Mayhem (band)

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Mayhem - Jalometalli 2008 - 22.JPG
Mayhem live in 2008.
Background information
Origin Oslo, Norway
Genres Black metal
Years active19841993, 1995present
Past members (see below) or List

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 ("Count Grishnackh") of Burzum.

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.

Oslo Place in Østlandet, Norway

Oslo is the capital and most populous city of Norway. It constitutes both a county and a municipality. Founded in the year 1040 as Ánslo, and established as a kaupstad or trading place in 1048 by Harald Hardrada, the city was elevated to a bishopric in 1070 and a capital under Haakon V of Norway around 1300. Personal unions with Denmark from 1397 to 1523 and again from 1536 to 1814 reduced its influence. After being destroyed by a fire in 1624, during the reign of King Christian IV, a new city was built closer to Akershus Fortress and named Christiania in the king's honour. It was established as a municipality (formannskapsdistrikt) on 1 January 1838. The city functioned as a co-official capital during the 1814 to 1905 Union between Sweden and Norway. In 1877, the city's name was respelled Kristiania in accordance with an official spelling reform – a change that was taken over by the municipal authorities only in 1897. In 1925 the city, after incorporating the village retaining its former name, was renamed Oslo.

The early 1990s Norwegian black metal scene 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, one suicide, and a wave of church burnings in Norway.


The group released a demo and an EP that were highly influential, and amassed a loyal following through sporadic and notorious live performances, attracting further attention through their ties to the string of Norwegian church burnings and the incidents of violence surrounding them. Mayhem disbanded after Aarseth's murder, shortly before the release of their debut album, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas , regarded as a classic of the black metal genre. Surviving former members Jan Axel Blomberg ("Hellhammer"), Jørn Stubberud ("Necrobutcher") and Sven Erik Kristiansen ("Maniac") reformed two years later with Rune Eriksen ("Blasphemer") replacing Aarseth. Attila Csihar and Morten Iversen ("Teloch") have since replaced Kristiansen and Eriksen, respectively. Their post-Aarseth material is characterized by increased experimentation. The 2007 album Ordo Ad Chao received the Spellemann Award for best heavy metal album.

<i>De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas</i> 1994 studio album by Mayhem

De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas is the debut 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.

Jan Axel Blomberg Norwegian heavy metal drummer of the band Mayhem

Jan Axel "Hellhammer" Blomberg is a Norwegian heavy metal drummer. 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.

Necrobutcher Norwegian musician

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: L.E.G.O., Kvikksølvguttene, Bloodthorn, and Checker Patrol.


Early years (1984–1988)

Founding bassist Necrobutcher, shown here performing in 2008. Mayhem - Jalometalli 2008 - 19.JPG
Founding bassist Necrobutcher, shown here performing in 2008.

Mayhem was founded in 1984 by guitarist Øystein Aarseth (known initially as "Destructor", [1] later "Euronymous"), bassist Jørn Stubberud ("Necrobutcher") and drummer Kjetil Manheim, taking their band name from the Venom song "Mayhem with Mercy". [2] The band members were mainly influenced by groups such as Venom, Motörhead, Black Sabbath, Slayer, Bathory and Celtic Frost. [3] The lineup began playing cover songs by Black Sabbath, Venom, Motörhead [4] and later recorded the demo Pure Fucking Armageddon. After its release, Aarseth, who used to sing lead vocals, along with Stubberud, during first demo's studio rehearsals, recruited two session vocalists, Eirik Norheim ("Messiah") and Sven Erik Kristiansen ("Maniac"), in 1986 and 1987. Norheim performed vocals only for a concert, which took place in April 1986 in Ski, and by the end of that year he had quit Mayhem. He later formed hardcore punk band Within Range and Oi!/street punk band Cockroach Clan. Whereas, with Kristiansen, Mayhem recorded its first EP, Deathcrush , in 1987, and released it through Euronymous' newly formed label Posercorpse Music.

Venom (band) English thrash metal band

Venom are an English extreme metal band formed in 1978 in Newcastle upon Tyne. Coming to prominence towards the end of the new wave of British heavy metal, Venom's first two albums—Welcome to Hell (1981) and Black Metal (1982)—are considered a major influence on thrash metal and extreme metal in general. Venom's second album proved influential enough that its title was used as the name of the extreme metal subgenre of black metal.

Motörhead English rock band

Motörhead were an English rock band formed in June 1975 by bassist, singer, and songwriter Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister, who was the sole constant member, guitarist Larry Wallis and drummer Lucas Fox. The band are often considered a precursor to the new wave of British heavy metal, which re-energised heavy metal in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Though several guitarists and drummers have played in Motörhead, most of their best-selling albums and singles feature the work of Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor on drums and "Fast" Eddie Clarke on guitars.

Black Sabbath British heavy metal band

Black Sabbath were an English rock band, formed in Birmingham in 1968, by guitarist and main songwriter Tony Iommi, drummer Bill Ward, bassist and main lyricist Geezer Butler and singer Ozzy Osbourne. Black Sabbath are often cited as pioneers of heavy metal music. The band helped define the genre with releases such as Black Sabbath (1970), Paranoid (1970), and Master of Reality (1971). The band had multiple line-up changes, with Iommi being the only constant member throughout its history.

The initial 1,000 copy release of Deathcrush quickly sold out. It was later reissued in 1993 by the newly renamed Deathlike Silence Productions as a joint venture with Euronymous' Oslo specialist record shop Helvete [5] (Norwegian for "Hell"). [6] Manheim and Maniac left the band in 1988.

Deathlike Silence Productions was a Norwegian independent record label founded in Oslo in the late 1980s that focused on black metal. It was the first independent label to do so. The label was founded by Øystein Aarseth, also known as Euronymous, who operated the label until his murder in 1993. The name was derived from the Sodom song "Deathlike Silence". At first, the label mainly signed Norwegian acts, but as early as 1990 Aarseth had desired to establish a Swedish branch with Morgan Håkansson of Marduk, and towards its final years its scope was also broadened to other countries such as Japan. Aarseth was considering signing Rotting Christ, Masacre (Colombia) and Hadez (Peru) before his death. Before the label's demise it was planned to release Monumentum's debut album In Absentia Christi. Darkthrone had threatened to release their second album A Blaze in the Northern Sky through Deathlike Silence when Peaceville Records would not due to their sudden change in genre. Voices of Wonder "took over Deathlike Silence Productions after the death of Euronymous."

Norwegian language North Germanic language spoken in Norway

Norwegian is a North Germanic language spoken mainly in Norway, where it is the official language. Along with Swedish and Danish, Norwegian forms a dialect continuum of more or less mutually intelligible local and regional varieties, and some Norwegian and Swedish dialects, in particular, are very close. These Scandinavian languages, together with Faroese and Icelandic as well as some extinct languages, constitute the North Germanic languages. Faroese and Icelandic are hardly mutually intelligible with Norwegian in their spoken form because continental Scandinavian has diverged from them. While the two Germanic languages with the greatest numbers of speakers, English and German, have close similarities with Norwegian, neither is mutually intelligible with it. Norwegian is a descendant of Old Norse, the common language of the Germanic peoples living in Scandinavia during the Viking Era.

Hell Afterlife location in which souls are subjected to punitive suffering, often torture

In religion and folklore, Hell is an afterlife location in which evil souls are subjected to punitive suffering, often torture as eternal punishment after death. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells as eternal destinations, the biggest examples of which are Christianity and Islam, whereas religions with reincarnation usually depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations, as is the case in the dharmic religions. Religions typically locate hell in another dimension or under Earth's surface. Other afterlife destinations include Heaven, Paradise, Purgatory, Limbo, and the underworld.

With Dead (1988–1991)

After two brief replacements, Maniac and Manheim's positions were filled by Swedish vocalist Per Yngve Ohlin ("Dead") and local drummer Jan Axel Blomberg ("Hellhammer"). With Dead, the band's concerts became notorious. 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". [7] Hellhammer claimed that Dead "was the first black metal musician to use corpse paint". [8] 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. [9] [10]

Dead (musician) 20th-century Swedish black/death metal vocalist

Per Yngve Ohlin, better known by his stage name Dead, was a Swedish black metal musician, best known as the lead vocalist and lyricist of the Norwegian black metal band Mayhem from 1988 until his death in 1991. He also performed as vocalist of the Swedish death metal band Morbid on their demo December Moon. Dead was a popular figure of the Norwegian black metal scene. Roadrunner Records ranked him No. 48 out of 50 of The Greatest Metal Front-Men of All Time.

Corpse paint

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."

Kiss (band) American band

Kiss is an American rock band formed in New York City in January 1973 by Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Peter Criss, and Ace Frehley. Well known for its members' face paint and stage outfits, the group rose to prominence in the mid-to-late 1970s with their elaborate live performances, which featured fire breathing, blood-spitting, smoking guitars, shooting rockets, levitating drum kits, and pyrotechnics. The band has gone through several lineup changes, with Stanley and Simmons the only remaining original members. The original and best-known lineup consisted of Stanley, Simmons, Frehley, and Criss.

While performing, Dead would often cut himself with hunting knives and broken glass. [11] Additionally, the band often had pig or sheep heads impaled on stakes and planted at the front of their stage. [11]

A prolific Norwegian heavy metal drummer, Hellhammer has remained with the group since joining in 1988. Mayhem - Jalometalli 2008 - Hellhammer 01 crop.JPG
A prolific Norwegian heavy metal drummer, Hellhammer has remained with the group since joining in 1988.

Stian Johannsen ("Occultus"), who briefly took position as vocalist after Dead's suicide, made this statement about him:

"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." [12]

In 1990, the members of Mayhem moved to "an old house in the forest" near Oslo, [13] which was used as a place for the band to rehearse. [9] They began writing songs for their next album, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas . Mayhem bassist Necrobutcher said that, after living together for a while, Dead and Euronymous "got on each other's nerves a lot" and "weren't really friends at the end". [9] Hellhammer recalls that Dead once went outside to sleep in the woods because Euronymous was playing synth music that Dead hated. Euronymous then went outside and began shooting into the air with a shotgun. [14] Varg Vikernes claims that Dead once stabbed Euronymous with a knife. [15]

On 8 April 1991, Dead committed suicide in the house owned by the band. He was found by Euronymous with slit wrists and a shotgun wound to the head. Dead's suicide note notably read "Excuse all the blood, cheers." and included an apology for firing the weapon indoors. Instead of calling the police, Euronymous went to a nearby store and bought a disposable camera to photograph the corpse, after re-arranging some items. [16] One of these photographs was later used as the cover of a bootleg live album, Dawn of the Black Hearts . [17]

Necrobutcher 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". [7]

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. [18] 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. [19] The band later denied the former rumor, but confirmed that the latter was true. [19] Moreover, Euronymous claimed to have given these necklaces to musicians he deemed worthy, [20] which was confirmed by several other members of the scene, like Bård 'Faust' Eithun [21] and Metalion. [22]

De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas; breakup (1991–1994)

Dead's suicide affected Necrobutcher so much that he left Mayhem, thinning the band's ranks down to two. The group performed for a short time thereafter with Occultus, joining the band to begin recording vocal and bass tracks in Mayhem's debut album, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas . However, this was short-lived; he left the band after receiving a death threat from Euronymous. [9] In July 1993, Live in Leipzig was released as the band's tribute to Dead.

In late 1992, the recording of Mayhem's upcoming album resumed; thus Aarseth engaged three more session musicians: Burzum's Varg Vikernes (stage name "Count Grishnackh"), Thorns' Snorre W. Ruch ("Blackthorn"), who handled bass guitar and rhythm guitar respectively, and singer Attila Csihar, of Hungarian black metal band Tormentor. Due to complaints by his parents, Euronymous closed his scene focal point record shop Helvete, claiming as reasons adverse media and police attention. Much of the album was recorded during the first half of 1993 at the Grieg Hall in Bergen. To coincide with the release of the album, Euronymous and Vikernes had conspired to blow up Nidaros Cathedral, which appears on the album cover. Euronymous's murder in August 1993 put an end to this plan and delayed the album's release. [10]

On 10 August 1993, Vikernes murdered Euronymous. On that night, Vikernes and Ruch travelled from Bergen 518 km to Euronymous' apartment in Oslo. Upon their arrival, a confrontation began, which ended when Vikernes fatally stabbed Euronymous. His body was found outside the apartment with twenty-three cut wounds — two to the head, five to the neck and sixteen to the back. [23] Vikernes claims that Euronymous had plotted to torture him to death and videotape the event, using a meeting about an unsigned contract as a pretext. [24] 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. [24] Additionally, Vikernes also claimed that most of Euronymous' cut wounds were caused by broken glass he had fallen on during the struggle. [24] Vikernes was arrested within days, and a few months later he was sentenced to 21 years in prison for both the murder and church arsons; [24] he was released from prison in 2009. Blackthorn, who waited for Vikernes downstairs [25] and took no part in Aarseth's murder, was charged with complicity in murder and sentenced to serve 8 years in prison. With only Attila and Hellhammer remaining, Mayhem effectively ceased to exist.

In May 1994, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas was released and dedicated to Euronymous. Its release had been delayed due to complaints filed by Euronymous' parents, who had objected to the presence of bass guitar parts played by Vikernes. According to Vikernes himself, Hellhammer assured Aarseth's parents that he would re-record the bass tracks himself; being unable to play bass guitar, Hellhammer left the bass tracks unchanged, and so the album features Vikernes as bassist. [26]

Reunion with Maniac and Necrobutcher and introduction of Blasphemer (1994–2004)

Blasphemer (left) and Maniac (right) joined the band during its 1995 reformation. Blasphemer and Maniac (Mayhem).jpg
Blasphemer (left) and Maniac (right) joined the band during its 1995 reformation.

By early 1994 [27] Hellhammer, Maniac, and Necrobutcher had reformed the band with new guitarist Rune Eriksen ("Blasphemer") in place of Euronymous. Despite arousing some controversy [28] and scepticism [29] for reforming without founding member Euronymous, the group returned to activity, beginning with the 1997 Wolf's Lair Abyss EP. This was followed by a string of European performances, including one in Milan, Italy, featuring a guest appearance by Csihar, which was recorded for the Mediolanum Capta Est live album of that year. During this tour, the band were briefly joined by second guitarist Alexander Nordgaren.

In this new phase, statements made by Hellhammer (who spoke out against race mixing and foreigners in Norway) [30] and the use of Nazi imagery such as swastika flags in the rehearsal room, [31] the Totenkopf emblem [32] [33] and band merchandise featuring the symbol of the military branch of Nasjonal Samling led to controversy and accusations of neo-Nazism.

Additionally, Hellhammer stated that no member of the new line-up was a Satanist, [34] and that the "Satanic stuff […] isn't what I feel Mayhem is about today. […] Mayhem's music is still dark, but I wouldn't say that it's Satanic." [35]

The band's second full-length album, Grand Declaration of War , was released in 2000. Strongly influenced by progressive and avant-garde metal, the album was concept-based, dealing with themes of war and post-apocalyptic destruction. Maniac largely abandoned the traditional black metal rasp for dramatic spoken-word monologue, with most of the songs sequencing seamlessly into one another. Because of this conceptual straying, however, the album received harsh criticism.

Mayhem made headlines in 2003 when fan Per Kristian Hagen landed in the hospital with a fractured skull after being hit by a severed sheep's head that had been thrown into the audience from the stage. Assault charges were filed, but the band considered it to have been entirely accidental. [36] [37] [38]

The band released Chimera in 2004, showing a return to their initial raw sound, but with higher production value and a progressive edge.

Later that year, Maniac left the band. According to Necrobutcher, this was due to his alcoholism induced by stage fright. [11] Necrobutcher explained that because of this tendency, a violent encounter between the singer and Blasphemer lead to the guitarist kicking Maniac down a flight of stairs, resulting in injury. [11] Csihar was reinstated as his replacement.

Return of Csihar; Ordo Ad Chao (2004–2008)

Attila Csihar, live with Mayhem at Hole in the Sky 2007. Mayhem by Christian Misje.jpg
Attila Csihar, live with Mayhem at Hole in the Sky 2007.

The band's fourth full-length album, Ordo ad Chao (Latin for "Order to Chaos"), was released in April 2007. Ordo ad Chao contained a much rawer sound than the rest of the band's recent work; the drums were not equalized and the mix was notably bass-heavy against black metal convention. The album continued the band's experiments with unorthodox song structures, with "Illuminate Eliminate," at 9:40, the band's second longest track (behind Grand Declaration of War’s "Completion in Science of Agony (Part I)" at 9:44). The album received strong reviews and was the band's highest-charting album, peaking at No. 12 on the Norwegian charts. In early 2008 Ordo Ad Chao won a Spellemannprisen, an award from the largest and oldest of Norway's music awards shows, for Best Metal Album of 2007.

In April 2008, Blasphemer announced his plans to leave the band, expressing a lack of desire to continue despite satisfaction with their accomplishments. [39] [40] He played European festival dates over the following months, with his last performance in the group coming in August. He thereafter continued work with the Portuguese band Ava Inferi. [39] This marked the departure of the musician credited with the bulk of the musical composition of the band's three most recent studio albums.

After Blasphemer's departure and Esoteric Warfare (2008–present)

Statements of imminent touring plans were announced on the band's web page a few weeks after their final dates with Blasphemer. In October 2008, Krister Dreyer ("Morfeus") of Dimension F3H and Limbonic Art joined the group as touring guitarist for their upcoming South America Fucking Armageddon tour.

The band toured through late 2008 and 2009 with this lineup, prior to announcing Summer 2009 dates with Silmaeth, a French musician, as a second touring guitar. In November 2009, the band was arrested in Tilburg, Netherlands, after destroying a hotel room while on tour. Norwegian guitarist Teloch of Nidingr replaced Silmaeth, and British guitarist Charles Hedger (aka Ghul) of Imperial Vengeance replaced Morfeus, in 2011 and 2012. [41] [42]

In an interview in 2012, Necrobutcher revealed that Mayhem had begun work on their fifth studio album. [43] As of November 2013, the new album was being mixed, with an early 2014 release date expected. [44] Several months later, on 18 February 2014, it was announced that Mayhem would release a new album in May 2014, with a new song "Psywar" made available for streaming. [45]

On 20 February 2014, the band's record label, Season of Mist, announced that the new album Esoteric Warfare would be released worldwide on 27 May 2014. [46] This marked the first Mayhem studio effort since Blasphemer's departure and Teloch's permanent status in the band.

In January 2015, Mayhem, Watain, and Revenge played together as part of the "Black Metal Warfare" tour in the United States. [47] Mayhem and Watain toured again in the United States in November 2015 with Rotting Christ as "Part II" of the previous tour. [48]

New albums (2016-)

A live recording of De Mysteriis Dom. Sathanas ("DMDS alive") was released in 2016.

In 2018, the band released a remixed and remastered version of A Grand Declaration of War. The same year, a film about the band - Lords of Chaos (based on the book of the same name) - premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, directed by Jonas Åkerlund.

Mayhem’s sixth studio album will come out October 25th 2019.




Studio albums


See also

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