Øystein "Euronymous" Aarseth, the founder of Norwegian black metal legends MAYHEM and key figure within the early 1990s black metal scene, was murdered on August 10, 1993, by BURZUM's Kristian "Varg" Vikernes (a.k.a. Count Grishnackh). The BURZUM figurehead had completed bass parts on MAYHEM's influential "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas" studio album but had grown increasingly estranged from Euronymous in the intervening months, creating a rivalry over who held the most sway within Norwegian black metal circles.
In a recent interview with BLABBERMOUTH.NET, MAYHEM vocalist Attila Csihar shared his recollections of the events leading up to Euronymous's murder and its aftermath, which eventually led to a reconstructed MAYHEM lineup in 1997 without the Hungarian-born vocalist.
"It's so crazy that it was 30 years ago," he said. "This is what it is. I'm just passing by. The thing is, to think back, I was there [in Norway] for two weeks. At the same time, I lived at Euronymous's place. I stayed with Euronymous and Varg. We were friends. I was a very good friend of Euronymous. He was my best friend in the band by far. He contacted me and invited me [to sing for MAYHEM]. We hung out together and talked about what we should do and the future. We also talked about the ideologies and the direction of the music. He had all these ideas. I loved his record collection. He had this amazing TANGERINE DREAM collection. I was amazed he liked electronic music. Then, when I met Varg, he was actually also into electronic music. It's a strange thing. He liked my band, PLASMA POOL. This was pre-computer electronic music. It was a different era of electronic music when you didn't have computers. That was challenging. I loved it. It was a dark electro project and Varg loved it.
"Euronymous was very interested in me singing on the MAYHEM record," he continued. "But his other interest was to release [Csihar's cult black metal outfit] TORMENTOR. He thought it was important to release it since we couldn't release it in communist Hungary. I brought him the master tape and DAT. Then Varg was super into it. I don't know if it was already their competition, but he said, 'I want PLASMA POOL, dude. You need to release it with me.' I was, like, 'Sure.' I was so happy that my stuff would be released. We're talking about the very early '90s when releasing something was a big deal. There were no CDs. Well, they came a couple of years before all this. It was hard to get a good contract or anything released. I talked to Varg and Euronymous. I tell you what: They talked a little bit against each other to me. Varg said, 'Don't you think the other guy is a bit strange?' I made a joke about the other guy. Then we were laughing. At the same time, Euronymous said, 'Don't you think he's weird?' Then I made another joke. [Laughs] At the end, I thought, 'Guys, I'm not a fucking priest. Maybe you should talk.' It was not that bad. It didn't look that bad at all. There was a bit of tension, but I thought it was normal. It had been coming for years. [Previous MAYHEM vocalist] Dead [Per Yngve Ohlin] committed suicide. All the trouble, all the church burnings. It was a different age. They fucked up Christian groups and in return, they fucked up Euronymous's store, so it was full of all this Jesus crap. It was another era. They put all their effort — Euronymous borrowed money from his father to pay for the studio, Grieghallen, which was expensive. I was amazed. But the thing with Euronymous and Varg, I never thought it would go that far."
Cishar then discussed the period after the completion of "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas" and his inability to get in touch with his MAYHEM bandmates during the summer of 1993. "I always talked to Euronymous," he said. "Suddenly, the summer came. I had the contact of Euronymous, [MAYHEM guitarist] Blackthorn [Snorre Ruch] and Varg. The only phone I didn't have was [MAYHEM drummer] Jan Axel [Blomberg]. I talked from time to time with Euronymous. Suddenly, I couldn't reach them. I was like, 'Whatever.' I realized I couldn't reach anyone, but it was still summer. I thought it was okay — maybe they'll come back in September and we'll see what will happen. It was already October when I said, 'What the fuck is going on?' I was not too nervous. I thought, 'The album has to come.' It was strange we didn't talk. Then a friend of mine came to my place in Hungary. He said, 'You played in MAYHEM?' I said, 'Yeah.' He said, 'I just read in the news in this metal magazine from Hungary. There is a very small news piece that the bass player killed the guitarist.' I was like, 'Dude. You took it wrong. It's not the bass player. It was the vocalist who committed suicide.' Then my friend said, 'I don't know. This is what I read.' He didn't have the magazine. I was like, 'No fucking shit. What is this bullshit?' I went down and bought the magazine. When I read it, I couldn't believe my eyes. Like, 'What?' Then I started to think, 'Shit. Maybe this is why I don't hear from anyone.' [Laughs]"
Vikernes was convicted in 1994 and sentenced to Norway's longest prison term of 21 years for the August 1993 murder of Euronymous, whom he stabbed 23 times, and for burning down three churches, including the original Holmenkollen Chapel next to the Holmenkollen Ski Jump in Oslo. He was released from prison in 2009 after serving 16 years of that sentence.
In October 2003, Vikernes failed to return to prison after being granted a short leave, and was later apprehended by police with an unloaded assault rifle, 700 rounds of ammo, and a handheld GPS system.
Four years ago, MAYHEM bassist Jørn "Necrobutcher" Stubberud made headlines when he said he was on his way to kill Euronymous before Vikernes beat him to it.
"Okay, I can tell it right now, because I've been holding it in for many years, but actually I was on my way down to kill him myself," Necrobutcher claimed in an interview with Consequence. "And when it happened, I saw the morning paper, thinking 'Fuck, I gotta get home to my place and get out all the weapons and drugs and shit I had in my house, because they're coming to my house because I'm probably going to be the No. 1 suspect for this.'"
Necrobutcher went on to claim that the police were well-aware of Vikernes's plan to murder Euronymous, and he had a theory about why they allowed it to happen. "Because they bugged his phone, and he actually talked about this killing before he went to Bergen so the cops already knew that he was coming, so they probably were thinking to themselves, 'We didn't nail this guy for the church burnings, so let's nail him for murder, and get rid of this fucking guy in Oslo the same time,'" he said. "So that's basically what happened."
MAYHEM's new live album, "Daemonic Rites", is due September 15 via Century Media Records.
Image courtesy of Chaoszine