A presentation of an underrated gem of the Czech metal scene brings into the surface the question regarding the connection between music and politics. In other words, are we allowed to like the music of artists like Ted Nugent or Aleš Brichta when their personal politics are moronic ? I let each one of you give the answer for himself…
I had to think (at least) twice before deciding to write about this album. Aleš Brichta is a legend of the Czech metal scene but his politics sometimes make Ted Nugent sound almost like a liberal. Furthermore this album carries too much controversy around it…Starting from the title Deratizer, which in Czech means The Exterminator (Sterilizer), then continuing to the lyrics where in the self-titled song Brichta describes his wish to sterilise the streets from gypsies who steal bikes, until finally the CD cover which accurately depicts what I mentioned before (with the only difference that apart from gypsies also arabs or generally dark skinned thieves and drug addicts are subject to take part in Brichta’s imaginary sterilisation operation).
The release of the album stired enough controversy within Czech republic with the police investigating the lyrics, interrogating Brichta but finally not prosecuting him. Brichta himself tried to present the lyrics of the song as a metaphorical way of expressing his anger and frustration against the corrupt and inefficient politicians of his country who do nothing in addressing the rising numbers of criminality.
For those who are accustomed with the politics of the former communist eastern European country, what Brichta voices is none other than one more clumsy expression of the right-wing opinions against gypsies and muslims which are steadily gaining popularity within the Czech society. A desire to move away from the Communist past, ignorance and low level of education have resulted in Czech people adopting a Euro-sceptical stance which is expressed by electing populist and openly anti-migration politicians like Andrej Babiš. The phenomenon is not new. Deratizer was released in 2009, which means several years before the migration crisis initiated by the war in Syria and the big refuge waves that through Greece entered central Europe, but it was for sure an early warning about the racial prejudice which has been deeply rooted in the Czech society. Sad but true, unfortunately…
But what about the music?
Brichta as mentioned in the beginning of this post, is a legend in the Czech metal/thrash scene mainly due to being one of the founding members of the best thrash band that ever came from this country, Arakain (a fact which cost him much harassment during he communist years - another possible explanation for his pro-right agenda). After departing from them he has created a number of solo projects one of them which was ABBand (now renamed to Aleš Brichta Project).
If nothing else the album content is quite fulfilling with 14 songs of powerful heavy metal. Sung in Czech, a common characteristic of the majority of the Czech groups, which is actually the result of the fact that generations of Czechs during the Communist era had no access in learning English but only German (a country who -together with Austria- had from the past until now played a significantly influencing role in the Czech matters) and despite its long duration, Deratizer manages to keep its consistency. Classic and modern metal are mixed together without leaving out wonderful slow ballads like Píseň pro bílou hůl or even speed/thrash anthems like Voyer. Modern riff writing, epic melodies, anthemic vocals are bundled with a solid production thus making Deratizer a great example of modern US metal for fans of Disturbed, Metallica and Pantera. If Ted Nugent politics do not prevent you from appreciating his music then please give a chance to Deratizer next time you stumble upon it.