Lords of Chaos, Friends of Tyranny

With its movie adaptation finally releasing (to lukewarm reviews), it’s a good time to take a look at Lords of Chaos. This is the book which in many ways solidified the myths surrounding the Norwegian black metal scene of the early 1990s.

Not that it necessarily took much to do that. It was more or less inevitable that the Norwegian wave of black metal in the early 1990s would cast a long shadow. Along with a creative explosion which set a new bar for extreme metal, it was also a scene built around a volatile set of key personalities who, so intent on outdoing each other in establishing an “evil” reputation, ended up resorting to increasingly extreme acts.

There are few things messier than a pissing contest that’s gone out of control, and what happened in the 1990s black metal scene is no exception to that. Dead, lead singer of Mayhem (the band at the forefront of the new wave of black metal) performed on a stage decorated with severed pig’s heads, buried his clothes so that they’d smell like the grave, and engaged in alarming acts of self-harm onstage. Eventually he shot himself to death in the band’s communal house; band leader Euronymous, the scene’s major ringleader, took photos of the scene which eventually got used as the cover to a quasi-official Mayhem bootleg, Dawn of the Blackhearts. Picking up on previous waves of extreme metal’s embrace of Satanism, Norse heathenism, and general aggressive anti-Christianity, multiple members of the scene took to burning churches – including beautiful historic stave churches. Varg Vikernes used a photo of a burned church as the cover of the Burzum EP Aske, and was closely involved in many of the burnings. Faust, drummer of Emperor, callously murdered Magne Andreasson, supposedly not out of any sort of homophobic motive but simply for the sake of venting aggression.

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Three Play Loud In Birmingham

This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.

The ringing is slowly fading from my ears as I write this, in the wake of Alice Cooper’s concert at the Birmingham NEC on the 10th November 2007. Supported by Joan Jett (known in this country for I Love Rock and Roll on the Guitar Hero soundtrack and… little else) and Motörhead (known for Ace of Spades and a million million million other songs which sound exactly like Ace of Spades), the show turned out to be a four-and-a-half hour celebration of loud guitars and distinctive lead singers. But are trashy New York punk, gruff British speed metal and heavy Detroit glam rock musical flavours which go well together?

The Venue

For those of you who’ve never been to a concert there, incidentally, the NEC Arena isn’t at all bad. Clearly signposted from the M42, it has plenty of conference facilities – which means you’ll usually be able to grab a moderately-priced and moderately-bland dinner before the gig if you’re hungry – and the arena itself is well-lit, has plenty of toilets, snack food stands and (most importantly) water dispensers, and for this gig offered both standing and seated tickets. It’s the hallowed ground where such cultural icons as Wolf, Shadow, and Panther reigned supreme in Gladiators, back before we realised that it was just a tame and less entertaining form of professional wrestling, and it doesn’t seem to have changed a bit since then. The floor is sticky, but not as sticky as, say, those in the Ultimate Picture Palace in Oxford. Some of the toilets are unpleasant.

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