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Woe kicked off show for performing with Inquisition

Saturday, April 15, 2017 9:04 AM PT
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New York black metal band Woe was removed (along with their tourmates in Ultha) from the roster of a festival at the venue Hafenklang in Hamburg, Germany this week as a result of performing with Inquisition, a band previously accused of having ties to Neo-Nazism -- something its members have emphatically denied. Woe has issued the following:

"Woe and Ultha were just kicked off of a show because we are performing with Inquisition. We learned this via SMS, before our booker was informed, after driving four hours across Germany, and with no opportunity to appeal the decision.

"The absurdity of this situation is profound. For years, we have been exceptionally vocal about our political and social stances but still careful to not let them define us as a band. We never backed down from an opportunity to discuss it in interviews, we never shrank from it online, we covered a classic anti-fascist punk song to extremely apolitical black metal crowds, and we doubled down with songs like "No Blood Has Honor" on our new album. Along the way, we introduced countless black metal fans who had never considered politics that it is possible to take an anti-fascist stance without sacrificing the harsh, abrasive stance of a black metal band.

"Our politics have made us the subject of ridicule by some people in the extreme metal scene, but we do not care. Even our detractors typically understand that black metal is full of conflict and diversity. Those who hate us for our liberal views are free to do so, and, ironically, those are the people who are least willing to tell us what we should or shouldn't do, what shows we should and shouldn't play. We'd find this funny if it wasn't so poignant right now.

"The worldwide extreme metal scene is a diverse, complicated thing full of people with different backgrounds and experiences. Many bands and fans have never once thought about politics, many of them do not care about politics and object to the idea that they should have to care about them to appreciate music. To these people, riffs are riffs, songs are songs, imagery exists to build mood, and message is secondary to feeling. Even within Woe, we have varying levels of political involvement. Regardless of whether you agree with the apolitical metal fan's perspective, recognizing it is crucial to understanding why bands with questionable backgrounds can operate on an international level and why a band like Woe might choose to put ourselves in close proximity to people with whom we may not agree.

"Woe and our tourmates Ultha exist to create and perform art, not proselytize, but we are also adamant that performing at explicitly apolitical events with diverse lineups is crucial for the representation of our social and political beliefs. Black metal encourages questioning systems, offending those in power, and evolving beyond outdated beliefs.

"If we were to only play to crowds who were squeaky clean, nothing would change, nobody would grow. Similarly, if you think that a band has committed such intense crimes that they should be barred from participating in the international scene, that is between you and the band, not your allies who choose a different approach to engagement. If we choose to participate in an event, it is because we are confident that it does not compromise who we are.

"To have a show canceled now, after years of unflinching willingness to stick our necks out to crowds who might be unreceptive, goes beyond being a slap in the face. Hamburg ist Droneburg and the venue Hafenklang decided how two openly anti-fascist bands, one of whom is primarily comprised of people of Jewish background, should engage with extremism in a music scene that is only now starting to become politically aware. We and those alongside us deserve the trust and respect to effect change as we see fit. Every adult must be responsible for themselves and choose a level of involvement that is right for them. It is not appropriate for others to decide how we should or should not engage.

"This is why the right thinks that the left is full of fools and reactionary children who have never stepped out into the real world. Rather than targeting the actual fascists or supporting allies within the scene, they eat their own. Hamburg ist Droneburg and Hafenklang have today acted as agents of the right by silencing us and, once again, promoting the right's message that anti-fascism is the enemy of black metal.

"Despite this, we are resolute in our position. We played an antifa benefit in Brooklyn for J20 protestors barely a week before leaving for this tour, and we will continue to support the greater mission. Those responsible for today's cancellation, as with all similar events, are people from outside of the scene who have decided that they know how to handle our problems better than those of us actively participating in the metal scene. To those who would deprive of us our voice and strip us of our agency, we urge you to improve this situation by making bridges with people within the metal scene. Wars like this are won through discussion and understanding, not force."
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Related:  Woe, Inquisition


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