Dead (left) with Euronymous
|Birth name||Per Yngve Ohlin|
|Also known as||Pelle, Dead|
|Born||16 January 1969|
Österhaninge, Stockholm, Sweden
|Died||8 April 1991 22) (aged|
|Genres||Black metal, death metal, thrash metal|
|Associated acts||Mayhem, Morbid|
Per Yngve Ohlin (16 January 1969 – 8 April 1991), better known by his stage name Dead and nickname Pelle, was a Swedish metal musician, best known as the lead vocalist and lyricist of the Norwegian black metal band Mayhem from 1988 until his death in 1991. Prior to Mayhem, he also performed as vocalist in the Swedish death metal band Morbid. Dead was a popular figure of the Norwegian black metal scene, and his legacy remains prominent in the genre to this day. Roadrunner Records ranked him No. 48 out of 50 of The Greatest Metal Front-Men of All Time.
Dead was known for his morbid personality and obsession with death, which was a direct inspiration for his stage name. He hoarded dead birds, wore shirts with funeral announcements printed on them, and wore corpse paint, being the first in black metal to do so by some accounts. Unlike with other black metal performers, it is believed he did not do so for theatrical value but instead to present himself as a "corpse on stage," which he accentuated by wounding himself with implements such as glass shards as well as burying clothing into the ground and retrieving them to wear shortly before concert performances.
Acquaintances and peers described Ohlin as difficult to befriend or understand. Already intensely introverted and depressed, Dead's personality and demeanor would only become more withdrawn leading up to his death, a progression marked by such patterns as harming himself offstage among friends and isolating himself for long periods in his bedroom.
Dead committed suicide at the age of 22 on 8 April 1991 by slitting his wrists and throat before finally shooting himself in the forehead with a shotgun.He left a brief suicide note. Controversially, an image from the aftermath was used as the cover of the bootleg live album Dawn of the Black Hearts . His death marked a turning point in the history of the Norwegian black metal scene which led to a wave of erratic behavior by the scene's members.
Per Ohlin (sometimes called "Pelle") was born in 1969 in Österhaninge, Sweden to parents Anita Forsberg and Felix Ohlin, who divorced soon after his birth.As a young child he suffered from sleep apnea. At the age of ten he suffered internal bleeding when his spleen ruptured after, what he alleged was, an ice skating accident. However, in the Swedish metal book Blod eld död (English: "Blood Fire Death"), his brother Anders Ohlin confessed in an exclusive interview that Dead was frequently bullied in school, and one day he succumbed to a ruptured spleen which was a direct result of a severe beating by bullies. Because of the injury he had to be rushed to a hospital, where he was, for a time, declared clinically dead. After a few years the incident resulted in a fascination with death, and later inspired his stage name.
As a teenager he developed a taste for heavy metal and rock music, citing bands like Black Sabbath, Kiss, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, AC/DC, Motörhead, Venom, Metallica, Bathory, Sodom and Mercyful Fate as his favorites.Despite his love for Bathory, he was very displeased after their change in musical style, and consequently referred to Quorthon as "a wimp".
In early 1986, he founded the Swedish thrash/death metal group Morbid, with which he recorded a demo tape called December Moon . Disappointed that the band wasn't "going anywhere", he decided to contact members of Mayhem as he was aware the group were in need of a new frontman following vocalist Maniac's departure.According to Mayhem bassist Jørn "Necrobutcher" Stubberud, Dead initially sent the band members a small parcel containing a demo tape, a letter detailing his ideas for the future, and a crucified mouse. Although Necrobutcher lost the package itself, he kept the tape which had Dead's contact details. At that point, Dead moved to Norway in early 1988 and became the new official vocalist for Mayhem.
For concerts, Dead went to great lengths to achieve the image and atmosphere he wished. From the beginning of his career, he was known to wear "corpse paint", which involved covering his face with black and white makeup. According to Necrobutcher, "[i]t wasn't anything to do with the way Kiss and Alice Cooper used makeup. Dead actually wanted to look like a corpse. He didn't do it to look cool".Hellhammer claimed that Dead "was the first black metal musician to use corpse paint," although Euronymous can be seen wearing corpse paint in footage from a 1985 concert in Ski. To complete his corpse-like image, Dead would bury his stage clothes and dig them up again to wear on the night of a concert. According to Hellhammer:
Before the shows, Dead used to bury his clothes into the ground so that they could start to rot and get that grave scent. He was a corpse on a stage. Once he even asked us to bury him in the ground — he wanted his skin to become pale.
During one tour with Mayhem, he found a dead crow and kept it in a plastic bag. He often carried it about with him and would smell the bird before going onstage, to sing "with the stench of death in his nostrils."He would also collect dead geese, and keep them underneath his bed.
Dead would cut himself while singing onstage. During a gig in 1990, he slashed his arm with a broken bottle. Faust claims that Dead had to be taken to hospital after the gig, but arrived too late and so "it was no use to give him stitches".
In an interview conducted by Marduk guitarist Morgan Håkansson, and published in the fanzine Slayer, Dead explained how he and the rest of Mayhem would expel poseurs at their concerts. Reciting the events of one particular show, he claimed "Before we began to play there was a crowd of about 300 in there, but in the second song 'Necrolust' we began to throw around those pig heads. Only 50 were left." He and the other members enjoyed this sort of practice; he concluded with "If someone doesn't like blood and rotten flesh thrown in their face they can FUCK OFF, and that's exactly what they do."
Dead also makes a brief appearance in the Candlemass music video "Bewitched".
In interviews, fellow musicians often described Dead as odd and introverted. Mayhem drummer Jan Axel "Hellhammer" Blomberg described Dead as "a very strange personality […] depressed, melancholic, and dark".Likewise, Mayhem guitarist Øystein "Euronymous" Aarseth once said, "I honestly think Dead is mentally insane. Which other way can you describe a guy who does not eat, in order to get starving wounds? Or who has a T-shirt with funeral announcements on it?" Former Mayhem drummer Kjetil Manheim later likened Dead's personality to that of Marvin the Paranoid Android. Some authors have speculated that Dead may have had Cotard delusion, a very rare condition that manifests in believing one's body is not that of a living human but instead a corpse; this theory is supported by a variety of statements from Dead on the subject of his blood and body.
According to Emperor drummer Bård "Faust" Eithun:
[Dead] wasn't a guy you could know very well. I think even the other guys in Mayhem didn't know him very well. He was hard to get close to. I met him two weeks before he died. I'd met him maybe six to eight times, in all. He had lots of weird ideas. I remember Aarseth was talking about him and said he did not have any humor. He did, but it was very obscure. Honestly, I don't think he was enjoying living in this world, which of course resulted in the suicide.
Stian Johannsen ("Occultus"), who briefly took over as vocalist after Dead's suicide, remarked that Dead did not even possess a normal perception of himself:
"He [Dead] didn't see himself as human; he saw himself as a creature from another world. He said he had many visions that his blood has frozen in his veins, that he was dead. That is the reason he took that name. He knew he would die."
According to a longtime pen pal of Ohlin known as "Old Nick", Ohlin disliked technology. He would only ever write letters to himself or others using longhand style, and would never resort to the use of a PC. Old Nick evaluated "technology in general made him [feel] uncomfortable. He just rejected it altogether, finding refuge [instead] in a world made of forests and woodlands."He also had an unusual interest with porphyria due to its connection to the mythology of vampirism.
Excuse the blood, but I have slit my wrists and neck. It was the intention that I would die in the woods so that it would take a few days before I was possibly found. I belong in the woods and have always done so. No one will understand the reason for this anyway. To give some semblance of an explanation I'm not a human, this is just a dream and soon I will wake. It was too cold and the blood kept clotting, plus my new knife is too dull. If I don't succeed dying to the knife I will blow all the shit out of my skull. Yet I do not know. I left all my lyrics by "Let the good times roll"—plus the rest of the money. Whoever finds it gets the fucking thing. As a last salutation may I present "Life Eternal". Do whatever you want with the fucking thing. / Pelle. I didn't come up with this now, but seventeen years ago.
— Dead's suicide note (translated to English from Swedish)
In time, Dead's social situation and his fascination with death caused his mental state to worsen greatly. He would casually cut himself while in the presence of his friends, who would have to subdue him and patch him up.Although this upset many of his friends, Euronymous grew fascinated with Dead's suicidal ideologies because he felt extreme negativity fit Mayhem's image—and according to them, he allegedly encouraged Dead to kill himself. Manheim said: "I don't know if Øystein did it out of pure evil or if he was just fooling around."
By 1991, Dead, Euronymous and Hellhammer were living in a house in the woods near Kråkstad, which was used as a place for the band to rehearse. According to Hellhammer, Dead spent much of his time writing letters and drawing. He "just sat in his room and became more and more depressed".Mayhem bassist Necrobutcher said that, after living together for a while, Dead and Euronymous "got on each other's nerves a lot". Hellhammer recalls an anecdote where Dead once retreated outside to sleep in the woods because Euronymous was playing synth music that Dead hated. Euronymous followed and began shooting into the air with a shotgun to further antagonize him. Varg Vikernes of Burzum claims that Dead once stabbed Euronymous with a knife during an altercation. Vikernes also claims to have sent Mayhem ammunition, including shotgun shells, as a Christmas gift, although he claimed those were not the shells Dead used to kill himself, and that he instead saved a "special shell" particularly to be used for his suicide.
On 8 April 1991, while left alone in the house,Dead used a hunting knife to slit his wrists and throat, and afterward, shot himself in the forehead with a shotgun. He left a brief suicide note which started by saying, "Excuse the blood...". His body was found by Euronymous, who had to climb through an open window as the doors were locked and there were no other keys to the house. Instead of calling the police immediately, he visited a nearby shop to purchase a disposable camera with which he photographed the body, after re-arranging some items he proceeded to call emergency services. 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. The band later denied the former rumor, but confirmed that the latter was true. Moreover, Euronymous claimed to have given these necklaces to musicians he deemed worthy, which was confirmed by several other members of the scene, like Bård "Faust" Eithun, Metalion, and Morgan Håkansson.
Euronymous used Dead's suicide to foster Mayhem's "evil" image and claimed Dead had killed himself because black metal had become "trendy" and commercialized.Necrobutcher speculated that taking the pictures and forcing others to see them was a way for Euronymous to cope with the shock of seeing his friend's body. After Hellhammer developed the photos, Euronymous initially promised to destroy the pictures, but ultimately did not. He kept them stored inside an envelope at his record shop Helvete. Euronymous sent one of the pictures to the owner of Warmaster Records which resulted in its use as cover art for the bootleg live album Dawn of the Black Hearts , which was released in 1995.
Ohlin's 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 about his death afterwards. Necrobutcher ended his friendship with Euronymous and left Mayhem.Manheim later speculated that Euronymous had willfully left Dead alone in the house so that he would have a chance to kill himself. Dead's suicide was said to cause "a change in mentality" in the black metal scene and was the first in a string of infamous events carried out by its members.
An obituary in a Swedish newspaper stated that Dead's funeral was held at Österhaninge kyrka (Eastern Haninge Church) on Friday 26 April 1991.He was buried at Österhaninge begravningsplats (Eastern Haninge graveyard), located in Stockholm.
The cover of Mayhem's Live in Leipzig contains part of Dead's suicide note: Jag är inte en människa. Det här är bara en dröm, och snart vaknar jag. (Roughly translated: I am not a human being. This is just a dream, and soon I will wake.)
Ohlin contributed vocals to all of the following:
As a part of Morbid
As a part of Mayhem
Black metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music. Common traits include fast tempos, a shrieking vocal style, heavily distorted guitars played with tremolo picking, raw (lo-fi) recording, unconventional song structures, and an emphasis on atmosphere. Artists often appear in corpse paint and adopt pseudonyms.
Louis Cachet, better known as Varg Vikernes, is a Norwegian musician and writer. In 1991, he founded the one-man music project Burzum, which became one of the most influential black metal acts. In 1994, he was convicted of murder and arson, and subsequently served 15 years in prison.
Øystein Aarseth, better known by his stage name Euronymous, was a Norwegian musician. Euronymous was a founder of and central figure in the early Norwegian black metal scene. He was a co-founder and guitarist of the Norwegian black metal band Mayhem and was the only constant member from the band's formation in 1984 until his death in 1993. He was also founder and owner of the extreme metal record label Deathlike Silence Productions and record shop Helvete.
Mayhem is a Norwegian black metal band formed in 1984 in Oslo, Norway. They were one of the founders of the Norwegian black metal scene and their music has strongly influenced the black metal genre. Mayhem's early career was highly controversial, primarily due to their notorious live performances, the 1991 suicide of vocalist Per Yngve Ohlin ("Dead") and the 1993 murder of guitarist Øystein Aarseth ("Euronymous") by former member Varg Vikernes of Burzum.
Corpse paint or corpsepaint is a style of black and white makeup used by black metal bands for concerts and band photos. The makeup is used to make the musicians appear inhuman, corpse-like, or demonic, and is perhaps "the most identifiable aspect of the black metal aesthetic."
Dissection was a Swedish extreme metal band from Strömstad, formed in 1989 by guitarist, vocalist and main songwriter Jon Nödtveidt and bass guitarist Peter Palmdahl. Despite a number of lineup changes, Dissection released The Somberlain in 1993 and Storm of the Light's Bane in 1995, before splitting up in 1997 due to Nödtveidt's imprisonment for complicity in the murder of Josef Meddour.
The early Norwegian black metal scene of the 1990s is credited with creating the modern black metal genre and produced some of the most acclaimed and influential artists in extreme metal. It attracted massive media attention when it was revealed that its members had been responsible for two murders and a wave of church burnings in Norway.
Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground is a book by Michael Moynihan and Didrik Søderlind. It is an account of the early Norwegian black metal scene, with a focus on the string of church burnings and murders that occurred in the country around 1993. A film adaptation of the book was directed by Swedish director Jonas Åkerlund in 2018. The book has been the subject of controversy over the alleged political leanings of author Michael Moynihan, though Moynihan denies these allegations.
De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas is the first studio album by the Norwegian black metal band Mayhem. Songwriting began in 1987, but due to the suicide of vocalist Per "Dead" Ohlin and the murder of guitarist Øystein "Euronymous" Aarseth, the album's release was delayed until May 1994. De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas is widely considered one of the most influential black metal albums of all time. It is the band's only studio album to feature Aarseth and Varg "Count Grishnackh" Vikernes.
Deathcrush is an EP by the Norwegian black metal band Mayhem. It was released on 16 August 1987 by the Posercorpse record label.
Jan Axel Blomberg is a Norwegian heavy metal drummer, known professionally as Hellhammer. He is best known as the drummer of Mayhem, which he joined in 1988. In 1987 Blomberg formed the avant-garde black metal band Arcturus with Steinar Sverd Johnsen, which broke up in April 2007 and reunited in 2011. He named himself after the Swiss extreme metal band Hellhammer. Praised as a talented musician, Blomberg is a three-time winner of the Spellemannprisen award.
The Dawn of the Black Hearts is a bootleg live album by the Norwegian black metal band Mayhem. The title originates from lyrics Fenriz of Darkthrone wrote for the band; the lyrics sheet can be found in the 2009 limited edition EP, Life Eternal.
Live in Leipzig is a live album by the Norwegian black metal band Mayhem. It was recorded at the Eiskeller club in Leipzig, Germany on 26 November 1990 but not released until 1993. The songs performed during the concert were from the Pure Fucking Armageddon demo (1986), the Deathcrush EP (1987) and the as-yet-unrecorded album De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (1994). It is one of the band's few official releases with Dead as vocalist, albeit posthumous.
Sven Erik Kristiansen is a Norwegian musician. He is best known as the former vocalist in the black metal band Mayhem under the stage name Maniac.
Out from the Dark is a demo album by the Norwegian black metal band Mayhem. It consists of a rehearsal from 1989, but it was not officially released until 1996, by Black Metal Records.
Jørn Stubberud is a Norwegian musician best known as the bassist in the black metal band Mayhem under the stage name Necrobutcher. He is one of Mayhem's founding members, along with Euronymous, Manheim and Messiah. He is the band's only remaining original member, as Messiah and Manheim left Mayhem, respectively, in 1986 and 1988, and Euronymous was murdered in 1993. He has also played in other bands, including L.E.G.O., Kvikksølvguttene, Bloodthorn, and Checker Patrol.
Until the Light Takes Us is an American documentary film about early Norwegian black metal by directors Aaron Aites and Audrey Ewell. The film premiered at the AFI Film Festival in 2008, a year before it was released in film theaters.
Lords of Chaos is a 2018 horror-thriller film directed by Jonas Åkerlund and written by Dennis Magnusson and Åkerlund. Adapted from the 1998 book of the same name, the film is a historical fiction account of the early 1990s Norwegian black metal scene told from the perspective of Mayhem co-founder Euronymous. It stars Rory Culkin as Euronymous, Emory Cohen as Varg Vikernes, Jack Kilmer as Dead, and Sky Ferreira as Ann-Marit.
Daemon is the sixth full-length studio album by Norwegian black metal band Mayhem. Their major label debut, it was released by Century Media Records on 25 October 2019 in digital formats while a manufacturing problem delayed the physical release until 8 November 2019.