Helvete and Deathlike Silence
....The basement of Helvete
Helvete and Deathlike Silence
The basement of Helvete
During May–June 1991, Euronymous of Mayhem opened an independent record shop named Helvete (Norwegian for 'hell') in Oslo. Musicians from Mayhem, Burzum, Emperor and Thorns often met there, and it became the foremost outlet for black metal records. In its basement, Euronymous founded an independent record label named Deathlike Silence Productions. With the rising popularity of his band and others like it, the underground success of Euronymous's label is often credited for encouraging other record labels, that previously shunned black metal acts, to then reconsider and release their material.
On 8 April 1991, Mayhem vocalist Per Yngve 'Dead' Ohlin committed suicide while alone in a house shared by the band. While fellow musicians often described Dead as odd and introverted off-stage, his on-stage persona was very different. He went to great lengths to make himself look like a corpse and would cut his arms while singing.
He was found with slit wrists and a shotgun wound to the head, by Mayhem guitarist Øystein 'Euronymous' Aarseth. Dead’s suicide note apologized for firing the weapon indoors and ended: "Excuse all the blood". Before calling the police, Euronymous allegedly went to a nearby shop and bought a disposable camera with which he photographed the body, after re-arranging some items. One of these photographs was later used as the cover of a bootleg live album called Dawn of the Black Hearts.
In time, rumors spread that Euronymous had made a stew with bits of Dead’s brain and had made necklaces with bits of his skull. The band later denied the former rumor, but confirmed that the latter was true. Moreover, Euronymous claimed to have given these necklaces to musicians he deemed worthy. Mayhem bassist Jørn 'Necrobutcher' Stubberud noted that “people became more aware of the [black metal] scene after Dead had shot himself ... I think it was Dead's suicide that really changed the scene”.
Two other members of the early Norwegian scene would later commit suicide: Erik 'Grim' Brødreskift (of Immortal, Borknagar, Gorgoroth) in 1999 and Espen 'Storm' Andersen (of Strid) in 2001.
Musicians and fans of the Norwegian black metal scene took part in over 50 arsons of Christian churches in Norway from 1992 to 1996. Some of the buildings were hundreds of years old and seen as important historical landmarks. One of the first and most notable was Norway's Fantoft stave church, which police believed was burnt by Varg Vikernes of the one-man band Burzum. The cover of Burzum's EP Aske (Norwegian for 'ashes') is a photograph of the Fantoft stave church after the arson. In May 1994 he was found guilty for the burnings of Holmenkollen Chapel, Skjold Church and Åsane Church. To coincide with the release of Mayhem's De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, Vikernes and Euronymous had also allegedly plotted to blow up Nidaros Cathedral, which appears on the album cover. Euronymous's murder in August 1993 (see below) put an end to this plan and stalled the album's release. The musicians Samoth, Faust (both of Emperor) and Jørn Inge Tunsberg (of Hades Almighty) were also convicted for church arsons.
Today, opinions on the church burnings differ within the black metal community. Guitarist Infernus and former vocalist Gaahl of the band Gorgoroth have praised the church burnings in interviews, with the latter saying "there should have been more of them, and there will be more of them". However, Necrobutcher and Kjetil Manheim of Mayhem have condemned the church burnings, with the latter claiming "It was just people trying to gain acceptance within a strict group [the black metal scene] ... they wanted some sort of approval and status".
On 10 August 1993, Varg Vikernes of Burzum murdered Mayhem guitarist Øystein 'Euronymous' Aarseth. That night, Vikernes and Snorre 'Blackthorn' Ruch (of Thorns) traveled from Bergen to Euronymous's apartment in Oslo. Vikernes fatally stabbed Euronymous. His body was found outside the apartment with 23 cut wounds – two to the head, five to the neck, and 16 to the back.
It has been speculated that the murder was the result of a power struggle, a financial dispute over Burzum records, or an attempt at "out doing" a stabbing in Lillehammer the year before by another black metal musician, Bård 'Faust' Eithun. Vikernes claims that Aarseth had plotted to torture him to death and videotape the event – using a meeting about an unsigned contract as a pretext. On the night of the murder, Vikernes claims he intended to hand Euronymous the signed contract and "tell him to fuck off", but that Euronymous attacked him first. Vikernes also said that most of Euronymous's cut wounds were caused by broken glass he had fallen on during the struggle. This version is doubted by Faust and other members of the scene.
Whatever the circumstances, Vikernes was arrested within days and in May 1994 was sentenced to 21 years in prison (Norway's maximum penalty) for the murder and for four church arsons. Vikernes smiled when his verdict was read and the picture was widely reprinted in the news media. That month saw the release of Mayhem's album De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, which has Euronymous on electric guitar and Vikernes on bass guitar. Before the release, Euronymous's family had asked Mayhem's drummer, Hellhammer, to remove the bass tracks recorded by Vikernes. Hellhammer said "I thought it was appropriate that the murderer and victim were on the same record. I put word out that I was re-recording the bass parts, but I never did". In 2003, Vikernes failed to return to Tønsberg prison after being given a short leave. He was re-arrested shortly after while driving a stolen car with various weapons. Vikernes was released on parole in 2009