Russian Belphegor Shows Canceled, Frontman Helmuth Responds to Orthodox Attacker
In recent years, extreme metal acts, particularly those with blasphemous or offensive lyrics and imagery, have been met with hostility in Russia. Last week, as Belphegor arrived in St. Petersburg, they were confronted by an Orthodox Christian who spat in Helmuth's face, attempting to provoke the frontman. The band was set to play a show with Nile and Melechesh, but the concert was canceled and now a string of other dates have met the same fate.
Belphegor revealed the news on their Facebook page, stating the April 19 St. Petersburg gig was canceled just hours before the Austrian outfit were set to take the stage. Upon arrival in Moscow, they were met with censorship orders and directed to remove their backdrop and that crosses and sculptures used onstage were also forbidden. Lyrical content was restricted as well and Belphegor were forced to play "Lucifer Incestus" as an instrumental, but things took a turn for the worse as the vocals were muted for the remainder of the show. Following the gig, the band was informed they would not be performing in Ekaterinburg or Krasnodar on April 21 and 23 respectively.
A statement from Helmuth details the band's history in Russia as well as the attack in the St. Petersburg airport. The full statement reads:
We've toured Russia three times since 2006 and always had amazing experiences. We've ignored all protests including death threats during the past few weeks. I was aware many black and death metal bands were having trouble recently, but we still marched in. To people who think they know everything: When that waste of oxygen approached us at the airport on the 19th, he had a hand in his pocket. I expected him to have a weapon. If I had hit him, I would have been thrown in jail, and he would have ended up in the hospital. That was their plan; he had that other degenerate filming the entire thing. Special thanks to brother Mr. Karl Sanders [Nile], who had the courage to block him as he continued to harass me. I'm a musician, not a fighter, especially in Russia. I've survived Typhus and have already been dead for six hours, hanging on only by machines followed by open-heart surgery. I do not fear anyone other than myself. No excuses to anyone!! End of story. It is of the utmost importance that artists have freedom of expression. Throughout history religions and governments have and continue to censor creative works all around the world. Thank you very much to all metalheads who loyally stand behind us and fight against oppressors and hypocritical moralizers. Russian supporters, be prepared!! BELPHEGOR are unstoppable and will return.
This is not the first time metal acts have faced show cancelations. In 2014, Behemoth were ordered to leave Russia after being detained overnight by authorities. The band endured horrible conditions where walls were caked in feces and the band was denied the privilege of using the bathroom, forcing them to use water bottles as a waste receptacle. Also in 2014, a Cannibal Corpse show was raided under the premise of searching the venue for drugs. Armed authorities entered the venue and remained until the scheduled set time expired.
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