Written by Espi Kvlt
One of the very first questions I am asked when people find out I’m a queer anarchist-communist in the black metal scene is the names of queer and leftist black metal bands they can safely enjoy. Unfortunately, one of the sad truths about being a black metal fan is that no band is 100% safe. Even the most leftist bands I’ve loved have been outed as having abusers in them. However, I have compiled two lists of bands that one can safely enjoy and support, always keeping in mind to be vigilant no matter how much you think you can trust them. The first list we’ll be diving into today will be of outwardly leftist black metal bands, and the next list will be of queer black metal. This list is comprised of eight bands that the socially conscious black metal fan can enjoy knowing they share a similar political ideology.
Dawn Ray’d – Behold Sedition Plainsong
Perhaps the first band that comes to mind when most people think of leftist black metal is Dawn Ray’d. What has always stood out about this band for me is the explicit anarchism in their imagery and lyrics. While there are plenty of leftist and antifascist bands, few go as so far as to spread anarchist ideology. As an anarchist myself, this is something I’ve always appreciated about Dawn Ray’d. They even have a vinyl edition of Behold Sedition Plainsong which is black and red, the anarchist-communist colors, and which I am proud to own. The music itself stands out among the black metal scene with its harmonic clean vocals on some songs and lovely violin melodies on others. Few would think to combine a violin with harsh vocals and blast beats, but Dawn Ray’d have done it masterfully, reminding one of bands such as Summoning, if instead of fighting orcs in Middle Earth, the humans were battling hordes of Nazis.
Periodeater – Worth More Than Your Life
Periodeater is relatively new on the scene, and when I first encountered them and saw their name, my red flags went off. Was this going to be another lazy attempt at misogynistic shock horror by writing about raping and murdering women? To my surprise, no, it wasn’t about that at all. In fact, not only are Periodeater leftist communists, but they also write songs about indigenous history, and in the song named after the band, “Periodeater,” that becomes most obvious with lyrics such as, “they smashed our altars, killed our gods / but the pendulum swings and for us a new dawn.” The raw style of black metal and harsh vocals harken to other loved bands, but the riffs stand out among the pack, creating grooves one can dance to despite the dark imagery of the lyrics. This band is one to watch.
Kūka’ilimoku – Kūka’ilimoku S/T II
Similar to Periodeater, Kūka’ilimoku, who is also relatively new to the black metal scene, has lyrical themes focused on indigenous Hawaiians and anti-colonialism. Through aggressive, raw black metal riffs and vicious screams, one can hear the anguish and the pain in the narrator’s voice, as well as the victory on songs like, “The Pale Man and His Place in the Mud,” where the listener is taken on a journey to see the world from the perspective of Kūka’ilimoku, to understand their rage, and to empathize with it through the power of the riffs.
Bull of Apis Bull of Bronze – Offerings of Flesh and Gold
Bull of Apis Bull of Bronze was one of the first leftist black metal bands I’d ever heard, when, upon first arriving in the leftist metal scene on Twitter, I encountered them among Tridroid Records’ impressive roster. Before ever hearing a note of the music itself, I examined the lyrics, curious to see what made them “leftist” when such a thing seemed completely obscure among the black metal scene. I was immediately drawn in by the lyrics, which have continued to inspire my own lyrics ever since, with lines such as, “At the end of all things is a mouth made of light, teeth dripping like stars,” one of those lines so good I’d wished I’d come up with it first. Aside from the lyrics, the music itself is as cold and dark as any other black metal album, with a haunting atmosphere that reminds one of the very feeling of living under capitalism. This isn’t just one of the best leftist black bands around right now, but this album is already a classic among the subgenre.
Operation Volkstod – Anti-Fascist Black Metal
I remember the first time I saw the cover art for Anti-Fascist Black Metal and had a similar reaction to the one I’d had when I first saw Periodeater’s name: red flags! Of course, in this case, the red flags instantly went down when I saw the album’s title. The imagery on this album cover wants you to know what it is immediately, holding nothing back and allowing no Nazis the privilege of misinterpreting the messaging. Which is wonderful, because the album hearkens back to second wave black metal, scratching that itch while avoiding all doubts that one might be supporting a right-winger, or worse, a full-fledged Nazi. If you’re looking for leftist second wave worship, this band is perfect.
Yovel – Forthcoming Humanity
From Athens comes Yovel, who don’t shy away from experimentation and stepping outside the box. In between their aggressive riffs and raging blast beats, Yovel likes to try out things like spoken word and samples of audio clips, creating black metal that is more on the artsy side as opposed to the in-your-face side. Going back and forth between classic black metal stylings and beautiful poetry pieces layered atop lovely instrumentals, this band not only has incredible sound but also an incredible atmosphere.
Pessimista – Uma saída
Pessimista is a breath of fresh air for DSBM fans. Even when DSBM is made by leftists, it’s rare for me to find any that is this unapologetic about it and this in your face about it. The vocals are haunting, the piano pieces are captivating, and the entire atmosphere is a harsh reminder of the pessimism that the current state of the world has left many of us stuck with. This isn’t simply DSBM about one person’s struggles with mental illness; this is DSBM about the world’s struggle with mental illness as we are trapped atop a dying planet with vicious rulers who’d rather let us die than lose a penny. It is beautiful, it is insightful, and it is one of a kind.
The Sun Came Up Upon The Left – And The Dreams So Rich In Color
The Sun Came Up Upon The Left is also a stand-out black metal band because of how much it loves to mix elements of doom and death metal in with its black metal. The vocals sound like the earth crying out. The instruments sound like they’re in the background of the final days of the planet. This music is as beautiful as it is terrifying. A perfect soundtrack to what often feels like the end of the world.
A column by Espi Kvlt, go visit their linktree to enjoy their various musical projects (It’s good)