Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Santa Barbara

UC Santa Barbara Electronic Theses and Dissertations bannerUC Santa Barbara

"White Nationalism is for Basement Dwelling Losers": An Exploration of Far-Right Political Extremism in Heavy Metal Music


The main question of this dissertation is to consider why black metal in particular has become and remained so appealing to those on the far-right, despite the genre’s fringe aesthetics. In these chapters, I seek to establish a historical account of how this appropriation has occurred as a complicated nexus of both socially and culturally derived meanings of the same set of generic sounds. The first chapter, which discusses the ways in which meaning was ascribed to the genre from those outside of the scene, and often in contradiction to the experiences described by both musicians and fans, that lent itself to political appropriation. By the time NSBM had coalesced into a more defined genre, historical lineages seem to be very important, as most NSBM bands place themselves simultaneously into historical lineages of both black metal and the Third Reich through thematic emphases on Satanism, paganism, and violence. In addition to themes often demonstrated through the lyrics, I use spectrograms to analyze the noisy timbres so coveted by metal and black metal bands to help explain the appeal through a theoretical approach to embodied understandings of music and its role in facilitating real-world political action through affective participation. Despite NSBM’s efforts to inscribe meaning onto black metal aesthetics, the spate of bands that use logics of internet trolling to eradicate the far-right in the metal scene demonstrate the malleability of musical meaning. While NSBM bands have attempted to ascribe specific political meanings onto black metal aesthetics, RABM and trolling bands like Neckbeard Deathcamp have demonstrated the ways in which music can be inscribed and reinscribed with meaning even when dealing with oppositional political stances. While the idea of creating meaning through neo-fascism is certainly disconcerting, the ability to reinscribe music means that these artistic forms remain an open ground with the possibility of fighting back rather than an inevitable cultural or artistic loss.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View