woodwork and use those shows to network and recruit. And when Nazis get to network and recruit, antifascists argue, people get hurt and people die.
When Horna came to Houston, the leader of a white nationalist terrorist network that planned large-scale attacks and has a body count of at least five people showed up. We don’t know if anyone was radicalized–or further radicalized–that night. But people are meeting in private chatrooms and using the kind of bands that Horna has members, labels , and lyrics about exterminating Jews in common with to spread their messages.
Take it from someone in a private chatroom where the Nazis of the Traditionalist Workers Party could be honest with each other, free from prying eyes:
“NSBM is redpilled and white and brings a lot of guys in the movement.”
That movement kills people.
And it wants to kill a hell of a lot more.