Top 10 Scandinavian Black Metallers
Oh Jimmy Page, what did you start? If only he had realised that all that messing around in Boleskin House on the shores of Loch Ness would have resulted in a large amount of dire, humourless music coming out of Northern climes, one likes to think that he might not have bothered.
When a minister from the Elim Pentecostal church showed up at the grammar school I attended to warn of the dangers of Jimmy Page's trousers, Queen singing, "I like to smoke marijuana" or maybe "I like to smoke banana" backwards and Newcastle's Venom, being a band who were as likely to be reading a copy of Razzle as they were the Necronomicon, little did he know that these were but clowns in the face of such grim practitioners of black metal as those you can read about below.
CD Times are proud to present the Top 10 Scandinavian Black Metallers:
10. Necrobutcher: Once of Mayhem but left after the death of the lead singer, being the suitably named Dead. Apparently, Necrobutcher parted the lank curtains of hair that had previously obscured his vision, saw not only the light but also his future and realised that life in a Norwegian black metal band held, well, no guarantee of financial security. Necrobutcher, therefore, packed it all in and left the obscure world of black metal for a proper job. He is currently believed to be one of thousands of petrol station attendants competing to avoid the absolute bottom rung of employment in Norway's cutthroat retail industry.
9. Samoth: Unlike so many others who profess a teenage devotion to Satan - see millions of self-obsessed adolescents between the ages of 13-15 the world over - Emperor's Samoth struggled to grow out of a need to upset his parents. Whilst other teenagers are content to slam the odd door and grunt, Samoth burnt down a number of architecturally and historically important wooden Stave churches in Norway and was arrested, charged and convicted of the offence.
8. Blasphemer: After the death of not only the lead singer but also the guitarist, which would suggest something greater than misfortune was influencing his life, Mayhem's drummer Hellhammer formed a new version of the band around himself, somewhat like a Satanic Mick Fleetwood you could say, but which, unlike Fleetwood Mac, has only toured sporadically. However, some time earlier this year new member Blasphemer was cutting the head off a sheep onstage in Norway when, however this happened, the severed head lamped an unprepared member of the audience who, to add injury to the insult of having paid to watch Mayhem, suffered a fractured skull as a result of the incident. And who says sheep, even beheaded ones, aren't funny?
7. Dismember: Being one of the few bands on the list who are not Norwegian, Dismember, like their Scandinavian brothers, are fond of the same grinding guitar riffs and hard-to-believe-that's-a-grown-man-making-that-noise vocals of black metal but, in their favour, they lack the hysterical preening of the Norwegians. However, despite the appalling lyrics of such Norwegian bands as Old Man's Child, it was Dismember who were charged with obscenity in the UK courts. Although CD Times aren't entirely sure who brought the case, they appeared at the Magistrates Court in Great Yarmouth in July 1992 to defend the lyrics of the sweetly titled Skin Her Alive. A sample of the lyrics to this song are given below:
Screams echoed in the distance
And I cannot ignore
Smiling at the memories
When I slaughtered the whore
Skin her alive
Time has come to confess
I did it for the thrill
I had never dreamt of
That it would be so nice to kill
Unfortunately, however, the magistrate decided that these lyrics were not intended to inspire any people to commit violence acts although his reaching over and lamping of singer Robert Sennebäck rather suggested that he found offence in the band's appearance if not in their lyrics.
6. Tchort: Ho hum...burglary, knife assault and, well whaddaya know, desecration. Despite being a band mate of our number nine Scandinavian black metaller, Samoth, bassist Tchort was also found guilty of offences against Norwegian Christianity, only being ranked three places higher up due to the more grave, if you'll pardon the pun, knife assault. However, given that both Samoth and Tchort constituted Emperor's rhythm section, one expresses very little surprise that a bassist and drummer from the same band got caught carrying out exactly the same offences. So, tell me again, who are supposed to be the stupid ones in rock bands?
5. Dissection : As with Dismember, Dissection are also from Sweden but unlike their fellow countrymen, were prepared to dabble a little further on into the dark side than a mere obscenity charge. Singer/guitarist Jon Nödtveidt is currently serving time in prison following his and a friend's brutal mafia-styled, back-of-the-head shooting of a gay Algerian man in July 1997. Most disappointing, though, was Nödtveidt's wimping out in the face of a septuagenarian in a dusty, horsehair wig, or whatever the Swedish equivalent is, to claim that he had not actually murdered the guy but had only owned the gun. Satan, I'm sure, was proud. His accomplice, however, known only the name of Vlad - and I'm sure we're all surprised at there being someone called Vlad in this list - notched himself down a couple of circles when he eventually reaches Hell by not only admitting to this murder but also to the murder and mutilation of a pair of teenagers.
4. Faust: Clearly those fathers who looked at Boy George when he first appeared on Top Of The Pops were not alone in being curious as to the sexual preference of the person before him, for much the same fate befell a man in Lillehammer who made a pass at Emperor's drummer Faust. Unfortunately, whilst fathers in the UK in 1982 were content to mutter, "'ere, is that a boy or a girl?" whilst Culture Club performed Do You Really Want To Hurt Me, Faust stabbed the man 14 times and thus, as with so many of the entries in this Top 10, felt the increasingly tired arm of the Norwegian constabulary extend him an invitation to spend some time in custody on the charge of murder. Add to that stabbing further charges of arson and burglary and petty criminal/drummer Faust is currently wearing prison-issue denims and, given his criminal history, probably more fearful than most of the sound of dropped soap.
3. Dead: Uh huh, that's the name of our number 3 in CD Times' Top 10 of Norwegian black metallers. Despite being known to his mother as Pelle Ohlin, Dead was little Pelle's chosen nom de black metal and became one of the founders of Mayhem, a key band in the development of Norwegian black metal. Mayhem were...well, like The Beatles of black metal, if you can imagine such a thing - influential, central to the movement of which they were a part and still spoken of. However, instead of teenage girls running after them in a lust-frenzy, Mayhem probably had a fairly hardcore following of pimply, gormless, dour and single teenage boys suffering from RSI in their masturbating arm.
Mayhem effectively launched themselves at a major death/black metal concert in Norway and Dead prepared for this by burying his clothes such that they rotted for the concert and chopped the heads of a few pigs, which were then impaled on wooden poles. Come the night of the concert, Dead took to the stage with a dead raven in a plastic bag to keep the reek of death close by, cut himself on stage and kicked the pigs' heads into the crowd. To say Mayhem went down well would be a slight understatement and immediately afterwards, they went on a tour of Germany and Turkey before returning to work on the debut album, the ridiculously named De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. However, on April 8th 1991, Dead was...well, dead, having killed himself.
Now, Dead would have ranked higher in this chart had he not killed himself in such an incompetent manner. Firstly, he slashed his wrists with a knife bought that day but, feeling that this would take too long, and maybe be a bit painful, he used a shotgun to blow his head off. And how was the first victim of black metal found? Wearing an I HEART Transylvania t-shirt and holding a suicide note that said, "Excuse all the blood!" Nice to see that at least he prepared for his own death by putting his good t-shirt on, eh? And apologising for the mess, of course...
2. Euronymous: Now it starts to get interesting...number 2 in CD Times' Top 10 of Scandinavian black metallers was the portly guitarist in Mayhem, home also to Dead and Necrobutcher. Euronymous pretty much lived what life you could have in black metal, not only in Mayhem but also running a record label called, in the very best tradition of putting serious yet unrelated words together, Deathlike Silence Productions and as well as a record shop called, unsurprisingly, Helvete (Hell).
After Dead's death, Euronymous wasted no time in...well, you thought I was going to write reforming the band. No, roll back a bit. Y'see, after finding the body of his band's singer, Euronymous left the flat again, bought a couple of rolls of film and photographed Dead's corpse before the police arrived. Yet, that ain't all. In fact, Euronymous and Hellhammer kept a couple of pieces of Dead's shattered skull for themselves, which they had fashioned into necklaces. And, get this, Euronymous also used Dead's new knife to cut off a few pieces of Dead's brain that he stored in the fridge, which he later cooked in a stew and ate. No wonder he's at number 2 in this chart.
Of course, he did loads more, probably even went to bed a few times without cleaning his teeth properly but where is Euronymous now? I'll just say that it's unlikely that you'll have to be overly concerned about your brain being cooked in a stew but read on...
1. Count Grishnackh: Let's be honest, the result was never really in doubt, was it? Not only is the Count still a guest of Her Norwegian's Majesty's pleasure but he's done pretty much everything that our numbers two to nine have but has packed them all into but a few years. Salute this man by whatever it is that Satanists do when greeting one another, possibly that devil's horns salute so beloved of Ronnie James Dio...CD Times is proud to present our number one Norwegian black metaller, Count Grishnackh!
Born Christian Vikernes - and how's that for God proving there is a sense of humour to His world - that name obviously wouldn't do for someone who spent school doodling 666 on his jotter and making upside-down crucifixes to attain his one qualification, being the Norwegian equivalent of one CSE in Woodwork. So, when he was old enough to choose not only his own pants but his name, Christian became Varg Vikernes and formed Burzum, giving himself the title of Count Grishnackh when he began spending more and more time in Oslo and away from his home town of Bergen. In Oslo, he met Euronymous, started sleeping in the basement of Helvete and, eventually, began playing bass in Mayhem, helping them to record their debut album De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. In his spare time, Grishnackh also took in a little church-burning but, in not maybe being the sharpest of fellows, Grishnackh featured a photograph of the burnt-out Fantoft Kirke church on the cover of Burzum's Aske EP. Needless to say, police suspicions were aroused.
Still, things weren't going at all well between Euronymous and Grishnackh with the two falling out over whether to promote Satanism (Euronymous) or ancient Norse gods (Grishnackh). Grishnackh felt that Satan was an invention of Judeo-Christian teaching, which he was not particularly fond of, and in August 1993 Grishnackh stabbed Euronymous to death and following his conviction, is still in a Norwegian prison, where he continues to record albums with his last, Hlidskjalf, appearing in 1999 after the warden upgraded his prison-issue Bontempi for a more serious bit of kit although, it's said that there'll be no more salsa rhythms appearing on any future Burzum albums, which makes this writer a little tearful.