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Development phase: 1980s
Place of origin: Great Britain
Stylistic precursors
Post-punk , post-industrial , folk
Death in June , Current 93 , Sol Invictus
Instruments typical of the genre
Acoustic guitar, electric bass, violin, cello, flute, trumpet, piano, synthesizer, percussion, marching drum

Neofolk (Greek neos = 'new', English folk from folklore ; folk culture , in this case music), also called apocalyptic folk , is a musical genre that originated in England around the mid-1980s.

Stylistic classification

Neofolk compositions are mainly based on acoustic instrumentation with acoustic guitars , flutes , drums , violins or cellos , often using synthesizer surfaces.

The music of Death in June, for example, since The Guilty Have No Pride (1983) has included "many set pieces, sounds, loop techniques or approaches [...] which were later expanded and refined to significantly shape the sound of the band". Current 93s Swastikas for Noddy (1988) moves "between Incredible String Band , runic magic, nursery rhymes and apocalypse " and united a large part of the protagonists of the Neofolk scene; The Neofolk was particularly influenced by Current 93s Thunder Perfect Mind and Death in Junes But What Ends When the Symbols Shatter? (both 1992). Current 93's album Black Ships Ate the Sky (2006) offers a “sound between filigree folklore and subtle booming psychedelics ”, a mixture of dissonant passages and the folk sounds typical of the band, of “experimental tones and catchy, gentle sounds”, and On the Death-in-June album The Rule of Thirds (2008) Douglas Pearce worked “only with voice and acoustic guitar”, which makes it “a pure folk record”.

The topics of the "New Folklore" include, among other things, natural mysticism, neo-paganism , Christianity , Satanism , Buddhism , chaos magic , runology or the Middle Ages . Literary and poetic references appear frequently. The authors received include Rainer Maria Rilke , Hermann Hesse , Ernst Jünger , Novalis , Yukio Mishima , Julius Evola , Jean Genet and Stefan George .

Most projects existed and consist of one person who plays a production either alone or with colleagues and friends. Cooperation between artists from the neofolk or martial industrial environment is common. They often have in common the use of controversial symbolism and a tendency towards taboo topics. In their publications, the musicians place high demands on the sophisticated and programmatic design of the sound carrier, which is often only sold in limited numbers and in lavishly designed box sets.


Development and establishment in the post-punk and post-industrial context

The founders of Neofolk are Death in June and Sol Invictus , both of which emerged from the British punk band Crisis , as well as the band Current 93 by David Tibet , who was previously active in the post-industrial bands Psychic TV and 23 Skidoo . There are numerous other entanglements and cross-connections to artists from the industrial environment, which are mainly due to the adventurous days of Current 93 together with Nurse With Wound or Death in June with Boyd Rice and his project NON. As a result, a number of Neofolk artists in English-speaking countries are viewed as part of the post-industrial movement.

Persistence as an independent scene

However, the genre name itself was only created with the style’s growing popularity and has been used since 1988. Since then, the community of musicians and supporters has been viewed by many of their members as an independent scene, others still see it as part of the fading dark wave movement, in whose environment the neofolk genre moved in the 1980s and 1990s. The reason for this is the stylistic origin of Neofolk as well as its overlays with other genres in terms of themes or tonal components. Music projects such as Allerseelen , Blood Axis , Hekate , Kirlian Camera , Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio , Ostara or Sixth Comm / Mother Destruction steer into the Neofolk environment with individual tracks, but only partially represent the style.

The London record store Vinyl Experience , whose catalog consisted of a large number of Neofolk albums, was of great importance in connection with the scene . The store was a focal point of the emerging apocalyptic folk scene. From it emerged the sales organization World Serpent Distribution , which went bankrupt in 2004. Important music labels that focus on Neofolk and have international performers under contract are, for example, the Dresden label Eis und Licht , founded by Stephan Pockrandt , which existed from 1998 to 2010, the Lichterklang founded in 2009 from Gelsenkirchen and the Prophecy from 1996 Zeltingen-Rachtig .

Allegations of potential proximity to right-wing extremism

Sol Invictus at the Elfenfolk Festival

In the discourse about possible right-wing extremist movements in the black scene, which was predominantly held at the beginning of the 2000s, the debate about neofolk performers such as Death in June, Sol Invictus, Allerseelen, Von Thronstahl and Blood Axis played a central role. Most publications on potential overlaps between Dark Wave and new rights deal in detail with the Neofolk and its interpreters. Aesthetic Mobilization by Andreas Speit and Looking for Europe by Andreas Diesel and Dieter Gerten are considered to be the core texts of the discussion .

According to critics, various interpreters of the Neofolk represent fatalistic affirmations of the Nazi regime. Although this does not necessarily glorify National Socialism, it would nevertheless be religiously transfigured, while its secular causes would be veiled. In particular, the construction of a national and cultural, white and European identity on the basis of an eclectic mixture of European historical fragments is indicative of the openness of the Neofolk scene to right-wing ideologies. Direct points of contact with the new right are attested to the neo- folk scene, especially in the criticism of modernity , the desire for a Eurocentric, ethnic identity and an elitist self-identification. In the frequent search for cultural reference points of one's own identity, folkish, nationalist, fascist and national socialist symbols, ideologies and people are taken up and processed. For example, the elitist self-localization of some actors justifies a radically fatalistic social Darwinism.

With the withdrawal to openness to interpretation and the rejection of clear political statements, many of the criticized projects refrain from a clear location. Advocates of groups such as Death in June, Blood Axis and Allerseelen refer to the points of contact with right-wing fragments of ideology as provocations and conceptually anchored social criticism, which "operates with unease, uncertainties and provocatively misleading allusions and quotations." However, critics hold a general openness and readiness towards this opposed to the new right and right-wing extremist media as a lack of demarcation that would be used by new right actors. Another problem with regard to a potential appropriation of the right is mentioned that second-generation interpreters fall back on the aesthetic without having developed themselves out of the post-industrial tradition. These interpreters show little or no aesthetic or stylistic breaks that can convey a critical impetus.

Attempts at appropriation by the right could be observed in most of the criticized projects despite the lack of a clear political position. In addition to numerous meetings and interviews in right-wing and right-wing extremist magazines and online magazines, certain groups of people often attend Neofolk concerts. Correspondingly, new right-wing actors like the journalist Martin Lichtmesz in 2010 tried to interpret the Neofolk as a right-wing counterculture.

Important representatives


  • Wave-Gotik-Treffen Leipzig
  • Flame magic Heldrungen
  • Mithras Garden Festival Zwickau / Satzvey
  • L'affaire fatale Mannheim
  • Runes + Men Festival Dresden / Leipzig


  • Anton Shekhovtsov, ' Apoliteic music: Neo-Folk, Martial Industrial and "metapolitical fascism" ', Patterns of Prejudice , Vol. 43, No. 5 (December 2009), pp. 431-457. doi : 10.1080 / 00313220903338990
  • Andreas Speit (Ed.): Aesthetic mobilization. Dark Wave, Neofolk and Industrial in the field of tension of right-wing ideologies. Unrast Verlag , Münster 2002, ISBN 3-89771-804-9 (ideology criticism).
  • Stéphane François: The Euro-Pagan Scene: Between Paganism and Radical Right. In: Journal for the Study of Radicalism. Vol. 1, Num. 2, 2008, pp. 35–54 (essay on Neofolk as identity formation). | Excerpt (extended abstract) thereof
  • Gregor Hufenreuter: Continuity pattern without continuity? Völkisches Liedgut from the German Songbook of the Empire to the Neofolk of the present . In: Uwe Puschner u. G. Ulrich Großmann: Völkisch and national. On the topicality of old thought patterns in the 21st century . Darmstadt 2009. ISBN 978-3-534-20040-5 (Scientific supplements to the Anzeiger des Germanisches Nationalmuseums, Volume 29), pp. 354–365.
  • Andreas Diesel, Dieter Gerten: Looking for Europe - Neofolk and backgrounds. Index Verlag , Zeltingen-Rachtig 2005, ISBN 3-936878-02-1 (musical and content presentation from a personal perspective).

Web links

  • Fluxeuropa ( Memento of February 7, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) - English online magazine, has not been updated since 2005, but it was the first of its kind and includes a very large tape and sound carrier archive (web archive version).
  • Funprox (Funeral Procession) English-language online magazine from Holland, which devotes a large part of its reporting to Neofolk.
  • Comprehensive, directly navigable database with a large number of scene-relevant song texts.
  • An attempt to grab the Neofolk scene Gregor Hufenreuter talks about the background of Neofolk.

Individual evidence

  1. Tony F .: Death in June - The guilty have no pride [review]. Retrieved November 17, 2009 .
  2. a b c d e f light discs over Neuschwabenland .
  3. Uwe S .: NONPOP> CURRENT 93: Aleph At Hallucinatory ... Retrieved January 22, 2010 .
  4. Martin L .: NONPOP> Current 93: Review and report. Retrieved January 22, 2010 .
  5. Michael We .: DEATH IN JUNE: The Rule Of Thirds [review]. Retrieved November 17, 2009 .
  6. [[Diedrich Diederichsen (Kulturwissenschaftler) |]]: Description of the music of the "Nate Starkman & Son" record label, which was mainly folk-inspired post-punk (such as Fourwaycross and Shiva Burlesque ) in the mid to late 1980s , Gothic and indie rock released. In: Spex Musikmagazin, issue 10/88, October 1988, p. 61
  7. a b c John Eden: What Ends When the Symbols Shatter? My Time as a Death In June Fan. Who Makes the Nazis ?, November 7, 2010, accessed September 2, 2014 .
  8. ^ Andreas Diesel, Dieter Gerten: Looking For Europe . 2nd Edition. Index, 2007, ISBN 978-3-936878-02-8 .
  9. Andreas Speit (ed.): Aesthetic mobilization . Unrast, Münster 2002, ISBN 3-89771-804-9 .
  10. Stefan von Hoyningen-Huene: Religiosity in right-wing extremist youth . Lit-Verlag, Münster 2002, ISBN 3-8258-6327-1 , p. 243 ff .
  11. a b Martin Büsser: Lichtrace and Wälsungenblut - New Right Tendencies in Apocalyptic Folk . In: Martin Büsser, Jochen Kleinherz, Jens Neumann, Johannes Ullmaier (eds.): Retrophänomene in der 90ern (= test  card ). No. 4 , 1997, ISBN 3-931555-03-8 , pp. 76–87, here p. 80 f .
  12. Martin Büsser: Lichtrace and Wälsungenblut - New Right Tendencies in Apocalyptic Folk . In: Martin Büsser, Jochen Kleinherz, Jens Neumann, Johannes Ullmaier (eds.): Retrophänomene in der 90ern (= test  card ). No. 4 , 1997, ISBN 3-931555-03-8 , pp. 76–87, here p. 82 .
  13. ^ Nicholas Padellaro: Post-Punk . In: Alexander Nym (Ed.): Schillerndes Dunkel . History, development and topics of the Gothic scene. 2010, ISBN 978-3-86211-006-3 , pp. 183–188, here p. 188 .
  14. Gernot Musch: For Those Who Go Beyond . In: Alexander Nym (Ed.): Schillerndes Dunkel . History, development and topics of the Gothic scene. 2010, ISBN 978-3-86211-006-3 , pp. 264–274, here p. 270 f .
  15. The sound of the new rights. Rolling Stone, accessed September 19, 2016 .
  16. Martin Lichtmesz: From the frilled shirt to the uniform . In: Alexander Nym (Ed.): Schillerndes Dunkel . History, development and topics of the Gothic scene. 2010, ISBN 978-3-86211-006-3 , pp. 374–379, here p. 378 .