Friday, August 14, 2009

The Unknown War

The Unknown War

Many albums over the years have been considered "classics" for a variety of reasons. On the basis of musical ability, lyrical ingenuity or the impact they had upon first being released. Then there are albums which for inexplicable reasons have been sidelined over the years. The Unseen War by Break The Sword is one such release.

On musical grounds alone, this CD should have been essential listening. It was beyond the normal proficiency, with complex overlaid tracks which strayed beyond the usual level of musicianship. While still overtly a Skinhead album, it had the potential to attract a much wider audience. Lyrically, with songs ranging from the considered and intelligent to downright brutal, "The Unseen War" mixed White Nationalism with a healthy American Nationalism, and anti-immigration message. It decried capitalism and communism, consumerism and atheistic hedonistic amorality. Rooted firmly in the Christian Identity anti-government tradition, the CD railed against the modern world. "The Unseen War" was ostensibly made up of three bands, Break the Sword, Day of the Sword and the Philly Bootboys, yet basically both Day of..., and Break the Sword were the same band. With Philadelphia Skinhead Scott Stedeford at the helm of both bands, and clearly the driving force behind them, they transcended the usual level of RAC being produced at the time. As well as breaking with orthodox RAC lyrical content, the bands attacked capitalism, injecting references to Christian Identity and produced the classic "Blood Stained Emerald" which received much flak for being sympathetic to Irish Nationalists. Unfortunately, the CD contained the traditional Skrewdriver cover in the form of "Blood & Honor," yet even this was proficiently played and contained a subtle yet effective lyrical rewrite which transformed the song into a track for a post-Communist world.

On these merits alone, "The Unseen War" should be a classic, yet there is more to the tale. The truth behind this CD is more a key to the radical nature of its members than even the lyrics would suggest. Because the CD was made, produced and released with funds from one of the bank robberies carried out by the Aryan Republican Army (ARA), aka The Midwest bank robbers, a paramilitary group inspired by both the Order and Irish Nationalist guerrillas who carried out 22 bank robberies across the Midwest, between 1994 and 1995, netting an estimated 250 to 500,000 dollars; without injuring or killing a single person. The money was intended for Nationalists across America. Both Stedeford and the drummer on the Break the Sword tracks, Kevin McCarthy, were members of the ARA.

In the next year and a half, Stedeford released two more CDs under the Day of the Sword name, but in actuality both CD’s contained multiple unnecessary and irritating Skrewdriver covers. Nothing ever came close to "The Unseen War." When the ARA fell apart with all members behind bars and much recrimination, Day of the Sword came to an end. At 28 years old, Stedeford was sentenced to 10 years for one of the robberies in Des Moines Iowa, and then received a further 20 year sentence for one of the robberies in Wisconsin. Break the Sword drummer Kevin McCarthy turned states evidence and received a lighter sentence. Stedeford went to prison without uttering a word.

Whatever negative attitudes some have towards this kind of para-militarism, the truth is that Stedeford, et al, practiced what they preached. They took their message outside the studio. But the ARA was active prior to the Oklahoma bombing, when the political atmosphere was very different. Anyone who remembers the aftermath of the Murrah building bombing knows that a lot has changed. The patriot movement became vilified, hunted, while many Skinheads found themselves caught in the backlash. It was essentially the end of an era after which the likes of the Aryan Republican Army could not exist. Yet their musical legacy survives.

Like a great piece of revolutionary literature, "The Unseen War" is a signpost of the times, a zeitgeist, an under appreciated and familiar to few album.

1 comment:

  1. Scott Stedeford,brother who gave it his all for
    the struggle..To bad it was with a deviant like Peter Langdan.That cross dressing queer deviant.

    Aryan Graphics Designs
    Pro White & Pro Christian Identity graphic design company.

    Visit the AGD portfolio website.