Tonight's (Saturday, February 18) MARDUK concert at the Oakland Metro Operahouse in Oakland, California has been canceled amid security concerns. The venue released a statement from the local police on Friday explaining that "there are groups that believe MARDUK profits off glorifying Nazi imagery and songs about Nazi SS officers and anti-Semitism." Therefore, "based on the riot that occurred in Berkeley in regards to Milo Yiannopoulos [a British journalist, author and senior editor for Breitbart News, a far-right news and opinion web site] speaking at the University [Of California], it is reasonable to believe that there would be a threat to public safety if these groups showed up to protest MARDUK."
The Oakland Metro Operahouse also released its own statement saying that "in the last week, we have read interview after interview with MARDUK spanning over the last 20 years and found no statements indicating the band are white supremacists, nationalists, or anti-immigrant. That being said, we don't want to subject our security staff, venue staff or the public to violence. Our staff is almost exclusively POC and/or LBGTQ and they have all expressed the desire to work, but as we are getting threats, we just can't risk it. So, in the interest of safety, and because the Oakland Police Department would have insisted anyway, we have canceled the MARDUK performance on February 18."
The venue added: "The Oakland Police Department has decided in the interest of public safety that the MARDUK show on Saturday, February 18 at the Oakland Metro Operahouse be cancelled. Refunds at point of purchase. We apologize for the inconvenience."
Several days earlier, a small Facebook group called Anti-Fascist Action Bay Area which claims to "relay info about the struggle against fascism and white supremacy in the Bay Area," posted a message in which it called MARDUK "a black metal band with known white supremacist ties from Sweden that profits off of glorifying Nazi imagery and songs about Nazi SS officers and anti-semitism." It also claimed that MARDUK's latest album, "Frontschwein", was written "entirely about the Third Reich. The term 'Frontschwein' (meaning Frontline Pig) refers to the nickname given to Nazi field marshal Walther Model because he preferred to lead from the front and was known for his abuse and crudity." Furthermore, the group wrote, "One of MARDUK's album is called 'Panzer Division Marduk' (referring to the Nazi armored tank division in WWII)," while "another MARDUK album, 'Warschau' (the site of a Nazi concentration camp during the Holocaust), uses photos of Nazi tanks rolling through the rubble of Poland as cover and booklet artwork. The album sleeve of 'Iron Dawn' and album cover of 'Here's No Peace' also show pictures of Nazi tanks. The title on the cover of 'Here's No Peace' is arranged in such fashion as to resemble an honorific cuff band, a type of distinction badge which the German Wehrmacht allowed individuals who were serving (or had served) in some elite units (Grossdeutschland division, named Waffen-SS divisions) or who took part of renowned campaigns to wear (North African campaign, assault on Crete).
"MARDUK's entire discography is full of songs like 'The Hangman Of Prague', 'Night Of The Long Knives', 'Deathmarch', 'To The Death's Head True'...etc. The song 'The Hangman Of Prague' is about Reinhard Heydrich, a high-ranking SS officer and Holocaust architect ('The Hangman Of Prague' was a moniker of Reinhard Heydrich — second in command of the SS — in his capacity as the de-facto Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia). They also have a song called 'The Blonde Beast' which is also a reference to Reinhard Heydrich, the infamous Hangman of Prague. The term 'Blond Beast' is often implied as referring to the Aryan race stemming from the intentional misreading of Nietzsche instantiated by the Nazis. Their song 'Afrika' is about a high-ranking Nazi general Erwin Rommel aka 'the Desert Fox' who was in charge of the Afrika Korps."
Anti-Fascist Action Bay Area also pointed to an interview MARDUK founder and guitarist Morgan Steinmeyer Håkansson gave in early 2014 in which he was asked to comment on the fact that Norwegian black metal musician Varg Vikernes was convicted of hate speech against Jews and Muslims in France in 2014. "It's strange that it's illegal to dislike a religion. I find it really strange that you can't have certain views," he reportedly said.
In a 2013 interview with Metal Blast, Håkansson spoke about the accusations of associations with national socialism which have been leveled at MARDUK. "I was not shocked because I'm not shocked by anything, but I was more surprised by the stupidity," he said. "It's strange that you can sing about certain historical topics but not about others. Some big magazines tried to boycott us and were sending faxes, back in those days, to promoters telling them avoid us, but that only made us stronger."
He added: "I'm fascinated by certain historical aspects and we will continue to write about them as long as it is inspiring to write lyrics about it, and if it's World War II, it's fine with me, and if somebody has a problem with it, they can fuck off. SLAYER, MOTÖRHEAD, they have done it before and I don't see a reason why not to do it."