From Rocky Mtn Revolution
For generations, social movements have relied on the power of songs. From Woody Guthrie to Anti-Flag, left-leaning activists have used music as a medium to convey messages of social change and bring people together. However, this tactic has not gone unnoticed or unduplicated by members of the reactionary right. Members of music scenes, especially those in the more aggro of genres, rock, punk, metal, are no strangers to having their movements hijacked by members of the reactionary right.
The most prominent example is the English 80s Oi! punk band Skrewdriver, who openly expressed white nationalist themes and were part of the “Rock Against Communism” movement. Nazi punks have gained a foothold along the Front Range and throughout the Midwest, with bands like Minneapolis’ Bound for Glory and Denver’s Total Annihilation carrying the fascist banner in recent years.
Black metal is an extreme form of heavy metal known for its Juggalo-esque corpse paint, spiked gauntlets, and healthy doses of misanthropy and nihilism. Sonically it is equally extreme, with blast beats, distorted guitars, and vocals that run the gamut from Cookie Monster on the low end to frenetic screeching on the high end. Burzum and Mayhem, bands largely considered the progenitors of the movement, are infamous for allegedly burning churches and their singer/guitarist Varg Vikernes’ murder of Mayhem guitarist Euronymous (who was an alleged communist, though Vikernes denies the murder was motivated by politics). While in prison for murder, Vikernes mixed nationalism with Norse paganism and gave rise to a subgenre of Black Metal defined by its anti-semitism and embrace of National Socialism. Though Vikernes has distanced himself from the National Socialist Black Metal scene in recent years, his culpability in the formation of the movement cannot be denied.
Colorado Springs black metal “band” Aktor (not to be confused with the Finnish band of the same name, -1 for originality) has taken up the banner of bands like Mayhem and Marduk, whose recent US tour faced cancellations as a result of Anti-Fascist protests for their use of Nazi imagery and questionable lyrics. Aktor appears to consist solely of Ryan Mills, though he uses the name “Haji Killer” on Aktor’s facebook page, who plays guitar and growls over repetitive drum machine tracks. Aktor’s album “Persecuting the Children of Allah” speaks for itself. We are living during a time in which Muslims in America are being castigated as terrorists by the reactionary right. We are living during a time in which mosques across the country, and especially in Ft. Collins, are targeted by the alt-right for vandalism. Within the context of such vitriolic anti-semitism, and Islamophobia is a form of anti-semitism, Mills, who attended the Evangelical Christian Academy, has decided to release a hateful dog whistle disguised as art.
Mills would be hard pressed to argue how “Children of Allah,” isn’t a direct reference to Muslims, and how songs like “Deeds of a Jihadist” or “Into the Gas Chambers” aren’t simply calls for violence against Muslims and other minority groups. In addition to Mills’ blatant Islamophobia, he has a penchant for advertising his band with comments such as “if you don’t like this band you’re gay,” and “come to this show or renounce your straight card.” As someone who has long since renounced their straight card, I find such comments, which would be invariably defended as a joke with many disparaging comments about political correctness, hilarious.
If you’re interested in talking to Mills about his views on Islam or LGBTQ+ people, he has shows May 5th at the Zodiac, which used to be a queer-friendly venue, and May 28th at Sunshine Studios. It’s disheartening to see the Colorado Springs music scene support and give a platform to such overtly hateful “artists.” You can make up your own mind about Aktor by checking out their facebook page, and you can listen to them, though this author does not recommend it, at aktorforthemasses.bandcamp.com.