The original 1992 Kerrang! article that started much of the media frenzy outside of Norway. Typed in by Thomas Wolmer.
In Norway, the Satanic Terrorists, a sinister group of Neo-Fascist Devil Worshippers, are burning down churches to the ground. One of their number, VARG VIKERNES, faces a prison sentence for arson. JASON ARNOPP tells the story of Count Grishnacht [sic]...'
VARG VIKERNES is 20-year-old Norwegian male who currently faces a 12-year prison sentence for arson. Vikernes was seized and charged following a series of fire attacks that have desecrated up to eight churches throughout the country. A fireman died fighting on of the blazes. Police investigations now centre on the Satanic Terrorists, an extreme group of neo-Fascist Devil Worshippers led by Euronymous, a known associate of Vikernes.
Vikernes fronts Black Metal band Burzum under the name Count Grishnacht. Based in Bergen, a large town on the West coast of Norway, Burzum are one of a number of extreme Satanic Metal bands inspired by the hateful imagery and brutal music of Venom and Bathory, the recognised pioneers of Black Metal.
It is in Norway that Black Metal has become a national menace. Vikernes' arrest has revealed a network of bands actively involved in Satanic ritual and vandalism. Vikernes names three Norwegian bands at the centre of the Black Metal underground: Burzum (which translates as "The Darkness"), Mayhem (who are led by Euronymous) and Darkthrone, plus two American acts, Deicide and the little known Von. Vikernes spells out the latter's name, "V for victory, O for orgasm, N for Nazis".
Deicide frontman Glenn Benton is currently Black Metal's most prominent figure. He admits to torturing animals for pleasure, endorses child sacrifice and regularly brands an inverted cross into his forehead, yet for all their Satanic preaching, Benton and Deicide have not taken tangible anti-Christian action. Deicide's albums are withdrawn from sale in Norway after distributors Sony Music refused to handle their product. They commented: "We can't support a band that invite to homicide (sic), especially in the light of circumstances in Norway".
HEAVY METAL'S tradition of dark imagery have fuelled Christian extremist protests for many years in the US. Ozzy Osbourne and Judas Priest have faced court action following allegations that their music inspired teenage suicides. Osbourne's notorious track "Suicide Solution" was the subject of many lawsuits despite its overtly humorous puns on alcoholism, yet Norway's Black Metal bands openly endorse suicide and murder. When Mayhem's vocalist, the aptly-named Dead, died in suspicious circumstances in the Spring of 1991, Euronymous was rumoured to have photographed the corpse and defiled the body – rumours Euronymous will not deny: "Some of this may be true, and some may not."
Vikernes and the Satanic Terrorists are a genuine lunatic fringe to whom previous boundaries do not apply. The burning church, dramatically pictured on the cover of this issue of _Kerrang!_, is a symbol of their intent. Writing in a Black Metal fanzine, _Darkness_, bard Faust of another Norwegian band, Emperor, states: "The old bands just sang about it – today's bands do it!"
Euronymous claims that he and Vikernes are of equal standing within the Satanic Terrorists' organisation. The organisation has an "inner circle" of 10 members who manipulate and exploit a group of "slaves", who appear to be little more than impressionable Black Metal fans. Vikernes suggests that the total support for the group runs into hundreds of people.
They define their enemies in terms of those who oppose them religiously, and those bands whom they consider unwilling to follow their extreme path. Vikernes asks "Why the hell don't Death Metal bands want to kill people?"
Vikernes is currently free on bail on two counts of arson. "I've been accused of child abuse, church burnings, possession of illegal weapons... a lot of things" he states. "They also claim that I have... what shall I say?... _pushed_ others to do things for me. But I'm only being charged with arson."
"I don't wish to comment on me being guilty or not," says Vikernes, in his quiet, cold voice. "It would not be too intelligent for me to talk about that. I have a very good lawyer (Tor Erling – not available for comment), and that's why I'm out on bail. He's advised me not to talk too much about it"
A BURZUM flyer features a photograph of the remains of a burnt-out Church. Vikernes claims that it is "a hymn to church burning", although he will not accept it a tacit admission of his guilt. "It's saying, 'Do this. You can do this too'. And we convert the souls of kids with our music..."
You're advising people to burn churches?
"Yes. Of course. But I won't be jailed because they can't prove anything. My biggest problem is avoiding being put into a madhouse. There's a lot of shrinks trying to put me into a mental hospital. That's the real problem. Everything else is no big deal right now... "
The police officer in charge of the inquiry into Vikernes' alleged activities, Chief Inspector Krogvold, suggests that the investigation is bigger than Vikernes perhaps believes. But he also concedes that, even though Vikernes has appeared in Norwegian newspaper interviews admitting that he'd participated in church burnings, the police have still to produce real evidence in order to convict him.
Vikernes has a reason, a rationale, for his support of church burning. "We _support_ Christianity because it oppresses people, and we burn churches to make it stronger. We can then eventually make war with it.
"Human beings are worthless and stupid," he scowls. "They're not supposed to think. They're supposed to follow a god or a leader."
"I support all dictatorships. Stalin, Hitler, Ceaucescu... and I will become the dictator of Scandinavia myself. I'm a Viking, and we're supposed to fight. Make war, not love...right? A tiny bit of the Viking spirit lives on, and I'm part of it. I hate peace and love. Fucking stupid people walking around and loving each other. We're supposed to make _war_."
Grishnacht's apparent lack of morals in extraordinary. On the subject of murder, he comments: "The only negative thing about it is that when you kill someone, they can no longer suffer. We enjoy people suffering, so if we kill them, they won't suffer any more. But in general, it's very good and positive."
VIKERNES' PARENTS are atheists, and Euronymous implies the same, without being specific. They both cite Venom and Bathory as early influences, although they're aware that neither band were involved in Satanism in practise, they "choose to believe" otherwise.
Euronymous states that the Terrorists continue to "draw on the extreme hatred of the first three Venom albums. It gives us power."
"I don't know what went on in Venom's heads at the time," he continues, "but I do know of six people who have died as a more-or-less direct result of Venom's existence. One was the mother of the guitar player in NME (a US band who released their "Unholy Death" album in 1985). He stabbed his mother to death with scissors, because of Venom. I hope Venom know about this, and they think it's terrible. It is their legacy."
Ex-Venom frontman Cronos, denies these suggestions entirely. "When you talk about Satanism relating to Venom, it's about worshipping yourself, giving yourself freedom of choice of love and hate, good and evil," says Cronos, now fronting his own band and working as a fitness instructor. "It's not about being beholden to a deity. It's about being the best you can be."
"All of this is very sad. Fighting and killing people is going back in time. Trying to impose your ideas by violence – that's what Hitler did to the Jews!"
"They'll get no respect for their actions," he condemns. "They've stepped over the line."
EURONYMOUS IS the Godfather of the Norwegian Black Metal scene, playing guitar in Mayhem, and running a Black Metal record shop called Hell. He also controls the Deathlike Silence label, signing only bands "that represent total evil".
Euronymous formed Mayhem in 1984. After the release of their "Pure Fucking Armageddon" demo, they recorded the "Deathcrush" album, which is due to be re-released through Plastic Head Distribution shortly.
The band's first album in six years, "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas" ("Lord Satan's Secret Rites") is also imminent. Singer Dead's apparent suicide in the Spring of 1991 contributed to the delay.
Euronymous relates the story coldly.
"Rumours say we killed him, took photographs of him, and used bits of his skull for necklaces," the 25-year-old admits. "But he really did kill himself. Dead was a very special person with an extreme personality; not even we knew him fully.. He was always in the forest, and he just left a letter saying he belonged there. He believed that he was not of this world."
"He did a great promotion for Mayhem. When he killed himself he became a great cult, a legend."
"I don't care if people die, not even within my own circle. I have no feelings left. He was a great vocalist, but vocalists can always be replaced. What he did was the greatest sacrifice, and Mayhem only gained from it..."
While admitting his role as a satanic Terrorist, he denies direct involvement.
"It would be very stupid if I did things myself – if I was caught, the whole organisation would collapse."
"I look after the economic side of things, and my record label provides the foundations. We have a group of militant people, that care of things of things that need to be taken care of."
"Therion is a good example," he bristles. "They claim to be Death Metal, and I see that as a great scorn towards everything we stand for. They preach love and family life, and our religion says we have to destroy this."
"It will be easy to take care of bands like Therion first. We won't rest until they are either dead or have split up."
Of Deicide, Euronymous comments: "They are very commercial, and so will make people more interested in Black Metal," he reasons. "When their fans grow bored with them, and seek music with more quality, they will come to us.
"We will drag them even further into damnation."
IT WAS rumoured that Vikernes had burned down the house of Therion vocalist Kristofer [sic], but the reality is less dramatic.
Kristofer claims Vikernes' girlfriend, Suuvi Puurunen, merely pinned a Burzum album to the rear wall of his house with a knife, then set fire to a small portion of the back door. Kristofer was in Germany at the time.
"I'm not afraid," he sneers. "Count Grishnacht sent his _girlfriend_ over to do his work for him! Who will he send next? His dog?!
British Doom Metal band Paradise Lost were also victims of satanic Terrorist aggression. While on tour in Norway, the band's tour bus was set upon by Black Metal followers.
"They're fucking nuts!" exclaims Paradise Lost singer Nick Holmes, "but the attack on us was blown out of proportion a bit. The little disciples are all about 10 years old – fuckin' embryos!"
"It _is_ quite frightening," he considers. "It's a Manson-type cult thing. It's like the fucking Nazis in East Germany... the same kind of power game."
"THE COUNT will not go to jail," assures Euronymous. They have no proof, and no witnesses, because no one dares to be a witness. If someone fucks with one of our people, they will get the rest of us on their necks."
"There is no such thing as mindless violence," comments Vikernes. "Just to walk down the street and kick a boy is stimulating."
"Whenever I go out, I always have guns," he discloses. "Right now, I'm wearing a chain mail, and have a big knife. People don't dare to attack us, and if they do, they never survive. We are the Vikings, who kill for their own pleasure. We are not fucking humanitarian Red Cross idiots."
Euronymous promises an escalation in Satanic Terrorism. "We have done nothing yet."
He warns that bands touring Norway may be at serious risk in future. "We are but slaves of The One With Horns. We are a religious people, and a total obedience is a fundamental concept for us. I'm a piece of dust in the whole cosmos, compared to Him."
"What happens to us doesn't matter. If I had a great enough reason to kill, I'd gladly serve 20 years in jail."
"This is why our enemies should take us very seriously in the future. We have nothing to lose. I predict a new Dark Age..."