Yesterday, a man named Giorgos Germenis was elected to Greek Parliament to represent the Greater Athens district. At a glance, nothing seems amiss here; just another turn of the political wheel as Greece tries to steer its rapidly capsizing country back into calmer waters. However, there is a reason that nearly every metal news site in the blogosphere has written about him, and it’s not for his unsettling resemblance to a young Uncle Fester.
Under the stage name Kaiadas, Germenis plays bass for Greek black metallers Naer Mataron, who formed in 1994 and have a dozen releases (including a full-length on venerable French label Season of Mist) under their bulletbelts. He also plays drums and sings in Nekysia, is a former member of Crucifiction, and put out a couple releases under the Kaiadas name. Typical ADD black metal dude, right? Not quite.
The point wherein this story becomes less of a novelty and more of an issue is drawn, unsurprisingly, along party lines. Germenis is a member of the far-right, ultra-nationalist Golden Dawn party, and represents them in his district. The party, which is often referred to as “fascist” or “neo-Nazi,” has become more prevalent during Greece’s economic crisis, and swept 7 percent of the vote in the country’s general elections on May 6, 2012. The New York Times shed more light on this highly vocal fringe group in a recent piece, describing “how the hard-core group — better known for its violent tangles with immigrants in downtown Athens and for the Nazi salutes that some members perform at rallies — has been trying to broaden its appeal, capitalizing on fears that illegal immigration has grown out of control at a time when the economy is bleeding jobs.” Based on his recent public statements, Germenis seems to follow party line to a tee:
“All those people who are following us at the moment, let’s be realistic … they didn’t suddenly become nationalists from one minute to the next,” said Giorgos Germenis in a recent Time.com interview. “It is a vote of protest. They find confidence in the face of Golden Dawn, that it will enter Parliament and really shake up the system.”
His major statement of intent, the one that has been boomeranging across the World Wide Web, is quoted by PRI’s The World as: “Greek factories must be reborn, Their chimneys must be filled with smoke once more, and of course all illegal immigrants must leave. If all the illegal immigrants left — and there are more than three million — there would be three million jobs for Greeks.” He went on to say, “We Golden Dawn say that Greece is a rich country. In order to rebuild Greece, we also need to revitalize our factories and small workshops. In this way, Greece can stand on its own two feet. We won’t need the European Union or anyone else. We’ll just need Greeks.”
Clearly, Germenis’ political compass veers very, very sharply to the right, both within his professional and, it seems, musical pursuits. His black metal band Nekysia are hailed on the Hellenic Black Metal Front site (with its banners for the Hellenic Nationalist Black Metal and National Socialist Black Metal pasted proudly in the margins), and Germenis’ two-man project Kaiadas fits firmly into the NSBM camp. Naer Mataron, however, have never been known as an overtly political band, as they sought to underline in this statement the band released to Terrorizer magazine yesterday:
To anyone who may be concerned:
NAER MATARON has been and still remains a pure blooded Black Metal band, and as such, a non-political one. Any member of the band has the right to keep on to his personal beliefs and act accordingly. Therefore, any kind of legal political activity of any member, is a matter of personal choice and is respected as such. Attempts to put NAER MATARON under any political agenda are rejected by the band.
In addition, any false accusations against the band will come across with legal actions on our behalf. The band stands only for Black Metal, and Black Metal is extreme music, not politics.
Closing, anyone who is into the extreme music and thematology, but for any reason feels shocked or offended by non-extreme views and/or beliefs, is not of our concern.
What Germeni’s election will mean for Greece, and for the metal community at large, remains to be seen. Greece is slated to hold a new general election on June 17, since none of the parties that emerged victorious from the May 6 elections were strong enough to form a government or were able to form a coalition. One may only hope that the results are different this time around.