Black metal has come under much scrutiny lately not only due to its provocative and extreme nature, but also because of it’s occasional ties to antisemitic, white power and national socialist pockets of ideology. While these ideologies have frequently co-opted black metal’s intense and violent nature, lately, there has also been a strong opposition from within its fan base in the form of a growing number of anti-fascist black metal bands and fans who gain identity from their bold opposition to these unfortunate trademarks.
These bands boldly wear feminist ethics, anti-nationalist themes and ecologically minded identities on their sleeves and are increasingly outspoken in opposition to the growing communities of right wing, neo-nazi black metal artists and fans.
Not one to sit this fight out, Iowa City is home to one of these bands. Dryad (founding members Claw and Grimtooth, joined more recently by Oli and Shloop — who also play in politically activist punk band Beyond Peace) are touring the United States with movement-instigators Neckbeard Deathcamp this summer.
They have gained a lot of attention with their own take on this poignant and necessary rebuttal. Contrasting Neckbeard Deathcamp’s on-the-nose mockery of fascist sects of the black metal scene, Dryad embody these themes more metaphorically by employing Tolkein-inspired myth and lore to write songs which defy national socialism, imperialism and racism.
The music world is starting to take notice. On top of heading out on tour with Neckbeard Deathcamp this summer, Dryad also have just inked a record deal, announced today, with L.A.’s Prosthetic Records, who are more and more becoming a beacon in the anti-fascist metal scene (Neckbeard Deathcamp signed to Prosthetic last fall, and the label recently re-released British anarchists Dawn Ray’d’s The Unlawful Assembly).
Dryad are also working on material for a new full-length tentatively titled The Abyssal Plane. To tide you over until it’s release, they also have a split tape with Acid Leather on Metal Swarm, available at their upcoming shows. Be sure to catch Dryad on the Neckbeard Deathcamp tour on June 6 at Vaudeville Mews in Des Moines (tickets $13). After the tour, they’ll be headed back to Iowa City for a July 17 show at Gabe’s.