Taake, a celebrated Norwegian black metal band, has canceled its US tour after coming under fire from the Antifa movement for alleged racist and Nazi sympathies.
Earlier this month, black hip-hop artist Talib Kweli canceled an upcoming performance due to his reluctance to use the same venue and opening act King Dude dropped out of Taake's US tour. The Norwegian black metalheads responded by canceling the tour altogether and issuing a defiant statement.
In their statement, Taake claimed that they "are not now, have never been and never will be a Nazi band." Furthermore, they argued that the cancellation was the "ultimate demonstration" of how a "small minority of left-wing agitators" forced their agenda on the majority through "lies, misinformation and unfounded accusations."
The accusations about Taake's worldview centered on a 2007 concert, in which lead singer Høst performed with a swastika drawn on his chest and a song from the acclaimed "Noregs Vapen" ("Norway's Weapon") album, nominated for Norway's equivalent of the Grammy Awards, the Blabbermouth portal reported. The song "Orkan" ("Hurricane") featured lyrics such as "to Hell with Muhammad and Mohammedans." In 2013, Høst performed in a shirt with the Islamic crescent struck out, the Metal Sucks portal pointed out.
Høst has repeatedly denied claims of his band's ties with nationalism. In a recent interview with Metal Insider, he called it "plain lies" to portray the band as "Neo Nazi" and "wearing swastikas, as if it were a habit of mine." Høst also dismissed the accusations of Islamophobia by retorting that religion was an "irrational mental illness."
In Norway, the cancellation of Taake's tour didn't go unnoticed. Egon Holstad of the iTromsø news portal found the fact that rock music could still provoke strong feelings in 2018 was "almost touching."
Holstad saw a contradiction in the fact that the US, a country "that loves to flag how free-spirited, independent and open-minded it is" at the same time is "so damn happy to get triggered." "They are more scared of stiff nipples than of violence on the TV and cinema."
Holstad also argued that exposing contempt for religion was the "poetic DNA" of black metal as such, sarcastically venturing that there was "almost something democratic and inclusive about it."
He also pointed out that Taake was by far not alone to use the swastika as a provocation.
"Iggy Pop did it. Siouxsie and the Banshees did it. Sex Pistols did it. Even Madonna has used the infamous symbol. But none of them intended to go to war or eradicate peoples. They just wanted to provoke. And it worked quite well," Holstad wrote.
Taake was formed in 1993 and has since released six full-length albums. The band describes itself as "True Norwegian black metal" and has lyrics written in the lead singer's native dialect. Taake is the archaic spelling of the Norwegian word "tåke," meaning "fog."
Black metal is an extreme metal subgenre characterized by fast tempos, heavily distorted sound and shrieking vocals. Many representatives of what is considered to be the "Golden Age" of the genre, the 1990s, landed in hot water for misanthropic views, Satanism, arson and murder, such as Varg Vikernes, the leader of the one-man band Burzum, who was sentenced to a maximum prison sentence and was considered Norway's "public enemy number one" until the advent of Anders Breivik.