The second wave of black metal
January 19, 2022
The second wave of black metal is the name given to the extreme metal genre that developed in the early 1990s and the subculture that emerged around it. Black metal bands have been active around the world since the early 1980s, but the second wave is most strongly associated with Norway, where the genre's ideology and world of sound became established in their current form. In addition to his music, early Norwegian black metal is known for the arson and church crimes committed by members of the subculture. Hence the popular Finnish name of the genre “kirkonpolttohevi”. This article focuses on the events in Norway from 1990 to 1996. Black metal came to the fore primarily through the bands Mayhem and Burzum. Mayhem guitarist and artistic director Øystein “Euronymous” Aarseth was the main developer of the new style and ideology of music. The radicalization of the black metal subculture began in 1991 when Mayhem singer Per “Dead” Ohlin killed himself. Aarseth then developed an obsession with evil and began to incite his admirers to commit crimes. Aarseth was a few years older than his admirers, while his supporters were mostly teenagers. Between 1992 and 1996, dozens of churches were burned or attempted to be burned in Norway. Often the culprit was a black metal musician or a fan of the genre. Aarseth himself was reportedly involved in the burning of only one church. Burzum’s only member, Varg Vikernes, rose to become the second leading figure in black metal circles. His prestige was boosted by readiness for crime as well as spectacular publicity raids. In 1993, the gap between Aarseth and Vikernes became inflamed, and Vikernes murdered his former patron. Another eye-catching homicide occurred in 1992, when Emperor's drummer Bård “Faust” Eithun stabbed a man he met by chance to death. With the assassination of Aarseth, the torture began to clear and many black metal musicians were imprisoned for decades. Over time, crimes decreased and the atmosphere of the subculture moderated. The second wave of black metal involves a wide variety of myths and half-truths that genre musicians deliberately incite. Aarseth and Vikernes claimed to lead a cult called “black insiders” or a terrorist organization that worshiped Satan. It is open to interpretation whether such an organization ever existed. Like-minded people gathered around Aarseth and Vikernes, but the group never had a strict organization and did not keep a record of its members. It is also unclear whether any black metal musician really worshiped Satan, or whether it was just a shock and a youth uprising.