When I feel bitter, incredulous, lazy and self-pitying all at once, I like to listen to Killing Joke. Which is not surprising given that their music is, not fascist, but proto-fascist. Their energetic dirges and invocations of millennial apocalypse to cleanse the earth of human soil would have been beer hall favorites if the electric tuba had existed in 1923. And what with Jaz Colman flying off to Iceland to await the Apocalypse and/or record Scandinavian Black Metal bands, his quizzical sympathy for the Germans of the Sudentenland, the musically and ethically spurious claim to be free of all nasty American influence including the Blues (um, about those electric guitars...) and just generally sounding like flaky assholes a lot of the time, it's not surprising that some have imputed actual fascism, but in fact they're just motivated by a common feeling of having been cheated by the people in charge:
You can apply the killing joke to everything. Imagine a soldier in the trenches in WW 1. He's just been told to run over and gain, say another 15ft of land and he knows he's going to die, and he suddenly thinks that there's some fat cunt back in Westminster controlling his life, and he feels a bit of a mug. That feeling is the killing joke.
An otherwise random WWI reference makes perfect sense from this perspective. As does their mystical kinship with Rammstein, the fantastical bog men spawned from the long buried guilts and resentments of the East, who are also regularly accused of fascism. Both bands are built from the same cultural and psychological stuff that fascists whipped into an unstable explosive: the revanchist "stabbed in the back" myth, neo-Pagan calls for cleansing destruction, the cult of anti-Reason, easy and equal contempt for democracy and communism. Variations on this recipe recur throughout history2 and regularly blow up in their maker's hands because they aren't really sustainable political systems. They're anger management tools, like punk.
I suspect that both Killing Joke and Rammstein know this. Both have, with varying cogency, refuted accusations of fascism. But if you don't believe their words, I think exculpatory evidence can also be found in their musical behavior:
- Their music is funkier, rockier, just much better than fascist art.
- The leering chuckle of Geordie's vintage golden Gibson ES and leather pants (and pretty much everything about Rammstein) owes a lot more to the transvestite theater of Weimar than Nuremberg.
- Both bands are familiar with the myth of Götterdämmerung
- And maybe for that reason, they both exhibit a wistful sense of distance from the apocalypses they claim to welcome. They're not so much Armageddon's cheerleaders as its jesters.
1. Source: Will-I-Am Safire, the nonpareil of noisome Nixonian nastiness.
2. I often imagine Killing Joke's "Eighties" applied to the 1380's and the Peasants Revolt3, another one of those times when people felt cheated by their leaders, except for the boy king Richard II who, inevitably, betrayed them. It might sound like this.