Dead 1969 – 1991;
Euronymous 1968 – 1993
On a windswept fiord, where the ravens swoop and dive, a pasty man in black leather pants raises his hands in a devil-fingered salute. It is time to “fuck shit up”, as it were, black metal style.
Of all the hard-rock genres that give a nod towards mayhem murder and the gates of hell, only one embraces such chaos: black metal, a form of thrash-fast metal with generally grainy production, whose vocals oscillate between shrieks and low groans. The Norwegian-born genre is however more defined by its ideology (i.e. violently anti-Christian) than its sound. And so in the early nineties, to promote this ideology, the drummer of classic black metal act Emperor went on an arson crusade against Norway’s historic wooden churches. While their bassist has been imprisoned for mere knife assault and desecration, their guitarist went one-up by stabbing a gay friend fourteen times in a Lillehammer park.
Yet the kings of all that is deathly and dark in the black metal world are surely Mayhem. In 1991, during a legendary German tour, lead singer Dead wore a hair shirt riddled with maggots, and inhaled “the scent of death” from a dead raven in a plastic bag before walking on-stage, where he tossed pigs heads while lashing himself with razor blades (such an early precursor of the emo-trend clearly demonstrates black metal’s forward thinking ways). At the tour’s end, Dead lived up to his name by taking a shotgun to his head in the band’s apartment, leaving behind a note saying “excuse all the blood”. When his band mates returned home, they quite nonchalantly set about taking photos to use on their cover of their Dawn of the Black Hearts album. The drummer made a necklace out of Dead’s skull; guitarist Euronymous cooked and ate pieces of his brains in a stew.
Euronymous may be regarded as the founding father of all that is intentionally evil in black metal. He founded a gang called the Black Circle, consisting of several bands who would egg-on fans to attack Christianity by any means possible (and we are not talking about merely pointing out the inconsistencies of the holy book – we are talking about things that go boom). The Black Circle eventually disintegrated due to a dispute between Euronymous and Mayhem’s bass player Varg Vikernes (also known as Count Grishnackh), who had been mouthing off to all and sundry about the workings of the circle. Varg also alleged that Euronymous had “stolen” a 16-year-old girl from him.
Following his feast upon the brains of Death, Euronymous was stabbed 23 times while standing in his underwear by the Count, who would go on to record the atmospheric pixie-mushroom-child form of black metal under the name Burzum whilst serving out his time in gaol. When he was arrested, the police had discovered a large quantity of dynamite under the Count’s bed. He had intended to use the dynamite to blow up a church… and as they say, the sky is blackened with carrion birds.
These days, black metal is perhaps best represented by British act Cradle of Filth, whose lead singer Dani likes to drink tea, read books about history and sell t-shirts featuring pictures of nuns in compromising positions.