"This is about religion, and we worship Evil like something incarnated. It is a founded hatred towards mankind." - Euronymous

A young Norwegian by name of Oystein Aarseth, for example, found plenty of inspiration in Venom.So moved was he, he formed his own Black Metal band at the tender age of fifteen. Thus, the group Mayhem was born, headed by guitarist Aarseth, or as he referred to himself, "Euronymous." For a metalhead, Euronymous had fairly grand plans. Over the years, as Mayhem grew in popularity, he established his own record store, several Black Metal magazines, and the Deathlike Silence recording Label - the first label devoted to signing only those "bands that represent total evil." In the span of a decade, Euronymous became the Godfather of Norwegian Black Metal: a head honcho with his tentacles in a multitude of pies.Ah, but those were his above-the-counter activities - evil show business as usual, as it were. After hours, Euronymous allegedly indulged in extracurricular activities above and beyond the call of heavy metal maniac duty. Euronymous, you see, was the head of The Black Circle (AKA: "The Black Metal Mafia," according to some accounts), a secretive coalition of Norway's leading Black Metal bands. Among them were Euronymous' own band Mayhem, Darkthrone, Emperor and Enslaved. These were the four bands that sat highest "on the throne," the shot callers, as it were. Joining them was a fifth "group": a one-man band known as Burzum whose "one man" was a twentysomething lad named Varg Christian Vikernes. He was chums with Euronymous; had even played bass on a Mayhem album, in fact. Regardless, don't call him Varg. He prefers to be known as "Count Grishnackh."At the time, Grishnackh and Euronymous got along famously. Natch, they had common interests - at least they allegedly did. When it was just the boys sitting around, shooting the shit about Black Metal riffs and world conquest, they were The Black Circle. In the field, however, they operated under the beefier title of The Satanic Terrorists.

Now, taken in the strictest sense, Black Metal is Satanic. It rejects Christianity (just a thought: What sort of "Satanists" rise up in countries where the dominant religion isn't Christianity?), and is awash with darkish rites and activities designed to subvert and eventually destroy the Church. Again, strictly speaking, different Black Metal musicians have different ideas about what constitutes "real" Satanism. The Swedish Black Metallians (the Norsemen's bitterest enemies) for instance, reportedly believed in a "Satanic Bible"; but whether this is some ancient, arcane, esoteric tome or the Anton LaVey best-selling paperback, I can't say. Conversely, the Norwegians were less bookish. They preferred, according to The Count, to worship only the final chapter: death herself.Grishnackh was a real company man where the latter philosophy was concerned. In interviews he stated that he was, at heart, a Viking and a follower of old one-eyed Wotan/Odin, the ultimate enemy of the more peaceable Christian God. In light of Grishnackh's actions, this makes sense. Like the ransackers of old, Grishnackh put churches to the torch out of fierce national allegiance, love of war and respect for he old ways (the really, really old ways). Could he help it if Dark Ages barbarism and patriotism looked bad in comparison to present day, post-Enlightenment, Christian sweetness and light? In his own way, believe it or not, The Count actually supported Christianity. In his opinion, it oppressed people, and he burned churches because it would, he thought, make the Church even stronger. Of course, one day the two factions would fight, and guess who would come out the winner? Grishnackh was only following orders, you see; ones that had been issued a thousand years hence.

It seemed obvious that it was Euronymous, Grishnackh and their men who were incinerating churches, desecrating graveyards, and beating the shit out of the Swedes and assorted evangelists "They Had A Cool Life" . Like their Sicilian namesake, they weren't above protecting their business interests either- allegedly, of course. Deicide during their Norwegian tour back in 1992. They were also, more than likely, behind an assault on the tour bus (blasphemy!) of Paradise Lost, a British doom metal band. But hunches and hearsay aren't good enough in open court. Again and again, charges were brought up and then dropped for lack of either substantial evidence or witnesses willing to risk "accidents" happening to them in the future. The boys were young, wild "Vikings", and the world was their daemonic oyster.All bad things, however, must come to an end some time. With the Satanic Terrorists, it was an nfrastructure problem. Not everyone was as careful as Euronymous; or as earthbound, it would seem. Pelle Dead, Mayhem's vocalist, for example, killed himself by blowing his brains out. Euronymous was the first person to discover the body, and ever the humanist, The E. photographed the body for future album covers. He also saved bits of Pelle's skull, which were later fashioned into amulets for Mayhem's more devout fans.

Then there was the Grishnackh problem. The Count was becoming a little too fiery and reckless for the calculating Euronymous' palate. Grishnackh had a taste for publicity, something which the Black Circle could scarcely tolerate or afford as the authorities started moving in. With thirty-plus vandalized churches in Norway alone, in addition to countless acts of (excuse the expression) Mayhem, the public wanted an end to the bullshit, now. A number of the Satanic Terrorists - kids and teenagers between fourteen and twenty-two years old mostly - were having trouble keeping their traps shut, often bragging aloud about the torchings, stomping evangelists and rape during assorted "Satanic rituals." The arrests started piling up here and there across Norway, but it wasn't until The Count was implicated in an attack that the Black Metal hit the fan.

Sometime in July of 1992, an 18-year-old girl named Maria - a member in good standing of the Black Circle - staked out the home of the family of Christotter Jonsson: vocalist for the Swedish death metal band Therion. Later that night she doused the front door and windows with acetone and set them afire. Using a large knife as her thumbtack, Maria then fastened the following note to the front door: "The Count Was Here, and He Will Come Back." Fortunately, the Jonsson's smelled the smoke in time and escaped unscathed. Maria was arrested shortly thereafter, and her diary was confiscated. In it, Swedish police found numerous references to The Count. Where one might usually read bad poetry and ramblings about boys, school and teenybopper hi jinx, Maria's diary contained such gems as: "I did it on a mission for our leader, The Count. I love The Count. His fantasies are the best. I want a knife, a fine knife, sharp and cruel." Laura Palmer, eat your heart out!

Rubbing salt in the Jonsson family's wounds, The Count dropped them a line from Norway: "Hello, victim! This is Count Grishnackh of Burzum. I have just come home from a journey to Sweden (northwest of Stockholm) and I think I lost a match and a signed Burzum LP, ha ha! Perhaps I will make a return trip soon, and maybe this time you won't wake up in the middle of the night. I will give you a lesson in fear. We are really mentally deranged, our methods are death and torture, our victims will die slowly. They must die slowly." Suspicion, as you might imagine, fell upon The Count. Brought in for questioning, The Count denied any knowledge of the Jonsson attack, or three other burnings across Norway. Maria ended up being taken to a mental hospital for a year, after which she was released. While the charges were never proven against Grishnackh, The Count had a field day with the press by espousing his unpopular notions of returning to fascism, claiming: "I support Stalin, Hitler, aucescu, and I will become the dictator of Scandinavia myself. I'm a Viking, and we're supposed to fight. Just to walk down the street and kick a boy is stimulating." In light of this, Euronymous made no secret of his disgust with Grishnackh, and clucked his tongue at The Count's conversion from one who "sat high on the throne" to media clown. What had once been a solid friendship was now turning into bitter enmity.

Bad blood continued to boil between Euronymous and Grishnackh. Unfortunately, details of their feud were available to your humble narrator through rumor and hearsay only. There was talk that Euronymous had stolen Grishnackh's Swedish girlfriend, though The Count later denied that he ever had a Swedish girlfriend. This story may have arisen from the fact that Grishnackh and Euronymous had a mutual friend in Ilsa, a 16-year-old Swedish girl. One rumor states that a girl - who I assume was Ilsa - acted as a go-between for Euronymous and The Count. The Godfather wanted to call an end to hostilities, but Grishnackh merely laughed and purportedly stated, "I cannot believe he sent a woman to speak to Count Grishnackh.The mudslinging continued, mostly from Grishnackh's side (at least my sources reveal very little in the way of salvos from Euronymous). If you can believe it, The Count's rhetoric became even more heated than before. He accused Euronymous of cheating him out of record profits and T-shirt sales. "Euronymous must go!" Grishnackh is quoted as saying, "He stands in the way of my economical prospects!" In other interviews, The Count ranted that Euronymous was a bit of a Pinko, reasoning that The Godfather of Black Metal followed his evil bliss by aligning with the commies to, "get more niggers into Norway."Whatever the truth, it was obvious that Grishnackh hated Euronymous, possibly to the point of murder. Foreboding, eh?

It requires seven hours to drive from Bergen, Norway to Euronymous' home turf of Oslo; seven hours The Count and his associates would have to explain away when the inevitable police questioning began. An alibi was formulated: one of The Count's henchmen would stay behind and rent videos the three men had seen before. As an added measure, The Count lent his credit card to the fella staying behind; that way it would look as if Grishnackh had never left Bergen to begin with. Unfortunately for The Count, he left behind his telephone card instead. Too little, too late: Grishnackh and his partners in crime piled into their Yugo (or whatever they drive in Norway) and hit the road. The Count sat in the back seat to avoid detection, while one of the henchmen slipped into a white sweater to -and I quote- "Look less Satanic."For most of the trip, Grishnackh hunkered down in the back seat, just in case someone might recognize him as one of the country's foremost Black Metal musicians. At one point, The Count even hid in the trunk while they stopped in a hamlet along the way, in order to pump a few liters of gas into the car. No one but The Count knows what The Count's thoughts were at the time. Perhaps he was still simmering over T-shirt sales, perhaps he was trying to figure out how to dispose of the soon-to-be-late Euronymous. Earlier, several ploys had been discussed. One fellow suggested chopping Euronymous' head off with an axe as he opened the door; but the logistics of carrying an axe through a possibly busy neighborhood eliminated that suggestion. A cyberpunkier way was also concocted: Grishnackh would talk his way into Euronymous' apartment, possibly suggesting a truce. Then Grishnackh would ask The Godfather to show him something on his PC, and while Euronymous turned away to do so, Grishnackh would stab him to death in the back. It was all academic, though; like most things, the real test lay in the field.

August 9, 1993, Monday, 5:15 a.m.. The Count and his men arrived at Euronymous' apartment building. Only The Count entered, and after that, very little is left to the imagination. Euronymous answered the door, and The Count lunged at him with a large knife. Euronymous screamed - loudly enough for Grishnackh's men to hear him outside. With good reason, too; The Count concentrated his efforts on Euronymous' face, stabbing him there a total of twenty-five times. We can assume there was a struggle, Euronymous was found dead in a spreading pool of blood on the staircase between the first and second floors of his apartment building. He was 25 years old at the time of his death.

It was a grisly, terrible and degrading way to die; more so than you might think, as Grishnackh opined later. Euronymous was only partially dressed, causing The Count to chuckle that it was particularly denigrating for the head of The Black Circle, "Prince of Death," to die in his underpants. Accounts vary as to what happened next. One article indicates that The Count claimed to have heard about the murder at 1:15 a.m., at least four hours before the murder had happened. In another account, Lee Barrett, owner of the British-based heavy metal label Candlelight, claimed that Grishnackh had called him at 9 o'clock the next morning, cackling, "Euronymous is dead! And I'm going to piss on his grave!" Later on, in the first round of interviews, The Count speculated for reporters that Euronymous had been whacked by rival Black Metal musicians, most likely those goddamned Swedes. It was all part of the scene, after all. We ragged on them, they slagged us, death threats were exchanged... that's BM ain't it? Grishnackh wrapped up his interviews by revealing that he wouldn't be attending his former best friend's funeral since funerals were too "churchly," and thus antithetical to proper Black Metal belief. He closed by announcing the release of the new Burzum LP "Det Som En Gang Var." Hey, there's no such thing as bad publicity!The Black Metal community was a-buzz after Euronymous was murdered. The Prince of Death had been killed! Gee, who stood next in line to take his place? It was a case where everyone "knew" who killed Euronymous, but those who did kept quiet. Grishnackh still held a little "Satanic" power of his own, the general thought still being that if one kept quiet, one stayed healthy. The Count couldn't have been too complacent, though. At her questioning by the police, Ilsa stated that she had an inkling of who killed Euronymous, but she wasn't about to risk her life by revealing her suspicions. Ilsa did claim that the Swedes were too cowardly to try such a thing, and that the only person who could get close enough to Euronymous, a physically powerful individual, to do that, would have to be a close friend. Ilsa explained no matter who it was who had killed Euronymous, "The Black Metal environment will exact its own revenge against him."Four days of fingerpointing, perjury and fabrication later, The Count was arrested and charged with murder. As a sidebar to this Black Metal version of "Melrose Place," The Count was also nicked for possession of 150 kilos of dynamite in his Bergen apartment. The word on the street was that Grishnackh had plans to blow up the Nidaros-domen church in Trondheim, the church housing the Norwegian crown jewels. The Count denied this in later interviews, however, steadfastly declaring that he had "hardly heard of the Goddamned church!" Meanwhile, Mayhem's latest and last album, "De Mysteriis Doom Sathanas" was shooting to the top spot on the Norwegian Top Forty.

Norwegian law being comparatively more benign than that of your average southern U.S. state, The Count was given a twenty-one year sentence for his efforts; the maximum sentence in Norway, in fact. Obviously an optimist, The Count grinned widely at the sentence. An alternative defense of Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity was proposed by The Count's lawyer, but Grishnackh voted this down. A twenty-one- year term was apparently more preferable to him than fewer years in the bughouse and permanent designation as a loon. Whatever the case, barring appeals, parole or whatnot, by the time Grishnackh gets out, he'll be hitting forty and ready for his comeback tour.This also means that his infant daughter Rebekka will be as old as he is now. "She plays with cars, dinosaurs and spiders and all sorts of boy's stuff, so she'll probably be a perfect Amazon!" beams The Count.More likely, she'll wear Land's End clothing, marry an accountant, and form the 21st century's version of Wilson Phillips with Francis Bean Cobain.

Serves him damn right, I say.
Written by: Dan Kelly