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A Banner Greater Than Death, released in 2006 on Die Todesrune Records, is the second album from Greek NSBM outfit Der Stürmer. The first thing to say about this album is that is one of the most extreme, outspoken, hardline Nazi albums I’ve ever seen or heard. The visual imagery used in the album art ranges from heroic portraits of Hitler and stormtroopers to anti-Semitic caricatures of Jews most likely borrowed from Der Stürmer, the infamously scurrilous newspaper published during the Third Reich by Julius Streicher, Gauleiter of Franconia, from which Der Stürmer’s name derives. The lyrics and explanatory texts in the booklet (which are all in English) include numerous anti-Semitic references to ‘Semitic snakes’, ‘rabbi corpses’, ‘Zionist scum’, ‘the Yiddish nest’ etc. No single song on here manages to be quite as spectacularly offensive as the tribute to the London nail-bomber David Copeland which appears on Der Stürmer’s Polish-Hellenic Alliance Against Z.O.G.! release, but overall, there’s no doubt that most people are not going to find Der Stürmer’s politics acceptable. There’s none of the is-he-or-isn’t-he-a-fascist ambivalence and ambiguity you get with such bands as Death In June or NON – with Der Stürmer, you totally know these guys are Nazis. I will make no further comment in this review on the matter of the band’s politics, as I berated them once already about this in my review of the split release with Capricornus, and also I believe users of this website are (or should be) mature enough to make up their own minds as to whether this is the sort of thing they wish to support, but you’ve been given fair warning…
So, on to a consideration of the musical content of A Banner Greater Than Death. ‘Dawning Israel's Perdition’ is typically crude, fast, raw and brutal. Hardcore and RAC (Rock Against Communism) influences prevail, although Der Stürmer describe themselves as a black metal band. Black metal like early Mayhem or Absurd maybe, but really this is virtually Oi music – I don’t think skinheads would have a problem with enjoying this. ‘Arr-Hammer’ is more of the same, though its powerfully thrashy guitar sound gives it greater impact. ‘An Iron Fist (For The Modern World)’ begins with a film dialogue sample. ‘Defiance’ is a militant call to arms, with heavy use of snare drum for a combative feel. ‘Those Who Lived And Died Like Heroes’ features more film dialogue, with epic, heroic themes. The song itself is slower and less frenetic than most of Der Stürmer’s work, bringing it closer to the black metal sound of early Graveland or Thor’s Hammer – for this reason, it’s probably my favourite track on here. It’s worth mentioning that Der Stürmer contributed to the Graveland tribute album. ‘Last Battalion's Marching’ signals a return to the fast, no-frills moshpit fuel that is Der Stürmer’s stock-in-trade. ‘Ancestral Wolfcall’ begins with lupine yips and snarls over an epic orchestral theme, and develops something of the same bludgeoning power as ‘Arr-Hammer’. ‘Baptized by the Blood of the Fallen (Blutfahne)’ begins with an excerpt from a Third Reich era speech in German. ‘Feel the Bitter Taste of Nemesis’ uses a film dialogue sample on the subject of vengeance and vigilante justice. The final track, ‘Adolf der Große’, is of course a paean of glorification of der Führer – ‘Hitler, your name shall be praised!’ etc.
Leaving aside the political issues, Der Stürmer’s music is mostly too fast and crude to hold my interest, although their use of film samples adds something to the album, and the general production values and graphic presentation of the album are pretty impressive for such an uncompromisingly underground release.