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The “True” History of Black Metal – 2 of 4

The second wave?
Or the first wave of the sub-genre to extreme metal scene?
Black Metal - The Norwegian movement.

Click here for Part 1 of 4

The black metal scene was kicked into life and it was more than a mere stand against the mainstream. An ideology followed in tow that would leave a lasting imprint on the music scene for the concepts, words and ideas spoken to support the brand of image behind black metal as well as actions committed to support the ideology.

First up on the scene was Mayhem, formed in early 1984; their name taken from Venom song "Mayhem with Mercy." They recorded their first demo Pure Fucking Armageddon in 1986 with Øystein Aarseth AKA Euronymous on guitar & vocals, Jørn Stubberud - Necrobutcher on bass and Kjetil Esten Haraldsson Manheim - drums. Messiah was hired as a session vocalist, but was soon replaced by Maniac as a permanent vocalist. Their second demo in 1987 Deathrehearsal was released to be followed up with Death Crush as Messiah sings on two tracks and Maniac assumes vocals for the other tracks. Euronymous started his own label in 1987 originally called Posercorpse Music which was later renamed Deathlike Silence Productions.

Mayhem-1996PureFuckingArmageddonManheim comments in his blog the reasons for starting Mayhem was first and foremost to "start a band with two very good friends" and Satanism and black metal was not the trigger to start the band - it took a life on its own. Manheim explains that, "first we all disliked authorities, furthermore we really disliked the Christian church, and last we liked heavy metal and the style of the occult. Bands like Celtic Frost, Venom, Black Sabbath and their like was what we listened to and we liked their form of expression and style." Manheim described himself at time as agnostic, with an interest in religion, politics and philosophy and felt that the "state, church and all other religious groups violated the individual rights to freedom." Mayhem became the platform to challenge the moral and ethics as well as the theology and means to enrage them with Satan. Thus Mayhem after making the concerted effort to appear evil and satanic, the reaction they anticipated worked. He says, "It worked for me because I was able to contribute to a musical genre I really liked. And our protest on the evil church (hehe yes, evil) was a huge success. We got the reaction we wanted, they hated us." Manheim presented his view on the bible describing the Old Testament as full of evil and sadism, explicitly stating that it "presents a patriarchic philosophy and a cruel and psychopathic God." Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion also described "The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully."

manheim-mayhemManheim concedes that the New Testament portrays God in a much better light, but much more dogma and contradictions follow, he explains, "the new testament is full of rules, new and old. Rules that they impose laws for us all to follow, believers or not. Rules that disrespect the individual rights to live as one wants." He lays down the charges to the church describing them from history as "against common democracy because kings ruled by the authority of God, they fought against women’s right to vote with their bible as argument, they supported slavery, they supported imperialism… I fight for every man's right to live his life as he may choose himself. I fight against anyone, including the church that wants to limit this freedom. I do agree that we need some order in a society and that laws and police are the way to ensure that they are understood and followed." Following the secularist ideology of separation of religion and the state Manheim concludes he neither is atheist nor agnostic except that he subscribes to his own moral and ethics that are not based on religion. He respects the choices of other people; that we should build a society that has room for both ideologies. He closes the curtain to the curiosity surrounding his involvement with Mayhem and on whether he is evil, "So, am I a Satanist? No, I am not. I do not believe Satan exist. Am I evil? No, I am not. I do believe in good and try to act as good as I can. Am I against religious people? No, I am not, on the contrary I do believe in the freedom of thought and expression and that includes faith and religion. Am against religion or organized religious societies? No, I’m not – let them worship their God as they want. Am I against religious laws and power? Yes, I am because that often includes putting up restrictions on other people’s lives based on dogmas rather than humanitarian reasons and thereby restrict my freedoms."

But are they mere studied afterthoughts to justify all the things done in the name of Mayhem and their desire to provoke a reaction from the Church? The manifold of the machine wheeling round to assert an undesirable amount of personal control in how we govern ourselves and our relations is a persuasive argument to instead channel a strong desire to assert ones self under the brigade of individuality. Thus the following premise comes to mind - it's not religion that gives people identity, ultimately it’s how one learns and how we choose to be that govern whether our actions fit within the rights and individual freedoms we assert on ourselves and equally given to others.

Norwegian bands were openly more satanic with their image, views and whole ethos and there was rejection of the principles of Anton LaVey that musicians had begun to ascribe and were influenced by his writings in the previous era following the rise of extreme metal genre. Let’s return to the history to find some answers.

helveteThe line-up changes come around again with Per Yngve Ohlin AKA Dead joining as a vocalist and Jan Axel Blomberg - Hellhammer as drummer in 1988. Three years later 8th April 1991 Dead slit his wrists and took a shotgun to his head. He was found by Euronymous. Death had left a suicide note apologizing for all the blood.

Euronymous was known as the founder and central vocal point in black metal. In1991 Euronymous opened shop called Helvete, which became the center world of the black metal activity in Norway, giving birth to the Black Circle. Although in name only, it was a place for those into this genre to hang out with no organization, concrete membership list or official meetings.

Describing the reason behind the evilness and what was the driving force to their inspiration behind Mayhem, Euronymous in his last interview with TSV before his death said it was their hatred towards humanity, life and happiness. The northern lands provided music and lyrical inspiration for them in particular the cold and darkness. It was their goal to put as much mood and atmosphere into their songs and Euronymous was a strong believer time was unimportant in order to produce an album they were satisfied with so they never conformed to the mass markets demands. Musically they were self-conscious to do their very best. Euronymous said they chose "to believe Venom and Bathory were evil because it's impossible to make such music without being evil yourself." It was a religion to Mayhem and they were behind it 100%. To be black metal, the band must be satanic according to Euronymous and Darkthrone. Burzum and Mayhem were at the time described as black metal as well as using chords and all six strings on the guitar followed up my machine gun style drumming, which creates an atmosphere that is unique to the listener.

Mayhem_Dead_EuronymousEuronymous lived up towards the hatred after discovering Dead's body. He went out brought a disposable camera and took pictures of Dead's body. Commenting in a Swedish radio interview (approximately Feb/March 1993), Euronymous was emphatic;”It isn't everyday you get to see a corpse so you have to do the most out of it." The lack of empathy and emotion towards one another was part of the evil package associated with the black metal scene to show, but a vacant shell was keeping with the ideology and image. Did this become a competition between one another in how one could out do the other with respect to the disdain and unsympathetic view of life towards themselves and people in general? In the interview Euronymous refused to go into details, but the story goes pieces of Dead's skull were removed and later became jewelry and given to those who were worthy. Showing little sorrow was characteristic of the scene. Euronymous claimed Dead committed suicide because of the scene and used it to promote the concept and image of the band. Dead himself was inspired by ancient legends of Transylvania and envisioned live gigs with a backdrop to that era. He was by far an unusual, enigmatic individual and believed he was not human. Within the black metal community he was always highly regarded.

Occultus assumes vocals duties after Dead's suicide and in 1992 Count Grishnackh joined playing bass for Mayhem although Count Grishnackh - Varg Vikernes already had a one man project which went by the name of Burzum. Other bands on the scene included Darkthrone, Immortal, and Emperor among others. Euronymous fell out with his former band member and associate Occultus.

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2 Responses to “ The “True” History of Black Metal – 2 of 4 ”

  1. [...] Click here for Part 2 [...]

  2. [...] Click here for Part 1 of 4 – The First WaveClick here for Part 2 of 4 – The Second Wave [...]

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