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An Open Letter to Hells Headbangers Records to Stop Releasing and Distributing Metal by White Supremacists

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MetalSucks was recently contacted by a group of metal musicians identifying itself as The Anti-NSBM Working Group to ask if we’d publish an open letter they’d drafted addressed to metal label and distro Hells Headbangers (sic). The goal: to call on Hells Headbangers to “cease releasing and distributing Nazi propaganda.”

Recent events in Charlottesville and elsewhere are a striking reminder of the danger and threat the extreme right poses. Metal and other underground music genres are major venues for neo-Nazis and fascists to propagandize and recruit. This is unacceptable to us, and so we are taking action to remove them from our community.

It’s important that we make a distinction here: the owners and staff of Hells Headbangers are not, as far as we know, white supremacists or far-right extremists. The vast majority of the labels they distribute and the bands whose records they release aren’t either, and we’re not condemning any of those. We’re simply calling on Hells Headbangers to stop participating in the spread of hate through tacit endorsement and participation, and to eliminate the extremist labels and bands from their roster.

Here is the open letter in full:

Dear HHR,

Over the last decade and a half you’ve risen to become one of the strongest underground metal labels. You’ve released many of the best recent records in the genre from bands new and old, and your brand has come to be synonymous with true, uncompromising cult metal. For this we salute you.

In recent years, though, you’ve also become one of the most prominent distributors of NSBM and similar right-wing extremist music in the USA. We understand that your label is conceived of as apolitical and that you’re in it for the metal and not the ideologies expressed; however, you’re playing a leading role in normalizing neo-Nazi ideals in our genre and in providing a venue for this kind of bigoted propaganda.

We are living in times in which the extreme right is resurgent around the world and in which neo-Nazis have no qualms about targeting and murdering immigrants, LGBT people, racial minorities, and leftists. Fascists are using metal for propaganda and recruiting ends, and your distro and label are enabling them. This is no time for apolitical fence sitting, and we request that you take a stand towards a better state of things for metal.

With respect and appreciation for the bulk of your releases, we ask you to clean up your act and promptly do the following:

1. Cease your distribution of NS and far-right labels such as (but not limited to) Darker than Black, Pagan War, Werewolf Records, and Elegy Records

2. Purge your distro of NS/far-right releases and your label of NS/far-right bands, including Intolitarian and releases by SSP/Deathangle Absolution

3. Publicly commit to a policy, going forward, of avoiding relationships with NS/far-right bands, artists, and labels.

Should you fail to do so, we call for a boycott of your label by metal journalists, distros, venues and fans, and will apply whatever other pressure we find appropriate. Your label is known for its high aesthetic standards; please consider whether you also want it to be known for promoting neo-Nazi trash.

Entirely independent of the above letter and The Anti-NSBM Working Group, MetalSucks would also like to request that Hells Headbangers add a fucking apostrophe to its label name where it fucking belongs, fer chrissakes. OK? Thanks.

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