Varg Vikernes and the Cannibal
While doing so, I looked up the album and the band so as to be better informed about them as I listened. And, as completely expected, I found myself trapped in the internet.
It started with me trying to determine the differences between Scandanavian Death Metal, Symphonic Black Metal, Black Metal, and Death Metal. Genre splintering always amuses me; I don’t really have the time or energy to follow it.
At any rate, there is a strange (to me) zeitgeist involving Scandinavia, Satanism, and Heavy Metal. And it is one of the weirder (and true) rabbit holes about this that I found myself falling through.
Let’s start with Mayhem’s best known vocalist, Per Yngve Ohlin, better known as “Dead”. He is the individual widely credited with the “corpse paint” movement in metal performances (white-faced makeup). He didn’t do it to be like KISS or anything; no, he seriously wanted to look like a corpse.
He would bury his clothes for weeks on end so that he could be more corpse-like. He cut himself on stage constantly. He would inhale the carcass of a dead crow before he went on stage so that he could do so “with the scent of death in his nostrils”.
Then one night he cut his wrists and blew his head off with a shotgun.
He was found the next day by the band’s guitarist, Aarseth, better known as Euronymous. The first thing Euronymous did was run to the store and buy a disposable camera so that he could take pictures of it – one of which would later become the cover for a bootleg album called Dawn of the Black Hearts.
After this, Euronymous collected several shards of Ohlin’s skull. He would later make necklaces out of them, and give them to people he felt were “hard core” enough.
Allegedly, he also scooped up some of Ohlin’s brain matter and made a stew out of it, so that he could taste human flesh.
Whether or not this bit is true we will never really know because Euronymous was later murdered by Varg Vikernes, another member of the band – a dude who also liked to burn down churches.
Why did Vikernes kill Euronymous? It’s totally, completely unclear. A contract dispute, maybe? A girl? Vikernes had been planning to blow up a leftist enclave in Oslo (and probably would have, were he not busted for murder); some say the murder happened because Euronymous was a communist and would have opposed blowing up leftists. Or something.
Vikernes, on his personal website, says that he killed him in pre-emptive self-defense:
“He had showed his intention to kill me, and even though he was no longer a direct threat to me, there and then, I did not feel any bad for killing him. His cowardice had made me angry and I saw no reason to let him live, not when he had showed his intent to kill me. Had I let him live I would only let him have another attempt at my life, later on.”
(The story as he tells it is long but worth the read as it is utterly fascinating.)
Vikernes got 21 years, the maximum sentence possible in Norway. He was convicted of murder, but also convicted on several counts of arson. While he admits to killing Euronymous, he still maintains innocence with regards to the church fires, though he basically says they had it coming:
“They [the Christians] desecrated our graves, our burial mounds, so it’s revenge.”
You’d think it ends there, right? Oh no. It gets better.
While in prison, Vikernes released several albums under the band name of Burzem. How and why you’re allowed to record albums while in prison in Norway, I do not know. They are apparently very lax about that.
In 2003, he was given a week’s leave from prison. When he failed to return to prison, they went looking for him. He was found in a stolen car along with a wonderful supply of toys: an AG3 automatic rifle, a handgun, numerous large knives, a gas mask, camouflage clothing, a laptop, a compass, a GPS, various maps, and a fake passport.
So they gave him another 13 months.
He was recently denied parole but is still allowed to go home and visit his family from time to time. As my friend Fuz says, “I don’t think I’ve ever labeled anyone “soft on crime” before, but I think whoever’s in charge of punishing this guy for murder now gets that tag.”
You can’t make this stuff up.