Buyer Beware: Rope Sect, Iron Bonehead Productions and their affiliations with hate

Listeners can make up their own minds about whether they’d like to support Rope Sect going forward. After everything I’ve learned, I won’t be.

(Content warning: references to neo-Nazis and white supremacy, and images of nooses.)

I fell hard for Rope Sect’s hooky, gloom-soaked melodies the first time I heard them, at the end of 2017. At the time, the Berlin band had released just a handful of songs, barely enough to make up a half hours’ worth of music, but I listened to it daily for months.

So I was incredibly excited to learn that Rope Sect is releasing its first full-length record, The Great Flood, in August. Until I learned that they’d signed a record deal with Iron Bonehead Productions, a label long affiliated with neo-Nazi, white supremacist and National Socialist Black Metal bands and organizations.

These affiliations have been documented in depth elsewhere, so I won’t go into detail here. You can learn more at these links:

https://nsbmboneheads.wordpress.com/

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2019/10/17/18827359.php

https://www.kqed.org/arts/13868432/antifascist-activists-protest-metal-music-festival-this-weekend-in-oakland

After I tweeted my disappointment with Rope Sect’s choice of labels, I got a message through my website’s contact form from someone named Steve M., saying, “I think I need to clean this up on behalf of the band.” Here’s his note in full:

Still image from Rope Sect’s new video, “Hiraeth.”

I replied:

I received no response. A few days later, I reached out to the band directly, through the contact link on its Bandcamp page, saying I was thinking of posting something about the situation but wanted to see if they had any comment. Here was the response I got, presumably from someone in the band:

In response, I sent the same note that I sent to Steve M. that I quoted above. Again, I got no reply, even when I sent a follow-up note.

It’s confusing for the band to stand behind “the background of our members,” considering that the band keeps the identities of its members secret, identifying them only as Inmesher, Harbinger and Gaarentwynder (the latter referring to a the task in rope production of winding or twisting the rope). As far as I can tell, Rope Sect’s members have not been outed as members of other bands, as eventually happened with Ghost.

Rope Sect live in Berlin, October 25, 2017. Photo by Demonium24 on Last.fm.

There are a few photos of them online, however. Although I don’t recognize any of the members, the photos reveal that the band has performed with a noose dangling above them and nooses around some of their necks. The noose is widely recognized as “one of the most powerful visual symbols directed against African-Americans, comparable in the emotions that it evokes to that of the swastika for Jews. Its origins are connected to the history of lynching in America, particularly in the South after the Civil War, when violence or threat of violence replaced slavery as one of the main forms of social control that whites used on African-Americans. The noose quickly became associated with the Ku Klux Klan.”

Maybe that’s what “Rope Sect” referred to all along. Their main imagery has featured people’s heads wrapped in rope, but the inclusion of nooses at all is telling.

Unfortunately, in the course of my research I discovered that Rope Sect has been with Iron Bonehead for a few years now, including its Proselytes EP and a LP compilation of Proselytes and its debut tape, Personae Ingratae.

Listeners can make up their own minds about whether they’d like to support Rope Sect going forward. After everything I’ve learned, I won’t be.

Journalist, editor, author, opinionator. Bylines: Guardian, New Yorker, Vice, Mother Jones, Wired. Much more at www.bethwinegarner.com.

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