Modern-day Norway is a beacon for Western civilization. Using any number of metrics, it’s easy to see how truly progressive Norway is as a country. However, like every country on Earth, Norway is not without its flaws or dark spots. It might come as a shock, but one of these dark spots was in the early ’90s, when the country was terrorized by satanists.
In the late 1980s, the thriving Norwegian death metal scene started to turn darker.
The music became heavier. Several guitarists pioneered new ways of voicing chords that gave them a darker tone. The lyrical content of the music referred heavily to satanism. Thus, black metal as a genre was born.
The event that was said to have sparked the black metal genre was the suicide of Per Yngve Ohlin.
Ohlin was the singer of a black metal band called Mayhem. In 1991, after battling depression, Ohlin shot himself in the bathroom he shared with his bandmates. Mayhem’s guitar player, Øystein “Euronymous” Aarseth, found Ohlin’s body. Instead of calling the police right away, he took a photograph of the scene, and collected bits of Ohlin’s skull from around the bathroom. It’s said that Euronymous made necklaces from those bits of skull and gave them to different people in the black metal scene.
After Ohlin’s death, Mayhem went on and used their singer’s death to gain publicity.
The scene began to pick up steam in Norway and Sweden after that. At the height of the movement, Euronymous opened a record store in downtown Oslo called Helvete, which translates to “hell.” Helvete was where members of the black metal scene gathered. Founding members at the top jokingly called themselves the “Black Circle.”
While Helvete was a meeting ground for black metal fans, it soon started drawing the attention of police.
Because of their staunchly anti-Christian ideology, black metal fans began acting out against the Christian establishment in Norway by burning down churches. The attacks first began in 1992. By 1996, at least 50 churches had been targeted by black metal fans.
But the crimes did not stop there. Several murders were committed by black metal fans during that same time.
In August 1992, the guitar player for black metal band Emperor stabbed a gay man to death in the forest outside the city of Lillehammer.
By 1993, police began watching the Helvete record store. To avoid the publicity, Euronymous shut down the shop.
There were those not happy about Euronymous closing the shop, which came back to haunt him. In August 1993, two black metal musicians drove to Euronymous’ apartment. When they arrived, there was a fight and one of the musicians stabbed Euronymous to death. Police found his body with 23 stab wounds to the head, neck, and chest.
While the black metal scene in modern Norway is still going strong, it’s not nearly as radical as it was during those early days. Still, this was perhaps just as violent, if not more violent, than the hip-hop wars in the U.S. during the same time. Yikes!