This article is part of a series about Finland’s national socialist music scene. We offer now an English version of the text due to several requests. The English version has been amended slightly from the original to give some basic details of the events, people and other information described that might not be familiar to people outside Finland. This text was first published in Finnish by Finnish anti-fascist network Varis 10th of November 2019.
Henri Hirvonen lives in Kuopio with his family and is part of a new generation of Finnish NS music influencers. Hirvonen plays in NSBM (National Socialist Black Metal) bands and is one of the main organizers of the NS festival “Apocalyptic Rites”. This article will focus on his activities in the neo-Nazi music subculture, his political views and his job at construction company Artra Oy.
The NSBM festival Apocalyptic Rites was established in the Kuopio area in 2015 and have since grown both its audience and amount of Nazi bands in the lineup. The first two years the festival was apparently arranged in a warehouse in Neulamäki, Kuopio. In 2017 it was arranged in Ryönä at the resort Camp Atrain and 2018 in an old schoolhouse in rural Nilsiä. Finnish newspaper Iltalehti called the festival “the largest Nazi music festival in the world” (August 30th 2018) but that is an exaggerated claim. The claim that Apocalyptic Rites sold 300 tickets is also questionable, but even if the number was true the festival is still much smaller than other European NSBM festivals such as Ukrainian Asgardsrei Fest (circa 1500 people) and Italian Hot Shower Festival (that earlier attracted around 1000 people but only around 400 in 2019).
Nazi bands do not however perform only at their own festivals in Kuopio and elsewhere in Finland. At bigger festivals like Steelfest in Hyvinkää and Nove Kolo in Ukraine, NSBM bands are welcome to play alongside apolitical black metal artists to thousands of concertgoers.
During the last years there have been an increasing number of Nazi skinhead and RAC bands at the more black metal oriented Apocalyptic Rites. In 2017 the lineup included Mikko Aspa´s RAC band Vapaudenristi and in 2018 Vapaudenristi, Marder and Pagan Skull. The festival began shifting its focus from black metal to explicitly NSBM and RAC. In 2018 they booked two huge European NSBM names: Frangar and Absurd. Another connection to the Nazi scene is that Sami Haavisto and Horror Shop have been selling merchandise there since 2017.
In 2019 the festival chose to be more secretive, since both local and national newspapers had written about in 2018 and the police had made inquiries and demands relating to the arrangement. Hirvonen continued however to advertise the coming event on his Facebook profile and on blogs and web zines dedicated to the neo-Nazi music scene. The fifth edition of Apocalyptic Rites was arranged on August 30th – 31st 2019, and this time the lineup consisted of only Finnish bands that were announced very late. The 2019 lineup included NSBM bands Goatmoon and Reidh, fascist folk band Stormheit, Islamophobic black metal band Sielunvihollinen and surprise acts Liittoneuvosto and Vapaudenristi (RAC)
Circle of Dawn – Kuopio Nazi metal.
Hirvonen is the bass player and vocalist of Kuopio NSBM band Circle of Dawn as well as a session musician in black metal bands Azazel and Wakboth. Hirvonen was for a long time also a member of another Kuopio black metal band, Hell Spirit.
Circle of Dawn are playing at Nazi concerts, releasing their records through Nazi labels (such as Darker Than Black), using Nazi imagery and are publishing racist and fascist content on their Facebook page (such as wishing Adolf Hitler a happy birthday on April 20th). Apart from Hirvonen, their drummer Juha Kaarna Kettunen is also one of the organizers of Apocalyptic Rites and a busy musician in the NS music scene. Circle of Dawn have tried to keep their identities hidden with masks and balaclavas, which is pretty common among the younger generations of Finnish NSBM bands (like Aryan Hammer and Fatherland) when the members fear consequences more than the older bands.
The Nazi construction site foreman
Hirvonen graduated from the Savonia University of Applied Sciences in 2018 and began working as a construction site foreman for Artra Oy. in August 2018. Hirvonen is a busy Facebook user and have called his profile both “Henrik Anders Walther” and “Heinrich Hirvonen”. Apart from updates about his bands and Apocalyptic Rites, Hirvonen gladly share his views on political subjects; his support for National Socialism, hate for leftists and liberals, his racist and homophobic opinions as well as far-right conspiracy theories and support for The Finns party. Hirvonen also share pictures of clothing with Nazi imagery and his tattoos. Hirvonen have the Totenkopf skull of the SS tattooed on his chest as well as the esoteric Nazi “black sun” symbol on his elbow. The black sun (“sonnenraad/schwarze sonne”) is one of the most generic tattoos among neo-Nazis today, especially in their NSBM- and RAC subcultures. Below some examples of Hirvonen’s Facebook updates.
Henri Hirvonen and his peers in the Nazi musical subculture are active participants in the metapolitics and “cultural struggle” of the far-right, which aim to spread acceptance and foothold for the ideology politically and culturally. They also want to legitimize and spark interest in neo-Nazism, neo-fascism and the radical far-right by creating a cultural scene for it. Let´s not give them any space in the musical subcultures: let us isolate them and push them back to the margins of society and beyond.
As previously mentioned, Hirvonen is working as a construction foreman and was in 2019 employed by Kuopio company Artra Oy. If you want to make sure that his employers, business partners and contractors know about his fascist activity you can contact construction companies, trade unions and other institutions. If you see Hirvonen at one of your sites, have a talk with your union representative and colleagues. No one have to tolerate a neo-Nazi as a colleague or foreman.
Do you have previously unpublished info about the Finnish NS music scene, their secret clubhouses or subcultural influencers? Contact us at varistoimitus[at]riseup.net
- The influencers of the Finnish NS music scene, part 4: Sami Tenetz of KVLT Shop
- The influencers of the Finnish NS music scene part 3: Mikko Aspa of Northern Heritage, Clandestine Blaze, Vapaudenristi & Sarvilevyt
- The influencers of the Finnish NS music scene part 2: Joakim Kuotesaho of Goatmoon and Stormheit.