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Disma Booted from Netherlands Deathfest Due to Nazi Associations

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Netherlands Deathfest, a spin-off of the long-running Stateside metal gathering Maryland Deathfest, has come under fire lately for having Disma, a death metal band from New Jersey with a startling history of ties to Naziism, on their 2016 bill.

Disma frontman Craig Pillard has said some incredibly hateful things about Jews in the past. He also has a side project called Sturmführer (a play on the word “obersturmführer,” a military rank in the Nazi party) with the following artwork, as dug up by Metal Injection:

sturmfuhrer

As such, a number of bands on the Netherlands Deathfest bill vowed to pull out unless Disma was removed from the lineup.

Now MetalSucks reader Alejandro A. sent us a link to the Facebook announcement by Netherlands Deathfest that Disma would be taken off the bill:

Disma are no longer playing NDF 2016 and have been replaced by Funebrarum.

This is the first time in 14 years of putting on festivals that we’ve been put in such an awkward situation, and in the end, just like a member of Disma who recently quit the band, we’ve decided to distance ourselves from the drama surrounding the band lately.

It should be stated that the billing would look drastically different if Disma remained on the bill, as at least 10 bands have said they do not want to play the event if Disma remains on the bill.

We acknowledge that Disma are nothing more than a death metal band (who once played Maryland Deathfest) and it’s unfortunate that their fans cannot see them for what they know them as, but all things considered, there would’ve been far too many negatives than positives for us to deal with by leaving them on the bill. We thought the situation settled down slightly when the admin of the Disma FB page made a statement about a month ago claiming that the band member in question “made mistakes in the past”, but that post was quickly erased and the drama fired up again as a result.

We feel that Funebrarum is an adequate replacement to make up for this, but if for some reason you purchased a Sunday ticket to see Disma, you may request a refund.

This news will surely create a debate that we don’t wish to get roped into the middle of. We’ve always been about putting on a celebration of music and nothing more. Let’s all just try to get along and enjoy dozens of great bands at this festival.

What’s startling here is the complete lack of acknowledgment of Pillard’s past by the organizers of Netherlands Deathfest — they’re not taking any kind of stand against what he’s said, instead throwing their hands up in the air by saying “Disma are nothing more than a death metal band” — which ends up coming off as tacit acceptance. Further, by not taking a firm stand against Pillard and Disma — and by saying they decided to boot Disma from the bill simply because 10 other bands demanded it — the organizers of NDF make themselves look pretty bad here.

It’d be one thing if Pillard had completely admonished his past (the above quoted interview is more than 10 years old), but as of three years ago he was still out there autographing recently reissued copies of the Sturmfuhrer CD. It’d even be passable if the NDF organizers said something to the effect of “It’s a shame that anyone attending the festival will be denied the opportunity to see a band based on the past actions of one member.” But the lack of any kind of admonishing statement here is super fishy.

Something else: Funebrarum, the band added to NDF in Disma’s absence, share drummer Shawn Eldridge with the latter. There’s nothing that links Eldridge to naziism, but the association seems worth noting.

And where’s Disma and/or Pillard on all this? As of right now, there’s nothing on their Facebook page about the incident. Perhaps they’ve decided to take the “if we ignore it, it’ll go away” route.

We’ll update you if we learn anything else.

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