Top 10 Worst Crimes Committed by Black Metal Musicians
- Posted on February 17, 2011
By Graham "Gruhamed" Hartmann
In the spirit of Black Metal History Month, in this year of our Lord 2011, it's only right that we acknowledge the enlightened souls who have made black metal so important. Of course by this I mean the artists who have committed incredibly hateful, violent and sacrilegious crimes, launching them to worldwide infamy and even critical acclaim. Now I'm not advocating that today's aspiring black metal musicians start assaulting people, but lets be honest, if it wasn't for Varg Vikernes' creepy stare, outwardly racist views and mile-long rap sheet, you probably would have never picked up the first Burzum record. So here it is, the Top 10 crimes committed by black metal musicians! Suck it, Letterman.
Black metal and church burnings are like peanut butter and jelly. They've become so synonymous with each other that the most casual of discussions about the genre will rarely go without a mention of anti-religious arson. Musicians and fans of the Norwegian black metal scene alone, took part in over 50 arsons of Christian churches from 1992 to 1996.
Burzum mastermind Varg Vikernes was convicted of four church burnings, including that of the Fantoft Stave Church, an eleventh-century national landmark whose loss galvanized Norwegians. He later used a picture of the burned church for the cover of his EP Aske. (English translation: Ash)
Samoth, guitarist of Emperor, was sentenced to sixteen months in jail after being convicted of church arson in Norway. Jørn Inge Tunsberg, guitarist of Hades (now Hades Almighty), was also convicted for burning down a church in Åsane, Norway, and spent two years in prison.
Faust, drummer of Emperor, traveled to Holmenkollen Chapel with Euronymous of Mayhem and Varg Vikernes of Burzum with the intension of bombing the chapel. When the homemade bomb they put on the altar refused to detonate, they soaked hymnals and Bibles in gasoline and lit them on the altar, burning the church to the ground.
Church burnings have been praised by many black metal musicians, perhaps most famously by Gaahl of Gorgoroth during an interview with Sam Dunn in the documentary, Metal: A Headbanger's Journey, stating:
"Church burnings and all these things are, of course, things that I support 100 percent and it should have been done much more and will be done much more in the future. We have to remove every trace from what Christianity and the Semitic roots have to offer this world."
9. Niklas "Ghoul" Kvarforth
Shining vocalist Niklas Kvarforth has become legendary for his disturbing behavior. His collection of scars from thousands of self-inflicted cuts, misanthropic views and claims that some listeners have actually committed suicide under the influence of Shining's music, have captivated listeners for 15 years and 6 albums of "suicidal black metal." Kvarforth disappeared in July 2006 and rumor was spread that he too had committed suicide. On August 23, 2006 the band posted a statement on their website that they would continue with a new singer named "Ghoul", requested by Kvarforth as one of his final wishes.
At the concert that took place on February 3, 2007 at Diezel in Halmstad, Sweden, "Ghoul" was revealed to be Kvarforth.
The concert was violent in nature, sparking controversy in the Swedish media, with Kvarforth assaulting the audience and the guest vocalists, Attila Csihar and Maniac (Mayhem) and Nattefrost (Carpathian Forest). Razorblades were handed to members of the audience, and one person was kicked in the chest after grabbing Kvarforth's genitals; who was in turn exposed to numerous physical assaults by Maniac. One member of the audience recalls the kicking:
"A couple of songs are finished and Kvarforth is standing with zipped up leather pants and some drunk Swede touches his crotch. Kvarforth looks shocked and shouts 'Don't touch me,' before he kicks the fan in the chest."
8. Gorgoroth's Black Mass in Kraków
On February 1, 2004, during a recorded for DVD concert in Kraków, Poland, the legendary Norwegian band, Gorgoroth displayed sheep heads on stakes, Satanic symbols, a bloodbath using 80 litres of sheep's blood and four naked crucified models on stage. A police investigation took place with allegations of religious offence (which is prosecutable under Polish law) and cruelty to animals. Though these charges were considered, the band was not charged as it was ruled that they were unaware of the fact that what they were doing was illegal, although the concert organiser was eventually fined 10000zł in 2007 as he neither informed the band that it was against the law nor intervened. The controversy led to the band being dropped from the Nuclear Blast Tour and the footage of the concert being confiscated by police. Black Mass Kraków 2004 was finally released completely uncensored in late 2008.
7. Mayhem Vocalist "Dead" found… uhhh… Dead
On 8 April 1991, 22-year-old Mayhem vocalist, Dead, committed suicide in the house owned by the band. He was found by Euronymous with slit wrists and a shotgun round to the head. The suicide note left by Dead merely read "Excuse all the blood, cheers," and included an apology for firing the weapon indoors. Upon finding the body of his bandmate, Euronymous, instead of calling the police, went to a nearby store and bought a disposable camera to photograph the corpse. One of these photographs was later stolen and used as the cover of a bootleg live album entitled Dawn of the Black Hearts. I haven't posted the picture due to its disturbing nature, but if you don't have a weak stomach, you can see the album cover here.
Although suicide technically is illegal, this isn't why this particular incident made this prestigious list. Rumor has it that Euronymous cannibalized his deceased friend, making a stew with pieces of Dead's brain. Euronymous also reportedly made necklaces with fragments of Dead's skull, which is now known to be true. Euronymous also claimed to have given these necklaces to musicians he deemed worthy within the metal community.
While alive and touring with Mayhem, Dead would go to great lengths to achieve his trademark realistic corpse-like image, Dead would bury his clothes before a concert and dig them up again to wear on the night of the event. According to Mayhem drummer Hellhammer:
"Before the shows, Dead used to bury his clothes into the ground so that they could start to rot and get that "grave" scent. He was a "corpse" on a stage. Once he even asked us to bury him in the ground – he wanted his skin to become pale."
During one tour with Mayhem he found a dead crow, which he collected and stored in a plastic bag. He often carried it around with him and would smell the bird before performing, in order to sing "with the stench of death in his nostrils."
6. Jef Whitehead Charged with Sexually Assaulting Girlfriend with Tattoo Gun
Number 6 is this list's most recent crime, which was allegedly committed in January of this year. According to the Chicago Sun Times, multi-instrumentalist Jef Whitehead (Lurker of Chalice, Leviathan) was accused of raping his girlfriend using tattoo tools while working as a guest artist at Taylor Street Tattoo in Chicago. (Update: Whitehead was cleared of all charges and sentenced to two years probation) Jef Whitehead, 42, allegedly choked and beat his 26-year-old girlfriend unconscious by banging her head against a wall in the early hours of Saturday, January 8th. When she regained consciousness and discovered she had been sexually assaulted with the tattoo tools, Whitehead then allegedly knocked her out again. When Whitehead's girlfriend regained consciousness once again, she found herself lying the street outside the parlor. A heavily-bearded and tattooed Whitehead was dressed all in black as he appeared before Judge Israel Desierto Sunday morning, wearing a hooded sweater with the words "Stop the Madness" printed on it, he was ordered to be held on bail of $350,000. He has yet to be convicted or sentenced.
Whitehead, aka "Wrest", is a highly regarded black metal musician who collaborated with Nachtmystium and Sunn O))), and is a member of the band Twilight alongside Aaron Turner (Isis), N.Imperial (Krieg), Blake Judd (Nachtmystium), Stavros Giannopolous (The Atlas Moth), and Sanford Parker (Minsk).