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Dead (left) and Euronymous (right)
Background information
Birth nameØystein Aarseth
BornMarch 22, 1968
Egersund, Norway
DiedAugust 10, 1993(1993-08-10) (aged 25)
Oslo, Norway
GenresBlack metal
InstrumentsGuitar, bass, keyboards, drums, vocals
Years active1984–1993
Associated actsMayhem
Checker Patrol
Notable instruments
Gibson Cherry Sunburst Classic Les Paul
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Dead (left) and Euronymous (right)
Background information
Birth nameØystein Aarseth
BornMarch 22, 1968
Egersund, Norway
DiedAugust 10, 1993(1993-08-10) (aged 25)
Oslo, Norway
GenresBlack metal
InstrumentsGuitar, bass, keyboards, drums, vocals
Years active1984–1993
Associated actsMayhem
Checker Patrol
Notable instruments
Gibson Cherry Sunburst Classic Les Paul

Øystein Aarseth (22 March 1968 – 10 August 1993[1]), who went by the pseudonym Euronymous, was a Norwegian guitarist and co-founder of the Norwegian black metal band Mayhem. He was also founder and owner of the extreme metal record label Deathlike Silence Productions and record shop Helvete. Euronymous was the founder of and central figure in the early Norwegian black metal scene until his murder by fellow musician Varg Vikernes in 1993.

Euronymous was ranked No. 51 out of The 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Guitarists of All Time by Guitar World.[2]



1984 to 1991

Aarseth formed Mayhem in 1984 along with bassist Jørn 'Necrobutcher' Stubberud and drummer Kjetil Manheim. At the time he was going by the stage name 'Destructor' but later changed his name to Euronymous,[3] derived from the demon Eurynomos.

In summer 1986, Euronymous, Necrobutcher and Jon 'Metalion' Kristiansen visited the German thrash metal band Assassin and recorded the Metalion in the Park demo under the name Checker Patrol, Metalion contributing background vocals to the title song Metalion in the Park.[4]

In 1988, Per "Dead" Ohlin became Mayhem's vocalist and Jan Axel 'Hellhammer' Blomberg became its drummer. By 1991, Euronymous and Dead were sharing a house in the woods near Kråkstad, which the band used as a place to rehearse.[5] On 8 April 1991, Dead committed suicide while alone in the house. He was found by Euronymous with slit wrists and a shotgun wound to the head. Before calling the police, Euronymous went to a nearby shop and bought a disposable camera with which he photographed the body, after re-arranging some items.[6] One of these photographs was later used as the cover of a bootleg live album called Dawn of the Black Hearts.[7]

Mayhem bassist Necrobutcher said that, after living together for a while, Euronymous and Dead "got on each other's nerves a lot" and "weren't really friends at the end".[5] He recalls how Euronymous told him of the suicide:

Øystein called me up the next day ... and says, "Dead has done something really cool! He killed himself". I thought, have you lost it? What do you mean cool? He says, "Relax, I have photos of everything". I was in shock and grief. He was just thinking how to exploit it. So I told him, "OK. Don't even fucking call me before you destroy those pictures".[8]

Necrobutcher later speculated that taking the photographs and forcing others to see them was a way for Euronymous to cope with the shock of seeing his friend dead.[8][9] He claimed that Euronymous "went into a fantasy world".[9] Bård 'Faust' Eithun of Emperor believes that Dead's suicide "marked the point at which, under Euronymous's direction, the black metal scene began its obsession with all things satanic and evil".[8] Kjetil Manheim said that, after the suicide, Euronymous "tried to be as extreme as he had talked about".[9] 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.[10] The band later denied the former rumor, but confirmed that the latter was true.[7][10] Moreover, Euronymous claimed to have given these necklaces to musicians he deemed worthy,[11] which was confirmed by several other members of the scene, like Faust[12] and Metalion.[13] The suicide caused a rift between Euronymous and some of his friends, who were disgusted by his attitude towards Dead before the suicide, and his behavior afterwards. Necrobutcher ended his friendship with Euronymous.[9] Thus, after the suicide, Mayhem was left with only two members: guitarist Euronymous and drummer Hellhammer. Stian 'Occultus' Johannsen was recruited as Mayhem's new singer and bassist. However, this was short-lived; he left the band after receiving a death threat from Euronymous.[5]

1991 to 1993

The basement of Euronymous's former record shop, showing graffiti from the early 1990s

During May–June 1991,[14] Euronymous opened a record shop named Helvete[15] (Norwegian for ‘Hell’)[16] at Schweigaards gate 56 in Oslo. Norwegian black metal musicians often met in the shop's basement, including the two members of Mayhem, the members of Emperor, Varg Vikernes of Burzum, and Snorre 'Blackthorn' Ruch of Thorns. Euronymous also started an independent record label called Deathlike Silence Productions, which was based at Helvete. It released albums by Norwegian bands Mayhem and Burzum, and Swedish bands Merciless and Abruptum. Euronymous, Varg[17] and Emperor guitarist Tomas 'Samoth' Haugen[18] all lived at Helvete for a time. Emperor drummer Faust also lived and worked there.[8] The shop's walls were painted black and bedecked with medieval weapons, posters of bands, and picture discs, while its window featured a polystyrene tombstone.[8] The opening of Helvete led to the black metal style spreading among Norwegian bands. As Daniel Ekeroth wrote in 2008,

Within just a few months [of Helvete opening], many young musicians had become obsessed with Euronymous and his ideas, and soon a lot of Norwegian death metal bands transformed into black metal bands. Amputation became Immortal, Thou Shalt Suffer turned into Emperor, and Darkthrone swapped their Swedish-inspired death metal for primitive black metal. Most notoriously, Old Funeral’s guitar player Kristian Vikernes had already left the band to form his own creation, Burzum.[19]

Euronymous "took Vikernes, who was five years younger than him, under his wing: inviting him to play bass with Mayhem and offering to release his music as Burzum". However, it has been claimed that their friendship turned to rivalry. Looking back, Faust said "It sounds really silly, but I think there was a little bit of a contest between them to see who could be more evil. It created a very difficult situation, especially for Euronymous, who wanted the glamour and the showbiz. With him, there was a lot of smoke but not so much fire".[8]

Euronymous took part in the burning of Holmenkollen Chapel (pictured)

On 6 June 1992, the Fantoft Stave Church in Bergen was destroyed by arson. Varg Vikernes is strongly suspected as the culprit, but was never convicted.[20] There followed a wave of church burnings across Norway, perpetrated by musicians and fans of the Norwegian black metal scene.[15][21] Euronymous was present at the burning of Holmenkollen Chapel together with Vikernes and Faust,[9][17][22][23] who were convicted for the arson after Euronymous was dead. Faust says he believes that Euronymous got involved because he "felt he had to prove that he could be a part of it and not just in the background".[8] To coincide with the release of Mayhem’s De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, Vikernes and Euronymous had plotted to blow up Nidaros Cathedral, which appears on the album cover. Euronymous's death in August 1993 put an end to this plan and stalled the album's release.[9] In a 1993 interview on a Swedish radio show, Euronymous said of the church burnings:

They [Christians] must feel that there is a dark, evil power present that they have to fight, which…will make them more extreme. We also believe that when a church burns it's not only Christians who suffer, but people in general. Imagine a beautiful old stave church...what happens when it burns? The Christians feel despair, God's house is destroyed and ordinary people will suffer from grief because something beautiful was destroyed. So you end up spreading grief and despair, which is a good thing.[24]


In late January 1993, Vikernes was interviewed by a journalist from Bergens Tidende. Vikernes had allegedly requested the interview in order to gain publicity for the black metal scene and for Euronymous's shop and record label. However, the interview led to a police investigation and Vikernes was put under arrest for six weeks. Euronymous decided to shut down Helvete due to this negative attention.

On 10 August 1993, Vikernes and Snorre 'Blackthorn' Ruch traveled from Bergen to Euronymous's apartment at Tøyengata[5] (English: Tøyen Street) in Oslo. Upon their arrival a confrontation began, which ended with Vikernes fatally stabbing Euronymous. His body was found outside the apartment with 23 cut wounds – two to the head, five to the neck, and sixteen to the back.[25]

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 by Faust.[26] Vikernes denies all of this, claiming Euronymous had plotted to torture him to death and videotape the event – using a meeting about an unsigned contract as a pretext.[27] He claims that Euronymous planned to subdue him with a taser, tie him up, take him to a forest and use him to make a snuff film.[17] Vikernes explains: "If he was talking about it to everybody and anybody I wouldn't have taken it seriously. But he just told a select group of friends, and one of them told me".[17] 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.[27] Moreover, Vikernes defends that most of Euronymous's cut wounds were caused by broken glass he had fallen on during the struggle.[27] This version is doubted by Faust and other members of the scene.[28]

Whatever the circumstances, Vikernes was arrested within days and in May 1994 was sentenced to 21 years in prison (Norway's maximum penalty) for both the murder and church arsons. Controversially, Vikernes smiled at the moment his verdict was read and the image was widely reprinted in the news media.[27] At Euronymous's funeral, Hellhammer (Mayhem's then-drummer) and Necrobutcher (Mayhem's former bassist) decided to continue with the band and worked on releasing the De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas album.[8] Before the release, Euronymous's family asked 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".[8] The album, which has Euronymous on electric guitar and Vikernes on bass guitar, was finally released in May 1994.

A big part of the Norwegian scene considered Vikernes a traitor[29] for murdering Euronymous and turning his back on Satanism, and considered Euronymous's death to be a big loss to the scene. A few years after the murder, Ihsahn of Emperor said "[t]here’s no discipline in the scene anymore, like earlier on around the shop".[30] Yet, in the late 2000s, Anders Odden (a friend of Euronymous at the time) said of the murder: "It wasn't odd that he ended-up getting killed. He thought he could threaten to kill people without it having any consequences". He added: "I think many people felt relief once he was gone". Writer and musician Erlend Erichsen agreed, saying "Nobody was there to boss them about. The 'black metal police' were gone".[9]

In May 2009, Vikernes was released from prison on parole.[31]

Beliefs and personality

In interviews, Euronymous claimed to be against individualism, compassion, peace, happiness and fun. He claimed he wanted to spread hatred, sorrow and evil.[32] In a 1993 interview he said "There is NOTHING which is too sick, evil or perverted".[32] Metalion, who knew Euronymous since 1985[3] and considered him to be his best friend,[33] said that Euronymous "was always telling what he thought, following his own instincts [...] worshipping death and being extreme".[34] Ihsahn, who frequented Helvete, said that "if you were trusted, if they knew you were serious in your views, you were accepted" there, which was important to be a part of the Helvete scene.[30]

However, some who knew Euronymous[35]—such as Kjetil Manheim[5] and Vikernes[17]—have claimed that this was merely an image. Faust said that with Euronymous, "there was a lot of smoke but not so much fire".[8] Mayhem drummer Kjetil Manheim (who was friends with Euronymous from 1983 until his death) described Euronymous as "blond, health oriented, very good at school. He worked-out a lot, didn't smoke, didn't drink ... That was the Øystein we knew. A nice guy, a family guy ... But when we weren't around he could play-out his role". Manheim claimed that Euronymous became "extreme" towards the end of his life: "He liked telling people that they were worthless; [that] he was the best. He was all 'I define black metal. Black metal is me!' ... I think he was trapped in the image of Mayhem. He became a megalomaniac".[9] In the documentary Pure Fucking Mayhem he said "Øystein's daily life was a total theater" that was based on the black metal "archetype" of 'Euronymous'.[5]


In interviews, Euronymous said he was a Theistic Satanist:[36][32]

I believe in a horned devil, a personified Satan. In my opinion all the other forms of Satanism are bullshit. [...] Satanism comes from religious Christianity, and there it shall stay. I'm a religious person and I will fight those who misuse His name. People are not supposed to believe in themselves and be individualists. They are supposed to OBEY, to be the SLAVES of religion. – Euronymous, in an interview by Esa Lahdenperä, early August 1993[32]

The Theistic Satanism espoused by Euronymous was an inversion of Roman Catholic dogma[36][32] and he claimed "We praise the evil and we believe blindly in a godly creature just like a Christian".[37] On the relationship between religion and science he said: "Scientists can't disprove [...] religion. No matter how hard you try, you can't explain the universe. You can't leave out a religious belief".[37]

He opposed the Satanic and occultist teachings of Anton LaVey and Aleister Crowley, for unlike Euronymous they promoted what he saw as "peace" and commercial frivolity, as well as individualism in contrast to precedence of dogma.[36][32] He said he would "Never accept any band which preaches Church of Satan ideas, as they are just a bunch of freedom and life-loving atheists, and they stand exactly the opposite of me".[32] When asked what he thought of Crowley's code of "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law", he answered "People shall do what WE want them to do. We're against freedom, and forced a band from Rogaland in Norway – Belsebub – to split up".[37]

In the black metal documentary Until the Light Takes Us, Varg Vikernes claimed that Euronymous was not a Satanist. He said: "To Aarseth everything was about image and he wanted to appear extreme. He wanted people to think of him as being extreme; the most extreme of them all. But he didn't want to be extreme and he wasn't really extreme".[17] Mortiis, however, said that Euronymous "was such a devil worshipper you wouldn't believe it".[38] While Metalion, who was friends with both Vikernes and Euronymous when the latter died, and called Euronymous his best friend,[39] wrote that "some people in our scene read a few books and considered themselves Satanists", he made no such statements about Euronymous.[40] Tenebris (allegedly Jon Nödtveidt[41]) from the Misanthropic Luciferian Order, a Swedish Satanic order formed in 1995, wrote that "[b]ack then, in 1991, things mainly concerned black metal and ideological Satanism […] and kind of stood and fell with Euronymous and his shop. Therefore, it vanished with his death in '93".[42]

Over time, some members of the Norwegian scene began to follow Paganism. Vikernes later claimed that Euronymous—"obsessed with this 'Satanist' thing"—disapproved of Vikernes promoting Paganism.[43] Euronymous showed no explicit disapproval of Paganism though and released the Pagan band Enslaved’s first album, Vikingligr Veldi, on Deathlike Silence Productions.

Black metal and death metal

Euronymous said that the term black metal can apply to any kind of metal, so long it is "Satanic" and "heavy".[24] He said "If a band cultivates and worships Satan, it's black metal"[44] and that "In a way, it can be ordinary heavy metal or just noise. What's important is that it's Satanic; that's what makes it black metal".[24] He rejected bands like Immortal being called black metal, "as they are not Satanists", but supported the band nonetheless.[32] As noted earlier, bands who had LaVeyan beliefs were also rejected.[32]

Likewise, Euronymous said that the term death metal can apply to any kind of metal, so long as the band "cultivates and worships death".[44] Euronymous lamented the commercialization and loss of extremity within death metal. He said "Real Death Metal should be something normal people are afraid of, not something mothers can listen to" and "Death Metal is for brutal people who are capable of killing, it's not for idiotic children who want to have [a] funny hobby after school".[45]

Like many others in the black metal scene, Euronymous originally believed that black metal should stay underground. However, he later changed his mind and said the idea should be got rid of. He believed that the idea of staying underground came from hardcore punk and said "Those who scream most about being in 'underground' is also often those who make so bad music that they don't have a chance to get big themselves". He added: "I wouldn't mind making DSP big and earn a million, as long as I don't change my ways of thinking and being [...] If there were one million black metal fans in the world, most of them would be jerks, but there would be really many true and brutal people as well. The bigger we get, the more we can manipulate people into thinking like us".[32]


Euronymous was a member of the Norwegian Communist youth group Rød Ungdom.[46] According to fellow black metal musician Frost, here he may have honed the leadership skills he would use in the early Norwegian black metal scene, where he allegedly led a "Black Metal Inner Circle". Euronymous claimed to favor the totalitarian style of communism practiced by Joseph Stalin and Pol Pot.[47] Although he did not use the music of Mayhem to promote his political leanings, he saw them as mutually compatible with black metal – influenced by the repressive nature of his Satanism as well as his intense misanthropy.[47]


Euronymous played a Standard sunburst Gibson Les Paul guitar, which can be seen in many pictures of him playing. He stated in various interviews that his and Mayhem's main influences were Venom,[32] Bathory,[32] Hellhammer,[32] Sodom[32] and Destruction.[32] He played through a slightly modified Marshall JCM800 tube amp and used an Ibanez Tube Screamer pedal as well as an Arion Metal Master distortion pedal.[citation needed]


Euronymous was guitarist on the following recordings:

MayhemPure Fucking Armageddon19851985
Checker PatrolMetalion in the Park[4]19861986
MayhemLive in Leipzig19901993
MayhemDawn of the Black Hearts19901995
MayhemFreezing Moon/Carnage19901996
MayhemOut from the Dark19911995
MayhemDe Mysteriis Dom Sathanas1992–19931994

He also contributed a guitar solo to the Burzum song "War" (from the album Burzum) and played a gong on the songs "Dungeons of Darkness" (from Burzum) and "Den onde kysten" (from Det som engang var).[48]


  1. ^ Euronymous' passport
  2. ^ "Guitar World's 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Guitarists of All Time". Roadrunner Records. 23 January 2004. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  3. ^ a b Kristiansen, Jon (2011). Metalion: The Slayer Mag Diaries. Bazillion Points Books. p. 39.
  4. ^ a b Kristiansen, p. 53.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Stefan Rydehed (director) (2008). Pure Fucking Mayhem (motion picture). Index Verlag.
  6. ^ Lords of Chaos (1998): Hellhammer interview
  7. ^ a b Sounds of Death magazine (1998): Hellhammer interview
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Campion, Chris (20 February 2005). "In the Face of Death". The Observer (Guardian Unlimited).,11710,1419364,00.html. Retrieved 6 October 2007.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h Martin Ledang (director), Pål Aasdal (director) (2007). Once Upon a Time in Norway (motion picture). Another World Entertainment.
  10. ^ a b Michael Dome (director) (2007). Murder Music: Black Metal (motion picture). Rockworld TV.
  11. ^ Sam Dunn (director) (2005). Metal: A Headbanger's Journey (motion picture). Seville Pictures.
  12. ^ Moynihan, Michael; Didrik Søderlind (1998). Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground. Feral House. p. 54.
  13. ^ Kristiansen, p. 219.
  14. ^ Lords of Chaos, p. 66.
  15. ^ a b "Øystein "Euronymous" Aarseth". June 1992. Retrieved 2009-10-10. "Well, the original idea was to make a specialist shop for metal in general, but that's a long time ago. Normal metal isn't very popular any more, all the children are listening to "death" metal now. I`d rather be selling Judas Priest than Napalm Death, but at least now we can be specialized within "death" metal and make a shop where all the trend people know that they will find all the trend music. This will help us earning money so that we can order more EVIL records to the evil people. But no matter how shitty music we have to sell, we'll make a BLACK METAL look on the shop, we've had a couple of "actions" in churches lately, and the shop is going to look like a black church in the future. We`ve also thought about having total darkness inside, so that people would have to carry torches to be able to see the records."
  16. ^ Norwegian dictionary entry for "Helvete"
  17. ^ a b c d e f Aaron Aites (director, producer), Audrey Ewell (director, producer) (2009). Until the Light Takes Us (motion picture). Variance Films.
  18. ^ Christe, Ian (2003). Sound of the Beast: the Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc.. p. 271.
  19. ^ Daniel Ekeroth: Swedish Death Metal. Second printing. Brooklyn, NY: Bazillion Points 2009, p. 247.
  20. ^ Lords of Chaos, p. 78.
  21. ^ Grude, Torstein (director) (1998). Satan rir Media (motion picture). Norway: Grude, Torstein.
  22. ^ Lords of Chaos, p. 94f.
  23. ^ Kristiansen, p. 261.
  24. ^ a b c Interview with Euronymous of Mayhem on a Swedish radio show, 1993
  25. ^ Steinke, Darcey. "Satan's Cheerleaders". SPIN. February 1996.
  26. ^ Mayhem Biography on Yahoo! Music
  27. ^ a b c d Varg Vikernes - A Burzum Story: Part II - Euronymous
  28. ^ Lords of Chaos, p. 118.
  29. ^ Various Artists: Nordic Metal - A Tribute to Euronymous. Necropolis Records 1995.
  30. ^ a b Lords of Chaos, p. 65.
  31. ^ Rune Midtskogen: Ute av fengsel. In: Dagbladet, 22 May 2009.
  32. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Esa Lahdenpera: Northern Black Metal Legends. In: Kill Yourself, no. 2, August 1993.
  33. ^ Kristiansen, pp. 266-269.
  34. ^ Lords of Chaos, p. 39.
  35. ^ Fridh, Sanna. Satan: The Perfect Man: A Symbol and Gender Analysis of Satanism in Black Metal. University of Gothenburg, 2010. p.6
  36. ^ a b c rare Euronymous interview - SMNnews Forums
  37. ^ a b c Interview with Euronymous from Beat, Issue 2 (1993)
  38. ^ Ian Christe: Sound of the Beast: the Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal. New York, NY: Harper Collins, 2004.
  39. ^ Jon Kristiansen: Metalion: The Slayer Mag Diaries. Bazillion Points Books 2011, p. 266-269.
  40. ^ Kristiansen 2011, p. 261f.
  41. ^ Jon Kristiansen: Metalion: The Slayer Mag Diaries. Brooklyn, NY: Bazillion Points Books 2011.[page needed]
  42. ^ MLO. Misantropiska Lucifer Orden. In: Jon Kristiansen: Metalion: The Slayer Mag Diaries. Bazillion Points Books 2011, p. 551.
  43. ^ BLABBERMOUTH.NET - Updated: BURZUM Leader Fails To Return After Short Leave From Prison
  44. ^ a b Interview with Euronymous by Faust in Orcustus zine
  45. ^ Interview with Euronymous and Dead in Slayer, Issue 8 (1991)
  46. ^
  47. ^ a b documents: Euronymous as Kafka
  48. ^ "A Burzum Story: Part VI - The Music".

External links