I vaguely remember the news covering Norwegian churches being burned. I remember having no sense of geography and just how far away Norway was. I remember being panicked by the use of the words “pagan,” “Satanist,” and “death.” It was enough to create an anxious 10 year old girl in California.
Now, 25 years later, I have a better idea of what actually occurred. It took me almost 2 years to read and digest, but Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground has shined some light on the events that frightened me so.
“There is Satanism and occultism in a lot of places in this world, but the reason why the Norwegian Satanism has become so strong and interesting compared to other countries is because it is so intense. There is a sense of a Satanism here that is very judgmental. You have this LaVey sort of thing with enjoying life, but at its best Norwegian Satanism is the total opposite of that. It’s an aesthetic movement with strong belief not to enjoy life, but only to dedicate yourself to destroying the church and Christianity” (Lords of Chaos 239).
The story behind these burnings is long and sad. Yet it is also a part of the history of the black metal community.
People tend to believe that rap is the only musical genre with storied, violent feuds, but this is far from the truth. The Black Metal community has its own unholy wars in which factions of musicians and obsessive fans committed acts of terrorism, suicide, and murder.
Lords of Chaos delves deep int this war that has now spanned decades and generations. Michael Moynihan and Didrik Soderlind have created a written journey that reads like a true crime story. Interviews with those involved and entrenched in the war add to the authenticity of the book.
However, this in-depth book can become wholly depressing and difficult to process in long sittings. Often I had to walk away from the book because of the weight of the conversations.
The main focus of the novel is Varg Vikernes and his murder of Mayhem guitarist Oystein “Euronymous” Aarseth. After his arrest, Vikernes claimed the murder was self defense and while he never participated in the church burnings, he did support them. On the night of 10 August 1993, Vikernes and Snorre ‘Blackthorn’ Ruch drove from Bergen to Euronymous’ apartment at Tøyengata in Oslo. Upon their arrival a confrontation began and Vikernes fatally stabbed Euronymous. His body was found on the stairs outside the apartment with 23 stab wounds – two to the head, five to the neck, and 16 to the back
These events became part of the foundation of the Black Metal Community, combined with a warped sense of patriotism and a bizarre sense of need to protect the pagan cultures of the past.
Obviously, this book delves into much more and I strongly recommend that you pick it up– especially if you consider yourself a member of the Black Metal community.
Remember: Those who do not learn from their pasts are doomed to repeat it.