Devil worship, murder and stench of death – inside black metal’s darkest band

Per "Dead" Ohlin's application for the role of lead singer in the band Mayhem took the form of a demo tape accompanied by a dead mouse crucified on a miniature cross. He got the gig.

It was a grisly taste of what was to follow as the band set the tone for much of the depravity seen in the dark world of the Norwegian black metal scene in the 1980s.

Ohlin's tale is one of tragedy.

Before he went on stage, he would bury his clothes for three days so they would rot, and paint his face to try and look like a corpse.

He carried a dead crow around in a glass jar so he could open it and smell death. He also kept rotting dead geese under his bed.

As part of their show, Mayhem would throw dead pig heads into the crowd and Ohlin even began to violently self harm on stage, slashing himself with broken bottles.

He obviously needed professional help, but in the Devil worshipping world of the Norwegian black metal scene, his behaviour was not seen as unusual.

Aged just 22, Ohlin slashed his wrists and shot himself dead. His suicide note began: "Sorry for all the blood…"

The band's founder, Euronymous, discovered his body.

Rather than calling the police, he rushed to a shop to buy a camera to take pictures of the corpse and then began collecting parts of his skull, and shotgun pellets, to make them into necklaces to give to his friends.

One of the photos was later used as an album cover.

Before he met his own grisly demise, Euronymous boasted to a reporter: “It isn’t every day that you get to see a corpse, so you have to make the most out of it."

For years heavy metal bands have used the devil as part of their image and marketing. Groups such as Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and Motley Crue have used satanic images on album covers.

But in Norway they took this trend to a whole new level and Euronymous, "the founder and Godfather of Black Metal", was at the heart of the cult-like movement.

A self-confessed devil worshipper, he also set up the extreme record label Deathlike Silence Productions and his record shop Helvete (Norwegian for hell) became the HQ for the scene.

Their goal was to spread terror, hate and evil.

More than 50 churches were targeted by black metal arsonists.

Euronymous boasted in the press: "Imagine a beautiful old stave church…what happens when it burns? The Christians feel despair, God's house is destroyed and ordinary people will suffer from grief because something beautiful was destroyed. So you end up spreading grief and despair, which is a good thing."

But things soon turned bloody.

When Euronymous's friend, drummer Bård Guldvik "Faust" Eithun was approached by a gay man, he killed him, stabbing him 37 times.

With the Scandinavian press and authorities in uproar over the arson attacks, and parents worried about how the music and Satanic movement was affecting their children, Euronymous's demise was actually a relief to many.

By August 1993 he had fallen out with former bandmate Varg Vikernes.

Death threats were nothing new as part of band rivalries but Vikernes believed Euronymous was planning to incapacitate him with a stun gun, tie him up and torture him to death while filming the event.

He went to his house and Euronymous died after being stabbed 23 times. Ironically, another rock star "Necrobutcher" later admitted he had intended to murder Euronymous too.

Vikernes was sentenced to 21 years for the murder, along with the arson of three churches and stealing and storing explosives.

Two churches were burnt down in protest on the day of his sentencing.

As for those who were involved in the scene? Many are still performing today. The music lives on even though some of its founders didn't.

The film, Lord of Chaos, is based on the events.

For emotional support, you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.

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