Bölzer

The eternal contrast between gradations of dark and light is one of life’s great dualities. That which seems permissible under the cover of darkness feels transgressive in the daylight, and as I discovered this past weekend, the hedonistic excesses of the night feel even more raw and exposed when bathed in the milky glow of a midnight sun.

Let me set the scene for you: I’m in Neskaupstaður, a remote town on the east side of Iceland that’s nestled by the looming specter of the Norðfjörður fjord and sports a robust population of 1,437. Every July, this sleepy hollow is overrun by scores of music fans hellbent on soaking up every last intoxicating drop of Eistnaflug, Iceland’s biggest (and only) multi-day metal fest. The organizers always pepper their broad lineup of homegrown Icelandic talent with a smattering of international guests, and 2014 featured appearances from At The Gates, Havok, Zatokrev … and last-minute additions Bölzer. Judging from the response the commanding Swiss duo got from the roaring crowd of diehards and drunkards who greeted their death metal machinations, whomever greenlighted that particular decision knew what they were doing.

It’s hard to contest Bölzer’s status as one of 2014′s biggest extreme metal success stories. Ever since the release of 2013′s Aura EP sent shockwaves through the community and the band started utterly destroying every festival and foreign gig they encountered (including a holy-shit tear through Maryland Deathfest this year), the hype around them has been rising to alarming heights. With the imminent release of their excellent new Soma EP, it’s reached a fever pitch.

Knowing how down-to-earth guitarist/vocalist Okoi “KzR” Jones and drummer Fabian “HzR” Wyrsch are, and how strange the outpouring of attention must feel for them, I thought it’d be a smart idea to ask a few questions before they jetted back home to Zurich. We met up at the festival venue’s restaurant, and quickly realized that the evening would be much improved by stronger booze. A short stumble down the block to their friend’s hotel room solved that problem. Red wine flowed, a campy British sitcom playing mutely on the TV, and someone was fucking in the bathroom. By now it was about 3AM, and the sky was still lit up like a cloudy afternoon in New York City, albeit amidst much more spectacular scenery.

With crying seagulls and drunken Icelandic banter as a backdrop, Okoi and I retired to the balcony for more wine and loose-tongued ruminations on the music business, the cosmic themes behind their latest release, and what role his swastika tattoos play in all of it.

STEREOGUM: Some bands are into psychedelics, and it shows in their music. Some bands do loads of speed, and it shows in their music. You guys aren’t exactly Puritans. Does your own substance use have any impact on the music you make with Bölzer?

KzR: Indirectly yeah, I think so. We love to drink, we like to enjoy ourselves in a hedonistic way, and we also like drugs, psychedelics especially because they open your mind. So any experiences we have had with drugs definitely influence us as people and will obviously influence the music too, especially in my lyrics and just the way I see the world. Music for me, creating the music we do, is a drug in itself. It’s a form of escapism, it’s like a meditation or sort of ritual when we’re playing live. You channel certain things that you’ve experienced before through the music and whenever you delve in substances again it just sort of creates this big connection.

STEREOGUM: I’ve seen you play a bunch of times now, and it always feels very primal. Your whole presentation is very visceral; you’ve got your shirt off, you’ve got the Cronos-angled mic, Fabian is back there bashing the skins. It all feels very real, and I think people really connect to that because it looks like you’re playing your balls off.

KzR: That’s interesting you say that because that is important for us. Everything you said is exactly correct, that’s the way we see our music, our performance. That’s the way we’d like to be perceived, I guess if we’d like to be perceived as anything, if it’s being looked at in a vanity sense, we just want to be honest and what we play is completely honest. We write what we feel, in terms of effort and song writing and structuring, anything in terms of aesthetics and symbolism, it’s very visceral like you said. It’s very human. Our whole theme is very human, it’s not about demons.

STEREOGUM: I was reading the promo sheet for the new EP, which is brilliant, and it said that while Aura focused on male energy, Soma focuses on its female counterpart. Could you tell me a little more about it? It seems like you’re focusing on very personal themes in a very cosmic sort of way.

KzR: It’s all the things that interest me as a writer, I’m speaking from my perspective now, as a lyric writer and the main songwriter. All things that interest me in general like mythology and ancient cultures, there’s a large emphasis put on what you are as a human being, the power you have, the weaknesses that you have, the dualism is integrated like male and female, dark and light and all of the different juxtapositions in life. That’s what interests me because that’s what it means to be living, so I like to differently play with that in the musical arena. The two EPs that we released are a concept package meant to complement each other and contrast each other, so with the male Aura and the female Soma, there’s a very lunar solar-orientated concept and it covers a lot of things that I think about, like being a man and being a person who is interested in things you don’t see firsthand. That’s what’s important for me, as well as the obvious.

STEREOGUM: In metal, we’re so used to hearing about Satan and demons and whatnot, and it’s all sort of been done. You’re part of a newish vanguard of extreme metal bands that are reaching for something different, like Cult Of Fire, Sheol, or Tribulation for example. It seems like a reaction to how inherently boring metal can be when left to its own devices, when it’s not challenged.

KzR: Oh yeah absolutely, I agree with you. All of the names you just mentioned, they’re all people who are creative and are fully aware of the metal roots. They’re all very well-versed in all of the metal bands who have created the base in the past, but they want to do something fresh, they want to stimulate themselves. As an artist you have to do the utmost you can to discover yourself and your creativity, I think that’s really important. It’s not just adhering to the so-called rules of the time.

STEREOGUM: You guys definitely break the rules. You’ve told me previously about how you’re happy to stay with Iron Bonehead and Invictus Productions, underground labels that have supported you since the beginning, instead of jumping ship to one of the biggest labels that have come knocking as of late. Like so much of your approach with Bölzer, that’s not a very typical move. Why are you sticking with this approach?

KzR: It’s a valid question and it comes down to a number of reasons, actually. Primarily because we’re working with friends and close comrades who have done a lot themselves to get themselves off of their feet, to create their own labels and distros and what not, and we’ve befriended them in the past and they’ve supported us. We want to support them back. It’s not just a working relationship, it’s a friendship before business or anything like that. The secondary reason is definitely that that’s never been an attractive thing if you’re aware of how the music industry functions on a larger level. I’ve never wanted or desired to be a part of that. My father is a musician too, and I’ve heard a lot of stories from him about his difficulties in the past.

STEREOGUM: Was he in a band?

KzR: He’s a solo artist, and he’s been doing it all his life, like 40 years.

STEREOGUM: So you sort of know what you’re in for.

KzR: Well, he definitely told me a lot of things, before I was even interested in getting my band anywhere. He told me all these stories and I saw it firsthand because my mother sort of took over managerial duties for him and I was always there. I knew how difficult it was for him, and how often he was away on the road playing gigs and not making much money. A record label took all the rights to his music in the early stages because he wasn’t aware of what he had to do to maintain his rights, and all that shit. For me, major record labels were never attractive. If you look at the old bands, speaking strictly metal now for example, or rock and roll, it was like goal number one was to get signed to a major label and all of these young kids, they didn’t know what happened behind the curtains, for them it was just like being part of the machine.

STEREOGUM: Usually it went wrong.

KzR: Yeah, usually it went wrong, exactly. Financially they lost I don’t know how much money, and secondly I think their music suffered negatively as well.

STEREOGUM: It’s funny, I think you would get some backlash if you signed to a bigger label, especially now. So often when a band tries to advance and sign to a bigger label, fans get so pissed off about it like, “Oh, they sold out, I’m not a fan anymore.”

KzR: That’s another issue that actually gets me worked up. Bands that are really truly dedicated to their art, and all they want to do is express themselves, and I truly believe most bands do that, even the fan perspective is always biased and it’s always flooded with different emotions. It’s just not reliable and the artist, fuck man, they do whatever they want. You are not them, they are not you, everyone is their own person and everything is subjective, so fuck it man. If a band wants to do what they want, they do it, I don’t care. I can understand fans getting worked up about their favorite band in the world taking a direction they never expected, but I mean man, what the hell?

STEREOGUM: You don’t know them, they don’t owe you anything.

KzR: Especially if the artist starts to realize that people are becoming reliant on their certain style of doing things, then they’re probably going to want to change just for the hell of it, because no one wants to be a cliché.

STEREOGUM: We’ve got the blueprints but there’s no reason to just blindly follow them unless you want to be an Incantation clone.

KzR: As much as I want to hate something like St. Anger for example, as much as I hate that record, not even having to listen through it once, I can still give respect to Metallica. Who cares, man. They can do whatever they want.

STEREOGUM: When guys put out the Roman Acupuncture demo the people that heard it were definitely stoked, but then you put out Aura and things got kind of crazy. I mean, we’re in fucking Iceland looking at a fjord drinking red wine, it’s a bit different from 2012, isn’t it? Why do you think you were the band and Aura was the record and that was the time that sort of just made everything pop off? You’re doing so well, and to a lot of newer fans, it seems as though Bölzer came out of nowhere fully formed, like you sprung out of Zeus’ forehead.

KzR: I think it’s a number of factors that are playing a role in the full thing. I had a band previously, so it’s not like my first band or anything, and I was really aware of wanting to create something which I could be proud of creating. Or I just wanted to create something which was very true to myself, so it was my own critique which was coming into question. So, I started that with Fabian, things started to work out well, we were happy with the material, we decided to just make a tape and release it ourselves, we happened to know some of the right people because we went to a lot of festivals and were talking with people. As luck would have it, talking to the right people we got to know Darragh [Invictus Productions] and Patrick [Iron Bonehead] and things took off from there. I think the fact that we’re a duo definitely plays a role in the whole thing as well. There are not many, especially you only have Inquisition, and maybe one or two others as well, it’s starting to move into doom and progressive and sludge and stuff with other duo bands.

STEREOGUM: Speaking of the huge sound, you’ve got a pretty unique set up. There’s so much going on and you sound so huge. Could you tell me what’s going on there?

KzR: I tune to B, just straight B. I split my guitar signal, I play a 10-string guitar. It’s not as complicated as it sounds, a B.C. Rich Bitch. It’s a custom shop model from the ’80s. Dave Mustaine used to play a Bitch, but he just left the four strings that you can double up, he left them out because it was a really cool, metal cut guitar for that time. I got myself one of them because I love what the 12-string brings in an acoustic arena: a really full chorus sound, you can play really simple chords and they sound huge. I’ve always loved it and I thought, “Wow, I’d love to do that in an electrical form.” I got wind of the 10-string B.C. Rich Bitch, tried one out and managed to find a really nice one from the ’80s and bought it. Then we started playing, just the two of us. We actually tried out two or three bassists when we started out, and it just didn’t work. The energy Fabian and I have wasn’t shared with a third member, and we just thought, “Man, fuck, let’s just try to do it double because the riffs I’m writing are just becoming bigger anyway, and I know what I want to do, I think I can do it without a bassist.”

STEREOGUM: How long have you guys known each other?

KzR: Seven years? Almost seven years. We just started carrying on as a duo, then I started making my setup bigger. I started using a three-way splitter to run the signal through two guitar heads and a bass head simultaneously. That’s basically the setup, with a lot of emphasis on the songwriting part, naturally. So we write as a duo and we know we’re a duo and we know we’re a live band, so when I write the riffs I make sure that it is a full-sounding ordeal. I still think it’s in its early stages. I’m never happy with anything but I really want to improve the setup and make it very imposing.

STEREOGUM: You guys are really are still in the early stages, which is mad when you think about all the progress you’ve made in the past couple years. So, now you’ve got Soma coming out in August and you’re going to reissue the Roman Acupuncture demo too, right?

KzR: Patrick from Iron Bonehead will be doing the vinyl of Roman Acupuncture, and Darragh will be doing the CD because we like to share the duties, and Patrick is primarily vinyl-oriented and he’s our major dude at the moment. We work with both and Darragh’s doing Soma on vinyl, which sort of balances everything out. The album is going to be released through Iron Bonehead.

STEREOGUM: Do you have any plans for U.S. distribution? You’ve got such a European-focused outfit, and clearly they do just fine, but have you given any thought to setting up a North American branch to get the record out there?

KzR: The idea is that with the debut album next year, we’re going to do that all ourselves with Patrick and he’s strongly convinced that he can cover the duties so I’m sure he can.

STEREOGUM: He is a smart man.

KzR: We want to do as much as we can ourselves, by our own means.

STEREOGUM: You’re like the Frank Sinatra of death metal.

KzR: You never know if you don’t try, so we’re going to go for it despite all of the offers that we have from other people. As I said at the beginning, we want to stick with our close friends.

STEREOGUM: That’s the easiest way to not get fucked over, and it’s really easy to get fucked over.

KzR: You get fucked over really quick and I don’t want to be fucked over by a person I don’t know. That would be the worst aspect of it, because I would kill him anyway, but going NATO on a guy you don’t even know, you start to realize what a fucking idiot you are for even getting into that kind of shit — you don’t even know the guy and you’re dealing with him and money and all that bullshit. Fuck that. I want to work with people I know and respect and that’s it.

STEREOGUM: I think a lot of bands are dazzled by the thought of big labels, but at the end of the day, they don’t care about you. You’re a sales figure. That’s why so many bands fall apart, because they don’t have anybody on their side and they’re surrounded by sharks.

KzR: Yeah, surrounded by sharks. That’s the most important factor of the whole thing, we’re not interested in becoming a blown-up name, an inflated name for a short period of time that appears on whatever magazine and whatever festival and whatever connection with other bands and labels and names. That’s of no interest to us whatsoever. We want to build ourselves up from the bottom and just do as well as we can. That’s all we want to do and the integrity is very important to us so we’re aware of what will happen if we decided to go another way and take up some of the offers we’ve been given and who knows if you don’t produce something that’s desired or expected, you just get spat out and forgotten about and you’ve lost every aspect of integrity you hoped to have earned. We have much more freedom this way, we can do everything we want to, everything. No matter what labels tell you, there’s always a hook. We don’t have that, so I’m happy about that.

STEREOGUM: I hope some younger bands read this, they could learn a thing or two from you guys, or rather, learn a couple of things from your dad.

KzR: He taught me to be a healthy cynic, that’s important.

STEREOGUM: Are there any other details you can give me that you’re okay with having public? You’re planning to do the full length in spring 2015, right?

KzR: Yes. What we’re going to do is go record in New Zealand with Cameron Sinclair, who did the mastering for both EPs and many other bands. He is a close friend and my favorite audio engineer because he’s a fucking genius. Anything he does is gold because he has a passion for it and he works with it until it’s finished and as it should be. He’s also critical, which is rare in this area of music, where I don’t think people are critical enough.

STEREOGUM: He did the new Diocletian, and that’s clean and filthy at the same time.

KzR: He makes big, imposing recordings sound the way they should be. We’re not interested in pop recordings that sound massive, there’s too much money involved. It’s as you said, it’s filthy and huge and beautiful at the same time. That’s it. The idea is to do a small tour on the way to New Zealand hopefully touching over Australia, perhaps Japan but things are in planning, and then after we’ll play a few gigs in New Zealand after recording, and then go over to America.

STEREOGUM: For a tour?

KzR: For a small tour, yeah. We’re working with people to organize that.

STEREOGUM: I have one more question. I wanted to talk about your tattoos, specifically the swastikas and sunwheels. I know you and I know what you’re about, but not everyone who sees you play has that background. I want to just get it all out there before anyone sees a picture of you and makes assumptions. So. What’s up with the swastikas?

KzR: Please, I’m very happy you asked me because only a few people have asked me in interviews and I’m more than happy to tell people because I don’t want to be misunderstood. My sunwheels, my swastikas, my whatever you call them, it’s an ancient symbol used by basically every culture on this planet at some time or another for more or less the same reason, to express their adoration for the sun, the solar power. Most of them were sun-worshipping peoples, or held respect for the balance of the sun. It’s also a lunar symbol in itself for the sun cultures. Its right or left form reversed is a lunar symbol, too, and it’s a female as well as a male symbol; it represents a lot of different energies. It’s a continuum, it can be a destructive force, it takes a lot of natural philosophies into one. If you read about it, it’s really fascinating.

STEREOGUM: The way you describe it, it makes so much sense in regards to the themes on Aura and Soma. There’s a huge thread running throughout your life that you recorded on wax and on your arms.

KzR: My two arms are dualities in themselves. For example, my hands are tattooed the way I use them. For me, my striking hand is on the guitar and my female creative hand is on the fretboard. They’re all thing that I’m aware of and that I’d like to accentuate, and so my tattoos do that. These tattoos are meant to do that, they’re meant to bring you a connection to yourself through vivid symbolism, to make yourself aware of what you are and what you belong to. That is the purpose of a tattoo, the way it always used to be. It channels energy and it almost emits it. I’m all about that, I’m all about channeling what you’re supposed to be as a human being. You’re supposed to do that, you’re not supposed to just exist. You’re meant to pass on things, you’re meant to create or destroy and be a part of some kind of change or movement.

STEREOGUM: It also recently dawned on me that the title of your much-loved song “Entranced By The Wolfshook” is actually referencing the wolf’s hook symbol, which has got a very heavy history of usage by the Nazis as well as in Hermann Löns’ book Der Wehrwolf and by forestry workers in Germany. You even incorporate the wolf’s hook into the Bölzer logo itself. Can you tell me why you decided to highlight that particular symbol?

KzR: Indeed, man’s lusting for power is as a wolf’s for meat … often leading to self destruction. For us the wolf’s hook, or Wolfsangel, is one of the many symbols of antiquity to become caustically stigmatized as a result of their usage within a fascist-era Europe, something we are soberingly aware of but do not condone. Enough systematic cultural lobotomization has taken place in the past to make any such further demonization of values and symbolism acceptable within a modern and supposedly tolerant society. We promote the growth and enlightenment of the individual, the last thing on our agenda would be to glorify the implements of power involved in the collective enslavement of a people and their individualism. Fascism and racism in that sense are pretty unattractive for us.

Bölzer’s Soma EP is out 8/5 via Invictus.

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Comments (78)
  1. I don’t know anything about this guy, but “I can’t be racist because I hate collectivism” is the standard right-wing line. If his goal is not being “misunderstood”, he might want to consider a more refined pro-swastika-tattoo argument.

    • P.S.: “Swastikas existed before the Nazis” is also the standard 8th grade line. This guy seems like a total knob.

      • wrec  |   Posted on Jul 29th -2

        “I don’t want to be misunderstood…. it’s an ancient symbol used by basically every culture on this planet at some time or another for more or less the same reason, to express their adoration for the sun, the solar power…. one of the many symbols of antiquity to become caustically stigmatized as a result of their usage within a fascist-era Europe, something we are soberingly aware of but do not condone… We promote the growth and enlightenment of the individual, the last thing on our agenda would be to glorify the implements of power involved in the collective enslavement of a people and their individualism. Fascism and racism in that sense are pretty unattractive for us.”

        Dumb commenter: “guy sounds like a nazi”

    • I went to highschool with Okoi and his father is Paul Ubana Jones, might want to Google the guy and reconsider your notion of him being a racist because he’s part Nigerian.

  2. He clearly states that :”we are soberingly aware of but do not condone” the ideology of fascist-era Europe.

    “P.S.: “Swastikas existed before the Nazis” is also the standard 8th grade line.”

    But what he says is TRUE, so what’s your point?

    • Stereogum: where you get downvotes for judging people who proudly display permanent swastikas on their bodies despite a “sobering awareness” of how people will surely interpret them.

      Yes, what he says about the swastika is true: in several cultures (not his own), it has been a positive symbol. But he is a white dude in the West who plays in a genre of music that is uncomfortably willing to associate itself with fascism and racism, and he knows what that symbol means to his audience. So even if I bought his explanation, it would be a pisspoor excuse for wearing the symbol on his body.

      But I don’t buy his explanation. “Swastikas aren’t NECESSARILY for Nazis” and “How can I be racist?! I love individualism!” are the rationalizations always used by dirtbag crypto-fascists in the metal scene and beyond.

      That’s my point.

      • His own culture didn’t use the this symbol in the past? How do you know enough about his heritage to make this claim?

        I wouldn’t personally get a swastika tattoo, because I don’t care ancient tribal stuff at all, nor do I care for fascism… but unless there is some skeletons in his closet that you are aware of, I don’t see any reason not to take his explanation at face value. He’s not saying that people don’t have a reason to be surprised/shocked by the swastika in present day. He simply explained what the markings mean to him. That’s it.

        I think you’re barking up the wrong tree in this case (at least at this point, with only his tattoo and explanation to go on).

        Band fucking SLAYS, though. I don’t want to drag this off topic from their music any more than it already is. I enjoyed reading about his 10 string setup, they sounded like a 5 piece band at MDF. It was mind blowing.

        • I know for sure that “his own culture” doesn’t involve positive use of swastikas because, again, he is a white dude in the West in the 21st century. It’s certainly possible that he has a bloodline to people who used the symbol centuries ago but that can hardly be described as a deeper cultural tie than the society he actually currently lives in. A white person wearing a swastika on his body in the 21st century is thoughtless (at best) or racist (at worse).

          I won’t keep taking up space with my opinions here, but I do just want to point out that I didn’t “drag” anything off-topic. Swastikas are mentioned in the headline, and they are discussed at length in the article, albeit in the context of the interviewer making excuses for Jones before he could make them for himself. It’s kind of fascinating that there are so many swastika apologists hanging around, though.

          • veil  |   Posted on Jul 30th +2

            He might look like a typical “white dude” to you but if you did some research, you would know that he’s actually multiracial.

      • reading all of your coments cheap suit ….all i can say as a black hispanic who has a doctorate in totalitarianism/sovietology …is that you are an utter dumbass. you are the only one here with your head up your ass. you are making a claim that suggest you know what the entirety of humanity will think and feel when they see his symbols as if somehow you have the authority to speak for everyone. not to mention you are assuming people are so blind to what should by now in 2014 be common knowledge that the nazis STOLE the symbol and PERVERTED IT to fit their ideology. FURTHERMORE …the NAZI SWASTIKA IS DIFFERENT FROM THE ANCIENT SWASTIKAS and the ones he has tattooed on him. the nazi swastika is a distinct symbol. unless his tatto EXACTLY matches that symbol IT IS NOT NAZI. only an idiot would not only think it does but fervently assert that this can be the only interpretation of it. as if somehow now that the nazis used it, it can no longer be used by anyone else. you may want to go to india or throughout eastern asia and tell all the buddhists to stop using it because they are being ignorant and offensive to the world because anyone who sees it will think they are nazis. oh but they arent white so its ok ….in other words only the color of their skin makes it ok for them. ….so …thats pretty fucking racist there buddy. cus u would be ignoring the difference of the symbol that these cultures use as opposed to the nazi one. as if somehow they are all the same and u refuse to acknowledge the right of these cultures to have a distinct symbol because white people changed it so now it always means this. for someone who claims to be anti-nazi you sound really fucking racist and ignorant. the only swastika for nazis is the nazi swastika. all the other swastikas and sunwheels and whatever else DO NOT HAVE NAZI CONNOTATIONS. i know NSBM bands who use the swastika and guess what THEY DONT USE THE ONES HE USES!!!! BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT THE SAME

        • You know, insane rants like this might be common on the Internet, but here at the Gum, we see very few. Well done, sir. And with the caps yelling to! Well done, indeed.

      • cheap_suit – presumably you’ve assumed that Jones, being an American, is a white-guy of predominantly Anglo-Saxon descent. The surname ‘Jones’ could be Welsh. You say the swastika has no positive associations with his ‘western’ culture (again, you’ve probably assumed Anglo-Saxon). Now, go and google the word ‘fylfot’ and stop telling people they cannot claim a symbol which has been positive to their ancestors for tens of thousands of years – THAT sounds like fascism. The (positive) swastika is not owned by Hindus or Buddhists, other than in the sense that they are the only surviving widely-practiced pagan religions.

        • Allow me to correct myself – there I was making assumptions Jones is American, only having a passing familiarity with Bolzer.

        • I’ve lived in the US and UK and am well aware that Jones can be Welsh in addition to being a popular American surname (particularly with African-Americans). Simply put, I had no idea where Jones’s last name came from and didn’t make any assumptions about it.

          Take a look at Jones’s tattoos and tell me they look like the fylfot. Jones’s swastikas are angled with long arms, not vertical with short ones.

          Is the wolfangel also an ancient British symbol? Did King Arthur preside over the “sermon of the crooked cross”? There’s no way to explain away this guy’s Nazi fetish by pointing to ancient sunwheels. People keep on trying though!

          • You’re leaping to negative conclusions about a guy you don’t know, who, based on this interview, seems like a pretty down-to-earth and genuine guy. He explains what this ancient symbol means to him, and instead of taking him at his word, you assume that he has some secret Nazi fetish. That’s pretty shitty.

  3. I hate this kind of crap. Swastika’s may or may not have been around long before WWII. It doesn’t matter. Everybody on the planet knows what they stand for now. cheap-suit is 100% correct and to sit around and pretent that swastika’s mean anything other than hate is patently ridiculous. When you put one of these on your body you know what you are doing and you know what you are saying to the world. Trying to somehow make it a “you don’t understand MY culture” thing is asinine.

    • It’s cool. I don’t mind being the bad guy in a thread where the “good guy” uses Nazi imagery in his logo, song titles, and tattoos. I guess this really is the age of ironic detachment, when people will jump on board for anything if it has enough hype behind it.

      You’d think Stereogum might have a little more sense than to promote this band so heavily without asking more than a few softball fanboy questions.

  4. I’m kind of going through a “mini metal” phasse right now. This is after 25 years of not listening to metal. To a certain extent I knew that this kind of thing was part and parcel of the metal world. In my heart I’d like to think it’s a bit like the Satanic thing in metal when I was a kid. Something that bands cloaked themselves in to make them seem more heavy and sinister. When I was a kid I thought Ozzy, Priest, Sabbath, Maiden, etc were all into Satan. I was far too young to understand concepts like marketing, lol.

    But I don’t think that’s the case here. I think metal might be a perfect place to hide in plain sight if you have this kind of socio-politocal agenda. And I guess I kinda get that too.

    I guess the only thing that I find disturbing about this thread is the downvotes you received. It’s not like you said anything hateful or demeaning. I would have thought the things you mention above were obvious and most folks wouldn’t have a problem with. And apparently I’m very wrong and equally naive.

    • ” I think metal might be a perfect place to hide in plain sight if you have this kind of socio-politocal agenda”

      And what is his socio-political agenda?

      “It’s not like you said anything hateful or demeaning.”

      Hateful, no. Demeaning? “This guy seems like a total knob” Is a total knob a respectful, uplifting term where you live?

      • Jones is the only person I’ve personally insulted in this thread. I don’t suck up to crypto-fascists, but I do try to at least be civil with their apologists.

        He seems like a knob in the interview, and proved he is a knob by the way he carried himself in this thread, lobbing insults and using his dad as a defense. (I didn’t realize being 25% black gave a person carte blanche to rep Nazism. Now *that* is some mealy-mouthed PC bullshit.)

        I think it speaks volumes that Jones’s defenders have been more capable of an adult conversation than the man himself. Apparently some people are only willing to defend their work when their buddies lob them softballs in puff-piece interviews.

  5. If you wish to discuss your obvious misinterpretation of what I state within the interview, feel free.
    I am as far away from a politically or racially motivated person as you can get. I am a proud bastard of three different cultures, one of them being african. So if you think I am a crypto-fascist, think again buddy.
    What is very certain though and this is made evident by the blind, childish assumptions above is your unsettling stupidity. Read some books boys, might improve your outlook on things.
    Regards
    O. Jones

    • I’m not your buddy, and I’ve read lots of books. I’ve even read a few that describe what symbols like the swastika and the wolfangel mean to a reasonable 21st century observer whose head isn’t firmly lodged in his own ass.

      Your band has a symbol associated with Nazism in its logo. You have a “well loved” song that mentions that symbol in its title. You have swastikas on your body. Your justifications for these things are weak and the people who believe them are weak-minded.

      Unless you’re going to try to convince me you’re an actual sun worshiper, there are only two explanations for your use of this imagery: either you’re a closeted bigot, or you’re so clueless and arrogant that you think you can recontextualize fascist symbols without people thinking you’re a fascist.

      • And what do you even know about solar worship besides a quick glance at wikipedia? Nothing, I’d bet. By your flawed logic, a caucasian person is not allowed appreciate an image of, say, the Buddha, because he/she is not from that culture. Yes, let’s discourage the interest in cultures that are not our own! And even if they were, they wouldn’t be allowed to get that image adorned on their body unless they were an ascetic Buddhist monk, right?

        Actually, I’m willing to bet that 99% of people who see this band’s logo won’t even think of Nazism because most people are simply oblivious to the wolfsangel symbol. But then again, everyone still thinks KISS are Nazis because of the “SS” in their logo, right?

        Furthermore, by your flawed logic, all artists must refrain from tackling social and cultural taboos in order to preserve the shallow misunderstandings of the masses. Brilliant!

        Mate, you’ve exhibited that your knowledge on this subject and the history of the svastika is superficial next to non-existent – you’re the weak-minded, clueless and arrogant one here. If you want to restrict your understanding of such ancient and auspicious symbols merely to fascist ideology then that’s your prerogative, but don’t assume that everyone else shares the same narrow perception as you. In fact, it’s idiots like yourself who perpetuate the stigmatisation of these symbols.

  6. Hahahahaha fuck you are even more stupid than I thought. Correct you are, friends we are not and never will be.
    For your information, neither symbol is a “fascist symbol”. Both of their histories and utilizations far precede the unfortunate era that was WWII Europe.
    If you so desire, google the name of my father Paul Ubana Jones and see what he looks like.
    Now, enough breath wasted on your immovable idiocy.

    • So it’s the second option, then: clueless and arrogant. At least that’s better than being a bigot. Plus, you’re young, and there’s still time for you to grow out of it. Unfortunately, your shitty fascist tattoos are for life.

      In the meantime, have fun while you can. The hype cycle for a blog band only lasts about six months.

      • veil  |   Posted on Jul 30th +1

        Sorry to inform you but Bölzer have been doing well for more than six months already because, guess what? They’re a fucking quality band.

      • Did you google his father?

        • Yep, and as I said upthread, I don’t see what it has to do with anything. People with black dads can romanticize fascism too. You are aware that Latin America is possibly the world’s biggest postwar Neo-Nazi stronghold, and that Hitler himself wasn’t exactly Aryan, right? This is basically an adapted version of “Some of my best friends are black!”

  7. :-) go and hang yourself moron, do mankind a favour.

    • So metal! You tell him, Okoi! Mankind will be so much better off without that guy who doesn’t get your… swastika tattoos. I mean, who needs him, right? What’s not to get? Of course you meant the tattoos to remind us of your 21st century theories about ancient pagan philosophies. How silly of this guy to think of the swastikas that people use to express their hatred of Jews as recently as–oh look at this article about graffiti in Rome–TODAY.

    • The fact that people are up voting a comment telling a person to go hang themselves is gross.

  8. Stereogum is not the best place for metal. The politically correct militants who have wandered away from their twitter campaigns to find the latest indie-pop queef accidentally stumbled upon something that is going to get stuck in their gullet. A degree of deft consideration, something these weird online moralists lack, is necessary in understanding and digesting the co-opting of symbols normally associated with violence and racism for aesthetic purposes.

    Many of these symbols adopted or modernized by fascists have origins that predate their Modern use and are culturally both consciously and subconsciously tied into the psyche of various northernly European cultures from thousands of years of pagan culture and tradition. Fascists groups harp on them because they know they aesthetically are profoundly evocative almost on a mystical level. Artist are ultimately left with the option to engage with them in a meaningful way, dissect, analyze and potentially reinvent them, but they are playing with fire and can easily be swept up and accidentally lend creditability or support to truly fascist and racist organizations. This, however, is the business of art, especially rock music as a general category. It explores the outer boundaries of socially acceptable behaviors, beliefs and aesthetics — shocks and stimulates them, an socially evolutionary force. If only the Stereogum was around for Elvis Presley so we could talk about his total moral corruption because of his hip-swaying, i.e. talking about a guy who has aesthetically provocative tattoos as being either an idiot or a Neo-Nazi even though he has professed multiple times for different reasons that he doesn’t identity himself with that political ideology.

    Nobody asks the dude with the American flag chest tat about the Trail of Tears, nor the Zionist bro, who missed the memo, with the Star of David tattoo if he feels okay about that symbol considering all the Palestinian civilians who have perished by a nation-state that uses such a symbol.

    I am a fan of Bolzer. The music and aesthetic is sublime and transcendent like looking down from a precipice on some vast, unforgiving and spiritually-consuming landscape. The aesthetic of the band and music is dangerous, but that is the point, isn’t? This is metal, and it populates a different reality from yours, don’t worry it won’t interfere with the release of the next Arcade Fire album.

    • Well said.

    • Brandon, I appreciate this thoughtful response, and will offer only one rebuttal: I think that some conversation similar to this one would have emerged on ANY music site — metal-specific or otherwise — that published this interview. I’m happy to have it on Stereogum because we’ve been enthusiastically covering Bölzer since first hearing them (click on any of the links in the story above for evidence of that).

      I got a chance to spend some time with both members of Bölzer at Maryland Deathfest, and in that brief meeting, I was sincerely impressed by their humility, their kindness, and their seriousness, all of which were displayed in both word and deed. I’m not sure they knew what Stereogum was, but they seemed flattered to learn of our coverage of their music.

      Beyond being a fan of Bölzer, I’m a pretty avid and active tattoo enthusiast (the 2010 feature I wrote about great American tattoo artist Mike Rubendall remains one of my proudest achievements). Tattoos are such an unusually specific and personal form of self-expression that even the simplest ones totally defy easy interpretation. Okoi is from New Zealand, a place where tattoos have especially unique and potent cultural and spiritual significance. I’m personally viscerally repulsed by sunwheels and swastikas — even the word “swastika” makes me queasy. When I first saw Okoi’s tattoos, I doubled back, scouring both his lyrics and his old interviews, and found absolutely zero evidence of bigotry in either. If that weren’t the case, I would have stopped covering Bölzer altogether.

      When Kim offered to me this interview, I accepted it knowing that particular exchange would lead to unease and revulsion, but eager to have Okoi’s explanations on the record. I can’t fault anyone for being unsatisfied with those explanations, but I’m reluctant to assume the worst about an artist, especially one who so openly addressed his choices.

      There are some artists in metal who have espoused fascist and separatist ideologies — Burzum is the most prominent example I can think of. There are others who blatantly embrace and flaunt Nazi imagery — Slayer have made a mint selling that repugnant shit to teenagers. Okoi Jones has tattoos that I would consider ill-advised at best, but which are meaningful to him, and which he is open to discussing without reservation. I’m not surprised that those tattoos raise suspicions, but in this case, to me, those suspicions are defused by the substance of that discussion.

      • Here are the opening lyrics to “Entranced by the Wolfshook”: “His tongue conjured up fire / In hearts of hope that did smolder / With words as clear as the wind / Blades sprang from ashes again.” OK, pretty boilerplate vague metal lyrics, though it seems pretty likely to me that these words would remind someone who is “entranced by the wolfshook” of Hitler.

        But the next part makes it bloody obvious: “Sermon of the crooked cross / The pulpits rock with death.” The swastika is fairly commonly referred to as the crooked cross; you can find this information on the wiki page even if you aren’t aware of the history.

        Look, Michael, I truly appreciate you giving the editorial point of view on this, and I see where you’re coming from. I’m happy at least to see that your POV is more conflicted than the one presented by the author of this piece. I can see how you arrived at your conclusion, but I respectfully disagree with it.

        I could see if this was a huge band like Mastodon and you were just reporting on a subject of widespread interest. But you’re playing an active role in hyping a relatively unknown band with (what is most readily interpreted as) fascist symbolism in virtually every aspect of their image, from their logo to their song titles to their lyrics to their actual bodies. I just think you’re playing this one all wrong.

        • I probably should have shared this earlier but some time ago, when I searched for background on this very lyric, I came upon an explanation from Okoi from last year (which he shared in a YouTube comments thread):

          ‘I am most certainly not promoting nazi symbolism. The relevance of the “wolf’s hook” or “crooked cross” is that of the wayward spirit. One manipulated and seduced into treading one path, which in the context of this song leads to self destruction, through the enthronement of war.’

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wu-ehYhkM0s

          You’re free to make of those lyrics what you will, but compared to “Angel Of Death” — maybe the most famous and popular metal song of all time — they seem fairly benign to me:

          “Auschwitz, the meaning of pain/ The way that I want you to die/ Slow death, immense decay/ Showers that cleanse you of your life…”

          • Thanks for responding.

            I’ve spoken my mind a lot in this thread, so I don’t want to eat up any more space by debating you on this. You’ve clearly done your homework and your opinion is not baseless. This difference between us is you take Jones at his word, and I think he’s a bullshitter. Only he knows which one of us is right.

            As a Stereogum reader, though, I would hope that the standard for promoting a questionable song would be a little more rigorous than, “Well, it’s not as bad as that song that glorifies Mengele!”

          • Thanks for saying all the obvious stuff on here, cheap_suit. It’s a thankless job, but in my opinion you did it without falling into the traps of hysteria, hypocrisy or moral superiority, despite what your critics say.

            I agreed with everything you wrote until here:

            “This difference between us is you take Jones at his word, and I think he’s a bullshitter. Only he knows which one of us is right.”

            I wish that were the case, but unfortunately I think it’s possible that Okoi is a bullshitter who has convinced himself that he’s mining a vein of secret truth that the lame masses simply can’t fathom. I wish that delusion would translate into authenticity, but it usually doesn’t. People are complicated. They can bullshit themselves.

      • I was being unfair to Stereogum for dramatic effect. I still come to this website gladly to see an array of different types of music. But unfortunately the people that comment on this website are the people that graduated with a GED from Youtube High. This topic of conversation on an interesting, challenging band is going in a direction that a metal blog would never mainly because some people are getting upset over the perceived bogeyman Nazi hiding somewhere in this band which seems like a systematic way to discredit extreme metal groups as art by people that may have already hated everything about this type of music.

      • At least Slayer have always clearly been going for shock value with their symbolism and I don’t take “Angel of Death” to be a ringing endorsement of such beliefs.

        Sporting swastika tattoos and explaining it as having some pre-Nazism significance (yes, of course, those psychopaths stole it from the ceiling of the Hofbrauhaus) IS silly. Whatever significance that symbol had throughout history has been both obliterated and superseded by its association with Nazism. If you hail from central or northern Europe and, in particular, the German-speaking part of the world (they are from Switzerland are they not?), then it is nearly impossible to take the swastika for any other possible meaning than the one it had from 1923-1945. It is rather like trying to explain sporting a narrow mustache in 2014 as an innocent homage to Charlie Chaplin.

    • //Nobody asks the dude with the American flag chest tat about the Trail of Tears, nor the Zionist bro, who missed the memo, with the Star of David tattoo if he feels okay about that symbol considering all the Palestinian civilians who have perished by a nation-state that uses such a symbol.//

      Sorry, but you’re way off base here. This is the classic method of deflecting serious conversation by reducing the opposing view to “political correctness”. If your opponent is just another PC whiner, then you don’t need to engage him; so much the better if he’s an Arcade Fire fan (I’m not), because then he doesn’t “get” metal and can truly be disregarded.

      Have you noticed that indie rock types endlessly mock and interrogate jingoistic American imagery? If Stereogum featured a metal band whose singer had a big American flag chest tat (which they wouldn’t, unless it was clearly ironic) you can bet that American imperialism would be raised as a topic.

      I don’t know of any bands featuring “Zionist bros” but if one ever does come around, we will see very quickly that most Stereogum readers are pro-Palestine, as evidenced by the Eddie Vedder story that ran a week or two ago.

      In the end, your very verbose response boils down to, “It’s OK for metal bands to flirt with fascist imagery because it’s metal and you don’t get metal so fuck you THIS BAND SLAYS.” It’s a rationalization I’ve heard before, and I guess I really don’t “get” metal because it still sounds completely incoherent to me.

      • You are boarding on troll, my friend, and the sad thing is that you are not trying to be a troll.

        I mean I rarely get too into the whole political correctness debate as it is pretty tired and hackneyed. I feel like I’m debating with somebody on Jenny Jones in the early 90s about whatever fabricated political issue is hot. “Did Marilyn Manson got too far with making my son shop at Hot Topic!? Next on Jenny Jones.”

        But you are categorically some sort of politically correct walking archetype that lacks any ability to register the grey areas of this issue turning you into an argumentative juggernaut. I can sense that we will not come to any mutual agreement on this as your mind is already made up.

        You missed a little bit of my humor in the response. That doesn’t surprise me.

        No, my point which I will put forth again is that Metal is an art form in the tradition of Rock music. It’s formation hinges on challenging our values with the fringe elements of our own cultures and psyches. It is not a blank check to do and say whatever you want, but the point is to balance on the edge of what is aesthetically and socially acceptable to present a didactic and reflective piece allowing us the space to see ourselves — what we see we often don’t like — all the better! The sheer fact that we are arguing tirelessly about the meaning of these symbols and their value or danger is sort of testament to my point.

        Or we could use your hamfisted, straw man fallacy where i sound like this: “Dude, heilz metal guys. This shit is so dope. Only metal heads get metal, only metal gets me. Rally round your scene, dawg!”

        • //[Metal] hinges on challenging our values with the fringe elements of our own cultures and psyches. It is not a blank check to do and say whatever you want, but the point is to balance on the edge of what is aesthetically and socially acceptable [....] The sheer fact that we are arguing tirelessly about the meaning of these symbols and their value or danger is sort of testament to my point.//

          I would agree with all of this. Clearly we differ on the point of whether this particular band’s aesthetic crosses over the line of “what is aesthetically and socially acceptable”.

          Of course, the band itself isn’t making the argument you’re making; they insist that none of this imagery has anything to do with fascism and it’s all a big misunderstanding on the part of people who don’t read books or understand ancient cultures. I think that’s plainly disingenuous, and the band is clearly using these images precisely to walk that “edge” and align themselves with metal’s flirtation with fascism.

          It would appear you agree with me on all the facts but have drawn a different conclusion. I can live with that if you can. How does that make me a troll?

          • You just seem oddly vested and combative about it. And you’ve pretty much dedicated the past 2 or so days to this to prove that Bolzer is insincere about why they are using these symbols. Seems a bit extreme if you weren’t getting some sort of weird delight over riling everybody up.

            Yeah, I think Bolzer is also being careful with how they are presenting themselves since if they didn’t give you the limp-wristed response everybody wants from them that they are just feeling the pagan vibes, they would be incinerated on the internet. Even now where they are trying to explain themselves as artists, everybody is still trying to claim they are crypto-nazis. Metal flirts with fascism, paganism flirts with fascism, that is one aspect that makes metal interesting and also disarms its threat because it is a sublimation and an artistic space to deal with that human condition. You just can’t be very overt about it because it is socially unacceptable and has to be approached in subversive mediums.

            No political figure will ever reach the masses riding on a bolt of thrash metal guitars full of elitist pricks and underachievers. Fascism will rise jamming out to Bruce Springsteen (I still love you, Boss) or something equally pedestrian.

          • Brandon — I’m no more vested or combative than you are. I have also used actual examples from the band’s work to back up my argument, and haven’t referred to anyone as a “moron” (which Jones called me yesterday) or “limp-wristed” (which I guess means I’m gay or something? It’s been a while since I was in junior high).

            Your response reveals nothing new about your position. We both agree the band romanticizes fascism. The difference is that you think it’s cool, and I don’t. I also find it amusing that you accuse me of trying to “rile” people while you defend the use of swastikas in metal precisely BECAUSE they rile people. Your stance on this is just totally incoherent, and it is completely fine that you disagree with me.

          • I didn’t call you limp-wristed! Haha, you are sensitive! I said they, Bolzer, are expected to give a limp-wristed or defanged view of their aesthetic to save themselves some backlash. We disagree on what art is. That is fine.

            You googled lyrics? Grade A scholarly work. And you interpreted them according to your already established argument which was counterpointed by the explanation of what the lyrics meant from the man that wrote them.

            I don’t think it is cool — referring back to your straw man fallacy! I think it is artistically acceptable on a case by case basis of merit and deftness.

            There is a difference between superficially riling people up like a troll, and riling people up to look into something meaningful like art.

            I’m as coherent as it serves your argument and your powerful ability to conflate everything into one categorical stupidity.

  9. Thanks for posting this Michael.

    Part of my problem with Okoi’s explanation is that I think it’s at least partly disingenuous, even if he isn’t secretly a fascist. And I don’t mean this in an anti-metal, “metal sux” kind of way. (I don’t think I’ve had an extended argument about what kind of music is worst/best since the 90′s, and I don’t want to have one now.) But clearly since the beginning, metal has been at least partly about trolling whatever moral authority dominates the culture at the moment. So you had a lot of satanic imagery in the 80′s, because evangelical America was ascendant and that was exactly the kind of thing that was going to upset those people in that moment. (Sarcofago had to come from a Catholic culture, right?) Right now in America we’re living in a moment when Chistian morality is slowly but surely giving way to secular liberal morality as the dominant moral code, which is why “Satan and demons and whatnot” don’t feel edgy to us anymore and fascist symbols still do. It’s not the same mythology, but I believe that at least partially, Okoi’s motivations are coming from the same place. So yesterday it was pentagrams and today it’s swastikas. When it was pentagrams, artists had pseudo-philosophic explanations for why they were using satanic imagery. Now Okoi’s got a pseudo-philosophic explanation for his swastikas. I’d have slightly more respect for him, if he’d just own it and say he got swastika tattoos to piss off liberals, but instead we get an anthropology lesson. I don’t buy it.

    • I’m pretty sure it wasn’t done to “piss off liberals”, but I can’t say for certain. I think his tattoos are pretty restrained in size and form, and they do really seem like personal expression. If there’s a social aspect to them (and of course there is, whatever the man says, because he has swastikas on his arm), it’s probably meant to provoke thought and conversation rather than revulsion and fist fights. Not that it won’t provoke the latter (as can be seen in this peanut gallery).

      Instead of fighting over this, let’s all come together in laughter over this ridiculous guy who is clearly trying too hard:

      http://www.metalinjection.net/tattoos/coldwar-frontman-is-not-a-nazi-hes-just-reclaiming-the-swastika

      • I’m struggling to discern the difference between Jones’s rationalization and the Coldwar guy’s rationalization. They are exactly the same, except that Jones has better aesthetic taste.

        It’s really interesting how many people have come here to support Jones while substantively agreeing with his critics.

        • I might be missing some images of Jones’ other tattoos, but the swastika’s I’ve seen on him are pictured in this chummy lil’ picture:

          To crib a bit from Jones’ response above:

          “My two arms are dualities in themselves. For example, my hands are tattooed the way I use them. For me, my striking hand is on the guitar and my female creative hand is on the fretboard. They’re all thing that I’m aware of and that I’d like to accentuate, and so my tattoos do that.”

          I know we’re both in our own echo chambers (and that I’ve taken the less safely defensible side of the argument), but I think Jones’ explanation of his tattoos seems to jibe with their design, hence why I stated that I think they are intended to invite conversation rather than bald-faced outrage (or at least more of the former than would normally be expected, with the latter being inevitable). I think it’s a different story when you cover your head and belly in a pattern of unambiguous Nazi swastikas in an in-your-face effort to reclaim the symbol. Either the guy is limply trolling good upright citizens of the world by having an elaborate backstory justification behind the little sunwheel designs on his left arm and the wolfsangel on his right (a conspiracy worth believing, I guess), or they actually mean something to him. The difference is in personal significance and, less plainly, in subtlety.

          I think there’s a reasonable difference between the two, but then again, I also really love every little thing I’ve heard from Bölzer, and I can barely bring myself to be ambivalent about Coldwar’s music. I’ve also had a lot of practice dealing with cognitive dissonance being a longtime Morrissey apologist.

          • Your perspective makes total sense to me, as does any other which admits conflictedness about this kind of aesthetic (and have upvoted all of them, while most Bolzer apologists seem to be downvoting me on sight).

            I am also fine with anyone who acknowledges that Jones must know these are provocative symbols, and uses them for the purposes of provoking conversation and/or outrage. This is precisely the “flirtation with fascism” that I refer to. We are *all* fascinated by evil/racism/fascism, but most of us don’t go out of our way to identify with fascist symbols in order to explore that fascination. When you choose to do that, I think you ought to have a really good explanation for yourself, and my subjective opinion is that Jones does not. The imagery I see/hear in “Wolfshook” and in Jones’s tattoos seem to aim for the “cool” or “edgy” aspect of fascism rather than interrogating it in any meaningful way.

            Some will argue that an artist doesn’t have a responsibility to take political stances. I would agree, unless the artist makes himself political by making political references in his work, however vague they may be. (In fact, a vague political reference is much more dangerous than a direct one, since it runs away from its own responsibilities.)

            The argument I call bullshit on is the one that claims swastikas are only political symbols when uptight liberals decide they are, or that they can be recontextualized in any way that does not make at least a passing nod to fascism. When people throw that kind of bogus line at me, I’m likely to lump them in with the Coldwar-esque crypto-fascists who similarly insult my intelligence.

            I also responded to Jones’s direct insults with more venom than was probably necessary. It honestly never occurred to me that Jones himself would participate here. If it had, I certainly wouldn’t have tried to open a dialog by calling him a “knob”. The internet environment makes us a little more flippant than we ought to be sometimes.

            I don’t think Okoi Jones is literally a neo-Nazi, although he certainly might be, and he’s invited that ambiguity by romanticizing these images the way he has. I *do* think he clearly has a Nazi fetish, and despite his feelings or intentions, he has failed to direct that fascination toward anything other than glorifying and mythologizing those images.

            I truly truly hate it when comment threads become about the commenters rather than the article, and I really have tried to resist posting here over and over, but people have tended to address me directly and I’ve felt the need to reiterate what I feel is plainly obvious to anyone who isn’t overly acclimated to the cognitive dissonance that so often attaches itself to this genre.

          • Sorry, I didn’t mean to add the rogue apostrophe to that first “swastikas”, and I also meant to write that the difference in subtlety between the two tattoos is seen MORE plainly. I also was not trying to act all snooty with that bit about “a conspiracy worth believing” or act like I’m making some bold stance by “taking the less safely defensible side”. Seriously, I’m more interested in my point of view on the subject understandable without resorting to shrill nastiness. As I stated elsewhere, I don’t usually do message boards (though I do read them a lot).

            That’s why I stayed the heck away from commenting on the Inquisition news from a few months back because, even though I adore that band’s music (one of my top 10 albums of last year), it seemed like the boys in the band had a dumb past flirtation with really uncool things that they were trying to keep a lid on. If there is any truth to the slung accusations, they’re not really defensible, though I don’t grudge them for whatever might have happened as long as they weren’t actively promoting odious viewpoints (they really REALLY don’t, as far as I can tell, probably just fun family-friendly cosmic Satanic negation silliness).

            This guy, however, seems to have a decent, believable story behind his tats, and I think it’s worth recognizing the significance because, as I mentioned earlier, I think Jones brings some good level-headed decency to a worldwide extreme metal scene lousy with examples of crappy politics that tend to overshadow other really cool stuff. I don’t like the mentality that reduces a diverse group to shorthand knee-jerk first impressions. Accepting the grey areas is rough, but I get ill living with the alternative. For an even less defensible (I’d argue) character, read this short blog post about H. P. Lovecraft from writer Nnedi Okorafor.

            http://nnedi.blogspot.com/2011/12/lovecrafts-racism-world-fantasy-award.html

            Since I’ve been really fascinated with my Polish heritage for long time now, I’ve mused with someday getting a stylized tattoo on my forearm of the Światowid ze Zbrucza, a pre-Christian Slavic idol, but I’ve always been wary about the sunwheel on one of its sides. It looks like a little asterisk with a circle around it, which, while less obvious, is still something I’d have a hard time justifying, especially since I’m not really a tattooed guy — it’d stick out pretty glaringly if it were part of one of my only tattoos.

  10. Great thread. This one actually got my blood moving around a bit. I really want to check this band out. But as stated earlier I simply cannot. I certainly appreciate Okoi Jones coming here and attempting to clarify his views. And perhaps on a very personal level his tattoos mean exactly what he claims they mean to him.
    To me the swastika represents my grandfather gassed in some hellhole.

    This reminds me of the Confederate flag issue. I realize to many southerners the Confederate flag represents a myriad of southern ideals and history. Conversely to many blacks that flag represents slavery and all that came with it.

    Some things aren’t all that gray. Some things are pretty black and white.

    • All it takes is a symbol that you have decided is a swastika even though the bearer says it is not to invoke the horrible suffering of your grandfather to use for political affect. Cool story, bro.

      • Cool response, bro. His point, as I understand it, is that neither you, nor Okoi Jones, get to decide what the swastika means to other people. I get that your point is, provided the context, we should not be offended. And honestly, Im not really (cant speak for blochead). But the reality is, is that most people who see his tattoos are not going to know the context. I know that the few times that I have had the misfortune of encountering someone with a swastika tattoo it has made me feel weird, and bad, and vaguely afraid for my physical safety (im ethnically Jewish, although I dont practice), and I dont feel like it is a huge stretch to say that most Jews would feel this way. Now, is making a (large) group of people uncomfortable a crime? obviously not. Are individuals under any (legal) obligation to care how certain symbols might effect people? No. But its still a dick move.

        • “His point, as I understand it, is that neither you, nor Okoi Jones, get to decide what the swastika means to other people.”

          Unless it means the thing YOU want it to then suddenly the meaning of it all is context-free because what YOU believe about the symbol is evident and universal and is like some divine mathematical truth. So contexts are for the people who are interpreting something differently (i.e. wrongly) from the self-evident truths you farted out of your mouth, right?

          • lol, youre delightful. am i misunderstanding, or is your argument that I am wrong in assuming that a majority of people (at least in western cultures) see the swastika as a symbol of hate? if that is indeed your argument, then it is not a good one. youre grasping at straws. rest your case bro

  11. Coming in 2015: The Soft Pink Truth’s cover of “Entranced by the Wolfshook” with vocals provided by Grimes.

  12. No one (including the man himself) is saying he has Nazi swastikas tattooed on him…
    The tattoo on his hand in the picture above appears to be a combination of the Tibetan/Jain swastika. Can’t say much about the other ones. Although I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have a block Nazi swastika tattoo. Fuckin’ Nazis had to go and misappropriate so many symbols, therefore stigmatizing them forever.

  13. True story……my 72 year old mother bought a new summer hat last year. I told her I thought it looked really fetching on her. She said “I know!! Isn’t it just the gayest thing?”. I had to inform my mother that the word “gay” no longer means “happy” or “pretty” or anything the word “gay” meant decades ago. For the vast majority the word gay now means “homosexual”.

    Swastika’s did mean something other than hate at one time. The Nazi’s ruined that. They twisted and appropriated something that had great meaning for millions of people and turned it into something vile and loathesome. And as much as that truly SUCKS ASS that’s what has happened and it’s not going to change.

    Millions and millions of people died violently at the hands of these people. I understand what the artist in question is trying to say and on some level I actually do appreciate it. But in big picture context that message falls very, very flat.

    Not unlike others who have said same….I assure you this is my last post on this thread.

    • Did she retract her statement and issue an apology on twitter? I don’t want to assume your mother is a bigot but she did engage in ABSOLUTE BIGOTRY! I will not be visiting your mother in the nursing home anymore. I also believe that we should reduce her access to the mashed potatoes in the cafeteria.

  14. Well this went well.. bunch of uppity net warriors getting their E-knickers in a twist over non-existent links to fascism.

    I may be biased being a big fan of Bolzer (I’ll assume you’ll start your argument here) but if a person states that the imagery they have tattooed upon themselves is A: not Nazi, B: not fascist C: not racist and D: none of the above.. why would you immediately jump to the conclusion that said person is a ‘bullshitter’ if you have absolutely no knowledge of them as a person apart from this interview??

    It’s almost as if you (cheap_suit) really wanted his tattoos to be racist/fascist so your argument had any sort of validity and once it was proved on multiple occasions that it didn’t – you went full troll.

    Get a grip.

    • David Duke will tell you he’s not a racist. It’s a reassurance that means nothing. I judge a man by his actual behavior, not the rationalizations he provides after the fact.

      Dude sings about Nazis, gets swastikas tattooed on him, and incorporates the wolfsangel into his band logo, and I’m a reactionary troll for identifying him as someone who romanticizes fascism? Get a grip.

      I can see this link must have been publicized by Bolzer somewhere, so I can assume from here on this thread will be clogged up by fanboy apologists who don’t even normally visit this site. There’s no point in even trying to engage with that.

      • veil  |   Posted on Jul 31st +3

        Okoi Jones in 2005: “I could argue myself into the grave on the topic of National Socialism and its increasing presence within the metal scene. I am politically adverse to it and see it as something irrelevant to music in general. There is a plethora of lost individuals who feel the need to be part of an organisation or carry ideological armbands in order to be something. Many of the people sporting pseudo-Nazi identities or claiming to harbour innocent right-wing or NS beliefs are utter hypocrites with very little comprehension of what these ideologies actually pertain to and advocate. In saying that I have no time for anyone involved in the NF or angst ridden populist politics.” (Link: http://www.metalcrypt.com/pages/interviews.php?intid=174)

      • cheap_suit | Posted on Jul 29th +2
        I don’t know anything about this guy, but…

  15. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  16. I wonder how many times cheap_suit can say exactly the same thing?

  17. “I’m not a fascist.”

    “That sounds like something a fascist would say!”

  18. I know I’m coming into this discussion a bit late, and I’m usually never one to contribute to message boards because they are just depressing more often than not, but I feel like nobody here has shared the lyric in “Entranced by the Wolfshook” that makes its intent most clearly (unless someone added something last night which I haven’t read): “Blood! Weak is the pride in your veins / Master! Gives your fear a face that you can hate / Iron! Is the solution to the problem / Slave! Is what you are, confirmed in unison”.

    I dunno, I always took that song specifically as an artistic and fairly direct statement directed towards anyone who felt icky about the band members’ wolfsangel tattoos. Seriously, their most well known promotional photo is of the two guys in the band explicitly showing you their potentially offending tattoos. They’re coming from the world of extreme metal, which (especially in Europe) is typically dogged with frustrating fascist connections that usually get downplayed or obscured by the artists themselves so they can still hypocritically reach a wide enough audience (bands like Burzum and Graveland notwithstanding).

    • I should clarify at the end of my post there that I meant that Varg Vikernes and Rob Darken are massive creeps (never mind the quality music at least one of the two has made) who ride the wave of their controversial shit politics/philosophies to successfully reach disaffected dopes looking for a solid way to rebel.

      I live in Appleton, a little city in Wisconsin where, despite having its own metal community, the general community’s understanding of “extreme metal” is basically Slipknot (maybe Cannibal Corpse for the Gen X parents who remember Ace Ventura). A couple months ago I was absolutely floored to see this sweet looking hippie kid wearing a Burzum shirt and taking a walk downtown with what I assumed was his girlfriend a big gawky smile on his face. It was adorable! I know it’s an unfair assumption to make, but I couldn’t help thinking the kid was an ignorant stooge, and my discomfort was mingled with the shame that I probably would have been the type of kid to wear a Burzum shirt myself when I was his age.

      To get back to Bölzer, I guess I just don’t find the response to Kim’s question to be as much of a side step as bands like Drudkh or Inquisition, with their presumed embarrassing pasts in lunkheaded extreme ideology. Again, for me it boils down to how straightforward they’ve been with the wolf’s hook thing.

      That being said, burn your Ramones, Siouxsie/Banshees, Joy Division, David Bowie and Stooges records, people. Fascist flirtation has always been a big thing in subversive rock/pop music. Hell, I got raised eyebrows and indignant looks for my Gang of Four t-shirt, and I honestly felt pretty dumb trying to justify it to someone who made the connection to the Cultural Revolution.

  19. you people should discuss about the music – it is HIS body! Look away if you can’t live with that fact.

    • “…I love what the 12-string brings in an acoustic arena: a really full chorus sound, you can play really simple chords and they sound huge. I’ve always loved it and I thought, ‘Wow, I’d love to do that in an electrical form.’ I got wind of the 10-string B.C. Rich Bitch, tried one out and managed to find a really nice one from the ’80s and bought it.”

      I’m no musician, just a fan, but I thought it was pretty cool reading about how this guy manages to sound like a one man metal Glenn Branca Guitar Orchestra.

  20. This Interview was about Music and showed his personality a bit aside.. And at the end that had absolutely nothing to do with what you guys stated in your comments! I also thought it is a long time ago, I saw someone answering that true and also interesting.
    Believe me one thing (as I know lots people in the Music Business) he would definitely not be invited to play at some Festivals when he really would be kind of a rasist!)

    I am also disappointed and cannot believe how much shit people from an enlightened 20th century can write in a row.. And also misunderstand and judge someone (they don’t know) only because of a tattoo????? Oh hell what is wrong with you guys?? I am German and also I understood what he explained and talked about. For me it sounded more you did not understand Metal at all – I regret!

    At the end it is not so much what people say, but what they do. And he seemed to have enough “ass in his trousers” (as we say) to stand behind what he is talking about here.

    I saw Bölzer now twice live and really was positively surprised how that 2-man show has rocked the stage!! They got me as a fan with that. I did not know them before and it was a blast, only too short maybe :) Spot on for that!
    For the rest I fucking don’t care as long as Music makes my life worth it and as long as they do not destroy themselves to much for drugshit.. And also this would not be none of our business!!

    Good luck to them and I hope they do not drown in the sharky egoistic all about money Musicbusiness!
    I also hope that following Vinyls/CD sound different and not only like a copy of the first ones..

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