Tuesday, 10 August 2010

From The Dark Past

I first heard of Euronymous when Darkthrone dedicated their second album, A Blaze in the Northern Sky, to "the true father of underground black metal". When we got further and further into Black Metal, moving away from the Death Metal that we had been listening to for years, one name kept cropping up over and over again: Mayhem.
We knew from reading zines and from contacts that they had been going since the mid eighties and were weird; they avoided all conventions of what we expected from people in bands, even underground bands, self financing albums, the suicide of Dead, the whole evil image that made Glen Benton look like a puppy dog.
We watched with interest the growth of the scene centred around a few bands, Darkthrone, Mayhem, Thorns, Havohej, Beherit and the mysterious one man project Burzum.
One day, I was on my way home from college, I stopped off to buy some smokes, and something interesting caught my eye. Was that really Emperor on the front of the Kerrang? It was, and the article (We Are But Slaves of the One With Horns) that was inside was the start of Black Metal as we know it, but th death of Black Metal as we had known it.
It seemed to accelerate away from us weekly, K came out every tuesday I think, and Every Week there would be a story about Grishnact or Euronymous or Faust or someone.
Each time, the magazine would exaggerate, Varg would play up to the interviewer and we could not believe it. Black Metal had gone from something mysterious in zines to being on pages next to interviews with the Almighty.
It still came as a shock to us when it was announced that Øystein had been murdered, the shock magnified by reading about it in Kerrang, which just seemed a bit improper. After all, they thought it was a bit of a joke. Varg was interviewed, saying he was glad he was dead, he would dance and piss on his grave.
He also said that he wasn't shocked, he had enemies in Sweden and there were a lot of "drug people" near Øystein's flat.
This is something that I often feel is overlooked when people talk about that time. We all know what the court case said happened that night, but people often forget that there was a noticeable rift between Varg and Øystein that was cloaked in respect for what the other did musically.
They both had different visions of what they wanted and when Varg offed Øystein he won. He reinvented himself so much after the event that few people remember the smaller interviews in zines and things, he actually used to be a metalhead once.
Euronymous' death meant that the whole direction of Black Metal changed, his vision was of elitism, dictatorship, total dedication to the underground.
Those ideals went out of the scene with him, to be replaced my crazy neo pagan Nazism one hand, and due in part to the sensational coverage in Kerrang lots of mainstream metal fans got interested and seemed to congregate around more gothy bands on the other. What would he have made of that?
I often wonder how his admiration for communism and dictatorship went over with Csihar when they recorded in the Grieghalle.

Like I say, it was the birth and death of Black Metal at the same time.

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