On 9 August 1993, black-metal musician Oystein Aarseth, also known as Euronymous, was stabbed 23 times in the head, neck and back, at his flat in Oslo, Norway. Was his murder the result of a bitter musical power struggle?
Born on 22 March 1968, music-mad youngster Oystein Aarseth was described as a ‘quiet type’ with ‘strange friends’.
For Oystein was into black and death metal, extreme types of music with Satanic lyrics…
In 1983, the Oslo teen and a fellow musician, Jorn Stubberud – known as Necrobutcher – bonded over a shared love of British band Motorhead. The next year, the two formed the group Mayhem. Oystein was just 16, and later adopted the demonic name Euronymous.
In Britain, black metal had a satirical, dark tone, with fake blood and demonic T-shirt slogans. In Norway, however, black metal saw some followers committing arson, assault, even rape and murder, in its name.
In 1991, tragically, Mayhem’s vocalist committed suicide. Then Necrobutcher left the band, and a man called Kristian ‘Varg’ Vikernes stepped in.
Described by another musician as ‘very intelligent, very charismatic, very evil’, Kristian was a force to be reckoned with.
Five years younger than Oystein, the two became friends.
Kristian became known as The Count and, as well as performing with Mayhem, he continued to also release his own music under the project name Burzum.
Gradually, Mayhem became darker, obsessed with Satan and evil. Oystein appeared in photos wearing a cape and with a sword, covered in corpse-like make-up.
And soon the friendship soured. Kristian and Oystein became bitter rivals.
Kristian gave a newspaper interview in which he took credit for burning down a church. Some suggest this fuelled a contest to see ‘who could be more evil’.
And then the evil acts of metal band members escalated to a whole new level. For in August 1992, a drummer from another band stabbed a man 37 times.
The evil stakes were raised…
The following year, in the early hours of 10 August 1993, Oystein was at home in his Oslo flat when someone came to his door.
He answered it dressed only in his underwear, and the caller chased Oystein into the stairwell and stabbed him 23 times in the chest, back and head.
Following Oystein’s death, the black-metal music scene was devastated by the loss of an icon. But, it seems, not so Kristian Vikernes, who spoke of the murder in Kerrang! magazine.
‘His death means nothing to me. I will dance and piss on his grave,’ the twisted musician said.
A man pleased to now be the kingpin of the black-metal scene?
Police searched Vikernes’ home and found 150kg of explosives, which they believe he planned to use to blow up a church. But was he also responsible for Oystein’s death? And if so, why?
The police believed his motive was the battle for leadership of the black metal scene.
In September 1993, Vikernes was arrested. The following year, he went on trial charged with Oystein’s murder, as well as arson and possession of illegal weapons.
In court, Vikernes spoke out about his extreme beliefs.
‘Through church burning and black-metal music we will reawaken the Norwegians’ feelings of belonging to Odin, god of Norse myth,’ he said.
And he claimed he’d acted in self defence, that Oystein had planned to torture him to death. He said he’d gone to see Oystein, a row had broken out and he’d stabbed him.
During the trial, the court was surrounded by teenage girls dressed in black, clutching pictures of The Count – Vikernes.
In May 1994, Kristian Vikernes was found guilty of the murder of Oystein Aarseth and multiple arson attacks on historic churches in Norway.
He was sentenced to 21 years in prison. After serving 15 years, he was released on parole in May 2009.
He moved to France with his wife and children, but it seems he hadn’t renounced his evil ways.
In July 2014, neo-Nazi sympathiser Vikernes, then 41, was convicted by a French court of inciting racial hatred, after he published racist blog entries.
He was given a £6,400 fine and a six-month suspended sentence.
He’d previously denied the charges, claiming the blog was written by an online impersonator.
Vikernes vowed he would appeal his conviction.