On the ideology of “Martial Industrial” music.
Martial Industrial is a small sub-section in and development from industrial music. It is a particular form of industrial focused on a mythisized “heroic” past. As a scene it is related to the Neo-folk and neo-classical as well as the power-industrial scene, by itself it is relatively tiny.
In the summer of 2007 a book titled “Battlenoise! – The Blows of Martial Industrial” was published by the Polish label War Office Propaganda in conjunction with the Hungarian MozgaloM. It was a translation from the Hungarian, the author prefered to be referred to only as “PHJ”.
The book caused a bit of an uproar in the concerned circles and after Albin Julius of Der Blutharsch threatened to sue for copyright violation, the book was supposedly withdrawn from circulation.
Others, like Stahlwerk9, also issued statements distancing themselves from the book and its ideological direction.
The book boasts 330 pages in a hardback edition limited to 500 copies.
Only the first 85 pages are the main text about the Martial Industrial phenomenon, the rest is made up of reprinted lyrics, a section of reviews of records, CD’s and live shows, a selected discography, and finally a section of photographs.
The main text is structured in 4 chapters, an introduction and a summary.
The first chapter is concerned with the pre-history of the phenomenon, citing classic industrial bands such as Throbbing Gristle, SPK, Test Dept. and Laibach as forerunners. Only the latter is superficially examined, coupled with the charge that they were “plagued” by the “need to open towards the mainstream”, a typical fanzine-type allegation of selling out, which at least in the particular case of Laibach pretty much misses the point.
Added to the pre-history of Martial Industrial are Delerium, In Slaughter Natives and Autopsia, a number of power-industrial bands (such as The Grey Wolves, Genocide Organ and Whitehouse – in this order! – and also the rather insignificant Christian power-noise band Blackhouse – for what reasons we shall see later).
And finally we arrive at Death In June, who are immediately attributed with “deserv(ing) credit for no less than the artistic and existential realization and presentation to the scene of the content and form of an attitude” epitomized as “‘heroism inoculated into the Black Sun’” (the quote within the quote being by DIJ).
The second chapter titled “Attack!” is dedicated to the “heroic phase” of Martial Industrial with such bands as Les Joyaux de la Princesse, Turbund Sturmwerk, Dawn and Dusk Entwined, Der Blutharsch, Dernière Volonté, Puissance, Von Thronstahl and others.
Anyone familiar with the developments in Industrial Music of the last 20 years will have some alarm bells ringing by now, and the author certainly makes no secret of the fact that here we find “the celebration of an increasingly crystallized, extreme right-wing ideology” as he is writing about the work of Les Joyaux de la Princesse, but something that can be attributed to others as well.
In his treatment of Der Blutharsch, “PHJ” is also rather upset about the direction his hero Albin Julius has been taking, away from shouting “Freiheit für Pinochet!” at his gigs, featuring the Horst-Wessel-Lied in one of his records, and using Nazi symbols outright, “Albin decided that girls, Italian red wine, and different other kinds of drink, parties, and mates were more important than the early concept” and “Der Blutharsch simply turned shallow”.
But not so the “new” bands covered in the next chapter “The Second Front”, the first one being H.E.R.R., the band of the notorious British neo-fascist Troy Southgate, a former National Front thug who after serving a prison sentence for ABH and affray in the 80’s has performed an oddyssey through various sects of the far right, from the International Third Position via orthodox Catholicism to “National-Anarchism”, and other splinters of the by now not-so-new “New Right”.
“PHJ” continues enthusing about “the evocation of Italian Fascist symbolism (…) and the elitist occult-heroic aesthetic of Nazikunst” in regards to the band Arditi, and in addition we are exposed to the anti-American ramblings of other musicians in a text written in a convoluted style and trying to acquire seriosity by adding numerous footnotes.
The direction of the book is pretty clear already at this point, but becomes clearer when one realizes the scorn “PHJ” pours on “satanic” bands (neo-paganism being a big thing in the industrial and the related neo-folk and black metal scenes), and the praise he heaps on Christian bands in the field of Martial Industrial, such as the ones collected on the compilation CD “Credo In Unum Deum”. This ludicrous document of intellectual and mental desintegration in fact collects probably all the bands that adhere to a orthodox Catholicism that is politically situated on the extreme right.
One of the bands historified in the book’s last chapter – and contributor to said compilation – is the Hungarian Kriegsfall-U, who think of themselves in terms of reviving the plans of ultra-reactionaries “to terminate the revolts of democrats” in the name of emperor Francis Joseph I. “Kriegsfall-U intends to take the listener from despair to the ‘Truth found on the side of God’”. In fact it is the band of the author, which he is trying to inscribe into his little history.
In his “Summary” finally he is getting altogether incoherent, when he is trying to pretend to distance himself from allegations of fascism. Supposedly – he asserts rather disingeniously – martial bands are basically unpolitical, but only one page later he says that “in the values, messages, and symbolism touched upon by some groups we often meet views known today as right-wing”, and yet another page later he is back at enthusing about “new values, in which discipline, comradeship, power, struggle, will, obeyance, loyalty, sacrifice, and honesty can mature into an everyday practice ordered into a desired hierarchy”.
How deeply fascist the author is becomes evident when he declares “it is important to emphasizie that within martial ‘struggle against something’ often correlates with the struggle of the individual against himself”. The self-hatred of the male and his fear of the female (besides a token vocalist here or there there are no women in martial industrial) leads to the obsession with purity, and with it the explicit adoration of mass murderers and war criminals such as Ante Pavelic.
No wonder some people in a scene already in the crossfire for its far right leanings had some problems with the book. Others didn’t. Despite the claim that it had been withdrawn from circulation, it is still – at the time of writing and over a year after publication – available from some specialized mail orders.
It is far from clear if the bands who distanced themselves from the book are honest about this, or if it because so far it is just not good for sales to be too associated with an explicit far right, and it’s better for business to sell “fascism as pornography” (see Stewart Home’s article on Death In June in Datacide 7).
What is clear is that the author himself doesn’t have a critical relation to his role as an “historian”. He is a fan trying to place his own project into a pantheon of idols, going along with all sorts of fanzine type writing known from other subcultures, except he’s doing it from a clerical-fascist political viewpoint.
This novelty wears thin after a few pages, and the reprinted lyrics, don’t exactly raise the standard. Record and live reviews are added, as well as a photo section, whereby the pictures are treated to look “old”, the whole thing being appropriately printed brown on off-white paper.