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Neo-Nazi Music Concerts: Incubators of Far-Right Extremism

Ms Saman Ayesha Kidwai is Research Analyst at Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi.
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  • February 28, 2024

    Far-right extremist music concerts Call of Terror and Hot Shower in France and Italy respectively in February–March 2024 are expected to intensify the far-right movement moving forward. This is the first time such concerts are being organised since the COVID-19 outbreak. These concerts, like Ukraine’s Asgardsrei festival—a famous black metal Neo-Nazi musical event that was held annually until the pandemic—are pivotal to the mobilisation and recruitment of hardened extremists.

    Such concerts feature bands who promote a bigoted and racist ideology, including one of the most notorious sub-genres within the black metal musical arena, i.e., National Socialist Black Metal or NSBM. Racist neo-Nazis have used this genre of music to disseminate a violent and xenophobic ideology which espouses White supremacy, anti-establishment narratives, Holocaust denial and anti-Jewish sentiments. At the same time, they have popularised music as a key avenue for transnational networking of like-minded individuals who ardently support a virulent ideological belief, raising millions of Euros in revenue.1

    The network established among such ideologically inclined individuals (neo-Nazi black metal followers) spans the European continent and encompasses Russia as well as the United States. It brings together those driven by White supremacist narratives, glorification of violence, and call for violent actions aimed at realisation of ethno-national racial and cultural superiority.

    The resurgence of Call of Terror and Hot Shower needs to be contextualised in the backdrop of legalisation of the fascist salute in Italy, the remigration debate in Germany, and the far-right in Europe gaining increasing popularity as the only viable alternative to address the electorate’s socio-economic concerns while pushing for the adoption of a more hardliner approach on immigration.

    It also needs to be understood within the ambit of the ongoing Israel–Hamas conflict and the Ukrainian crisis, which have resulted in widespread anti-Semitism, racist ethno-nationalism, and vilifying rhetoric against Jews propounded by Neo-Nazis across Europe and the United States. Ukrainian neo-Nazi groups like Azov Batallion have showcased Nazi insignia on their uniforms. This group has been integrated into the Ukrainian armed forces to fight against Russia’s military actions.

    Music’s role within the far-right extremist culture is critical to understanding why concerts and musical gatherings have retained their prominence and have attracted an increasing number of recruits to the racially divisive ideological belief and value system. Robert Futrell and Pete Simi have explained that

    ‘The music does more than convey anger, hatred, and outrage towards racial enemies; like all music, it is heavy with emotions like pride, dignity, love, and pleasure, which creates a collective bond that strengthens members’ commitment to the cause.’2

    Neo-Nazi music has provided some youth with the opportunity to freely advocate and glamourise their extremist propaganda and violence, and indulge in proscribed symbolic gestures. Moreover, it has forged ethno-nationalist, emotive and community ties that surpass territorial boundaries.

    While neo-Nazi black metal initially appeared to have burst onto the musical scene in the 1990s, music’s role in promoting a racist worldview has its roots in the anti-Semitic compositions created by Richard Wagner, who was celebrated by Adolf Hitler and in the Third Reich’s efforts to ban music considered to be ‘degenerate’, i.e., associated with Jews.3 Violence is encouraged, aided and abetted among neo-Nazis in this industry and against those considered as the ‘other’, including police officials and members of the LGBTQ+ community.4  

    As part of its investigative report, VICE News has pointed out a critical fact that must be considered while strengthening efforts to clamp down on the occurrence of such activities and framing counter-extremism strategies. It notes that

    ‘These music events serve as a key revenue stream for the traditional neo-Nazi underground scene, with much of the money raised put back into far-right activity. These activities include financing the publication of political material, organising events, covering legal fees for extremists who fall foul of the law.’5

    The sale of tickets, merchandise, memorabilia and catering leading up to and during such events is expected to facilitate the financing of extremist agendas and dissemination of a divisive ideology riddled with hate and linkages to the Nazi era.

    Additionally, Identitarianism is a movement which has denounced Islam, immigration, pluralism, globalism and refugees, has been associated with anti-Semitic figures like Martin and Brittany Sellner. It is believed to play a central role in facilitating the establishment of bridges between trans-national far-right extremists who are in attendance for such concerts.6

    This specific brand of black metal musical sub-culture features Nazi symbols and demonises liberals, left-leaning politicians and minorities. For example, in the past, Erschiessungskommando, a neo-Nazi band, released a song the lyrics of which explicitly targeted a left-leaning member of Thuringia’s State Parliament, Katharina König-Press—‘You will die cruelly, that is not the question’—and her father, a vocal opponent of far-right extremism.7 Notably, Thuringia is one of the key bastions of Alternative für Deutschland (AfD, a far-right party in Germany), which has been declared as extremist along with its youth wing in several states across the country by the domestic intelligence agency. 

    Organisers and attendees of these music concerts rely on encrypted channels or those whose membership is closely regulated by far-right elements to avoid being prosecuted by the authorities for their deliberations and actions. This explains why there is often much ambiguity and loopholes regarding the precise logistical details of most of the events and the attendees’ details, among others.

    At the same time, relatively small-scale gatherings such as those held in Hungary in November 2023 organised by Nordic Sun Records mentioned on its website the relevant details—the date of the musical events, the entrance fee, bands performing on said dates, and the area in which the events would be held.8 The brazen attitude displayed by the promoters signals widespread complicity of authorities and political elites, perhaps even Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who has been known to attend several far-right events. Orban’s policies have led to the ascendance of far-right values which has nurtured a fertile environment for neo-Nazi extremist groups to prosper.

    Notably, France, Hungary, Ukraine, Germany and Italy are some of the countries which (whether due to the backing of far-right elements who might have infiltrated various state institutions covertly or overtly) now play host and incubator even perhaps, to well-known far-right elements and a neo-Nazi black metal scene. In fact, former Ukrainian Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk and former Minister of Temporarily Occupied Territories, IDPs and Veterans Oksana Koliada attended a neo-Nazi concert held in Kyiv in October 2019, where the main attraction was a holocaust denier neo-Nazi band, Sokyra Peruna.9

    After the pandemic abruptly disrupted Asgardsrei, a festival considered to have been critical in constructing ‘a pan-European community of right-wing extremists’,10 Call of Terror and Hot Shower could generate greater traction and unprecedented revenue, and could even replace Asgardsrei as the epicentre of the neo-Nazi black metal congregation.


    Neo-Nazis have exploited music’s potency to generate a cult-based following among radicalised individuals. This has resulted in strengthening the far-right scene across the Atlantic and networks forged by individuals with shared interests. While there is a dearth of information about the precise attendees of these concerts, a rough estimate stands at a few hundred. It must be understood that those who fall into this category are hardened extremists who can carry out significant damage and promote far-right propaganda, especially with social media and encrypted forums at their disposal.

    Despite the abovementioned warning signs and seriousness of these threats visible to policymakers and intelligence agencies, the announcement of Call of Terror and Hot Shower and other simultaneous small-scale gatherings indicate that they have been largely disregarded. As a result, given the swelling support for far-right populist politicians and agendas internationally, it is unlikely that serious efforts will be undertaken to clamp down on them in the foreseeable future. These developments can be expected to have a long-term and damaging effect on efforts by moderate politicians and allied agencies to conserve globalist and pluralist societies across communities, resulting in growing fissures and socio-economic polarisation.

    Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Manohar Parrrikar IDSA or of the Government of India.