'Anti-Islamic' band nominated for Norway's top music prize

Oslo, Norway - A notoriously "anti-Islamic" band has been nominated for Norway's top metal prize. Taake are one of six nominees for a prestigious Spellemann award, despite a song that declares: "To hell with Muhammad and the Muhammadans!"

"Norway will soon awaken!" read the lyrics to Orkan (Hurricane), on Taake's album Noregs Vaapen. The Spellemanns are Norway's equivalent of the Brits or the Grammys, and Noregs Vaapen is nominated for best metal album. Elsewhere on Orkan, singer Ørjan Stedjeberg refers to Muslims' "unforgivable customs" and calls for a new "kingdom" to "shine through [the] bad years, shame and Christian times".

Despite complaints, Spellemann officials defended the band's nomination. "We enjoy full freedom of expression in Norway and [our] jury is not going to censor content in any way," chairman Marte Thorsb told Aftenposten. But the Norwegian Humanist Association argues the lyrics go too far. Norway is still shaken from last summer's "anti-multiculturalist" attacks by Anders Breivik, which left 69 people dead. "In the aftermath of July 22nd [Taake's lyrics] are completely over the edge," said Didrik Søderlind. "I'd imagine Taake aren't particularly proud of these lyrics after Utøya."

Despite lyrics damning Muslims, Taake "do not encourage either violence or racism", Stedjeberg said. "Our view … is that it is shameful to adhere to Christianity or Islam." He also criticised the media for ignoring Taake's (relatively tame) lyrics about Christianity. "Taake has never been a political band," he said.

Stedjeberg's comments come less than four years after he painted a swastika on his chest for a Taake concert in Essen, Germany. In the outcry over that event, he again insisted Taake are "not a political Nazi band". "Our whole concept is built on provocation and anything evil- and death-related," he said.

The Spellemanns will be awarded on Saturday night.