Few bands can boast as sordid a past as can Germany's Absurd. Absurd was formed in 1992 by Hendrik Möbus and Sebastian Schauseil, who were later joined by Andreas Kirchner. Needless to say, they were heavily influenced by the then-burgeoning Norwegian Black Metal scene. The band achieved their first bit of notoriety in 1993, when the three bandmates conspired to murder Sandro Beyer, their onetime friend. Not content simply to strangle Beyer with an extension cord, the band used a photograph of his headstone as the cover art for Thuringian Pagan Madness, their 1995 demo tape. The band continued to pursue music while incarcerated, temporarily adapting the moniker of In Ketten (meaning "in chains" in the original German).
The band members were released on parole in 1998, as they were still minors when they committed the murder. Hendrik Möbus (pictured at left) soon found himself in trouble yet again, when at a concert he performed a Nazi salute, a gesture which is forbidden by German law. The result of this latest offense was the revocation of his parole. Möbus fled to the United States, for a time taking asylum with William Luther Pierce, an influential white supremacist and founder of the National Alliance. Möbus was arrested in 2000, and was extradited to Germany in 2001. At present he remains in prison. Sebastian Schauseil remains active in the German Black Metal scene (he currently serves as the guitarist and vocalist for the band Wolfsmond), though he has distanced himself from his earlier radical-right politics since leaving Absurd in 1999. Andreas Kirchner also left the band in 1999, and has since flown under the radar.
Though none of the original members are left in the band, Absurd continues to be active under the auspices of Ronald Möbus, Hendrik's brother. 2008 has seen the release of Der Fünfzehnjährige Krieg ("the fifteen year war"), which contains re-recordings of songs that were originally recorded during the Möbus/Schauseil/Kirchner days. What is one to make of music that has such a sordid history behind it? Truth be told, the music is actually pretty good, although it is pretty difficult to countenance the band's political leanings.
Musically, Der Fünfzehnjährige Krieg is something of a departure from the standard Black Metal mold (and no doubt something of a departure from the earlier sound of Absurd). Most of the tracks are of the mid-tempo variety, and do not rely heavily on blastbeats. The guitar riffs, though they demonstrate the prerequisite post-Euronymous distortion, have more of a straightforward Rock feel to them, rather than the Thrash Metal feel one normally hears from Black Metal guitarists, and possess simple--though catchy--melodies. Finally, a balance has been struck between the reptilian harsh vocals and the martial-sounding clean vocals (indeed, the latter sounds eerily like Rammstein at times).
Though I enjoy their music, I find that, in addition to be morally repugnant, Absurd's political message fits the band's name quite suitably. Aryanism and White Supremacism are, at best, laughable fallacies from which little to no good can emerge (kind of like intelligent design, but I digress). It is an unfortunate reality that some bands who write and play excellent music also espouse such atrocious ideals.